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Incredible-bacon-wrapped turkey

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SKILL LEVEL :
Easy but takes some time

You've got to try this incredible bacon wrapped turkey

This is one of the best turkeys I have made, which is saying a lot because I have cooked dozens of turkeys. I first heard about this turkey at a dinner party in Bend, Oregon. Our hosts raved about their bacon-wrapped turkey and quickly whipped out their phones to show off pictures of a mind-bending turkey wrapped in a woven bacon jacket.

 

There is more to this turkey than a bacon jacket. You compound a bacon herb butter in the food processor and slather it both under the skin and over the skin. I knew this turkey would be exceptional, but I had no idea how exceptional.

Inspiration

I did my research and found several versions of bacon-wrapped turkey on the internet. The most detailed recipe I found was by Perre Coleman Magness, published in 2011 at The Runaway Spoon, and I credit Perre for showing me the way. I have not been able to track down the first bacon wrapped turkey, but Serious Eats has an article going back to 2007 that cites other bacon wrapped turkeys. So my big question is "How did I miss this gorgeous method for making turkey for all of these years?"

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Turkey simplified

I take a very streamlined approach to this turkey. I don't brine it and I don't stuff it, two steps I have always taken before. This turkey is for:

  1. the minimalist who wants to create a great, flavorful moist turkey with a big wow factor
  2. the bacon enthusiast who knows everything is better with bacon
  3. the crafty person who enjoys weaving the perfect turkey jacket.

 

Weaving the jacket is actually easy to do and brings out your inner kindergartener.

 

Even if you are a turkey novice, you can make this turkey!

Another short cut

This may shock you, but I don't wash my turkey. For that matter, I don't wash my chicken either. I know this sounds shocking and a little gross, but studies show that washing poultry spreads bacteria that causes salmonella and other deleterious critters that can make you sick. See my post to learn why washing your poultry is not a good idea and what important step you must to take to make sure your turkey is safely cooked.

Use a thermometer

Skip the pop up thermometer that comes with the turkey and get yourself a good digital thermometer. It is the only way to truly tell when the turkey is done. This is the thermometer I use:

Cooking Thermometer | Something New For Dinner

Take pictures!

Make sure you snap a photo or two of your bacon-clad bird and enter it into our turkey photo contest. We'd love to share your masterpiece with other readers. We have two great prizes for the top two entries: a Cuisinart Mini-prep and a CDN quick-read thermometer. The deadline to enter the contest is 12/3/2014.

 

Update

We posted this turkey recipe in November 2014. It was one of our most popular recipes ever. In 2015, we came up with a variation on this turkey, Bacon-Wrapped Spatchcocked Turkey That Cooks In 80 Minutes. It too, is pretty awesome. I would check both out before deciding which one to make.

 

5 from 1 reviews
Incredible-bacon-wrapped turkey
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This bacon wrapped turkey is every bit as incredible as it looks. It is fun to make and one of the easiest, most flavorful and moist turkeys I have ever made. No stuffing, no brining, just a little jacket weaving. I encourage you to try this turkey!
Ingredients
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ½ pound butter, room temperature
  • 1 large handful mixed fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage)
  • 1½ pound thick cut bacon, divided
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 3" pieces
  • 3 leeks, cleaned and cut into 3" pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 3" pieces
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 apple, sliced peels on
  • 1 14-pound turkey
  • Kosher salt and pepper
Instructions
For the bacon butter
  1. Place oven shelf in bottom of the oven. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put the garlic cloves in a food processor and whirl to finely mince. Add herbs and briefly pulse to chop. Add butter and ½ pound of bacon and pulse to combine.
To prepare the turkey
  1. Remove the neck, gizzards, liver, pop-up thermometer and assorted parts that come with your turkey and discard, unless you use these for gravy. Slide your hands between the turkey and the skin to separate. Work your hands all the way around the turkey so that the skin is separates from the flesh.
  2. Take half of the compounded bacon-herb butter and spread it all around underneath the turkey skin. Rub the remaining butter compound over the skin, giving the turkey a good butter-bacon massage. Season with salt and pepper.
To weave the bacon jacket
  1. Start by wrapping the drumsticks. Begin at the back to the drumstick and wind the bacon around trying to slightly overlap each piece until each drumstick is covered.
  2. Place a horizontal strip of bacon across the breast just below the neck hole. Now place a vertical strip of bacon on the far right of the bird, going from the neck end towards the bottom of the bird.
  3. Alternate weaving horizontal strips and vertical strips until the entire top of the turkey is covered in the jacket. Take care to slightly overlap each strip. Using some kitchen string, tie the legs of the bird together.
To cook the turkey
  1. Place an oven rack in the bottom of the oven and remove all the top racks. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Scatter the carrots, leeks, celery, onion and apples in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place a roasting rack on top of the vegetables and place the turkey on top of the rack.
  2. Roast for 30 minutes at 450 degrees and then reduce heat to 375 degrees. Watch the bacon and as soon as it begins to darken cover with tin foil, usually in the first 30 minutes. Cook the turkey until its internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, about 15 minutes per pound or about 3½ hours total for a 14 pound bird.
  3. When turkey reaches 155 to 160 degrees, remove from the oven and let rest for 30 minutes before serving. The turkey will continue to cook while resting and the internal temperature will rise to 165 degrees. Always use a thermometer to safely determine when the turkey is done.

 

Disclaimer: I do not have any financial agreement with Cuisinart or CDN. I am an Amazon affiliate and if you purchase any product through my Amazon links I do make a small commission on your purchase. I don't want you to buy anything you don't need, but I do appreciate your support when you purchase through my links.
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77 COMMENTS

Comments

  1. Tricia Woodward says:

    I’m definitely going to try this on a small turkey this year, too fun! My Mother always does the turkey but I think this will impress all but the serious vegetarians. Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Trisha,
      I’m so glad you are going to give this incredible turkey a try. Please snap some pictures and enter them into our turkey photo contest! Looking forward to seeing your masterpiece!

  2. Tonya Henderson says:

    Step 1 of the bacon butter calls for ” 1/2 pound of bacon and pulse to combine”; do you cook the bacon first and then add it to the processor to pulse?

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Tonya,
      Thankfully, no you do not cook the bacon. That would be an added step. Just put the bacon in the food processor with the butter, herbs and garlic and pulse it until it is all combined. You are making a bacon infused butter that essentially self-bastes the turkey. If you don’t have a food processor you could spend some time really mincing the bacon and then combining it with the butter and herbs. Don’t worry, the bacon is mostly fat which is used for basting and anything left will cook while roasting.

      Don’t forget to take a picture of your turkey and enter it into our turkey photo contest! We would love to see your creation.

  3. Nancy Gabany says:

    I don’t have a food processor. Will a blender do the job?

    When cooking this turkey, is the 30 minutes at 450 included for total cooking time is 3 1/2 for 14 pound turkey, or would it be total cooking of 4 hours? Trying to plan when to serve.

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Nancy,

      I think it depends on your blender. Alternatively you can try chopping the bacon very fine and hand mix it in with some softened butter and herbs. Please let us know how it works out.

      And to answer your second question:

      Yes, the 30 minutes is included in the “estimated” cooking time. 15 minutes per pound is an approximate cooking time. Turkeys are different sizes, have different moisture content and ovens are not always perfectly calibrated and have hot and cold spots, so the best way to judge how long to cook a turkey is to take its temperature. Get yourself a reliable digital thermometer and take the turkey’s temperature about an hour before you think it will be done. Insert the thermometer in a couple places looking for the meatiest part of the turkey, making sure the thermometer is not touching the bone. Then take the turkey’s temperature again 15 to 30 minutes before you think it will be done, depending on how close the turkey’s temperature is to being done.

      A turkey is done when its internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. I take the turkey out of the oven when it hits 155 to 160 degrees. I let the turkey rest for 30 – 40 minutes and it will continue to cook outside of the oven and will eventually work its way up to the magic 165 degrees.

      Good luck! I am sure your turkey will be wonderful!

  4. Barbara gallian says:

    I am definitely going to give this exceptional bird a try this Thanksgiving! My son loves stuffing however and I don’t want to let him down. If I add stuffing to this turkey what do your think the result will be?

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Barbara,

      I hear you on the stuffing. This is the first year I didn’t stuff the turkey. I agree turkey cooked in the bird is the best. You absolutely can stuff the bird. No reason why not. I just wanted this recipe to be doorknob simple.

  5. mark says:

    Going to make this bird this year, hows the gravy turn out? can you add broth as the turkey cooks?

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Mark,
      The gravy works out fine. I did not add broth as the turkey cooks, but if that is the way you typically make your gravy I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work. My sister Becky made the gravy from our drippings and it was delicious.

  6. Margie says:

    Do you think I could adapt this recipe to a larger turkey- just cooking for the proper length of time? Or would the bacon burn? I love the idea, but would probably be cooking a 20 lb turkey.

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Margie,

      There is no problem using this method to make a bigger turkey. Just cover the turkey with tinfoil when the bacon is cooked, about 30 minutes after you put it in the oven. Keep a close eye on the turkey until you cover it with tinfoil because you don’t want the bacon to burn. Good luck and please email us a picture of your turkey to enter our turkey photo contest. Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Andrea says:

    I would love to try this recipe but need my oven for other dishes. Would this work in an electric roasting pan or will the bacon not cook properly?

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Andrea,

      I understand the oven problem. I have never used an electric roasting pan, but I think if you can use it to roast a traditional turkey it will also work for this bacon-wrapped turkey. The bacon does cook a lot faster than the turkey so I cover the turkey with tinfoil once the bacon has browned. In my oven that happens after about 30 minutes. If you can use some tinfoil in your electric roasting pan I think this recipe should work. Please let us know if you give it a try and email us a photo to enter our turkey photo contest. I am sure other readers would love to know how it works out.

  8. Jennifer says:

    hello what kind of apples are the best. And what brand of bacon did you used. I love this one my husband wants to try it.

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Jennifer,
      It really does not matter what kind of apples you use. They are there to provide moisture and a little flavor but are not intended to be eaten. I use a thick sliced bacon so the slices hold up during the cooking process. Good luck!

  9. Jenny says:

    Hi Kim –
    I’m looking forward to cooking our turkey with your recipe this year. We are an extremely large group, so we typically cook two 30+ pound turkeys and one 20 pound turkey. (We love our leftovers!!} One of our 30 pound turkeys will be wrapped in bacon and put on the BBQ. We are always short on oven space since we typically have around 50 family members at our Thanksgiving table. We prepare our turkeys as if they are going into the oven and then put the pan right on the grills of the BBQ. We have done this for 7 years now and they always turn out beautiful!! We are very careful to cover the birds as soon as they are brown.
    CAN’T WAIT to take a picture and share it with you!!
    HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Jenny,

      This is a genius idea for all of us who run short on oven space on Thanksgiving. Can you provide any details on what heat you use? And how long it takes? Do you let a thermometer be your guide as to when the turkey is done? I know there are many people who will be interested in the details. Thank you for writing in!

  10. Alice says:

    I’ll be trying this! I have to admit however, I am super nervous about pulling it off and the taste! Wish me Luck!!!!

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Alice,

      There’s nothing to be nervous about. This turkey is very straightforward and there is very little that can go wrong. Just watch the turkey very closely for the first 20 – 30 minutes. As soon as the bacon is done, cover it in foil and put it back in the oven. You will do just fine. Please email us a photo to enter our turkey photo contest. Good luck and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  11. Manda says:

    I’ve got this turkey in the oven right now! It was so much fun to make!! I can’t wait to taste it!

    1. Kim says:

      I agree Manda. There is something really fun about bacon butter and woven bacon jackets. I hope your turkey is terrific and your Thanksgiving is wonderful.

  12. Melisa says:

    Just finished eating and this turkey was very good….

    1. Kim says:

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  13. Art says:

    The bird was delicious, moist and flavorful with a slight taste of the bacon but not overpowering
    One slight adjustment we made was to take the bacon jacket off for the last 20 minutes to crisp up the skin which we love.
    Gravy was great and would probably add more chicken broth next time for additional gravy
    Thanks for a nice twist on the traditional meal

    1. Kim says:

      Glad you enjoyed it Art and thank you for the tips.

  14. Todd Campbell says:

    Hi Kim!
    My bacon wrapped turkey was phenomenal! After removing it from the oven and letting it rest, I went to carve and plate … The meat fell right off the carcass! Though I had tied the leg bones together, the leg & thigh had spread or even separated from the turkey .. The breast came off in one solid piece w/ just a fork … It was gorgeous!
    This was also the first turkey I had ever cooked! (17.5 lb fresh turkey from the Halal butcher on my corner) I also used 3 lbs double smoked bacon, from a Polish Deli in my neighborhood, sliced extra thick. Due to the wider shape, shorter length & less elasticity than packaged bacon, the basket weave was a little more “organic” .. The bacon butter was a perfect adhesive to form the thick slices to the curves & crevices of the bird. The flavor was off the charts! Even the more experienced chefs within my group were completely blown away! I could barely get it on to plates … Everyone turned into a pack of Hyaenas ravishing a carcass on the Serengeti!!! You made me a Culinary Star on Thanksgiving!
    I had originally been doing research for a spatchcocked recipe … LUCKILY, I came across yours, and discovered the Bacon Wrapped recipe link in the opening paragraph … I Clicked … The rest was history! Your instructions and suggestions were clear and easy to follow. Your site has just moved to the top my “Fav” cooking blogs list! =) I look forward to many more shared recipes and tips … Thank you so much!! xxx …. Todd, Brooklyn NY

  15. Mary Day says:

    We had 3-12 lb turkeys in our freezer from last year. I knew we needed to use them up, but was afraid they might be dry. My first thought was a bacon wrapped turkey… Everyone loves bacon in our family. I found your recipe and it just looked like I could do it without going crazy. I made one turkey bacon wrapped, one Cajun injected, and my son-in-law made one smoked outside. It took 3 days for them to defrost (good freezer!). In that 3 days, I decided to take your suggestion and just wrap the bird! I didn’t bacon-butter it. I put it in the oven at 425 for 20 minutes. Bacon browned. Then I put it in an electric roaster for the remainder of the time at 350. I never had to use foil. It was really pretty! Next time, I will use thicker bacon & get a half pound more & try the bacon butter. I tied the legs & also around the body to keep the wings flat. This was a great recipe… Easy to visualize, easy to follow, and adaptable. Thank you! Our family ranges from 11 to 66, and everyone liked the variety of “birds”, and want a bacon wrapped turkey again… Maybe in a couple months!!

  16. Amanda says:

    Thank you for this amazing recipe! Thanksgiving Turkey was a success!

    1. Kim says:

      So glad you enjoyed it Amanda.

  17. Sue says:

    Hi, what do you do with the carrots, celery and leeks when it is done? and how do you make gravy from the drippings? Sorry, I’ve never made a turkey before as my family is not westernized.
    Thanks !

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Sue,
      The vegetables are there to add a little moisture to the pan and to flavor the drippings that you will use to make gravy. The vegetables are not meant to be eaten. Skim the fat off the drippings and use to make your gravy. Good luck with your turkey I am sure it will be fantastic. Several people wrote in telling me this was the first turkey they have ever made.

  18. Deena Bunce says:

    My boss made this turkey, she said she cooked it breast side down so the juices would flow down into the breast while cooking, do you recommend this?

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Deena, I have not used this technique, but it makes some sense. I have done a little research and there are many people that recommend this technique for at least part of the cooking time. The reason for roasting upside down is to prevent the white meat from being too dry. In the case of my bacon wrapped turkey recipe, there are other steps being taken to keep the turkey moist. The combination of putting the butter bacon under the skin, on top of the skin and then covering it all with the bacon jacket serves to keep the turkey moist, even without basting. That said, if you try roasting upside down, please let us know how it works!

  19. Suzy says:

    Hello, does this turkey require basting? If so, how often? Also, for a 14 lb turkey, how much time is required for it to thaw in the fridge? Thanks for your help, I can’t wait to try this recipe!

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Suzy — No this turkey does not require basting. That is the beauty of it. The two layers of bacon butter and the bacon jacket take care of the basting for you. Here is a link from Butterball turkey that discusses two ways to thaw a turkey. http://www.butterball.com/how-tos/thaw-a-turkey You need 24 hours for every 4 pounds of turkey, or you can speed it up with a little water. If you are planning this turkey for Christmas, you had better get thawing! Good luck and let us know how your turkey turns out.

  20. Linda says:

    HI, When I put the turkey in the roaster do I put it in the oven uncovetrd?

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Linda,

      I have not used a turkey roaster myself. I assume you are talking about an electric roaster, and not a roasting pan. One of our readers wrote in and told us she did not need to cover the bacon when she used an electric roaster and it worked out beautifully. When I cook mine in the oven I cover the bacon wrapped turkey with some foil after it has browned and then remove it for a few minutes at the very end. Whether you are using an oven or an electric roaster, I’d keep an eye on it and cover if it starts to get too brown. Good luck and Merry Christmas!

  21. Mary says:

    Can bacon be used on just a 3 lb turkey breast? Course, not going to be creative with the weave, but wonder if it can be used. Thanks and hope you are enjoying Christmas and not posting.

    1. Kim says:

      Merry Christmas Mary,

      Yes, you can wrap a turkey breast using the same technique as for a whole turkey. You might find the weaving fun. It brings out your inner kindergartener! Happy Holidays!

  22. Rob says:

    I did not like the turkey that this recipe made. I was really excited but it just wasn’t what I expected it to be. I love bacon but I found it to be too much of a greasy flavor in the meat and it wasn’t for me. I guess for me i enjoy a “cleaner” tasting turkey or more traditional. I did make a smoked turkey this summer which was the best I ever had.

    On the good side the carcass and left over vegetables I had made one hell of a great soup!

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Rob — I am glad you wrote in. This just goes to prove that every recipe is not for everybody and everyone’s opinion is valid and valuable.

      I am glad your soup was terrific. Can you share how you made it?

  23. abby roddy says:

    Hi your recipe called for kosher salt and pepper what do you do with that do you sprinkle it on first

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Abby,
      Yes, season the turkey with salt and pepper after you give it the bacon-butter massage and before you make the bacon jacket. Good luck!

  24. Muhammad says:

    Wow! I am definately going to try this! I can only imagine the explosion of flavors. This is gonna be the bomb!

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Please let us know what you think!

  25. bev says:

    can i make a bacon coated turkey and still cook it in a cooking bag

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Bev, I see no reason for a bag, but have not tried it. If the bacon starts to become a little dark I cover it with tin foil. If you decide to use a bag please write back and let us know how it works out. Happy Thanksgiving!

  26. Jeannine says:

    Hi! Making this turkey for Thanksgiving! Very excited. Need a gravy recipe though. Any recipes?

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Jeannine – I have not published a gravy recipe, but the process is fairly straightforward. Here is an article from the New York Times that describes how you make basic gravy: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016906-classic-pan-gravy. I hope that helps. Please let us know how your Bacon-Wrapped Turkey works out!

  27. Rick says:

    Love this idea!! Will I need a turkey bag? How much is a handful for the herbs and spices?

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Rick — No turkey bag needed. The bacon protects the turkey from drying out. If you bacon starts to get too dark, just cover it with a little tin foil. A handful can vary and the exact amount is not important. Just grab a handful whatever fresh herbs you have on hand – rosemary, sage, thyme or parsley and add it to your butter. I promise you won’t go wrong!

  28. Brad Sharpe says:

    Hi Kim- Thank you for this recipe. My 7 year old daughter and I are going to be preparing this for our extended family this year, 2015. We will surely let you know how it turns out. My only concern is whether or not there will be another photo contest? I think it would just be a load of fun to have my daughter make her first turkey and be able to enter it into any sort of contest. Just sounds like something to be enjoyed in good fun.

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Brad,

      Sadly we are not holding a photo contest this year. We’ve been extra busy and did not put one together. Our bad. We really enjoyed all the wonderful pictures we received last year. Send in any pictures and I will do my best to share one on my weekly email to subscribers. If you are not a SNFD subscriber you can sign up on the home page. It is free. I think it is fabulous you are cooking with your daughter. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  29. Rick says:

    Thank you so much for the input. Now, what about stuffing? We’re big on that extra tasty turkey stuffing. How does that change the recipe? And keep in mind this is my first turkey everrrr. 🙂

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Rick — first of all relax, your turkey is going to be great. I like to watch this video by Tante Marie every Thanksgiving to help me keep perspective. You can still stuff the bird. I love this stuffing I have made for my family for years and years. When you stuff a turkey it takes longer to cook. Don’t try and guess the time, use a thermometer. See my post on 10 Tips For Making Your Turkey Great – but ignore the one about brining. You don’t need to brine bacon turkey.

      Last year we had many people write in saying our Incredible bacon-wrapped turkey was their first turkey ever as well as the best turkey they had ever eaten. It will be great! We’d love to hear from you after the fact. Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

  30. keith says:

    To me putting bacon on a turkey is an old trick . That was how my family didit when I was young in the 1950’s and 60’s . worked good for cooking a turkey,the bacon seasoned the meat .

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Keith, That is interesting. Sometimes the old tricks are best. Your family was ahead of the curve!

  31. Hal says:

    Second year running I did this with our two birds. It turned out even better this year. Our change up is doing it in our Traeger smoker grill. I smoke the birds at about 175 F for an hour before bringing it up to 325F. Fantastic taste and spectacular presentation.

  32. Jeannine Pucylowski says:

    Thanks so much for the recipe Kim! My husband doesn’t really eat a lot of turkey because he feels most turkey is usually dry and flavorless but said this was the best he’s ever had! Very impressed! It was amazing!

  33. Sandie says:

    I absolutely can not wait to try this recipe on our Christmas turkey! I’m planning on using extra thick peppered bacon for even more punch! Although I have been cooking for over 50 years, I appreciate your easy, explicit directions. Thank you!

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Sandie,

      Thank you so much for the kind words. You will love this recipe. It has been an enormous hit with our readers for two years now and always gets rave reviews. Both new cooks and experienced cooks have had great results. This year we added a variation that I like very much — Bacon-Wrapped Spatchcocked Turkey that Cooks in 80 Minutes. You may want to check it out too.

  34. Sandie says:

    I prepared our Christmas turkey (a whopping 20 pounder) using this recipe and I absolutely can not believe how moist and tender it was!!! This is a recipe I will always use for turkeys and other fowl! Goodness, gracious, it is delicious. The bacon left a faint bacon taste that really enhanced the turkey! Next time I might add more herbs to the butter bath! The turkey leftovers were still moist and delicious too! YUM!

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      I am so glad you enjoyed our Bacon-Wrapped Turkey. I haven’t made one since September when we had our family Thanksgiving. Your comment has me thinking I need to make another one soon. Maybe in January. This turkey is great all year round.

  35. Lynn Williams says:

    Made this for our Christmas dinner. It was a hit with everyone in the family! Will definitely be making it again. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed our Bacon-Wrapped Turkey Lynn. You might want to check out our related recipe for Bacon-Wrapped Spatchcocked Turkey in 80 Minutes. You get the same bacon flavor and great presentation but spatchcocking allows you to cook the turkey very evenly and greatly reduces the time the turkey is in the oven. It is suitable for smaller 12 – 14 pound turkeys. Happy Holidays!

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