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Grandma’s Secret Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

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Looking for a traditional but simple turkey recipe? See Grandma's Secret Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe!

Grandmas Turkey In a bag (1 of 1) Thanksgiving turkey recipe

My Grandmother's Thanksgiving Turkey

If you're making a Thanksgiving Turkey for the first time or the 20th time, first of all I want to say, I'm so excited to share this traditional recipe with you! My grandmother Ina has been making turkey this way for 30 years. And although it might not be the typical way of roasting a turkey, I promise it will be flavorful and juicy.

I had to actually head over to my grandmother's place a little earlier than normal last year. Normally she prepares the main dishes before the rest of the family arrives. Over the years she's let the rest of us help with Thanksgiving Dinner as far as bringing the side dishes goes. But the turkey is all hers!

I wanted to see the exact way she made the turkey and dressing for myself. It's so hard to recreate family recipes sometimes, just because a lot of the tricks to making a food a certain way are just little things our mothers and grandmothers did without even thinking about! And then there's the fact that my grandmother doesn't really measure anything- just a pinch of this and that. I was so excited to put this recipe down in a format I could recreate– and share with readers!

grandmas Turkey -Thanksgiving turkey recipe

How to Make

Basically this turkey is the traditional roasted turkey recipe. You will clean the turkey after it's thawed. Remember to use your food safety rules when dealing with poultry! Here's a handy guide from the USDA!

Never thaw on the counter or try to use hot water to speed a long your thawing process. We've always just thawed the turkey over the course of 2-3 days, in the refrigerator.

Clean both cavities out, making sure there are no giblets, neck or even pieces of frozen turkey left. Rinse the turkey and place on a large cutting board or even in your roaster to pat dry. Make sure not to let your raw poultry come in contact with other work surfaces or get around other foods.

My grandmother's trick for making sure the turkey is seasoned well is to go ahead and melt the butter first. This lets you make sure each part of the turkey is covered. Mix the salt and pepper together first, and then rub onto the buttered turkey. Get under the skin of the breast as well as on the skin.

Make sure to be generous with the salt and pepper– since the salt tenderizes the meat and the pepper provides a lot of flavoring. I know I don't salt and pepper my food enough sometimes!

If you have a large turkey, you will probably need to adjust the salt and pepper amounts listed in this recipe. The 1 tsp of each should be enough for an 8-10 lb bird. Increase by 1/2 tsp of each for larger turkeys.

the royal grandma cooking Thanksgiving turkey recipe

Time to Roast!

The main difference in this recipe and most others is the fact that my grandmother uses a paper bag to roast the turkey in. Yep, you read that right! She places the turkey inside the paper sack, and then pinches it closed at the end all but for a small hole, about the size of an apple. Grandma says you must use a blank grocery bag, you don't any any writing or ink on it.

The bag and turkey go together inside the roaster. Now, since I am not recommending anyone start a Thanksgiving day fire in their kitchen, I must say use caution on this!! I don't recommend the paper bag method in any type of gas oven, and especially if you have a small oven. The bag cannot touch the sides of the oven at all. Use at your own risk and monitor closely. (You know we have to say, well because it's the world we live in). But grandma has been doing this for over 50 years. One thing to note, is that if you're concerned with using a paper bag, just use a Reynold's cooking bag which will work with many oven types. 🙂

I hear a lot of tips on basting your turkey. Honestly, we find that grandma's turkey is absolutely delicious and there is no basting involved. The bag seals in moisture, and then as the turkey rests after the cooking is completed it will also lock in more of the juices into the meat. You don't need to hover over the oven and repeatedly open the oven door to baste! Trust me!

Before removing from the bag, test the turkey internal temperature with a good meat thermometer. It should be 165 degrees F at the thickest part of the turkey. If you're unsure about meat safety when cooking a turkey, do your homework ahead of time so you're not stressed! 🙂 And don't worry, there's a ton of tips and advice you can find if this is the first turkey you've cooked!

What to do with leftover turkey

After you've enjoyed your Thanksgiving feast, you may be wondering what to do with the leftover turkey. Luckily, there are plenty of options for dishes that will help you make the most of your leftovers. One popular option is Turkey Tetrazzini, a casserole made with pasta, cheese, and mushrooms. Another delicious choice is Turkey Pot Pie, which is perfect for cold winter nights. If you're looking for something a little lighter, try Turkey Salad or Turkey Wrap. And of course, no list of leftover turkey recipes would be complete without mentioning Turkey soup. So whether you're looking for a hearty dish or something a little lighter, there's bound to be a recipe that will suit your needs. So don't let those leftovers go to waste- put them to good use and enjoy!

Thanks for reading- and be sure to check out my grandma's amazing Thanksgiving Dressing recipe to go along with your turkey. Happy Cooking!

Print Your Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe Below!


Try my Grandma's Thanksgiving Dressing recipe to go with this amazing turkey! It's the classic cornbread dressing with no frills– it will be a keeper for sure!

Yield: 8

Grandma's Turkey Recipe

Grandma's Turkey Recipe

Use this classic turkey recipe for your Thanksgiving dinner!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 5 hours 20 minutes


  • 1 Whole Turkey
  • 1 stick real butter
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper


    For Frozen Turkey, Thaw it out 2 - 3 days before. After thawed remove giblets and other packaging from turkey. Check both cavities.

    Rinse turkey and pat dry, make sure water is out of cavity. Needs to be dried real good.

    Rub Skin with Salt and Pepper Mixture. Give your turkey a massage lol.

    Drizzle Melted butter over turkey, including under skin.

    Put in a plain paper sack without any writing or ink on it.

    Pinch bag together at the end , leaving a small vent hole (the size of a small apple).

    Put turkey and bag into a large roaster, with enough room to have some space around the bag.

    Cook as directed on the wrapping of the Turkey (depends on pounds). General rule is 350 degree oven, at 20 min per lb.

    Remove from oven once internal temp reaches 165 at thickest of the turkey, and at bone.

    Remove from oven and let rest 30 min- 1 hour in the bag.

    Please note the bag can sometimes stick to the bottom of the turkey. To remove turkey, try putting melted butter on the bottom of the bag where the turkey sits.

    This will be the juiciest turkey ever.

    Note: For liability reasons I have to say to use caution when using this method and we are not responsible for any accidents that may occur. My grandma has been using this method for over 30 years. I do not recommend any paper bag for a gas oven. Use oven bag in lieu of paper bag if preferred.


For gas oven, or if you are nervous about using a paper bag, use a Reynold's Oven Bag.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 109Total Fat 12gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 34mgSodium 385mgCarbohydrates 0gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 1g

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