Overnight Turkey (Easy, Delicious, and Always Moist!)

Many of us are getting ready for our big dinner tomorrow and most of those will be starring our favorite bird! I thought y’all might be interested in how we cook our turkey. Mama actually took photographs of doing this for this post, but she high tailed it off to Gatlinburg and forgot to send them to me! That’s okay, y’all have good imaginations and these instructions are easy anyway!

There is no one right way to cook a turkey and I’m not saying my method is better than any others. Feel free to post under this and tell me how y’all do it, it would be a great reference for everyone who reads this! This is just how I cook my turkey and how I like my turkey cooked! Its awful easy and your entire bird will be moist and juicy, even the white meat! Whats more, the bird is done first thing when you wake up so you can use that super rich broth and some of the meat to put into your dressing and gravies for the big meal!

Overnight Turkey (Easy, Delicious, and Always Moist!)

Ingredients

  • 1 Turkey, thawed
  • 1 Tablespoon Flour
  • 1 stick butter or margarine
  • 1 oven bag large enough for turkey to fit in
  • Roaster pan or other large pan with depth to it (so broth won't overflow - it always seeps out of the bag anyway)

Instructions

  1. Look in cavity of the turkey and make sure there are not giblets (bags of anything). If there are, remove those. I am a bad little Southerner, I throw my giblets away. Grandmama always saves hers for giblet gravy. You do what your heart tells ya to do (my heart says giblets are a wee bit on the gross side).
  2. Put one tablespoon of flour in oven bag, shut it and shake it. Place turkey breast side down in oven bag (oven bag should be sitting in your roasting pan). Breast side down is key here for moist white meat. It may look funny but trust us!
  3. Stick that margarine or butter where the sun don't shine (up the little gobbler's rear- sorry gobbler)
  4. Seal bag and cut a few small slits in the top.
  5. Turn oven on 250 and cook overnight. I don't put mine in until ten thirty or eleven and I get it out by six in the morning. You want to cook it about seven hours, but no more. When you wake up, your entire house will smell like turkey and the broth will be SO RICH and wonderful!!
  6. Slice turkey and place on platter. Spoon a little broth over if you like. Cover with cling wrap or foil and refrigerate until time for your meal.
http://www.southernplate.com/2008/11/overnight-turkey-easy-delicious-and-always-moist.html

We always have turkey for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning because it is fresh and ready!
Turkey biscuits are great!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!! I’m sorry there are no photos on this but I wanted to post it in case any of you needed an easy way to turn out a moist bird!

Gratefully,

Christy

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Comments

  1. Emily says

    Christy, I use this method – just no bag. At the very end I flip the bird (no pun intended) and let it brown under the broiler. :)

    Now….do you make giblet gravy? I make it and put a sliced up boiled egg (white only – just my preference) in it. Makes good gravy, yo!

    • says

      FYI, the chopped up hard boiled egg is to signify good luck and thanks. My Grandmother and Mother never served holiday gravy (Thanksgiving and Christmas) without the egg in the giblet gravy. Of course, Zorkler was hatched from an egg so it makes it kinda cannibalistic.

  2. Stuck in Yankeeville says

    I am obsessed with cooking my turkey in a turkey bag! It’s the best way imho. However, I get to spend many TG with my family and they do not use this method. It takes a lot of gravy to swallow it…That’s all I can say. ;0>

    I have always made my roast chicken breast side down…I guess now’s the time to try it with the turkey!

    Thanks and Have a great TG!

  3. Lindakimy says

    My husband and I also roast our turkey breast down and we wonder why you hardly ever hear it recommended by the “official” turkey advisers. Oh well, we know it works!

    I have a question about your recipe: What size turkey are you using for these instructions? I’m guessing the time in the oven would vary for a smaller or larger bird.

    Thanks so much and have a GREAT Thanksgiving!

  4. says

    Hey!! I do make giblet gravy…only umm..I don’t use the giblets! LOL I love a boiled egg in mine as well, just the whites like you said!

    As far as size goes, this will work for just about any size bird. We’ve done it for up to fifteen pounds, beyond that you might want to give it another hour or so but won’t take much more! Just a good slow cookin’ way of makin’ your turkey!
    now i’m off to make thanksgiving pies!!!
    Gratefully,
    Christy

  5. Billgent says

    I just wrap the turkey in aluminum foil, stuff the inside with lemon, butter, rosemary, onion and garlic cloves.. then set a neighbors house on fire and toss it in….

    Giblet gravy is awesome. I usually boil the giblets with chicken stock, celery, onions then slice up an egg as well. Thicken it with a cold water slurry of flour and water. Easy peasy. If I want the gravy and I have a chicken without giblets. I boil chicken liver and gizzards instead, the same way as above. Comes out the same.

  6. says

    My mom used to cook her turkey this way except no bag. It was always great. I use a bag but don’t turn the turkey upside down because the bag usually keeps it moist. I can see why using both methods would really make the turkey moist – I just may do that tonight.

    I am in total agreement with you about the giblets – my cats get them! We don’t like eggs in the gravy either – just nice plain turkey gravy for us.

  7. Su says

    When I make turkey for Christmas I also cook it breast side down, and I don’t turn it over at the end. I know some people like to so that the breast is browned, but I find that with the long cooking time it’s always brown enough.

    I also like to put some pieces of butter in between the meat and skin. I stuff the cavity with herbs and onions, and vegetables like celery and carrot. I prepare it on Christmas Eve night and tie it up all with the string, so that in the morning it’s ready to put in the oven.

  8. Memoria says

    My turkey came out very moist (including the breast) just from doing an overnight brine and without turning it breast side down, but I will have to try this recipe out one day. I did Alton Brown’s turkey recipe…

  9. Xasora says

    I use Alton Brown’s method of brining a turkey. The night before I plan to cook it, I make a brine of water (Alton says vegetable broth, but I use water), kosher salt, brown sugar, black peppercorns, and a few other spices. You cook the brine for awhile, then put it in the fridge to chill. When it’s cold (you don’t want to precook the turkey!) place the turkey in a large container and cover in the brine.

    This year I “cheated.” I put my turkey in a clean garbage bag, inside of one of the pull-out bottom fridge compartments. A 15lb turkey fit perfectly. Turkey went back in the fridge until Thursday around 11 am. I took it out and rinsed off all of the brine. I stuffed the cavity with quartered oranges and lemons with a little bit of butter. I put more butter under the skin of the breast, and everywhere on the outside of the skin. Salt and pepper on top of the skin.

    Turkey went into a roasting pan as normal. Alton Brown says to cook for 30 minutes at 500 degrees (I preheated while I was rinsing and preparing the bird), then dropped it down to 350 until it was 161 degrees.

    After the bird was done, my husband actually said “This isn’t turkey! Everyone knows turkey is supposed to be bone dry, not juicy.” Our turkey came out more juicy and full of flaver than I have EVER had in a turkey.

    On Friday evening, I made Southern Plate’s chicken noodle soup, slightly modified. I took our turkey carcass, vegetables, and seasonings, and threw it in the crock pot, covered with water, and placed on low until Saturday afternoon. That broth turned out WONDERFUL! I really liked the noodles, too ;) My son absolutely went crazy over it… you know you’ve got a good dish when a picky 2 year old eats it!

  10. Diane says

    Wow, I have not cooked my Turkey from Thanksgiving yet, but I sure am
    going to try it. I hate the white meat because its dry, well I hope this does the trick. Thank you so much for all of your tips, I just joined here and love it already. God Bless.

  11. says

    I never thought of cooking it upside down. Ha. Clever. We brined our turkey for the first time ever this thanksgiving and oh MY! It was yummy! I can’t wait to try it with chicken. I’m going to try cooking it upside-down next time. I guess we all get so set on trying to make it look like the pretty perfectly browned birds you see in all the pictures out there – but it always comes to the table already sliced up on a platter anyway…. so why are we so pressed anyway? lol

    • MistyDawn says

      The slicing of the turkey is always a big part of thanksgiving around our family, everyone surrounds the carver waiting to get their hands on a sample while it is being carved…kinda like a pack of starving animals..hehe. So, everyone sees the product before it is sliced in our family–guess that is why it has to be “pretty”.

  12. Sonya M. says

    I tried this last weekend! It turned out so moist and tender! I had a baking bag that said it fit up to 12 lbs and a 13 lb turkey! I held my breath and it just fit!

    My husband said I could teach my mom a thing or two about cooking turkey now! That would take some diplomacy! LOL!

    Thanks for the idea!

  13. Emily says

    That’s a fast (well because it is cooking while you sleep! lol) way of cooking a turkey. It sounds yummy. I’m not cooking the turkey this year, but maybe I’ll get a turkey anyway and try it. I usually use a recipe that uses olive oil and cheesecloth. Succulent and pretty but you have to babysit it a bit.

  14. jodi says

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE will somebody tell me how to make that yummy stuffing in the pan, that everyone but this poor Yankee seems to know how to make. I will be eternally grateful. Those little squares of stuffing are totally beyond my comprehension. (thank you for the dixie cornbread recipe) LOVE IT!!

    • Sandra C in Moulton, AL says

      Dressing recipe- I boil a chicken and use the broth from it and the meat in my dressing. I make 2 pans of corn bread(10-12″ skillet), 6 biscuits, 4-6 slices of white loaf bread. Crumble these together. I usually do this a day ahead and put in gallon storage bags. Chicken cooked day before also. The morning of I mix breads, box of stove top stuffing(for seasonings) together. Add 2-3 eggs, 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning, l large finely chopped or grated onion, chicken shreaded, and start with 1 cup of broth. Mix with hands in large bowl. Keep adding broth until you get it as moist as you like it. I like it almost mushy. Spread large pan with cooking spray. I cook mine 375 degrees for between 30 – 45 min. It depends on how deep your pan is and how you like it cooked. I have to cook several pans. Some like no onions, very dry and very moist. I try to please everyone. Hope this helps.

      • Sandra C in Moulton, AL says

        Jodi, I forget that some folks like celery, etc. in it also. Add what every you like. Since it is almost all cooked anyway. I taste on seasonings etc. Probably salt and pepper as you like. I usually put enough in my chicken that I don’t add very much. You might want to start with less poultry seasoning until you taste it. Hope you enjoy as much as we do.

    • Deborah says

      Here is a great cornbread dressing recipe…
      1 cake of cornbread
      1 Pan of bisquits ( I make homemade but if not, use good refridgerator kind)
      stick of melted butter
      sage, salt and pepper
      Broth from cooked turkey
      Boil chopped onions and celery in broth ( amount depends on your liking)
      Boil neck and giblets (even liver if you like – I do!) till done, then chop up all meat and giblets when done.
      Use big mixing pan like a stainless steel and crumble cornbread and bisquits. Add onions and celery, the meats and the butter. Start adding broth till you get a playdough effect. I like to use a little HOT water so it won’t be too greasy. Now add your sage and salt and pepper to taste. (I like to take lots of taste tests!) You will know when it is right when it holds it’s shape and has nice flavor. Spread into pan or pans and bake for about 30 min on 350. Turns out great everytime!

  15. Camille says

    My sister used to cook a turkey like this and it was delicious! However, the turkey council or some other food police came out and said it was not safe to keep your bird at that temp for so long. I am always scared now of killing my guests or giving them food poisoning. Have they changed their views or should we just take our chances?:D

    • Sharon says

      My mother-in-law cooked her turkey like this, with this exception: She placed the turkey in a preheated 500 degree oven for an hour or so (don’t rememer exactly how long), then turned the oven off and let the turkey sit in the oven overnight. I think that’s the method that the experts were talking about. I never ate her turkey because I was afraid to….especially after the Christmas when it ran blood when we sliced it!!! I think this method (oven heated all night) is o.k., but I might check it out with my local agriculture extension agent before I try it. I’ve slow-cooked turkey breast in a crock pot, so I don’t see why this wouldn’t be o.k.

  16. says

    Just wanted you to know I tried this method for our Thanksgiving meal and it was FABULOUS! This will be the ONLY turkey cooking method this household will use from now on. My husband raved about how tender and easy to carve it was. Besides that, it was so nice to have the mess cleaned up before the guests arrived. I also made your Pecan pie…to die for…and crock pot cornbread stuffing…all going in my arsenal of tired & true Thanksgiving recipes. Thank you for sharing these with the rest of us. Keep ‘em coming too.

  17. Gabe says

    Thank you!!! It was my job to make the turkey this Christmas, my first ever and it was for my in-laws. I was feeling the stress… The smallest turkey I could find was 19.5 lbs… After being in the fridge for 4 days it was not near thawed Christmas eve. Thankfully, my SIL helped thaw turkey in the bathtub.

    So at 2:30am I put the turkey in, no oven bag, just the butter in the bumm, a cup of water in the pan and turkey upside down on a rack in the roasting pan and I lightly covered turkey with foil.

    I started checking the temperature at 9:30am and it was not near done. I checked ever 30 minutes. I was worried it would dry out.

    I cooked that sucker until 12:45 and it came out moist and delicious. I am commenting in case someone else ends up with an obscenely large bird and wonders if this method will work… it does.

    Thank you soooo much for the wonderfully easy way to cook at turkey. Why doesn’t everyone cook them this way? Merry Christmas!

  18. Brenda says

    Hi Christy, Hi neighbor!! I live here in Madison, Al. also!!I just wanted to tell you I have never cooked a turkey before ever! This Thanksgiving will be at my home for the first time. My father past away last year and my mama is not ready for Thanksgiving at her home yet since Daddy’s passing, SO being the oldest daughter it has been passed to me!! Anyway to make the long story short I went to Publix’s Monday after finding your site.. a friend turned me on too your WONDERFUL SITE!!! Bless her Lord!!! Bought a 10 lb turkey and bags and cooked it for Supper the next day.. had my sons their wife’s and all the grandkids over for Supper. I was told DO NOT CHANGE ANYTHING!!! It was PERFECT!!! Thank you soooo much!!! You have saved our upcoming Thanksgiving Dinner this year!!!I love your site and I am going to the bookstore this weekend and find your wonderful book!!!

    • Cathy says

      Hey Brenda, just wanted to ask if you cooked it overnight or during the day..for supper? I’ve never sliced up a turkey ‘ahead’ of time and refrigerated it until we’re ready for it….just wondering if ‘cold’ turkey is as good as hot. Anybody have comments? Thanks!

    • Rose says

      I use the Fool-Proof Giblet Gravy recipe from Womans Day (BTW, it never tastes like liver, or anything like that, but is delicious and I usually have enough for all the stuffing/dressing and mashed potatoes I make. The gravy is delicious, and you’ll be glad you tried it… toss in the boiled egg white for luck. (That must be what I remember my grandmother doing, my mom didn’t know what I was talking about.)
      Ingredients:
      Turkey neck and giblets, refrigerate liver until needed
      6 cup(s) chicken broth
      2 large onions, sliced
      1 cup(s) sliced carrots
      1 cup(s) dry white wine or water
      1/2 cup(s) celery leaves
      6 tablespoon(s) butter or margarine, softened
      3/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour
      Turkey drippings
      Salt to taste
      Ground black pepper to taste
      Directions
      Cut turkey neck and heart in half. Put into a large saucepan along with gizzard, chicken broth, onions, carrots, wine, and celery leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently, uncovered, 1 1/2 hours. Add liver; simmer 30 minutes more or until gizzard is very tender.
      Remove giblets to a cutting board. Strain broth into a large cup measure, pressing vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard vegetables. Add extra water to broth if needed to make 6 cups. Chop giblets and neck meat. Refrigerate in covered container.
      Mash butter and flour with a fork or back of a spoon until blended to a paste. Break into 4 chunks.
      Bring broth to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Reduce heat to low and gradually whisk in flour mixture, 1 chunk at a time, until well blended. Whisk until thickened and boiling. Boil 3 minutes to cook out floury taste.
      After turkey is removed from roasting pan: Pour pan drippings into a 2-cup measure. Spoon fat off top and discard. Add enough water to equal 2 cups. Pour back into roasting pan. Stir in giblets and neck meat. Heat over medium-low heat, scraping up brown bits on bottom of pan, until hot. Season with salt and pepper.

  19. Heather says

    Does the breast get brown cooking the turkey breast side down the entire time or do you recommend flipping the turkey to brown the breast? If so, at what point do you flip the turkey? Thanks!

  20. Sandy says

    I cook turkey every Thanksgiving and Christmas! We love it! I put my thawed turkey in a large roasting pan, add 6 or 7 cups of water. Take a couple of Granny Smith apples and a couple of onions and half them. Place an apple and an onion in the cavity of the turkey. Put the rest around the turkey. Heat the oven to 500 degrees. Cover turkey with lid and place in oven. Cook 5 minutes per pound plus 5 minutes. Turn oven off and leave overnight. DO NOT OPEN OVEN DOOR til morning! Juicy and delish!!!!

  21. Yvette Ridenour says

    I had the same question as Sandy. If you get it out at 6AM, how do you keep it warm and keep it from not drying out? Do you reheat it, and if so, for how long and at what temperature?

  22. Mercedith Lewis says

    Could this have been an Angel? I was looking thru the turkey selection trying to decide how I was going to cook one for Thanksgiving a few years ago. My past Turkeys had been failures :( either too dry or not cooked long enough and Thanksgiving ended up being at Waffle House. An older lady approached me and said “Hunny, Im gonna tell you how to cook that turkey. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Boil 5 cups of water. Put a stick of butter in the cavity and place your turkey in the pan. Rub the top with a little butter then salt and pepper the top. When your water is boiling pour it in the bottom of the pan around the turkey. Then cover it tightly and bake it for 1 hour then turn your oven off and DO NOT open the door for 5 to 6 hours. Then turn your oven back on 350 for 1 hour.” I tried this and it was so moist and delicious. Been cooking my turkey this way for the past 3 years now. Sorry for the long post!

  23. Rose says

    I use the Fool-Proof Giblet Gravy recipe from Womans Day (BTW, it never tastes like liver, or anything like that, but is delicious and I usually have enough for all the stuffing/dressing and mashed potatoes I make. The gravy is delicious, and you’ll be glad you tried it… toss in the boiled egg white for luck. (That must be what I remember my grandmother doing, my mom didn’t know what I was talking about.)
    Ingredients:
    Turkey neck and giblets, refrigerate liver until needed
    6 cup(s) chicken broth
    2 large onions, sliced
    1 cup(s) sliced carrots
    1 cup(s) dry white wine or water
    1/2 cup(s) celery leaves
    6 tablespoon(s) butter or margarine, softened
    3/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour
    Turkey drippings
    Salt to taste
    Ground black pepper to taste
    Directions
    Cut turkey neck and heart in half. Put into a large saucepan along with gizzard, chicken broth, onions, carrots, wine, and celery leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently, uncovered, 1 1/2 hours. Add liver; simmer 30 minutes more or until gizzard is very tender.
    Remove giblets to a cutting board. Strain broth into a large cup measure, pressing vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard vegetables. Add extra water to broth if needed to make 6 cups. Chop giblets and neck meat. Refrigerate in covered container.
    Mash butter and flour with a fork or back of a spoon until blended to a paste. Break into 4 chunks.
    Bring broth to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Reduce heat to low and gradually whisk in flour mixture, 1 chunk at a time, until well blended. Whisk until thickened and boiling. Boil 3 minutes to cook out floury taste.
    After turkey is removed from roasting pan: Pour pan drippings into a 2-cup measure. Spoon fat off top and discard. Add enough water to equal 2 cups. Pour back into roasting pan. Stir in giblets and neck meat. Heat over medium-low heat, scraping up brown bits on bottom of pan, until hot. Season with salt and pepper.

  24. SarasotaLarry says

    My wife and I have VERY successfully used the OVERNIGHT cooking method! After fully defrosting the turkey in the refrigerator, we use an oven thermometer to make use the oven is at 400 F. We use a roasting rack and fill the bottom of the pan with onions, carrots, celery and apples plus chicken broth. A TAYLOR wireless thermometer with a remote pager sensor is inserted into the breast of the turkey with it on its breast. The turkey is dried first then heavily coated with butter and seasoned. We put all of the giblets down with the veggies. The turkey and pan is sealed using heavy duty aluminum foil. The turkey s roasted for one hour at 400 F degrees then turned down to 200. Then we go to sleep. The wireless thermometer alerts us when the turkey reaches 165 F internally. We LEAVE THE TURKEY IN THE OVEN and TURN OFF THE OVEN altogether. We watch the remote to make sure the turkey doesn’t get OVERDONE. All of the gibliets (less the neck which always disappears) vegetables and apples are removed, put in a blender and LIQUIFIED. We allow the liquid in the bottom of the pan to completely cool and use the solid part to make a roux if needed. The vegetables will typically yield about a gallon of delicious gravy that needs no seasoning and nothing to augment its color!

  25. Alan in Arizona says

    Christy, you are just the cutest thing ever. I LOVE how you write, and how your wonderful personality seems to shine through. Thank you so much for the information about cooking a Turkey!
    Alan

  26. Jackie N. says

    Hi,
    I want to try this overnight method, but I love my dressing cooked inside the turkey cavity. Can I still cook a turkey overnight if it’s stuffed with dressing? Love your website and emails! Thanks for all you do.

    • says

      Hey Jackie! Thank you so much! I’m afraid I m little help here. We have never cooked stuffing inside a turkey. We just make dressing and use the turkey broth to give it that pow flavor. I’m hoping someone else can jump in here and offer advice based on their experience.

      • Jackie says

        Thanks for replying. Hopefully someone will know. I was so excited to see you replied to my question. In my world, you are a celebrity! Your website is my recipe Bible. Have a wonderfully blesses holiday season.

        Jackie

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