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Southern-Style Brown Paper Bag Turkey

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Southern-Style Brown Paper Bag Turkey


A very “southern Grandma” way to make your turkey. But somehow, cooking your turkey in a brown paper bag makes it come out perfect and delicious every time! They didn’t have fancy cooking bags back in the day and trust me, it’s not the same. So if you’re wondering how to cook the perfect turkey while doing something different, the brown paper bag turkey is the way to go! 

Brown paper bags are still a thing, and you just need to ask for them at the grocery store. You might want to get the biggest one that is available, and test fit your bird to make sure it will fit. And as you might be wondering, the paper bag does not burn! You’ll just need to rub it with oil, and then the steam and juices from the turkey will keep it moist. You can also rub the inside with butter for some extra flavor. 

Prep work makes the Brown Bag Turkey Work

Your time has come, the family has bestowed the honor of making the Thanksgiving Turkey upon you. This prestigious privilege is one of many burdens but fret not, we’re going to walk you through making a Brown Bag Turkey the Dan-Way.  In terms of preparing a turkey, there’s about 8 steps we need to take to make it perfect. 

  1. Defrost the Turkey
  2. Temper the Turkey
  3. Tidy up the Turkey
  4. Season the Turkey
  5. Stuff the Turkey (optional)
  6. Add some fat
  7. Truss the turkey (optional)
  8. Roast the turkey

This may seem like an overwhelming amount of steps but we’re going to make it as simple as possible for you. Let’s begin.

Step One: Defrost the Turkey

For the vast majority of people, you’re starting with a frozen turkey. The general rule of thumb is for every 5 pounds of turkey, you’ll need 24 hours to defrost in the fridge. So for a 19-20 pound bird, you’ll need roughly 4 days to defrost the turkey.  Now, if you’re reading this the day of thanksgiving and forgot to thaw your turkey, we’ve got some advice for you too.

By submerging your turkey in ice water, then it can be defrosted in 8-12 hours. However, this isn’t a sit it and forget like thawing in the fridge. You’ll have to be diligent about checking the water’s temperature and making sure it’s never hitting 40 degrees. Most people will do this in a sink but you could do it in a large bucket, just make sure whatever you use is sanitized and clean for your bird. 

Step Two: Temper the Turkey

About one hour before you’re planning to cook, you’ll need to remove the turkey from the fridge, and let it sit on a roasting rack and get to room temperature. Turkeys cook more evenly when not completely chilled. About 15-20 minutes before you’re planning to roast, preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Your turkey will cook at about 15 to 17 minutes per pound at this temperature.

Step Three: Tidy up the Turkey

This is an easy step, just remove the giblets from the turkey and check the neck as well. You can save the neck and giblets for stocks, stuffing, gravy, or whatever else you have a recipe for. 

Step Four: Season the Brown Bag Turkey 

This step is easy. Using your Dan-O’s melted butter mixture, rub it all over the turkey and its cavity. Get it nice and seasoned up!

Step Five: Stuff the Turkey (Optional) 

Whether you stuff your turkey or not is a personal preference. We don’t recommend it, it can affect the cooking process and dry out your turkey. But we do recommend adding some aromatics to the cavity like onions, celery, carrots and whatever else you think sounds good. Give that turkey a little love and originality.

Step Six: Add some fat to the Brown Bag Turkey

We’ve already done this step but adding a little more isn’t going to hurt it. Just take some room temperature or melted butter and rub it all over that turkey. Be gentle, but thorough. You don’t have to add more since you added the buttered Dan-O’s mixture but hey, no harm no fowl. 

Step Seven: Truss the Turkey (Optional)

Trussing isn’t necessary but if you’ve stuffed your cavity and want that bird to cook more evenly then it doesn’t hurt to truss it. Simply tuck the wing tips behind the bird’s shoulder and lock them into place. Now, tie the end of the drumsticks together using kitchen twine pulling them together and tying the knot. 

Step Eight: Roast the Brown Bag Turkey

Congratulations, you’ve reached the final stage! Remember it’s 15-17 minutes per pound at 325 degrees fahrenheit. Always check your turkey’s internal temperature before removing from the oven, and make sure you let the Brown Bag turkey rest for about an hour before you start carving.


  • 19 lb turkey
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 2 white onions
  • 6 stalks celery
  • 6 carrots
  • Large brown paper bag
  • Dan-O’s Original
  • Olive Oil

Prep Time

1 Hours

Cook Time

3 Hours

Serving Size

1 1/2 lb Per Guest


  1. Several days in advance, begin defrosting your turkey.
  2. Once thawed, remove from Fridge and set at Room temperature for about an hour prior to cooking.
  3. Preheat your oven to 325 F
  4. Remove the giblets, and neck from the Turkey and set aside.
  5. In a bowl, melt butter in microwave and add a generous helping of Dano-O’s Original
  6. Using a pastry brush, or your hands, rub the melted butter mixture over the turkey. Thoroughly saturing every part in the mixture. Make sure to get some in the cavity as well.
  7. Insert carrots, celery, and onions inside the cavity
  8. Coat brown paper bag with olive oil and Dan-O’s (inside and out)
  9. Insert the turkey in the bag and tuck open end under turkey
  10. Place in baking pan and cook at 325 F for 3 hours or until the breast is 170F internal
  11. Let rest for 1 hour and serve.
3.1/5 (19 Reviews)

4 Responses

  1. I have just gotten into using your Dano’s products. They are not available in stores around here, but are on line at Amazon. Used your chicken thighs recipe the other day. Turned out great. Have done brown bag Walleye, with slivered garlic. Will be trying this brown bag turkey. I will only be cooking a boneless breast though. Just my wife and I to cook for. Great spices! Fantastic recipes! THANKS!

    1. Glad you’re enjoying Dan-O’s and having Dan-tastic results using our recipes.
      Thanks for being part of the Dan-Fam.
      Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    1. It really depends on the weight, and your oven.
      Most would take about an hour and 25 minutes. Just throw it in there, and start checking the temperature after an hour.

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