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Scrumptious Upside Down Turkey Recipe: Good for Thanksgiving or Any Time of the Year

My husband and I both enjoy cooking. We like sampling and discovering new and different foods from all areas of the world.

Wild turkey

Wild turkey

Turkey Preparation

What will follow is a recipe for how to prepare a turkey in an upside-down manner of cooking.

Here are some questions for you. Are you getting ready to prepare a turkey for a Thanksgiving day meal, Christmas, or other occasions? Are you fretting about how to present it to your family or company? Will it be moist, tasty, and delicious or too dry? Do you only have one oven and are wondering how you can accomplish roasting the turkey and also preparing other foods that could also use some oven time?

If some of these questions strike close to home, I may have the answer for you! This post will also intersperse videos showcasing other methods of cooking, including such things as brining a turkey and even carving one.

For many years we hosted relatively large-sized groups of friends in our home for the Thanksgiving Day meal. Back during that time, the house in which we lived only had one oven. It would have been a big problem was it not for stumbling upon a new way of taking care of preparing the turkey ahead of time. Once we discovered this recipe, we have never returned to the old way of roasting one.

Preparing it in the following manner, you will not have a golden glowing, plump-breasted bird being carved tableside for everyone to admire and drool over in anticipation of eating. But then you will also not have to fret over the moisture content of the turkey, nor the problem of juggling oven timing. Your work is all done ahead of time, and the turkey only needs reheating.

Prepping a Turkey

If purchasing a frozen turkey, make sure that you have allowed enough time for it to have thawed in the refrigerator ahead of time.

The latest theory about washing any poultry is not to do it because it can spread pathogens. Thoroughly cooking the bird should eliminate that problem. Be sure to wash your hands, sinks, countertops, and any utensils that have touched raw poultry well after touching.


  • 1 whole turkey, thawed
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon or more garlic powder, to taste
  • 10 large fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 to 3 stalks celery, chopped


  1. Salt and pepper the bird inside and out. Add other herbs and spices if you like. We generally add some garlic powder and fresh sage leaves.
  2. Stuff anything you like by way of flavoring the bird while cooking. What we enjoy is to add onions, carrots, and celery, but anything that will add some flavor is a plus. Place these flavorings inside the cavities as well as alongside the turkey in the pan.
  3. Now locate a large baking utensil that will hold the turkey that also has a tight cover. We have a large covered roasting pan that got passed down to us from my grandmother. Spray the pan with Pam or another nonstick coating medium to keep the turkey from sticking to the side of the pan.
  4. Place the turkey breast side down in the pan with all the other vegetables used to flavor the bird.
  5. Place in a preheated 275 degree Fahrenheit oven and cook 20 minutes per pound. That's it! The turkey will draw lots of juices when done in this manner.

Storing the Turkey for Later Use

After taking it out of the pan, what we used to do if the turkey was being prepared well in advance was to slice off the large pieces of meat, keeping most of it intact. Discard the skin, cool the juices, remove the vegetables, and remove the fat.

We store the turkey pieces in the broth until ready to slice and use. We have even frozen the cooked turkey in this manner in freezer bags for later use. Naturally, you can use the juices to make gravy if desired.

What To Do With Leftovers

I generally make soup as a project the second day after defatting the stock. I roast the remaining turkey bones and add the veggies used in flavoring the meat, adding other ingredients as desired.

Of course, the sliced turkey makes a tasty component for sandwiches, pasta dishes, and more.

When turkeys are priced low, as they are almost every year around Thanksgiving and Christmas, we like to put one or more into our freezer for use in making soups and other recipes later in the year.

I hope that this gives you an idea of how you also can prepare an upside-down turkey for Thanksgiving meals or anytime for that matter. Let me know if you tried and liked this easiest of recipes. You may never again go back to the traditional way of roasting a turkey!

Health Benefits of Consuming Turkey

People have discovered the health benefits attached to eating turkey. It is available year-round in various forms. Turkey is often used to replace higher calorie or higher cholesterol containing meats in many recipes. It is not only a good source of protein but is also a good source of selenium, tryptophan, niacin, vitamin B6, and phosphorus, among other things.

How to Debone a Turkey Leg

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 02, 2018:

Hi Rochelle,

Yes, we reheat the cooked turkey in the broth. That way the turkey stays very moist. Obviously, you do not have to heat it if you just want slices of it for a cold turkey sandwich or pieces of it to put into a salad. The choice is yours. This is a fail-safe recipe.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on December 02, 2018:

Peggy, you cut up the turkey and put it in the broth. Then do you reheat it before serving? We were invited for thanksgiving dinner but I have a turkey in my freezer now because our store was offering free ones with a $75 grocery purchase.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 02, 2018:

Hi Chitrangada,

Please let me know if you decide to try this recipe using chicken in place of a turkey. I would be curious to know if the timing would be similar since the bird would be that much smaller or if it would draw as much juice?

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 02, 2018:

Excellent article, well written and presented!

I am always curious to learn more about this turkey recipe. Your have shared it, in an interesting way and the pictures are quite helpful. Loved your tips as well.

We usually eat chicken here, but I think your suggestions would be applicable to the whole chicken recipe as well.

Thanks for sharing!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2013:

Hi moonlake,

Thanks for the pin. If you ever prepare your turkey in this manner you will be tempted to do it again and again. It is always moist and good.

moonlake from America on May 16, 2013:

Have to pin this one in my recipe board.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 05, 2012:

Hi 2patricias,

I think that your readers will be pleased when and if they try this method of roasting a turkey in an upside down manner...particularly if they are preparing the turkey ahead of time such as we have done for many years. Thanks for the share.

2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on December 05, 2012:

Great story behind the recipe. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

I am adding it to my Recipe Index for HubPages - and sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 10, 2012:

Hi Jackie Lynnley,

Our local HEB grocery store has a special this week that if you purchase a spiral sliced ham you get a free 12# turkey or the equivalent price taken off of a larger bird. I'll be getting one. I make split pea and lentil soups using part of the ham...and one of the soups gets the ham bone. I freeze the other portions of ham so we get lots of use out of the ham. Then there is the turkey! Will be one of many I hope to get during this season when they are discounted. Many uses for that in the months to come. Frozen turkeys keep a long time. Many upside down turkeys will be in the making! It was fun hearing about your Dad. Thanks for your comment.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on November 09, 2012:

This reminds me of my dad, just as soon as Thanksgiving could be thought of as coming soon he would start wanting turkeys, we all wondered how he appreciated Thanksgiving having had at least two before the big day, but he was like a kid and he always did things his way, so poor Mom had a very tiring November! I never heard her complain though. Great hub, maybe I will try having upside-down turkey. Couldn't hurt!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 08, 2012:

Hi alocsin,

It surely is the easiest turkey preparation that I have ever found and it is fail safe. No last minute hassles. Most people who are health conscious and avoid eating the skin of the turkey would appreciate this. Thanks for your comment and votes. Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on November 07, 2012:

This is quite unusual. My partner is dead set on cooking a turkey this year, so I'll give him this recipe. It should provide an unusual and much talked about twist. Voting this Up and Useful.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 06, 2012:

Hi Stacy,

I would have to learn how to cook very differently if we no longer had our chest freezer. I couldn't make all of the large pots of homemade soups and freeze them in our old Tupperware containers for use in later meals. Same thing with storing frozen turkeys and other things when they go on sale. I know what you mean about those side by side refrigerators not having much freezer space. My mother had one and soon regretted her decision in having purchased it, but obviously had to live with it. Appreciate your comment and the share. Enjoy your Thanksgiving this year!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 06, 2012:

Hi Eddy,

Now you know how to easily cook a turkey ahead of time and have it be tender and delicious. No last minute scrambling and more oven space for other things when doing the turkey this way ahead of time. Thanks for your comment.

Stacy Harris from Hemet, Ca on November 06, 2012:

I love Thanksgiving but you are very right... turkey is not just for one time a year. Currently I don't have to worry about cooking the turkey because we usually go to someone else's house and eat for Thanksgiving. But, usually I buy a turkey when it is on sale and then we do a Thanksgiving dinner just the family. I buy a huge turkey too. After all, I want the leftovers. Sadly though, we don't have a storage freezer any more and the side by side freezers just aren't big enough to accomadate.

Eiddwen from Wales on November 06, 2012:

A great share and thank you so very much.


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 05, 2012:

Hello tsadjatko,

If you like succulent and moist turkey, am sure you will like this preparation method. Thanks for your comment.

The Logician from now on on November 05, 2012:

MMMMMMmmmmmmmm! Thank you I'll try this recipe out!

Being a lifelong member of PETA, People Eating Tasty Animals, I am game for anything!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 05, 2012:

Hi moonlake,

This truly is an easy way to cook a moist and delicious turkey ahead of time and when the actual day arrives in which to serve it...most of the work is already done. Just add the fixings and enjoy the day with your family and friends. Thanks for your comment and the share.

moonlake from America on November 05, 2012:

This looks good with Thanksgiving coming you've gave a in way to cook a turkey for a lot of people. Love all your pictures. Voted up and shared.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 21, 2012:

Hi Tammy,

Since we keep it covered the entire time in the oven, it does not brown but we never worried about that since we roasted it, let it cool, removed the skin and served it already sliced to our guests. I always cooled the broth and removed the fat before making gravy out of it. Alternatively...I freeze pieces of the cooked turkey with some of the broth for use at a later time. So if you wish to have a beautifully browned turkey to present at the table for your guests...this is not the recipe for you. If, however, you want to prepare a turkey ahead of time and have it be moist and delicious...this recipe is a winner!

TToombso8 must roast the turkey uncovered to have it brown. It might need basting whereas the way I bake it, it draws its own juices and does not need attending. Put it in the oven and forget it until time to remove. Thanks for your comment and votes.

Tammy from North Carolina on September 21, 2012:

Wow! I never heard of cooking a turkey this way, but it makes perfect sense. That is one way to get it browned on all sides. Excellent suggestions. This has really got me thinking ahead to the holidays.. and now I am hungry. Well crafted, helpful, and interesting!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 18, 2012:

Hello TToombso8,

Interesting the way you were taught to roast the turkey upside down also except for the last 30 minutes. Does it really brown in that length of time? Ours draws so much juice that I think it also poaches in the liquid. We don't worry about the presentation and certainly enjoy moist turkey meat doing it this way. Thanks for your comment, vote and the share.

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on September 18, 2012:

I was taught to cook the turkey upside down, and for the last 30 min, flip it over to brown the top. Great hub. Voted up and shared.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 22, 2011:

Hi again LuxmiH,

Understood. Old and cranky is probably not the best description for a succulent turkey dinner. Ha! My great aunt and uncle had a huge turkey farming operation in North Dakota many years ago. Showed some of the old pictures in a hub I wrote. They were already retired when I was on the scene but my mother remembered visiting there when she was a child.

Luxmih Eve-Lyn Forbes from Fort Pierce, Florida on October 22, 2011:

LOL... no Peggy they were farmed, but I think that they were only sold once they had nothing left to offer.... old and cranky.

I was back in Zimbabwe last Christmas.... no turkey. We had roast chicken. So I am guessing that turkey's have not yet become as common and delicious there as they have here in America.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 22, 2011:

Hi LuxmiH,

The grocery stores are filled with huge supplies of those aluminum roasting pans this time of year because of all the people planning to roast turkeys for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. I'll be looking for bargains and stick a few extra turkeys in the freezer for cooking later. Love to make soups, etc!

Thanks for the information about the turkeys in Africa and how they differ from those here in America. Were they wild ones?

Luxmih Eve-Lyn Forbes from Fort Pierce, Florida on October 22, 2011:

Thanks for this Peggy....

I'd never come across such huge turkeys until I came to the States. Our turkeys in Africa were tough old birds and harder to chew than beef jerky.

I have now learned to roast a tender turkey, pretty much the same way that you do. Except I use Heavy Duty Foil because my grandmother did not pass down a large covered roasting pan to me. Even if she had, I doubt that I would still have it due to my life experiences. Voted up and useful.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 27, 2011:

Hello KoffeKlatch Gals,

EXACTLY! If one is not carving a turkey before friends or family...it really doesn't matter as to the looks and the easy recipe of this upside down turkey that can be prepared in advance has been our choice of preparation for years ever since discovering it. It certainly does retain moisture! Thanks for the comment.

Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on March 27, 2011:

Peggy, great tip. I really dislike have dried out turkey meat. I don't much care what it looks like as long as it taste good. Afterall, all turkey looks the same once it all cut up.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 23, 2009:

Hi Truth From Truth,

Sorry to hear that you will miss out on the family dinners this Thanksgiving. Your plan of roasting a small turkey sounds like a good one. Thanks for the comment.

Truth From Truth from Michigan on November 23, 2009:

thanks for the tips peggy, I'm alone for thanksgiving since I work, I will miss all the family dinners,and I don't mind left overs. but some times you just want the fresh out of the oven meal. So I might just try making my own small turkey. thanks again for the information.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 20, 2009:

Hi Dohn,

We must have A LOT MORE COMPETITION down here in our grocery stores. Picking up a frozen turkey today for 25 cents a pound (with a $20 purchase). Intend to add several to our freezer! We buy the largest ones possible.

Preparing the turkey upside down...the skin does not get crispy...so an easy decision to discard it.

We are going to a friend's house for Thanksgiving this year. Maybe they will serve crispy skinned turkey? Guess we will soon find out.

Enjoy your turkey, skin and all...and Happy Thanksgiving!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 20, 2009:

Hi Dolores,

The same tinsel throwing sister? Haha! I do not remember who originally told me about cooking turkeys this way, but we have done it for years now with good success. If one wanted to present it to others, browning the top (like you do) would make it more appealing visually. Since we discard the skin anyway, we do not bother. Thanks for the additional note of how you cook turkeys in this manner.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 20, 2009:

Hi Ethel,

Ahh...so you have tried this cooking method with turkeys and other fowl. Yes, I would agree that the cooking time is shorter...in fact, I check ahead of time because often it does not even take the full 20 minutes per pound before the turkey is cooked and very tender. Of course, it depends upon each individual oven and how accurate the temperature settings are. Thanks for the affirmative nod.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 20, 2009:

Hi loveroflife,

The turkey is very moist preparing it in this upside down manner. You'll have to give it a try! Thanks for the visit.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 20, 2009:

Hi Jerilee,

Except for not seeing the entire roasted turkey, once you present the platter with the sliced white meat and sliced dark meat...no one would know the difference. And all the mess would have been completed well in advance making for a more leisurely day. We enjoy this way of cooking turkeys now. Thanks for the visit and comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 20, 2009:

Hi Hello, hello,

Happy to hear that you liked this tip of an easier way to prepare turkey...especially ahead of time. Thanks for the comment.

dohn121 from Hudson Valley, New York on November 20, 2009:

Ahhh!!! I love turkey skin! No! I refuse to throw it out! Crispy turkey skin is...Divine.

Aside from that, I like your idea of using turkey year round and dividing up the cooked turkey in baggies. Great idea.

Tis the season to not only eat turkey, but to stock up on it. I've seen it as low as 89 cents a pound (frozen of course) where I live and it'll never be cheaper any other time of the year. Thanks for the hub, Peggy.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on November 20, 2009:

Cooking turkey or chicken upside down is a relatively new way of cooking. My sister told me about it. Only, we turn the bird right side up about 20 minutes before finishing and brown the skin a bit. It sure is good cooked that way.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on November 20, 2009:

LOvely. I find that this works for chicken as well. The bird is juicy and the cooking time is reduced.

loveroflife on November 20, 2009:

Great tip especially if the turkey stays moist.

Jerilee Wei from United States on November 20, 2009:

Going to have to try this, looks isn't everything and taste is.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on November 20, 2009:

This sounds a great tip and thank you for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 19, 2009:

Hi RTalloni,

Yes, once we tumbled on to this recipe for preparing turkey, we have never gone back. Let me know if you are as pleased as we were to discover this after you try it. Thanks!

RTalloni on November 19, 2009:

This is great. All that mess all cleaned up before company comes and the turkey is moist. Thanks!

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