Maple-Glazed Turkey with Bacon

This juicy, tender Maple-Glazed Turkey with Bacon is slathered with sage-infused butter, shingled with crispy bacon, and glazed with maple syrup for the best Thanksgiving turkey you've ever tasted!

Maple-Glazed Turkey with Bacon and Sage Butter Collage with Text Overlay

For the tastiest sides to accompany your turkey, you'll love Bacon Green Bean Casserole, Garlic & Herb Stuffing, and easy homemade Cran-Cherry Sauce!

Today I'm setting out to prove that bacon indeed makes everything better! Say hello to this amazing Maple-Glazed Turkey with Bacon and Sage Butter. Doesn't the name just say it all?!

This star of the Thanksgiving table is slathered with sage-flecked butter and glazed with pure maple syrup as it cooks. Then, about an hour before it's done, the top of the bird is shingled with salty bacon and brushed with more syrup for good measure. The final result is moist, juicy, tender turkey with an undertone of sage and bacon, a sweet maple glaze that filters into the gravy, and bonus crispy bacon strips, over which everyone at the table will be fighting!

Close-Up Showcasing Crispy Bacon and Maple Glaze

To Brine or Not to Brine?

I've made this recipe both brined and unbrined and it turns out beautifully either way.

You typically can't beat the over-the-top juiciness of a brined turkey, so I would recommend it if you don't mind the extra step and time required. Just be sure to use a basic brine that doesn't incorporate too many flavors, because you certainly don't want to overshadow the yummy sage/bacon/maple thing going on here.

However, if you don't care to brine your turkey, this recipe will still yield a scrumptious bird, as is. Massaging the sage butter under the skin of the turkey, keeping it glazed with maple syrup, and then letting the bacon fat drip down over the whole shebang pretty much mean that this bird has no choice but to turn out juicy! Just don't overcook it, mkay? 😉

Tips for Even Cooking

Speaking of overcooking, it's totally normal for certain parts of your turkey to brown faster than others, which is why it's important to monitor its color each time you take it out of the oven to glaze it.

After awhile, the breast of my turkey got to be a nice golden brown while the rest of the turkey was still looking rather pale. So I simply covered the brown parts with a piece of foil and proceeded with the cooking. The exposed skin continued to deepen in color without the turkey breast becoming burnt. Then, when it was time to lay the bacon on top, it happened to perfectly cover the portion of the turkey that was already nicely browned, while the rest of the turkey continued to darken as the bacon cooked.

And if your turkey has not reached the target temperature by the time the bacon is cooked and the entire bird is golden brown, it's time to tent the whole thing with foil while the interior continues cooking (and rising in temperature) for a bit longer.Aerial View of Maple-Glazed Turkey with Bacon and Sage Butter on Silver Platter

The BEST Turkey Recipe

So can I share a little secret with you? This turkey is based on a Tyler Florence recipe that was the first turkey I ever cooked about ten years ago. And guess what? It was so darn good that I've never cooked turkey another way since!

Yes, friends, I've been making this turkey recipe -- and only this turkey recipe -- for a full decade. Now you might be wondering how I can claim it to be the best if it's the only turkey recipe I've ever made? Well, just because I haven't prepared turkeys by other recipes doesn't mean that I haven't eaten plenty of them! Quite simply, this turkey trumps every turkey I've ever had, cooked by anyone...and I've eaten plenty of turkey over the years. I know how fabulous this recipe turns out every year, so I'm going to stick with it.

The Gravy

Perhaps the best part of this turkey is the gravy...because, well, it's not just regular gravy. It's gravy made with pan juices that include melted sage butter and bacon drippings and, most importantly, maple syrup. That's right...this gravy has a whole savory-sweet thing going on that is just indescribably (though I'm trying) good. And if you happen to pour it on top of a mound of Make-Ahead Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes? Well, I'd be tempted to have double servings of that and skip the pie. Okay, not really...I don't skip pie. But rest assured that this gravy is darn tasty.

Gravy Boat with Fresh Cranberries for Garnish

How to Make It

Have I mentioned how easy this turkey is to make? I know that the idea of cooking a whole turkey can be a little intimidating, but there's nothing to this preparation. Seriously. Let me break it down for you, and it really is this basic...

  1. Remove bag of giblets and neck from thawed turkey; put in a roasting pan.
  2. Season turkey with salt & pepper, inside & out.
  3. Loosen skin and spread sage butter underneath.
  4. Glaze entire turkey with maple syrup.
  5. Bake for a couple of hours, basting with additional syrup every 30 minutes.
  6. Arrange raw strips of bacon on top of turkey; glaze again.
  7. Bake for about one more hour or until turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
  8. Remove turkey from oven, tent with foil, allow to rest, carve, and enjoy!

Maple-Glazed Turkey with Bacon and Sage Butter on Silver Platter with Fresh Cranberry Garnish

Is that simple or what?

Yes, there is a time commitment involved.

Yes, you have to be attentive, between regular glazing and using foil to tent parts of the turkey that are browning too quickly.

Yes, you need to make sure your turkey reaches a safe temperature without becoming overcooked (for which you can rely on your trusty meat thermometer).

But honestly, there's no reason to experience anxiety over cooking a turkey. If I can do it, so can you!

Maple-Glazed Turkey with Bacon and Sage Butter with Text Overlay

So if you're looking for a new spin on traditional turkey this year, I highly encourage you to give this Maple-Glazed Turkey with Bacon and Sage Butter a try!

Gobble, gobble, yum, yum, YUM.

More Thanksgiving Yummies

Maple-Glazed Turkey with Bacon and Sage Butter ~ tender, juicy, and shingled with bacon, this is the BEST Thanksgiving turkey recipe you'll ever try! | FiveHeartHome.com

Maple-Glazed Turkey with Bacon and Sage Butter

This juicy, tender Maple-Glazed Turkey with Bacon is slathered with sage-infused butter, shingled with crispy bacon, and glazed with maple syrup for the best Thanksgiving turkey you've ever tasted!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 12 to 14 servings
Calories: 560kcal
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Ingredients

  • 1 (12- to 14-pound) fresh or frozen turkey , (completely thawed)
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional aromatics to stuff inside turkey, such as whole garlic cloves, quartered onion, cut lemons, oranges, or apples, etc.
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • 8 strips bacon
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock/broth, OR turkey stock/broth
  • ½ lemon

Instructions

  • An hour before roasting, take turkey out of fridge, unwrap, and remove bag of giblets and/or neck (check both neck cavity and body cavity). Place turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan, breast side up, to allow it to dry and come to room temperature.
  • Place oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and remove the top rack. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Stir minced fresh sage into softened butter until well combined. Season well with salt and pepper.
  • Liberally sprinkle the turkey, inside and out, with salt and pepper. Carefully slide your fingers under the skin of the breast and drumsticks to lift it away from the meat. Slip spoonfuls of sage butter underneath the skin and gently smooth over the top of the skin to spread out the butter in a thin layer. Repeat everywhere that you can reach under the skin until all of the butter has been used.
  • If you are stuffing your bird, fill it with dressing without packing too tightly (cook leftover dressing in a separate baking dish). If you aren't stuffing your bird, you may place a few aromatics inside the cavity (I used a head of garlic, peeled and separated into cloves, and a large quartered apple for this turkey), but it's not required. Truss the turkey legs.
  • Combine maple syrup and hot water. Use a basting brush to baste the entire turkey. Place turkey in the oven for 2 hours, basting with maple syrup every 30 minutes. If the breast and/or the tops of the drumsticks turn golden brown before the rest of the turkey, shield them with foil.
  • After 2 hours, remove the turkey from the oven and insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into the meatiest part of the thigh (without touching the bone). Baste the turkey with syrup once more and arrange the strips of bacon over the top of the turkey with no gaps in between them, until they cover the entire breast. Return the turkey to the oven for about 30 minutes, then baste with syrup again (bacon and all). Continue cooking, watching the bacon closely so that it turns crisp but does not burn. If the bacon is done before the thermometer inserted in the turkey reads 165°F, shield the bacon with foil (as well as any other parts of the turkey that are brown enough, which might end up being the whole turkey) and continue cooking until the turkey is done. (Depending on a variety of factors, a turkey typically takes anywhere from 13 to 20 minutes per pound to cook. The 12 ½ pound turkey in these photos took about 3 hours to cook).
  • Once the temperature of the turkey reaches 165°F and the juices are running clear, tilt the turkey in the pan so that the liquids run out of the cavity. Transfer turkey to a cutting board, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  • In the meantime, skim the excess fat from the pan drippings. Pour the drippings into a medium pot, scraping brown bits at the bottom of the roasting pan from the turkey but leaving behind any burnt maple syrup sludge. Set pot over medium heat and whisk flour into the drippings until smooth. Gradually add chicken stock while continuously stirring. Raise heat to high and bring to a simmer while stirring regularly, until gravy is thickened to your preferred consistency. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Video

Notes

  • In my experience, thawing a frozen turkey in the refrigerator always takes longer than the estimated time. I bought this turkey on Tuesday and it was still partially frozen when I went to cook it on Saturday, so I had to finish thawing it using the cold water method.
  • I prefer leaving the turkey unstuffed so that it cooks more evenly. However, an unstuffed bird will cook slightly faster than a stuffed one. A brined turkey or an untrussed turkey may also cook faster.
  • Cooking a turkey that's less than 12 pounds will require less than 3 hours to cook. You should probably check the temperature sooner and add the bacon earlier in the cooking process.

Nutrition

Calories: 560kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 50g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 195mg | Sodium: 459mg | Potassium: 637mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 480IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 2mg
Made this recipe? I'd love to see on IG!Mention @FiveHeartHome or tag #FiveHeartHome!

 

Adapted from Food Network
Post originally published on November 12, 2014.

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70 Comments

  1. Every turkey I've ever made has come out dry, no matter what "best of" recipe I try. No matter the tricks. Now that we live on a farm we raise our own turkeys, but the meat tends to be tough from the beginning. Yesterday I cooked a 13 lb freezer turkey that had been in the freezer for a LONG time and everyone was sure would be tough and awful. I did not follow this recipe exactly - I slow roasted the turkey for about 11 hours at roughly 250 (400 for the first hour, 250 in the middle, 325 for the last hour because it was dinner time), basting every 45 min or so with the maple glaze. I also changed up the maple glaze a bit by cooking bourbon and bacon into the glaze for the basting, and then I reduced all of it down at the end so while the turkey and/or bacon was browning it gave it a nice maple crust.

    This was out of this world. This turkey was as juicy as rotisserie. The smoky flavor from the bacon permeated the whole turkey down to the bone, and I think the bacon fat on top dripping and carmelizing with the maple glaze onto the meat below was such a great way to impart flavor. For the first time ever we felt like a bird we grew and raised ourselves had been worth all the effort. The whole family, including my husband, raved. 10/10 and will do this again!

    PS: The only negative we had about the experience was that the skin did not cook evenly, and the sage butter wound up looking very green underneath. I am not sure if that is because of the slow roasting method I used or the bacon on top, but the skin was not attractive. The wings and legs carmelized beautifully from the maple glaze so those looked great. Next time I may not put the herb butter under the skin, as I think the majority of the flavor comes from the maple/bacon.

  2. 5 stars
    Hi, Wondering if anyone would know the adjusted time for a full turkey breast in this recipe and when to add the bacon?

    1. 5 stars
      Made this turkey last year and it was simply the best turkey I’ve made to date. Absolutely delicious, it was a hit with everyone. Going to make it again this year, I hope it turns out just as good. I can’t recommend this recipe enough.

  3. First time I made this recipe (my first turkey ever), my family told me I’m on turkey duty for the rest of my life. This’ll be my fourth time making it and I’m so excited. I usually do Alton Brown’s brining while thawing method and it works so well. Super juicy and delicious. Thank you for this!

  4. This was a delicious turkey. A nice change from the traditional flavor. I stuffed this with "Awesome Sausage Apple and Cranberry Stuffing" and this made the best Turkey and stuffing I've ever eaten. I'll be making it again.

  5. Hi there, I know you may not have an answer to this but due to dietary restrictions I was considering using sugar-free maple syrup with this recipe... do you think that would turn out alright or would the artificial sweetners cook differently?

    1. I'm sorry, Lukas, but I don't typically use artificial sweeteners so I'm not sure how sugar-free maple syrup would work in this recipe. But if you decide to give it a try, I hope you'll come back and report how it turned out! 🙂

  6. I just made this turkey yesterday and it was delicious. However, what I found the most amazing was the turkey broth/soup I made from the turkey carcass. The broth is the best I have tasted! Now, what we didn't like was gravy made from the turkey drippings. The gravy was way too sweet even after adding additional chicken broth to it. Great recipe. Thank you for sharing.

    1. So glad this turkey was a hit for Thanksgiving, Jeannette! That's interesting that y'all loved the broth but didn't care for the gravy, but I can totally understand it...the sweet undertone is definitely not for everyone. So happy y'all enjoyed this recipe despite it! Hope your December is going well! 🙂

    1. Hi Emma! All of the directions are listed in the recipe. Hope you enjoyed this if you made it! 🙂

      1. Dear Samantha,
        Today I bought a spiral ham and got a free 12 pound turkey. Having never roasted my own turkey, I had a mini panic attack and thought about donating it. After encouragement from a neighbor--"There are so many turkey how-to's online," she said--I decided to look for a recipe. This is the first recipe I came to. Your advocacy of brining and loyalty to Tyler Florence is what sold me.
        So I'm going to try it! I'm also going to try the Creamy Cheesy Slow Cooker Corn, Honey Cinnamon carrots, and pecan pie. I'll let you know how they turn out.
        Cherry Cordially Yours,
        Monique
        Covington, LA

        1. I'm honored that you're making so many of my recipes, Monique. I hope that everything is a hit, and that you're having a wonderful holiday season! 🙂

    1. Hi, Carl! I apologize...I have a giveaway going that is receiving a ton of comments, and I'm afraid your previous comment got buried. I will look for it right now and reply...sorry again!

  7. Hi there! Thank you for posting this. I love Tyler, and I'll be making my VERY FIRST Thanksgiving dinner this year! I'm nervous, but I'm committed to this turkey! Question: I notice Tyler puts the bacon on before putting into the oven AND he shields it with foil. Your directions say add bacon later and don't put foil on to start with. If I have a 10-12 lb turkey, how likely will I need to put foil on during the cooking process? Also, for a smaller bird, how long should the initial cook time be before adding bacon?

    1. Hi Carl! If you search for Tyler Florence's turkey recipe, you will see that it actually comes up as two separate recipes with the same title. However, the directions for each recipe are slightly different! I've been making this recipe for quite a few years now, so I believe the method I follow is his original one. But honestly, I'm sure both ways work...it's probably just a matter of personal preference. And I wouldn't worry about adding foil at all unless you see that your turkey or bacon needs it (and at some point, certain areas probably will). As far as the timing, I think you can follow the recipe pretty closely for a 10-12 pound turkey. There's a note in the recipe that the turkey I cooked for that post was 12 1/2 pounds, but you could put the bacon on slightly earlier if your turkey is closer to 10 pounds. Hope that helps and that I answered all of your questions. Good luck with your first time cooking Thanksgiving dinner...I'm sure it will turn out great! 🙂

      1. Samantha, thank you! I'm sorry if I seemed overzealous with my messages. Ha! I'm an avid cook, but I've never done Thanksgiving before. I'll follow your directions and will pay attention to the turkey parts that may be cooking faster than others. One other question: I read that basting (in general) slows down the cooking process because of frequently opening the oven and losing time, etc. Did you notice this? Also, if I'm making separate dressing that requires the same oven (and about an hour plus), do you think I should bake the dressing before starting the turkey or do both at the same time?

        Thanks again!

        1. No problem, Carl...your Thanksgiving meal is going to turn out great because of how carefully you're planning everything out! 🙂

          I'm sure that basting does slow down the cooking process, but as long as you open and close the oven door as quickly as possible, I don't think it should present too much of a problem for you. Personally, I've never noticed it being an issue. 🙂

          As far as baking the dressing at the same time, I think that depends on the size of your oven and the size of your turkey and where exactly the dish of dressing would fit. 😉 If the dressing is going to be all the way at the top or bottom of the oven where it might cook unevenly, I probably wouldn't cook it at the same time. Instead, I would totally prepare the stuffing ahead of time. Then, right when the turkey comes out of the oven, I'd pop in the stuffing and bake it while the turkey is resting and I'm making the gravy. Since the turkey needs to rest about 30 minutes, that timing should work unless your stuffing requires a significantly longer cooking time.

          Hope that helps. 🙂 Good luck (though I don't think you need it) and have a very happy Thanksgiving!

          1. Thank you, Samantha! I appreciate all of your tips and advice. I'm just overly nervous because it's my first Thanksgiving dinner. I'm sure I won't make it a complete disaster.

            Happy Thanksgiving to you!

          2. Samantha, I've been meaning to send you an update on my Thanksgiving dinner. It. Was. Fabulous! In all honestly, my husband and I said, "This is the best tasting turkey we've ever had in all the years of eating turkey!" It was that good! I followed the instructions EXACTLY. I placed cut up onions and seasoning in the cavity, then followed a shorter cooking schedule because my bird was 9.6 lbs. I did NOT need to tent the breast or legs with foil at ALL. I assume with a bigger bird, this is necessary. The maple glaze, sage butter, aromatics, were all excellent. I served traditional sausage stuffing, cream cheese and chives mashed potatoes, fresh green beans with burnt butter and roasted almonds, and gravy with rolls. Divine.

            Thanks again!!

          3. Oh, thank you so much for the update, Carl...I am SO happy to hear that the turkey was such a hit! Your whole menu was amazing. Sounds like you had a wonderful Thanksgiving...I hope your Christmas is just as fabulous. 🙂

  8. Thanks for posting this! The Tyler Florence recipe is also the only one I have ever made! I made it with the stuffing the first time, and have been doing it unstuffed ever since, but I've always had to play around with time and temp since the original recipe included stuffing. It's great to have a recipe for an unstuffed bird!

    1. I totally agree, Kate...it's hard to make another turkey recipe once you've made this one! 😉 And I'm glad that the directions here will help you with cooking your unstuffed bird. Happy (early) Thanksgiving!

  9. Seriously, this is my favorite turkey recipe ever. I love Tyler Florence and his recipes are a win for me. This looks gorgeous and you've convinced me to make it again this year!

    1. Isn't this turkey the best, Karen?! I don't think I've ever made a Tyler Florence recipe that didn't turn out fantastic. Everyone should try this one! I'm so glad that you're going to make it again this year...so am I! 😉

  10. HI! I made this turkey and it was amazing! I came back to make it again and I am unsure of the brine process that was used. Did you have it posted someplace else? I would love to make this again for thanksgiving!

    1. Hi, Katie! So happy to hear that you enjoyed this turkey enough last year that you want to make it again this year! I didn't include a brine recipe with this recipe...but when I want to brine my turkey, I just use a very simple solution that I find via Google. 😉 Hope that helps and hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving!