The Best Way to Cook a Turkey- Turkey in a Bowl

Don’t you dare stress over cooking a turkey. The best way to cook a turkey- turkey in a bowl is totally going to blow your mind and your tastebuds!


a grey platter with juicy, shredded turkey that was cooked in a bowl


My friend Brittany was chatting with me over Thanksgiving dinner last year all about turkeys. You see, Brittany doesn’t cook a turkey in the traditional way. In fact, she totally blew my mind when she told me, the best way to cook a turkey, turkey in a bowl is life changing.

Yes, it’s a turkey that is literally cooked in a big bowl in the oven.

You’re going to want to buy a big bowl and try this one out for yourself. It’s the most simple and quick to prepare turkey recipe that I’ve ever seen, but the results are fall apart moist and tender.


The Best Way to Cook a Turkey- Turkey in a Bowl


First thing first, you need to buy yourself a big bowl. Because I’ve got lazy bones I generally Amazon this 20 QT bowl to my house, but you could totally check out kitchen stores in your area as well.

It’s actually totally worth the investment too as we use this bowl to mix up big snack mixes like our 5 Minute Reese’s Snack Mix and 5 Minute Halloween Snack mix, make bread in it, etc.


You’ll basically be creating your own slow cooker in the oven, the turkey is placed in the bowl, covered tightly with tin foil and baked low and slow for hours.

The good news is, you don’t have to ever peek, test temperature or anything. You literally pop it in the oven and don’t think about it for hours. You can be busy making other things without ever basting, turning or even touching the turkey.


I know, this picture is not the traditional picture of a roasted turkey, but look how brown it got and can you see how it’s all falling apart?!


a large stainless steel bowl with a whole turkey that was roasted in the bowl in the oven with lots of juices and drippings


Do You Cook Turkey Breast Side Up or Breast Down?


Always place the turkey breast side down for turkey in a bowl. Even traditional roasting should start out breast side down and then be flipped in the cooking process.

Moist and Tender Turkey

When the end of your baking time hits, carefully remove the bowl from the oven. It’s going to be so heavy with all of those juices in there, and I mean a lot of juices. Like, a lot.

Carefully peel back the tinfoil, make sure you aren’t standing directly over the bowl as the steam will burst out of it.

Inside the bowl will be a turkey whose meat is literally falling off of the bones and more juice and drippings than you could imagine for gravy. Which I actually think is a bigger deal than it sounds like because how often do you barely have any drippings for gravy and you’re pulling out a packet and losing that delicious flavor in an attempt to save the day.

As you remove, or attempt to remove the turkey, everything will be falling apart back into the bowl. You literally cannot lift the turkey out.

We prefer to drain out the juice and make the gravy and then remove the turkey.

Use tongs and lift out whole pieces being sure to arrange the meat on a platter while watching for any bones that might sneak in.


What Herbs to Use on Turkey

You can make this turkey in a bowl into whatever you want. There are endless options for flavoring your turkey.

  • Healthy Turkey – Looking for a healthy turkey? No problem, ditch the butter and only use seasonings and herbs. Just spray the bowl with nonstick cooking spray before adding the turkey so nothing sticks.
  • Herb Turkey– We love fresh herbs, try mincing up poultry herbs such as, rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley. Don’t forget salt as that’s where the majority of flavor will come from. Rub these all over and under the skin alone or with softened butter.
  • Smoky Turkey– Just like our Smoked Turkey Breast recipe, you can really bring home those warm flavors by mixing together, cumin, smoked paprika, brown sugar, salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder and ground mustard.
  • Citrus Turkey- Try adding orange or lemon zest to butter along with fresh herbs for a bright and flavorful turkey.


a grey platter with juicy, shredded turkey that was cooked in a bowl


Elimination Diet for Nursing Moms

When I had our second daughter she had some major food issues. She screamed night and day and I mean, the girl screamed. She’d throw up and twist and turn and I kept calling the dr to say, “listen something isn’t right” and she would tell me that I had a baby with a bad attitude and sometimes that happens.

Ummmm, no.

There was just this feeling that something wasn’t right so we switched doctors and I remember sitting in his office and saying, “I know it sounds like colic or something, but I’m sure it’s more. I feel it. I know it.”

He was so kind and good and immediately put her on Acid Reflux medicine, had me go on an elimination diet and by two months later she was becoming a normal baby. I was not though, I was off of dairy, nut products, chocolate, and on and on.

Did you know that dairy is seriously in EVERYTHING?


What to Eat While Nursing

This whole experience taught me so much about life. I had to be so strict or she would end up so sick. But what to eat while nursing a sensitive baby was exhausting. I lived on an extremely clean diet and learned a lot about how to survive on just the basics.


Make Ahead Healthy Dinner Recipes

One thing I really concentrated on was getting in enough protein and healthy fats since I wasn’t able to eat much else.

This turkey in a bowl recipe would have been a lifesaver because you can buy a couple of turkeys on sale, cook it up and then freeze the meat using a Food Saver.

Do you know how much time, money and calories are saved when you can bust out perfectly flavorful, juicy turkey for dinner?


How Long to Cook a Turkey


The general rule for cooking a whole turkey is about an hour a pound at 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

We use an 18 pound turkey, but by 15 hours it’s totally done and falling apart. If you have a turkey bigger than 15 pounds, you will most likely find the exact same thing, but if you open the bowl and it’s not done, just give it another hour or two.

I’ve never had to do extra time.


a grey platter with juicy, shredded turkey that was cooked in a bowl

Can Turkey Make You Sleepy


I know you want to know, can turkey make you sleepy, so let’s just go ahead and chat about that before I send you off to make this turkey.

In college one of my professors took an entire class to go over the turkey and tryptophan myth. As I’m a bit of nerd with stuff like this I can’t help but tell you that it’s not really the turkey making you tired.

Tryptophan does in fact contain the amino acid tryptophan. That gets converted into the well-known hormone, melatonin, but gram for gram cheddar cheese actually beats out turkey for tryptophan.

There goes that idea.


Why am I so Tired on Thanksgiving?

Alright, so why are you so tired on Thanksgiving?

Actually, it’s probably that you’re over stressed, busier than normal cooking, on your feet, talking and entertaining a lot. Most importantly, those who drink alcohol and especially if you’re consuming large amounts of carbs that may be the real cause of a post-Thanksgiving-meal nap, experts say.

Phew, that’s a lot but totally makes sense huh.

I mean, when’s the last time you fell asleep eating a Turkey Bacon Club…

See, it’s not the turkey sleeping pill.


How Much Turkey Do I Need

You’ll not only want to feed an entire crowd of people, but there’s nothing better than those leftover turkey sandwiches. How do you make sure you have enough?

Buy accordingly.

  • An 18 Pound Turkey- An 18 pound turkey will feed about 25 people with leftovers.
  • To Serve Over 50 Guests– In order to feed 50-60 guests, try using 2 20-22 pound turkeys.


The Best Way to Cook a Turkey- Turkey in a Bowl

Alright, we’ve covered a lot. In the end, the best way to cook a turkey-  turkey in a bowl is going to totally rock your Thanksgiving.



Looking for more turkey recipes? A good turkey is just around the corner, so make sure you try our FAMOUS Deep Fried Turkey, Herb Roasted Turkey Breast,  Turkey Pot Pie Soup or The Ultimate Leftover Turkey Club!

Need something to go with the Turkey?! Try these Southern Green Beans or Crockpot Stuffing!  And if you can’t have turkey without cranberry sauce, try this one!


When you try a recipe, please use the hashtag #ohsweetbasil on INSTAGRAM for a chance to be featured in our stories!  FOLLOW OH, SWEET BASIL ON FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TWITTER FOR ALL OF OUR LATEST CONTENT, RECIPES AND STORIES.


a large stainless steel bowl with a whole turkey that was roasted in the bowl in the oven with lots of juices and drippings
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Turkey in a Bowl

Don't you dare stress over cooking a turkey. The best way to cook a turkey- turkey in a bowl is totally going to blow your mind and your tastebuds!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time15 hrs
Additional Time5 mins
Total Time15 hrs 35 mins
Course: 100 Family Favorite Easy Healthy Recipes
Keyword: gravy, thanksgiving, turkey
Servings: 25 servings
Calories: 640kcal
Author: Sweet Basil


  • 1 Bulb Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • 18 Pound Whole Turkey
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter softened
  • 2 Lemons Zested
  • 1 Tablespoon Thyme minced (or 2 1/2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sage minced (or 2 1/2 teaspoons dried)
  • 2 Teaspoons Paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt

For the Gravy

  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons Water


  • Heat an oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place the garlic bulb on a cutting board and slice off the very top to expose the garlic.
  • Drizzle with olive oil.
  • Wrap the bulb in foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the garlic from the oven and squeeze out the soft garlic cloves into a bowl.
  • Add the softened butter, herbs and spices.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Rub the turkey with the butter mixture under the skin and over it.
  • If your turkey is extra large you may need to double the butter.
  • Place the turkey breast side down in a 20 QT stainless steel bowl.
  • Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour a pound at 250 degrees, up to 15 hours.
  • Carefully remove from the oven and remove the liquid to a gravy fat separator.
  • Pour the drippings into a pan over medium high heat.
  • Mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl.
  • Once the drippings are simmering, whisk in the cornstarch mixture until smooth and thick. If you don't need all of the slurry don't use it, or make more if you ended up with a lot of drippings.
  • Remove the turkey from the bowl to a platter, no need to cut as it's all shredded.
  • Enjoy!


Serving: 2slices | Calories: 640kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 93g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 360mg | Sodium: 855mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @OhSweetBasil or tag #OhSweetBasil!
a grey platter with juicy, shredded turkey that was cooked in a bowl

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Carrian Cheney

Lover of all things beautiful, good and delicious. Wife, mother, friend, foodie.

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35 comments on “The Best Way to Cook a Turkey- Turkey in a Bowl”

  1. Pingback: How to cook a turkey on a grill | She Wears Many Hats

  2. Is a roaster pan different than the bowl? I’m just wondering if I could cover my roaster pan with tin foil and if it would end up the same.

  3. My mother in law wants to know if this would work with 2- 5lb turkey breasts only, not any other part of the turkey- just the breasts?

  4. Pingback: TURKEY IN A BOWL Recipe

  5. Every time I come up with what I think is a crazy idea I always check the internet to see if anyone else has tried it. So I was pleasantly surprised to find this post. I no longer want to use unhealthy aluminium pans for cooking, but I live in a small space right now and did not want to buy a huge roasting pan. I just happened to have a large stainless steel bowl.

    This I believe would have worked had I just used “common sense” and checked to see how it was progressing. I took your word and left it alone (1 hour per pound. ) I awoke 10 hours later to a 15 lb blackened bird. My estimation is that the timing should be closer to 30 minutes per pound -if that long.

    True it could depend on the stove but you figure 250 is 250. At any rate I am a long time cook I should have checked as usual, I thought the burnt smell was something spilled in the oven.

    I’m planning to try again for Christmas. I was Able at least to salvage a little of the white meat it was rather stringy so I added barbeque sauce and called it ” pulled turkey” -not bad !

  6. Hi, so I requested a no more than 20lb bird from the farmer and got a 25lb bird.
    It fits in the bowl you recommended on amazon tightly on the sides and a little bit higher than the bowl.
    Will this still work?
    if so, do I still cook it 15 hours?

  7. Question, could you do this with a bone in turkey breast instead of a whole turkey? I’m so excited to try this recipe!

  8. How big of a turkey will the bowl that is linked on Amazon hold?

  9. Do you think a 16 quart bowl would be large enough? My double oven will not fit the dimensions listed on the 20 quart bowl.

  10. If you buy an 18 pound turkey and it takes 1 hr per pound to cook…. wouldn’t that mean it would take 18 hrs to cook? Do you start cooking it the night before? How do you know it’s done by that time?

    • We’ve found that once you hit 15 hours, it is ready to go regardless if its bigger than 15lbs. Check it at 15 hrs and if it’s not quite done, give it another hour or two. We’ve never had to cook ours longer than 15 hours. Yes, depending on when we want to eat the next day, we either start it the night before or pop it in the oven in the middle of the night. I know, setting an alarm for food?! That is a labor of love! Use a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature, but you’ll be able to tell when all the meat is falling right off the bones.

  11. Hi! This recipe looks amazing! I checked out the link for this 20qt stainless steel bowl from Amazon but it doesn’t mention it being oven safe, is it?

  12. Do you have a link for a recipe and instructions?

  13. Hi, when I roast a turkey I typically dry brine with salt 3ish days ahead, to make the meat tender.
    Do you think I’d still need to do that cooking it in the bowl?
    Thanks. This recipe looks great! I look forward to all the drippings, so that there is some for the gravy and some to use in the stuffing.

  14. Ummm…. this is frickin brilliant

  15. hi. love your site! quick question, can you cook a chicken in a bowl with this same method?


  16. I already have the bowl of which I prepare my homemade bread dough in so I will be making my turkey in the bowl come this Thanksgiving.


    RE TURKEY I HAVE A FEW ???????

    • Hi Roseanne! Thank you for your kind words! These are all great questions! 1 – The bowl covered in foil makes it basically a slow cooker and keeps it so moist and delicious unlike a casserole dish. 2 – I honestly don’t know the answer to this, but something magical happens in that bowl. You’ll have to trust me on this one! 🙂 3 – You would think so, but the meat is so moist, tender, and perfect! Like I said…magical!

    • I think I can answer question #2!

      There is no slow cooker or pressure cooker large enough to contain a normal size turkey. I do chicken all the time in the slow cooker with delicious results, but the largest one I can easily accommodate is about 6-8 pounds.

      I am surprised you use no braising liquid at all. I use a similar method with just the thigh and drumsticks in my dutch oven, but I use a braising liquid in addition. Very interesting!

  18. This is definitely an interesting way to cook a turkey. One I am anxious to try because of the drippings. When do you turn the turkey from breast-side down to breast-side up? Thanks for your help and all your yummy recipes.