This Thanksgiving turkey with bacon recipe is the one for a tender and juicy turkey topped with the most perfectly cooked, crispy bacon ever.
Our family has followed this method for generations.
Once you try it this way, with a fresh turkey and bacon on top, you will always want it this way. The bacon is so good – cooking it right on the turkey just makes it amazing!
It’s not only the turkey and bacon that will amaze, but also the oven roasted veggies that are along for the ride.
You get the most unbelievable roasted veggies – parsnips, carrots and mini potatoes that soak up all of the delicious goodness.
Take advantage of this baking time to fit as many vegetables as you can around the bottom of your roasting pan. Toss in some whole, peeled garlic cloves if you like them.
Try mushrooms and even large cauliflower florets. We add vegetables in at the midway point of cooking, to ensure they are tender crisp but not overdone. But if you like your veggies soft, you can place them in at the beginning, and let them roast for the whole time.
The bacon and turkey drippings will ensure there is a ton of flavor in the veggies, as well as a delicious gravy base. Use a fat separator to help with the process of removing fat if you like to.
Otherwise, you can use it as is for a rich sauce. Or omit the sauce if you want to minimize calories and fat.
The sauce is delicious in moderation though – it’s a special occasion after all. 🙂
Content in this Post
Ingredients in Thanksgiving Turkey With Bacon
- Turkey — use a fresh turkey, giblets removed. We had a 12 pound turkey, it was the perfect size for eight people, but you’ll need a larger size for more guests.
- Kosher Salt — kosher salt, about one and a half cups to dissolve in a turkey brine.
- Butter — use a stick of butter, melted, to baste the turkey with.
- Bacon — one package of bacon strips, to put on top of the turkey after turning it over at the midpoint of cooking.
- Chicken Broth — you can use chicken broth from a carton for convenience, or if you’ve already made up turkey giblet stock or another homemade broth, you can use that instead. Alternatively, add in some dry white wine.
- Carrots — diced into small cubes
- Parsnips — diced into small cubes
- Celery — diced small
- Red Onion — diced, or yellow or white onions
- Mini Potatoes — cut each in half
- Bay Leaves — two dried bay leaves
- Thyme — fresh sprigs
How to Make Thanksgiving Turkey With Bacon
STEP 1 — Brine your fresh turkey overnight. Submerge turkey in a large filled with water and kosher salt. Place the stock pot in your fridge overnight to brine the turkey in the salt water mix. You can chop your vegetables to stuff the turkey with, the night before also, if you like. Just keep covered in fridge.
STEP 2 — When you are ready to cook your turkey, you need to carefully remove it from the salt water brine, rinse the turkey well and pat dry. It’s very important for the turkey to be dry so that the butter will adhere sufficiently when you brush it on.
STEP 3 — Preheat your oven. Place a rack inside a large turkey pan. Place the turkey (breast side down) onto the rack. Stuff the cavity with the mix of chopped vegetables: parsnips, carrots, celery, onion and thyme. Place the remainder of vegetables and herbs around the outside of the turkey. As well, add turkey giblet stock or chicken broth to the turkey pan. Alternatively, add dry white wine.
STEP 4 — Brush turkey with melted butter. Use a silicone brush to make this easier.
STEP 5 — Place turkey in preheated oven and set timer to two and a half hours. After two and a half hours are up, take turkey pan out of oven, carefully turn the turkey over.
You can use the handle of two metal or wooden cooking utensils inserted at either end of the turkey and flip it, or you can use folded paper towels and oven mitts to hold on to the turkey and turn it over.
STEP 6 — Add bacon strips to the top of the turkey (breast side up) to completely cover. Add the mini potatoes, and the rest of the veggies around the bottom of the roasting pan.
STEP 7 — Return turkey to oven and set timer for one and a half hours. Keep a close watch, using a to tell when the internal temperature has reached 180°F (85°C).
STEP 8 — When the time is up and the proper temperature has been obtained, remove turkey from oven and allow it to sit for twenty to thirty minutes.
Now is a good time to put any side dishes that may need to be reheated into the oven – such as stuffing, mashed potatoes, and sweet potato mash.
STEP 9 – Carefully transfer turkey to a serving platter and place vegetables around the outside of the platter.
Once all are heated, you are ready to serve your turkey and side dishes. Enjoy!
What to Serve With Turkey With Bacon
Enjoy your holiday turkey with bacon with these classic side dishes that are perfect together with this turkey.
They are easy to make while the turkey is cooking, otherwise, you can make them ahead of time.
These are two great low carb bread stuffing recipes (you can sub dried cranberries for goji berries in each):
- Stuffing with Sausage and Goji Berries — The bread cubes for stuffing are roasted for thirty minutes or until firm, at the same time as the turkey.
- Okra Stuffing with Goji Berries — the bread cubes are roasted similarly, but okra is stir fried instead of sausage.
Just place the diced bread on baking sheet in oven on a lower rack under the turkey pan.
The remaining three dishes are made quickly in the Instant Pot. You can prepare both potato dishes and cranberry sauce ahead of time and reheat them before serving.
To reheat, transfer each to their own oven safe casserole baking dish and put in the oven after you remove the turkey to sit out for twenty to thirty minutes.
That way, the side dishes will heat for twenty to thirty minutes and will all be ready when the turkey is ready.
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes — are made quick and easy, and are extra creamy with butter, labneh and sour cream.
- Instant Pot Sweet Potato Mash — extra rich and creamy with butter, labneh and sour cream, with sweet, warming flavors from cinnamon and maple syrup.
- Cranberry Pineapple Sauce in Instant Pot — this can be made spicy by following the recipe exact, or omit the Kashmiri chili pepper and fresh ginger for a mild version.
If you have two Instant Pots it’s even more convenient!
As well, you can serve any of your usual holiday vegetable side dishes, such as green bean casserole and a salad.
You can store leftover cooked turkey, covered, in your fridge for three to four days.
If you have enough leftovers beyond three days, you can transfer them to the freezer. Be sure to tightly pack turkey in an air tight, freezer safe container.
What to do with Turkey Leftovers
Ah, so much turkey, so little time. Now, what to do?
There are so many ways to cook with turkey leftovers.
You can use turkey leftovers in any recipes that call for cooked chicken, such as kebab chicken pita pizza (follow the recipe but use leftover turkey instead of chicken).
Some favorite recipes for turkey leftovers are:
- Turkey Tikka Masala Pita Pizza
- Chicken Salad Sandwich Without Mayo (simply sub leftover turkey for cooked chicken!)
- Turkey Mulligatawny Soup – Instant Pot
- Turkey Quesadillas
- Turkey and Wild Rice Soup – Instant Pot
You’ll Also Love
Another popular turkey recipe at our house is this Masala Spiced Turkey with homemade mushroom gravy. The method is very similar to this turkey recipe, with overlap in many steps, but with some key differences.
It’s just as tender and juicy, if not more so.
Plus, you’ll have amazingly spiced turkey leftovers that are fantastic in all of the abovementioned turkey leftover recipes.
This is a spicy, tender and moist turkey that’s covered in a fresh cilantro, garlic and ginger paste with masala seasoning. It’s perfect for your guests who love spicy food that’s full of flavor.
Don’t worry though, as you cut away from the surface, the interior meat is milder for guests who don’t prefer it spicy.
If you’re unsure of spice tolerances – stick with this Thanksgiving turkey with bacon recipe.
Thanksgiving Turkey With Bacon
- 12 pounds Turkey, whole, fresh, giblets removed
- 1.5 Cups Kosher Salt
- ½ Cup Butter, melted
- 1 Cup Chicken Broth, sub homemade broth or dry white wine
- 8 Thyme Sprigs
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 2 Red Onions, diced
- 5 Carrots, diced
- 2 Parsnips, diced
- 5 Stalks Celery, chopped
- 15 Mini Potatoes, cut in half
- 1 package Bacon
Brine Turkey Overnight
- Rinse the turkey and place it in a stock pot. Rub kosher salt over the entire surface of the turkey, outside and inside. Add lukewarm water until the entire turkey is covered. Store in the fridge for 12 hours or overnight.
- When the turkey has brined for enough time, take it out of the stock pot and thoroughly rinse it in cold water. Discard of the brine water. Let all water drip off the turkey. You may have to turn it upside down and rotate it a few times to let all the water out from the cavity. Pat it dry using paper towels and place it BREAST DOWN / BACK UP in a roasting pan.
Prepare Turkey in Roasting Pan and Roast for 2.5 Hours
- Stuff the inside of the turkey with the cubed carrots, parsnips, celery, onions, bay leaf and thyme. Add broth and herbs around the bottom of the roasting pan. If you prefer your roasting pan vegetables to be soft, add them in now – otherwise if you prefer them crisp, add later.
- Pour melted butter over the entire turkey and place it in the oven for 2.5 hours at 350 °F.
Turn Turkey Over, Add Bacon and Roast for 1.5 Hours
- After 2.5 hours of roasting in the oven, bring the roasting pan to the counter. The turkey now needs to be rotated to a BREAST UP / BACK DOWN position. You can use the handle of two metal or wooden cooking utensils inserted at either end of the turkey and flip it, or you can use folded paper towels and oven mitts to hold on to the turkey and turn it over.
- Once the turkey is turned over, scatter remaining vegetables along with the potatoes around the perimeter of the roasting pan. If you have already added vegetables for them to be cooked soft, disregard this step.
- Add bacon strips to cover the entire surface of the turkey (it's okay if the bacon overlaps each other as it will cook just fine). Place the turkey back in the oven and cook for an additional 1.5 hours or until the internal temperature is 180 °F. Use a meat thermometer with a probe inserted at the thickest MEAT part of the turkey for most accurate reading. Make sure the probe doesn't touch the bones or poke through the meat.
Prepare Turkey on Serving Platter
- When the internal cooking temperature has reached 180 °F remove the roasting pan from the oven. Let the turkey sit for 30 minutes before serving. Carefully place the turkey on a serving tray (see above for tips on how to flip or remove the turkey from the roasting pan).
- Once the turkey is removed from the roasting pan, scoop out the vegetables from the stuffing and along bottom of roasting pan and place them around the perimeter of the turkey on the serving tray. Should you not have any room on the serving tray, place the vegetables in a serving bowl instead.
- Serve with our Instant Pot Sweet Potato Mash, Low Carb Stuffing with Sausage and Goji Berries as well as Cranberry Pineapple Sauce in Instant Pot. Bon Appetit!
The above nutritional values are estimates and should only be used as a guide. If you are following a specific diet or have dietary restrictions, please use your preferred nutritional calculator. If you have a food allergy please ensure that none of the listed ingredients are part of your restrictions. As well, always use a food thermometer to ensure safe cooking temperature of the food items.