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Slow & low turkey for Thanksgiving - any recipes?

I've heard that you can roast a whole turkey at a very low heat (aorund 200-250) for 8-10 hours so that the meat is literally falling off the bones. But I cannot seem to find a recipe. Does anyone have one, and can I still stuff the turkey prior to baking?


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  1. Oh no!!! Not for turkey. Beef, yes. Turkey, never. And if it's stuffed, you're asking for a law suit. Please consult a cookbook for cooking times, with or w/out stuffing. This is not something you want to just take a shot at.

    3 Replies
    1. re: bryan

      Slow roasting is perfectly safe, provided you monitor internal temperature and reach the recommended 165 F internal temperature for both bird and stuffing.

      The link below refers to a study that shows the results of laboratory tests on common contaminants found in poultry:


      1. re: bryan

        THE LOW & SLOW is the only way to go!! As most pro's know, Low and slow is the only way to roast anything, especially Birds. Its safe and smart, just takes far too much time for most in a rush. Most test kicthens and restaurnts all cook turkey's slow and low. So why shouldn't you.

        Cook your brine and buttered Turkey on a rack over a bed of onions, carrots and celery and white wine at 250 to 275 for 20 min LB. or until the dark meat reaches 157. Then take out of oven to rest for 15 to 20 until the temp drops below 151. Then get the oven back up to 500 for 5 min. Put turkey back in for 15 to 25 or until golden brown. Rest covered until back down to 144 before cutting.

        Never ever put stuffing in any bird!! EVER!!

        Enjoy your juice and safe turkey

        1. re: AMG PHD

          Noting that this is a 2006 post, I will mention that I made a 10# breast (would have been what, an 18# bird?) with bread stuffing, ALWAYS stuff a bird - it's the best part! This year I used the old Adelle Davis method of cooking the bird at the temp at which you want it to finish. The stuffing was room temp when it went into the cool breast. The breast went upside down into a covered pan in the oven, which was preheated to just under 175, the lowest mark on the dial. I put it in at midnight and when I got up at 7:30 the meat read 170, so out it came while I preheated the oven to 450. I turned it right side up and returned it to the now-hot oven for 15 min to brown and crisp the still-pale skin. That did not color the skin on the sides as well as the top, so I left the bird in the turned-off oven another 45 min or so, by which time the skin was evenly deep brown. The breast (which came injected) was exceptionally tender and juicy. No, repeat NO, ill effects even after the next day's meal of turkey and stuffing, which sat for 3+ hours at room temp before refrigeration. For the first hour, the stuffing was still in the bird.

          The beauty of this method is that the meat CANNOT overcook. If need be, it can stay in the low oven for hours after it reaches temp. Indeed, I have no idea how long it took for mine to get to 170. If I'd gotten to it at 160, I'd have pulled it them. The kitchen aroma doesn't become enticing until you do the high-heat browning at the end, and you have to reduce the pan juices before making gravy, but those are minor negatives.

      2. Bryan is right - I know people do it and get away with it, just like they leave the remainder of the bird out on the counter after dinner so people can snack on it at night (are you listening, Ma?) but if there is any bad bug lurking in that bird you are giving it just the warm, moist environment it loves for development. The stuffing makes it worse.

        There are a lot of methods for cooking an excellent turkey, and if you just brine the bird, butter it and roast it at 350 you'll come out with something quite nice. If you're not interested in the appearance of the skin you can roast it breast side down wrapped in foil and overcook it (the thigh meat registering about 190 on a meat thermometer) and you will get that falling-off-the-bone consistency, but I find meat cooked like that to be very dry and tasteless. This is not the place to save time or trouble in the prep for the Thanksgiving feast. Take the trouble with the turkey and then serve side dishes that are easy and fast...

        1. 200-250 is too low. 275 is more like it.

          But at that temp, stuffing the bird is too risky. If you want the stuffing to be like stuffing with less risk, you'd probably have to cut the bird in halves and place them over the stuffing in the bottom of a large roaster pan.

          1. The only way I have heard to do this is in a smoker - I have done it and it came out great - but I kept the smoking temparature a little higher - 275

            The bird was not stuffed -

            1. I would strongly suggest you don't cook it at that low oven temperature. 1. Safety. 2. The most common error made is overcooking turkey(the #hrs mentioned).
              But my main concern is for food safety; I'd want to avoid making my family sick. There's a resons you're not finding recipes that call for that kind of low heat cooking.
              My way is high heat to start (about 1hr)then lower heat (325) & cover to continue.
              I've checked out several turkey sites. Recommendations are that the lowest oven temp. should be 325.
              Check this out under safety tips:

              1. I'm one who has lived to tell the tale.

                We always did slow-roast turkey, following instructions to leave all cavities unstuffed, roast 1 hour at 350, then turn down to 200 and roast overnight. Turkeys were delicious and juicy/tender. Note I'm not recommending you do this if you are a novice cook. Better to stick with conventional methods, and use an accurate digital thermo in the bird to gauge doneness. If you use a so-called instant read thermo, be sure to wash it between insertions! Tent the breast so it doesn't overcook while the thighs come up to temp. Remove from oven and tent loosley and let it sit for 15 min before carving.

                We started cooking turkeys on the Weber when we moved to a warmer area and it was too blasted hot to oven roast. This is my preferred way, as the Weber acts like a convection oven and roasts or 12-14# bird tender at about 10 min/#, plus that wonderful smokey flavor. Stuffing is cooked alongside, alas no gravy. Maximum turkey capacity for our bbq is about 15-16 # whole, but I suppose you could split a 20#er and it would fit on a large Weber.

                6 Replies
                1. re: toodie jane

                  Toodie, do you have the specifics for your oven-roasted turkey (how many hours, etc.)? I am not a novice cook and I would really like to try it this way...I'll cook the stuffing separately.


                  1. re: Clare K

                    FWIW, I slow-roasted stuffed T'giving turkeys successfully for years following a recipe in an Adele Davis book that I can't locate right now. I will post specific roasting time etc if I can, but the general instruction was to blast the turkey at about 400 degrees for maybe 30 min to kill bacteria, then turn the oven down as low as possible (mine was probably around 200 degrees) and roast overnight. The result was an amazingly delicious moist bird, the aroma Thanksgiving morning was wonderful, and nobody ever got sick. The drawbacks that I remember were that the oil-coated skin came out too tough to eat, and that there weren't any drippings for gravy. All the juices stayed in the turkey, and that was the point of this method.

                    1. re: efdee

                      Adele Davis was the origin of the recipe my friend and I used. It was out of her cookbook, Let's Cook It Right, in the discussion about slow roasting meats. I haven't made it in 20+ years, but will see if I can locate the book and pass the info on. Please note the book was originally copyrighted in the 50's but updated in paperback in the 70's. It's packed away, but will look for it tomorrow.

                      1. re: toodie jane

                        Just remember that the slow cooked turkey methods - including Adele Davis' recipe - date from a time before the factory raised birds of today and the explosion of salmonella and e.coli contamination in meat and poultry.

                        1. re: sheiladeedee

                          Don't know if it matters but IIRC all of the turkeys that I slow roasted were either kosher or organically raised.

                          1. re: efdee

                            That sure would help. I would only risk this with a bird I knew had been raised without any factory farming techniques. Organic feed, free range (real free range), no antibiotics, absolute cleanliness during and after slaughter.

                2. I brine, air dry in fridge, counter for 2 hrs before roasting, 375 degrees convection (breast-side down) for 2 hrs, then turn over, and cook at 225 convection until done. Perfect.

                  1. Thanks! Looking forward to the recipe...

                    1. Well, I'm going to have to join the chorus of people discouraging the low slow method.

                      First suggestion - don't stuff it. If that's not an option for you, then you're playing with one hand tied behind your back in the moistness game anyway. Excellent Stuffing/dressing/filling can be made outside the bird, and it sounds like you're on to that concept

                      Second - go small. Not a small bird, but a small processor. I don't mean to insult anyone, but if your bird says Butterball on it, you've got the other hand tied behind your back as well.

                      Third - brine the bird. I was skeptical at first also, but it's worth the trouble.

                      Fourth - Start uncovered in a super-hot oven - like 500 deg. Coat the bird with veg oil and let her rip. Crank up your fan or open a window - there will be smoke. With this method, you're browning it up-front, rather than at the end like granny (at least my granny) used to do. Note that this will NOT kill the bacteria - the inside of the bird will still be very cold.

                      Fifth - Turn the temp down to 350. Cover the whole bird and stick a probe thermometer into the middle of the breast. Roast until the temp from the probe reaches 165. Take the bird out, but leave it covered with the probe in and you'll notice it will continue to climb - perhaps as high as 175-180.

                      This is pretty much the Alton Brown/Good Eats method. Give it a shot, it'll be the moistest, flavorfullest turkey you'll ever eat.

                      1. While I'm not a fan of slow and low in an oven I have to ask an obvious quesion. Why is it ok to smoke a turkey slow and low in a smoker, but not do the same thing in an oven? I've smoked many turkeys in the 225-250 and even under range that have taken 8-9 hours and if you look at the smoking sites so have thousands of others. Now I pesoannly like the smoke flavor but I'm trying to understand why doing the same thing in an over is not ok from a food safety perspective. All the smoked turkeys must not be stuffef, must reach a minimum of 160 breast, and slightly higher in the thighs and that satisfues the food safety police,even for commercially smoked products. In the oven I've always done a high heat, then lower heat but other than each persons preference, is there a real issue with doing the low and slow in the oven? It would not be my thing but is there a real problem with it?

                        1. I have used the slow cook method for over 30 years and has always been the most delicious Turkey anyone has tasted. I stuff the bird too!! In thirty years no one has got sick only really full from eating too much. I stuff the bird at midnight then tie up the legs, wings to make it secure. Then rub butter, pepper, parsley, paprika and sage all over the outside of the bird. I then put it in a oven at 275 degrees F, in a deep roasting pan. Cover loosely with tin Foil (shinny side facing the bird). When I get up in the morning the house smells soooooooo good. I baste it several times in the morning. Take of the foil to brown the turkey and there you go. The meat just falls off the bones. The best turkey you will ever taste. It is my mothers receipe, which she did for over 40 years. Never one sick person. And this turkey is stuffed. I find putting stuffing on the side in a pan just does not taste the same as coming out of the bird. Yum Yum.!!!

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: mumajoe

                              for everything you ever wanted to know about smoking a turkey (or anything else) check out www.bbq-brethren.com - one tip I got from there was to ice the breast (ice in a ziploc bag placed on the breast for a while) before loading up in the smoker.

                          1. You guys are getting your feathers all up in a feather ball. DO NOT put stuffing inside the turkey! I put the turkey in the oven every year from 215 to 250. I t comes out tender, juicy and cooked all the way through. I also stuff the turkey with quarter cut apples, and oranges. I based the inside and outside with olive oil and season it in and out and leave it their overnight while it bakes. Base the turkey periodically during the night and viola the next morning the only thing I have to do is brown the outside. IS that difficult or what? Now put your aprons on and cook the bird! HAPPY THANKSGIVING

                            1. For a photo shoot I cooked a brined turkey on higher heat and it was not even in the same league as the one cooked several days earlier the long and low method.