How to Use Cooking Bags

Updated April 08, 2017

Cooking bags are large transparent bags made from heat-resistant plastic that can be used inside of a hot oven without melting. Without proper basting, long-term oven roasting often dries out food items, especially poultry and meat. Oven bags trap in both heat and moisture, allowing the item to stay tender while at the same time evenly heated, which allows for a decreased cooking time. The bags are generally used for large meat items required to spend multiple hours roasting in a hot oven.

Pour 1 tbsp of flour into the bag and gently shake it around until the whole bag is coated on the inside. The flour will allow the bag to expand with more ease and keep the food items from sticking.

Set the bag inside of a large roasting pan or baking dish. Do not place the bag directly on the oven racks while cooking.

Fill the bag with food items. Virtually any oven-roasted food item can be cooked inside of a bag. However, bags are usually used for large portions of meats such as whole chicken or turkey, ham, large roasts and accompanying vegetables such as onion, celery or garlic. Once the bag is filled, close the open end with the twist tie provided. Do not use any other twist tie, as general ties are coated with paper and will catch on fire in the oven.

Cut about 6 slits, 1/2-inch long, in the top of the bag to allow the steam to escape so the bag will not burst.

Cook for the time designated for each food item by the manufacturing instructions provided with the bag. Cooking times for turkey inside of a bag average about 1 hour for every 9lbs or 4 kilos. at 175 degrees Celsius or 350 F. When testing the doneness of any meat, insert a meat thermometer into one of the slits in the top of the bag and make sure the internal temperature reaches the specific temperature required for the type of meat.


Use caution when opening the bag after cooking; do not stand directly over the bag or you will be burnt by the escaping steam.

Things You'll Need

  • Cooking bag
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Roasting pan
  • Food items
  • Meat thermometer
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About the Author

Mallory Ferland has been writing professionally since her start in 2009 as an editorial assistant for Idaho-based Premier Publishing. Her writing and photography have appeared in "Idaho Cuisine" magazine, "Spokane Sizzle" and various online publications. She graduated from Gonzaga University in 2009 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in history and French language and now writes, photographs and teaches English in Sao Paulo, Brazil.