Roast Turkey - Old-Fashioned Stuffed

This is a great recipe for Thanksgiving that calls for wrapping the turkey in bacon as a precaution against drying out, that also lends a slight bacon flavor to the gravy.
Read through recipe instructions several days in advance and refer to notes for estimated cooking times.
Based on a recipe from Cook's Illustrated, Marcus Walser, November and December 2009.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
resting time30 mins
Total Time4 hrs 15 mins
Course: Main Course - Chicken - Poultry
Servings: 10 servings
Author: Catherine Christiano


  • 12 to 15 pound turkey fresh natural and not brined
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 12 ounces thick-sliced applewood cured bacon
  • Prepared Stuffing
  • cheesecloth
  • kitchen twine


  • The night before, remove giblets, often found in neck cavity, and neck, usually found inside rib cage; reserve to make gravy. Review gravy recipe to perhaps complete first stage in advance. Use fingers or handle of wooden spoon to separate skin from meat on breast, legs, thighs, and back; avoid breaking skin. Rub 1 tablespoon salt evenly inside turkey cavity, 1 teaspoon under skin, and 1 teaspoon under skin of each leg. Wrap turkey tightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate 24 - 48 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a large roasting pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.
  • Combine 2 teaspoons kosher salt and baking powder in small bowl. Remove turkey from refrigerator and unwrap. Using paper towels to thoroughly dry turkey inside and out. Using skewer, poke 4 - 5 holes in fat deposits on top of each breast and thigh. Sprinkle surface of turkey with salt-baking powder mixture and rub in mixture with hands, coating skin evenly. Tuck wings underneath turkey.
  • If cooking stuffed, line turkey cavity with cheesecloth, pack with stuffing, tie ends of cheesecloth together. Refrigerate remaining stuffing until later.
  • Using twine, loosely tie turkey legs together. Place turkey breast-side down in V-rack set in roasting pan. Drape bacon slices over back.
  • Roast turkey breast-side down until thickest part of breast registers 130°F on instant-read thermometer, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  • Transfer turkey to rimmed baking sheet. Remove and discard bacon. Using clean potholders or kitchen towels, rotate turkey breast-side up. Cut twine binding legs and remove stuffing bag. Pour drippings from roasting pan into fat separator and reserve for gravy.
  • Once oven has come to temperature, return turkey in V-rack to roasting pan place in the oven. Roast until, thickest part of breast registers 160°F, and thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, about 45 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. (Could try getting juices out of pan for gravy about halfway through this step.)
  • While turkey is roasting, empty stuffing in cheesecloth bag into bowl of reserved stuffing. Add any additional reserved stuffing and ingredients according to stuffing recipe, stir to combine. Prepare gravy.
  • Transfer turkey to carving board and let rest, uncovered, 30 minutes.
  • While turkey rests, set oven temperature to 400°F. Spread stuffing mixture in buttered 13 by 9 inch baking dish that is suitable for serving. Bake until stuffing registers 165°F and top is golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  • Carve turkey and serve with stuffing and gravy.


Apple - Cranberry stuffing works well and negates need to also serve cranberry sauce.
It is often advised, for health risk reasons, not to stuff the turkey. If you do, make sure turkey is cooked to the proper temperature and that the stuffing is heated at the end to the proper temperature. An un-stuffed turkey will take less time to cook.
10 1/2 lb turkey is fine for 7 people.
11 lb turkey is more than enough for 7 people.
14 lb turkey will serve 12 people with leftovers.