It’s Turkey Lurkey Time! Of all the holidays people love, Thanksgiving is mine. There’s a special meaning behind it. We are all thankful and grateful for what we have. And yes, Thanksgiving is a time where families get together and enjoy one another’s company. But let’s face the facts; in my world, it’s all about the BIGGEST MEAL of the year!
I became known as Dr. Double Portions for a reason. Dr. Garbage Disposal could have worked too, but it doesn’t sound as good on a food blog! If you need proof, check out my Renaissance Eater Post from the all inclusive Hyatt Zilara resort in Cancun!
DO YOU HEAR SOMETHING? ME TOO! KEEP SCROLLING TO SEE THE HOW TO VIDEO!
Thanksgiving is my specialty!
Being a part of a family of seven growing up, five girls and a couple of parents, we could polish off a 21 pound turkey, small ham, 10 pounds of potatoes, about 2 gallons of gravy, a cream corn casserole, a green bean casserole a few pies and at least a gallon or more of milk all in one Happy Thanksgiving day. We’d start eating around 11am and didn’t stop for hours. A few of us, including me, would seriously eat 3 to 4 heaping plates of food, all smothered with gravy dripping off all sides, and then go back for one last “small” round of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy to top us off. We’d then play a little football in the backyard—nothing like a contact sport to help the digestion—and at some point Dad would ask, “Anyone need a snack?” Yep! So we’d drag it all out and load up again. Sorry dogs! No scraps ever fell on the floor from this crew.
Yes, Thanksgiving is MY holiday because it is centered around the most satisfying meal of the year; both in quantity and quality. Any meal that takes days or weeks to create is worth having a holiday named after it!
Being the party loving girl I am, as an adult, I started hosting Thanksgiving for my family and friends. I quickly learned two key things: 1) a lot of work goes into twenty minutes of eating, 2) then you have to hand wash all of that fine china you keep around all year just for this once a year meal, and 3) timing is everything! With only one oven and it’s microwave sidekick, you have to plan and think strategically. I remember thinking, “There HAS to be an easier way to do this…”
In January of 2000 to celebrate the millennium, I started doing some body building and went on the Body for Life program. Along with all the weight training, nutrition was a huge part of my daily routine. Because I needed protein, I started cooking at least one turkey per month throughout the year, without all of the fixings. I became an expert at how to cook a turkey overnight in a way that keeps the meat really moist and tender, even the white meat! Plus, deboning and clean up is so easy you wont believe it until you see it.
What you are about to learn is my many years of perfecting how to cook a turkey overnight. By following this process, not only is your turkey going to be perfectly cooked and moist, but it will fall of the bones so nobody will have to do the dreaded de-boning work when everyone is comatose after the meal.
Picking a Turkey – Fresh is Better
This method works great with a 15-24 pound turkey because that’s as large as the largest turkey bag will hold! I like to buy a fresh turkey when I can get one.
Thawing a Frozen Turkey
If you can’t find a fresh turkey and you must buy frozen, be sure to thaw it in the fridge 2-3 days before your turkey dinner! If you need to thaw your turkey faster, follow these cold water thawing tips from Honeysuckle White. I’ve also seen the cold water method used in a cooler/ice chest! It can reduce your thawing time by days!
This how to cook a turkey overnight method works best with a thawed turkey, because you’re going to cook it slowly, at a low temperature, for 8-10 hours and you need to get it past the to the poultry danger zone as quickly as you can. A frozen turkey takes too long to get to the recommended internal temperature of 165 degrees when slow roasting. If your turkey is still a little frozen when it comes time to cook it—a little frozen means you can get the neck and gizzards out with the help of a little water—this process will still work. If your bird is still slightly frozen on the inside, cook it at a higher temp of at least 350-400 degrees for the first hour! If it’s still completely frozen, go out to eat!
How to Cook a Turkey Overnight Tips
My preference is to host Thanksgiving dinner by noon, so we often toss our turkey in before bed then wake up to a house that smells like yum and holiday happiness and it get’s my hungry DP tummy rumbling! If your start time is going to be in the middle of the night like ours, you can get the turkey ready and leave it in the refrigerator until the time comes for you to transfer it to the oven—say midnight. If you don’t want to use the overnight method, or if you are having an evening meal, just begin the process 8-10 hours before your planned dinner. For this post, we used a 15 pound turkey that took about 8 hours. Using a smaller turkey will require less time, but who doesn’t want turkey leftovers!?
What about the Stuffing?
I’m glad you asked! I actually don’t cook my turkey with the stuffing inside for a few reasons: 1) without stuffing, the turkey will get up to a safe cooking temp faster and will stay there more consistently, 2) when the turkey is done, it’s like trying to take a whole chicken out of a slow cooker after 8 hours, it just falls apart and then you end up with your stuffing mixed in with all the bones so it’s much easier to leave it out, and 3) this turkey tastes so good with the infusion of rosemary and garlic you don’t want to waste the cavity on stuffing!
There is so much juice that comes off this turkey that you can use some of it to add to your stuffing for added flavor. When making stuffing, we cook it separately in a casserole dish with a lid then pour some juice over to keep it moist. If using Stove Top Stuffing, you can use the turkey juice instead of water—there may be enough for both stuffing and gravy.
Clean Up is a Breeze!
Though this how to cook a turkey overnight method creates the moistest, bestest, tenderest turkey you’ve ever eaten, it’s cooking method destroys any chance of serving this beautiful, golden brown bird intact on a large carving platter in the middle of your table. Taste is more important anyway and there is another bonus to cooking a turkey with my method: it’s so much easier for serving and cleaning up. Plus it doesn’t slow down the process when it comes to the plate loading assembly line. SCORE!
Your friends and family will be so impressed by how easy this turkey was to serve, how good it tastes and most importantly, how tender and moist it is that unless you’ve displaced your dad from the honor of carving duty, nobody else will miss the big bird carving ordeal! And everyone will relish the extra elbow room at the table and the easier clean up!
How To Cook A Turkey Overnight Process Notes
Who needs notes when you have a how to video + an added gravy making bonus!
Turkey Pairing Suggestion
You can’t go wrong with a good Sauvignon Blanc with Turkey and we know of a great one! This Concha Y Toro Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc is the way to go! Smooth crisp, a hint of sweetness and perfect with turkey and Mother Load Mashed Potatoes! A great value at under $25 a bottle.
More Holiday Recipes!
Stay tuned for more holiday recipes! In the mean time, here are some of our flash back favs:
For those of you who need it, here is the recipe card! Please don’t let the number of instructions fool you! It’s EASY!
Right now there is a coupon available from Reynolds for Turkey Bags! Click the Picture below for more info:
How to Cook a Turkey Overnight Recipe
This Thanksgiving Turkey is so moist and tender it will fall right off the bone! Who better than someone named “Double Portions” to show you How to Cook a Turkey Overnight!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 hours
Total Time 10 hours 15 minutes
Servings 10 -20
- 1 large turkey 15-24lbs, fresh or thawed
- 1 lb Reynolds turkey size oven bag these will fit up to 24lbs
- 3 T olive oil
- 2 T flour
- 6-8 toes garlic
- 6 branches rosemary optional
Start by getting a few things ready before you gunk up your hands with raw Turkey juices. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (you will be turning it down later).
You will need a large turkey pan or roaster.
Adjust the oven racks to fit the roaster.
Get the turkey oven bag out, open and ready by tossing the 2 Tbsp of flour into it and coating the inside of the bag by shaking it all around.
Have garlic cloves pealed and ready to put into the turkey along with the rosemary.
Pour olive oil in a small measuring cup so you can pour it on the turkey without having to grab the olive oil bottle with your slimy turkey hands.
Once your ready to get slimy and have turkey hands, open the turkey, remove the neck and gizzards (toss or cook separately).
Rinse the turkey well.
Slide turkey into bag.
Using your hands, massage olive oil all over the outside of the turkey.
Toss garlic cloves and rosemary inside the cavities, leaving one rosemary sprig on the top.
Zip bag tightly shut.
Place the turkey in pan upside-down (breasts down).
Using a knife make a few small slits (vent holes) in the bag on the top side, high enough so you don’t lose all the juice out of the vent holes as it cooks.
Reduce oven temp to 250 degrees and place turkey in the oven.
NOTE: If you're turkey is still slightly frozen inside, your first hour will be at 350 degrees then turn it down to 250 degrees for the rest of the time. A fully frozen turkey will not work with this method!
Clean up your sink and walk away.
About 4 hours later you will start to smell it cooking, filling up the house with that sweet turkey aroma--the red turkey done button will pop before cooking time is up. Don't remove the turkey yet!
At 8-10 hours, your turkey should be a lovely dark golden brown (not burnt). Smaller turkey's may take less time (7-8 hours).
Once done, turn the oven off or if your oven is in demand, take the turkey out to let it rest for no more than 20-30 minutes.
Harvest the juice for gravy or stuffing by slicing the bag open from the bottom and letting it flow into your turkey pan. Be careful, the juice will be very hot! You can either leave the juice in the pan and strain it later or transfer the juice to another bowl or pan before deboning the turkey.
Don't touch the turkey with your hands it will be hot!
Grab a dish or two for the meat.
Start deboning by using two pairs of large grippy tongs. Legs first, pull the meat from the bone (scraping away any other skin or debris in the process). Very little of the meat will stay in tact on the bone so simply move the meat to your bowl(s). We keep dark and light separate. Move on to thighs then there are two almond shaped pods on the bottom of the turkey that are the best dark pieces of meat. Because you cooked it upside down, they should be right on the top for you to grap with your tongs. Viola, your dark meat dish is done. On to white meat...
Either flip the bird/carcass over or tilt it sideways and just use your tongs to lift both turkey breasts right off the bones. Don't forget the little wings!
You can toss the remaining carcass and your turkey clean up is done. There's not much left for soup!
Cover your turkey until it's ready for the table or buffet line. If there is still a bit of time before it will be served, ladle some turkey juice on it, cover it and put it back in the oven at a low temperature. No need to keep cooking it, you just need to keep it at a temperature of at least 165 degrees.
Add accoutrements and enjoy!
See our easy HOW TO VIDEO for demonstrations of all instructions and a BONUS GRAVY Making segment!