Turkey for Thanksgiving, of course! That is to be expected. But, a turkey wrapped in bacon for Thanksgiving?!?! Yes, please! If you really want to impress your friends and family this Thanksgiving, walk out with (don’t drop it!) a turkey that is covered in crispy bacon. You really need everyone to see this beautiful display before you cut into it. And, I am happy to say that Bacon Wrapped Turkey tastes as great as it looks!
Thanksgiving has been a national holiday in the United States since 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln declared it so. Turkey was assumed to be the bird for the holiday since colonists had been hunting and eating these birds since the early 1600s. However, just because turkeys were hunted and eaten lots, there is some debate as to which fowl was actually served at ‘The First Thanksgiving’. Either way, turkeys are large enough to feed a large group and have become more-than-one holiday food staple. Adding bacon to the turkey may seem time-consuming, but it is easier than you might think it is! I will give you step-by-step directions for the bacon wrapping below. Serve my Green Beans and Mashed Potatoes to make it really feel like a feast!
BACON-WRAPPED TURKEY RECIPE
This recipe will be the talk of the table when they see the presentation. It will still be the topic of conversation when everyone tastes the turkey! It starts with the garlic butter spread and is topped off with the crispy bacon!
Garlic Butter Ingredients
- Unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
- Chicken broth
HOW TO MAKE BACON WRAPPED TURKEY
First, you need your garlic butter ready to go. I like to use a food processor to finely chop all of the herbs before mixing it into the butter. Set that aside and focus on the turkey. Remove all of the “extras”, including the neck and the giblets. Do with these as you wish. Put half the onions in the roasting pan, and place the other half of the onions in the cavity of the turkey. Place the turkey, breast side up, into a roasting pan, right on top of the onions.
It’s time to rub on the garlic butter. Don’t be alarmed by the color, that is from the smoked paprika, and I don’t recommend leaving it out, you will miss out on all of that smokey flavor!
Smear the butter mixture under and over the skin. Gently pull back the skin of the turkey, without completely detaching it. Smear the garlic butter mixture under the skin as much as you can. This is what creates the slow butter drip and the natural basting process. Reattach skin as much as you can, and then smear again on the outside of the skin. Basically, butter just goes everywhere! Next, pour the chicken broth into the base of the roasting pan and get ready to cover the turkey with the bacon!
HOW TO WRAP TURKEY IN BACON
I may not be the best at wrapping gifts, but I’ve got this bacon wrapping technique down. Before you begin wrapping, be sure the oven is set to 425°F.
- Wrap each leg with 2 slices of bacon.
- Wrap each wing with 1 slice of bacon, then tuck the wingtips under the bird.
- Forget the turkey for a moment, and spread out a large piece of parchment paper and lay 8 pieces of bacon side by side. There should be no spaces in between the bacon.
- Fold up every other piece of bacon about halfway.
- Lay a single piece of bacon down horizontally, unfolding the pieces you folded up.
- Fold up the other half of the pieces of bacon and lay another piece of bacon down, horizontally. You will start to see a crisscross pattern going on. (Think of a tic-tac-toe board, but with more crisscrossing going on. Or, think of a pie crust.)
- After you have crisscrossed the bacon pieces, rotate the parchment paper 90 degrees. You will now see a diamond shape, or rhombus if you want to be particular.
- Carefully flip over the parchment paper so the bacon is now laying on top of the turkey. Remove the parchment paper and tuck in the ends of the bacon where you can. You can trim some if you need to.
COOKING THE BACON WRAPPED TURKEY
Cook the Bacon Wrapped Turkey for about 40 minutes at 425°F. The bacon will be slightly crispy already. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F to finish roasting the turkey. Cook for another 2 to 2 and a half hours, basting every 20-30 minutes. If you are cooking a larger bird, I would increase the time. If you start to notice your bacon burning, cover the turkey with a large piece of tin foil. At the end of the day, you are going to be looking for a specific temperature to know when the turkey is done the cooking. Using a meat thermometer is a must! Make sure to insert it into the thickest part of the bird, and that the tip doesn’t touch the bone. I like to take my turkey out of the oven at 160°F and not 165°F. I find that when the turkey rests for 30-minutes on the counter it will hit 165°F on its own.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) (227g) unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 turkey (12-15 pounds), thawed (may take up to 3 days)
- 6 medium onions, peeled and quartered
- 1 1/2 pounds (22-24 slices) thick-cut bacon
- 1 cup (240g) chicken broth
PREP AHEAD OF TIME
Thaw turkey (estimate 5 hours of refrigerator thaw time per pound of turkey). The thawed turkey should sit at room temperature for a minimum of 2 hours before cooking.
Mix together butter, garlic, thyme, sage, smoked paprika, and salt. It can be prepared up to three days before and stored in the refrigerator. Let it get to room temperature before using.
DAY OF COOKING
Arrange an oven rack at the bottom third of the oven. Remove any upper racks.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Remove giblets and neck from turkey and discard. Drain cavity well; pat dry with paper towels. It’s important to get the skin dry so that the butter will stick to the turkey!
Place half of the onions in the roasting pan and the remaining onions in the cavity of the turkey.
Place turkey, breast side up, in a roasting pan.
Gently loosen and lift skin from turkey breast without totally detaching skin. (you can use rubber gloves here!) Rub 3 tablespoons garlic butter under the skin.
Tuck or tie ends of legs together with kitchen string.
Generously rub the entire turkey including the cavity with remaining garlic butter.
Pour chicken broth into the base of the roasting pan.
Wrap each leg with 2 slices of bacon.
Wrap each wing with 1 slice of bacon and then tuck the wingtips under the bird.
Set out a large piece of parchment paper and place 8 pieces of bacon side by side, leaving no space in between.
Fold every other strip of bacon up about halfway. Lay another strip of bacon down, perpendicular to the others. Fold the parallel strips back down, then fold up all the other strips. Lay another perpendicular strip down, and repeat until all the strips have been used.
Rotate the parchment 90 degrees so that you are looking at a diamond instead of a square.
Gently flip the parchment paper over so the bacon is on the top of the turkey with the tip of the diamond at the neck of the turkey.
Once you have everything in place, tuck the ends of the bacon weave in so that no bacon is overlapping. Trim if necessary.
Place roasting pan in oven for 40 minutes. The bacon should be dark and slightly crisp.
Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
Roast for an additional 2-2.5 hours or until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Timing will adjust based on the size of your turkey. The general rule of thumb is 13-15 minutes for each pound of turkey. Basting and opening and shutting the oven will affect cooking time as well. Use tin foil to cover the turkey if the bacon starts to get too crispy. Baste the turkey every 20-30 minutes.
Remove the turkey from the oven and place it on a serving tray. Allow it to rest for 30 minutes before carving.