This Smoky Paprika-Bacon Roasted Turkey is the mother of all roasted turkeys. Saying it’s over-the-top might be an understatement, and it will surely bring your Thanksgiving feast to the next level!As you know from my Cornbread Stuffing Recipe, Thanksgiving is full of wonderful food and family memories for me.
From my dad’s roaring fires in the brick fireplace and the family filling the living room, to my mom’s perfect table settings and gravy that cooked for days — it was always a special day in our house.
So Thanksgiving happens to be my favorite holiday! After all, additionally, it’s also all about food!
And in the last few years, this Smoky Paprika-Bacon Roasted Turkey has become part of our Thanksgiving food traditions.
I go nuts with the turkey, and I love the entire process.
If time permits, I highly recommend brining your turkey. Brining will add moisture and flavor and will help keep the turkey from drying out. My Thanksgiving turkey brine recipe is here.
And needless to say, covering the turkey with bacon is brilliant! This “trick” serves as an automatic baster — and adds an insanely delicious smoky flavor.
During the roasting process, the delicious bacon grease will very slowly drip into every nook and cranny of the turkey.
So go nuts!
Make this oh-so-amazing Thanksgiving Bacon Roasted Turkey!
Everyone at your Thanksgiving table will be totally wowed by this turkey.
And that’s a promise!
And because Thanksgiving is what it is, here’s a timeline to help you out . . .
This timeline is for roasting a turkey that is approximately 12-pounds. Roasting times will change based on the weight of your turkey.
Timeline for Smoky Paprika-Bacon Roasted Turkey:
At least 1 day ahead of time: If desired, brine the turkey. (The turkey will be removed from the brine after about 18 hours.) My Thanksgiving turkey brine recipe is here.
Up to 5 days and at least 3 hours ahead of time: Make the butter portion of the recipe.
About 3 1/2 hours ahead of serving time: Begin assembling the turkey with the bacon.
About 3 hours ahead of serving time: Begin roasting the turkey.
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* IMPORTANT * Your turkey must be brined before you begin this recipe. Brining the turkey is not included in the prep time and will take about 18 hours! And don't worry, 99% of that time is inactive. Here's the recipe and how to do it. (I always prefer DIY, but you may also purchase a pre-brined turkey.)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, washed and dried, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, washed and dried, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, washed and dried, finely chopped
- 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 approximately (12-pound) whole brined turkey (click here for brine recipe)
- about 12 strips applewood smoked bacon
- about 10 fresh rosemary springs, washed and dried
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
The turkey should be brined before you begin. Here's the brine recipe and how to do it.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F and adjust a rack that will fit your roasting pan and turkey. The rack will likely need to be below the middle. Then prepare a large roasting pan with a raised rack. Add two cups of water to the bottom of the pan and set aside.
Make compound butter by combining the butter with the paprika, garlic, herbs and lemon juice. Set aside.
Remove the neck and insides of the turkey, rinse it inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Use your hands to loosen the skin on the turkey breast and legs. Then rub all but about 1 tablespoon of the compound butter under the skin, being careful to leave it intact. Set the remaining butter aside.
Place the turkey, breast side up, on the roasting rack and into the oven. After about 15 minutes, use a basting brush to spread the rest of the butter on the turkey's surface. Continue to roast until the skin is brown, about 10 more minutes. Then remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 350 degrees.
Gently turn the turkey over so the breast side is down on the rack. (Yes, this is tricky with a big turkey -- you might want to use heat resistant silicone kitchen gloves, or hold each end with paper towels for a better grip.) Cover the back and sides of the turkey with the bacon slices, using rosemary springs to hold them in place.
Return the turkey to the oven (as it is, breast side down) and roast until the internal temperature is 155 degrees. The final internal temperature will be about 165 degrees, as the turkey will continue to cook for several minutes outside the oven. The juices should run clear and the legs should move easily when it's done. Cooking times might vary, but it should take about 2 hours. If your turkey is getting too brown before it has finished cooking, cover it with foil.
Wait at least 20 minutes before carving (this allows the juices to settle). Remove the bacon and add it to your serving platter. Place the turkey slices over the bacon as you carve. Garnish your platter with fresh herbs.
When purchasing your turkey, allow about one pound per person. It's always better to get more than you think you'll need. Leftovers are the best!
You should purchase your turkey only one to two days before you plan to cook it and keep it stored in the refrigerator until you're ready to pop it in the oven.