Perfect Roast Turkey With Bacon

Perfect roast turkey with bacon recipe

​​The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic

Prep: 72 hrs
Cook: 5 hrs
Total: 77 hrs
Servings: 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1051 Calories
52g Fat
1g Carbs
136g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 1051
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 52g 66%
Saturated Fat 19g 97%
Cholesterol 544mg 181%
Sodium 1529mg 66%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 136g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 75mg 6%
Iron 5mg 29%
Potassium 1214mg 26%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A whole roasted turkey is the quintessential centerpiece of the holiday table, but sometimes it can be a bit boring. When it is wrapped in bacon, however, it will wow your guests and add a wonderful smoky, salty, rich flavor to the bird.

You do need to plan ahead as this recipe takes a bit longer since the turkey is dry-brined for up to 72 hours beforehand. The brine may seem like a lot of salt, but this technique creates a flavorful turkey that holds on to its own natural juices when you roast it, creating tender, juicy meat. The turkey should also sit uncovered in the refrigerator, which helps the skin dry out a bit resulting in that wonderfully crispy skin we all love on a roasted bird.

Enjoy this roasted turkey wrapped in bacon with all the trimmings, including creamy mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and your favorite vegetables.


  • 1 (8- to 12-pound) turkey

  • 2 to 3 teaspoons fine sea salt (1/2 teaspoon per pound of turkey)

  • 2 sage leaves, optional

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup butter, softened

  • 3 stalks celery

  • 1/2 pound bacon, pancetta, or prosciutto, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, or turkey stock or wine such as tawny port, divided

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for roast turkey with bacon
    ​​The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  2. Rub the salt under the skin of the breast and thighs, inside the cavities, and then all over the skin of the bird.

    Rub turkey with salt
    ​​The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  3. Put the turkey in a large bowl or roasting pan, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 24 to 72 hours.

    Wrap turkey
    ​​The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic 
  4. A day before you plan to cook the turkey, uncover it, pour off any juices in the bottom of the bowl or pan, pat it dry, and return to the refrigerator uncovered.

    Uncover turkey
    ​​The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Pat the turkey dry. If using the sage, work the leaves under the skin of the breasts and thighs.

    Pat turkey dry
    ​​The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  6. Rub the turkey all over with the butter.

    Rub with butter
    ​​The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  7. Place the celery stalks in the roasting pan—these will keep the turkey raised and off the bottom of the pan; alternatively, you can use a roasting rack.

    Place celery in roasting pan
    ​​The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  8. Lay the bacon, pancetta, or prosciutto all over the turkey breast. This will help protect the white meat from getting overcooked and naturally baste the meat as it roasts.

    Lay bacon down
    ​​The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  9. Pour the water into the bottom of the pan.

    Add water to pan
    ​​The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  10. Roast for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 F and gently baste the turkey, being careful not to disturb the bacon, with 1/2 cup of the broth, stock, or wine. Repeat basting every half hour, using the pan juices when you have used all 1 1/2 cups of the liquid.

    Add stock
    ​​The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  11. Roast until a thermometer reads 170 F at the base of the thigh or 160 F at the thickest part of the breast.

    Take internal temperature of turkey
    ​​The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  12. Remove the turkey from the oven, tent with foil, and let sit in a warm place for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour before carving. This resting time will allow the meat to finish cooking, let the juices settle back into the meat, and give you time to make the gravy and finish up the rest of the meal.

    Cover turkey with foil
    ​​The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  13. Carve, serve, and enjoy.

    Carve turkey and serve
    ​​The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic

How to Store and Freeze

  • Leftover turkey can be stored in an airtight container for three to four days in the refrigerator.
  • Turkey slices can be frozen to use for sandwiches or meals for four months; if covered in broth or gravy, it will last for up to six months in the freezer.

Recipe Variation

This recipe can be cooked in a roasting bag following the bag's instructions. Once cooked, if the bacon isn't crispy enough, cut open the bag and place the turkey under the broiler for a few minutes, watching carefully.