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Thanksgiving Recipe: Smoky Paprika-Bacon Roasted Turkey

Smoky Paprika-Bacon Roasted Turkey

This turkey will bring your Thanksgiving feast to the next level!

* IMPORTANT * If you're brining your turkey, which I recommend, it must be brined before you begin this recipe. Brining the turkey is not included in the prep time and will take about 20 hours. (Don't worry, 99% of that time is inactive.) Here's the recipe and how to do it.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Thanksgiving turkey recipes, turkey with bacon for Thanksgiving
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours
Servings 12
Calories 600 kcal
Author Valentina K. Wein


  • 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 sprigs, washed and dried
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. The turkey should be brined before you begin. Here's the brine recipe and how to do it.
  2. Preheat the oven to 500°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.

  3. Make compound butter by combining the butter with the paprika, garlic, herbs and lemon juice. Set aside.
  4. 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.
  5. Truss the turkey with butcher's twine. (Trussing the turkey helps it stay juicier, and helps it hold its shape for a pretty presentation.) Here's How to Truss a Turkey.

  6. Place the turkey, breast side up, on the roasting rack and into the oven. After about 15 minutes, use a basting brush or your hands 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°F.

  7. 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 sprigs to hold them in place.

  8. Return the turkey to the oven (as it is, breast side down) and roast until the internal temperature is 155°F. The final internal temperature will be about 165°F, 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.

  9. 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.