This week Jen from Sprite’s Keeper has spun up a challenge for cold weather recipes.  Since Thanksgiving is only 5 weeks from today (I know!!) I thought I’d share my mama-tested and nagger-approved recipe for the Thanksgiving Turkey I cook each year.  

If this sounds familiar, I posted this recipe last year, but that was when I was ultra green and had no readers.  Now that I have the coolest readers on the planet who put up with me through thick and thin, I deleted that post since this one turned out way more interesting to read.  At least according to my foggy sinus-infected brain mode as I type this.

I have used this recipe the last five Thanksgivings – and have not been disappointed. It turns out excellent every time.  Sure one year I decided to get a new roasting pan, and since it wasn’t as tall as my old one to handle a 25 pound bird, the turkey that year took several hours longer to cook.  Proving that for some things, size does matter.  Ahem.   

While the title of the recipe contains Champagne, since it’s added at the very beginning all the alcohol is cooked out of it, leaving the turkey extra tender, juicy and flavorful.   An alternative for the champagne would be sparkling apple cider.  

whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
1/2 to 1 cup
butter or margarine, cubed
apples, cored and halved
1 tablespoon
garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste (I use lemon pepper in lieu of salt & pepper)
(750 ml) bottle champagne (or sparkling cider)
1 Turkey sized Roasting Bag


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Rinse turkey, and pat dry. Gently loosen turkey breast skin, and insert pieces of butter between the skin and breast1. Place apples inside the turkey’s cavity. Sprinkle with garlic powder (I never measure, just sprinkle until I think it’s had enough) and rub salt and pepper2 all over, inside and out. Place turkey in a roasting bag and pour champagne (or sparkling cider) over the inside and outside of the bird. Close bag, and place turkey in a roasting pan.
  3. Follow the directions on the box for the roasting bag based on the turkey’s size – make sure you add the flour to the bag as it requests, and put slits in the bag per the instructions too (I use one of the slits to put my meat thermometer in). Bake turkey the length of time specified for the weight of your turkey, or until the internal temperature is 180 degrees F (85 degrees C) when measured in the meatiest part of the thigh. Remove turkey from bag, and let stand for 15-20 minutes before carving.
1For a 25 lb bird I’ll use one stick of low fat margarine per breast – less for a smaller bird. It’s easier to push the butter under the skin with your fingers if the butter is not room temperature – either chilled in the fridge or frozen. I’ll cut it into squares to add if its frozen, leave it whole if it’s just chilled, then massage the breasts to warm up the butter with my hands and spread it evenly under the skin (shut up, Otin).  I always joke around that I’m giving the turkey a boob job when I’m adding the butter or margarine.
2In place of the salt and pepper, I use lemon pepper and rub it inside the cavity before putting the apples in it, as well as all over the turkey before putting it in the roasting bag.
Check the turkey during the roasting time to keep an eye on the thermometer – it tends to cook faster than the directions for the roasting bag, though it could be related to my oven, so your oven performance may vary.
While the turkey is ‘resting’, there will be plenty of juice in the bag you can pull to make an excellent gravy – one of our guests is not a gravy lover, but he couldn’t get enough of this gravy! 

As for what kind of champagne to use for this turkey – I’ve always used a Spumante – which is considered a sparkling wine.  I’m not big on real dry wines or champagnes, I have enough things to give me a headache, I don’t want something enjoyable to give me one, too.  If you’re replacing the champagne with sparkling cider, be sure to get the white version, not the red.  

If anyone wants the specific recipe for the gravy, feel free to email me or leave a comment…I don’t follow a specific recipe per se, but make it the same every year with excellent results, so I’m sure I can figure out how to put it in words.

In case you’re wondering – even cooking in the roasting bag your turkey will turn out with the most wonderful deep golden brown envied in pictures…I was skeptical at first, but have not been disappointed.

Because my kitchen space is limited I also have an excellent recipe for make-ahead mashed potatoes that always gets a rave review each year – made the day before, chilled in the fridge overnight, then slowly warmed up in a crock pot on Thanksgiving Day.

Since I don’t like soggy stuffing, I never stuff the turkey with stuffing, I always make it separate – also something that can be done in a slow cooker.  So I make that the day before (from a recipe my mom handed down) and heat it slowly in a slow cooker the next day while the turkey is roasting, too.  If there’s enough interest, I’ll post those recipes, too.

This year I’ll take step-by-step pictures as I do the process and update this post at that time.  Meanwhile, you’ll just have to live with the text descriptions – and your imaginations (especially you, Otin!)

To see more mouth watering recipes, head on over to Sprite’s Keeper – be careful, though, you may feel the urge to lick your screen.  


  1. Thanks for sharing! I might actually be able to cook a turkey during the holidays this year since we have family close by. Tara loves cornish game hens, I'm thinking this would work will with them too! Now I want a big turkey dinner!

  2. A 25 pound bird, now you're scaring me! Looks delicious and I'm ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow now.

  3. I'm a greedy bitch. Pretty please, when and if you have the time, please share the recipes for the mashed taters and gravy. Our Cdn Thanksgiving was last weekend, now I'm ready for another round.

  4. TWENTY FIVE pounds?? 25???
    That must be one big roasting bag! However I shall keep this recipe for Christmas which is when we cook turkey.

  5. Ah – great minds and all that! I posted several Thanksgiving recipes for the Spin Cycle today. Well, linked to the ones I posted last year, anyway.

    Your turkey sounds interesting – we inject ours with single malt scotch, and you are 100% correct; all the alcohol burns off. And hooray for cooking the stuffing/dressing in another pan – me too!

    I'd love to see any recipe you're willing to post!

  6. that turkey recipe looks and sounds DELISH!

    would love to see the stuffing recipe-I make a sausage stuffing every year while everyone loves it I am wanting to change things up this yr

  7. It sounds good! My only sermon on Thanksgiving turkey is, brine the bird overnight- if you do nothing else, your bird will hold moisture better, and left overs will last longer- without tasting "fowly"..

  8. Your Turkey looks amazing!! I hosted my first thanksgiving dinner last year and I have an idea for a post that would really help me and maybe some of your readers out too! My Turkey tasted awesome last year– but there was hardly any meat — or maybe I didn't know how to properly cut it up…any tips on how to pick out a good turkey and get the most for your money?

    By the way– really enjoyed this post– you are so funny!!

    do bribes work? lol…have a great day!

  9. That sounds really good! I would definitely go for the sparkling cider with all my elderly relatives claiming to get schnockered on the fumes of anything alcoholic! You're linked!

  10. That sounds wonderful! I always have to cook a turkey because we go to my in-laws on turkey day; hence, no left-overs.

    And what would turkey day be without some turkey leftovers!


    Does anybody else freak out when handling the bird? Or is it just me?

    hee hee

  11. It sounds really great! However, my hubby is the one who does the cooking for Thanksgiving! hehehehe

  12. Campaign with Turkey reminds me of my chicken picante recipe, but that is cooked in a skillet and not in the oven.

    Cooking the potatoes ahead of time may be one I am willing to try since I'm almost always waiting on the potatoes to cook.

    Thank you for sharing,

  13. LMAO at the thought of you feeling up a Turkey!! haha!

    Was there a time when you didn't have any readers??? I thought you always had hundreds, at least since I have been here!

  14. How did I miss you this morning?? I was checking back to read comments and realized that I was never even here.

    I will try this with a chicken for fun. I use a cook book for thanksgiving called "Thanksgiving 101" Very Yummy stuffing recipe and pumpkin pie.

  15. Simple enough and it sounds amazing!!

    I think we may do a fried turkey this year…though I will mention this to Neil.

  16. Thank you for an interesting recipe. I'm talking to my turkey tomorrow so I got you linked up with this one for Friday's Feast.

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