Roast Turkey Guide

For many, a traditional Christmas dinner consists of a Roast Turkey and the Trimmings. Cooking a Turkey correctly can be difficult. It is a much bigger bird and takes a long time. Cook it for too little of a time and you will get food poisoning, over cook it and it will be dry. In this article, we look at cooking guides. These include thawing if your brought a frozen Turkey.

Fresh or Frozen?

Very often, families will buy a frozen turkey, they can work out cheaper and better value. We prefer the fresh option. Firstly, while meat does not freeze well and secondly, you can see that the turkey you are buying is of good quality and high meat content. You also get a wider choice in breed of turkey and free-range. In short, fresh Turkeys taste better and you of course do not have to thaw it.

What size should I buy?

The size of the turkey depends on how many people you want the bird to feed. Below is a chart to guide you. Very often the labels will give a guide as well.

2 – 2.5kg bird will feed 4-5 people
3kg will feed 6-7 people
3.5kg will feed 7-8 people
4-4.5kg will feed 8-9 people
5-5.5kg will feed 9-10 people
6 -6.5kg will feed 10-12 people

How long to Thaw

If you have opted to buy a frozen turkey, then it is crucial to make sure the bird is defrosted before cooking. Always read the guide on the packaging but here is guide to help you too. Do not use this to over rule the packaging guide.

Weight: 2.25kg – Thaw in fridge 27 hrs – Thaw in cool room 9 hrs
Weight: 3-3.5kg – Thaw in fridge 42 hrs – Thaw in cool room 12-14 hrs
Weight: 4.5-5.5kg – Thaw in fridge 66 hrs – Thaw in cool room 18-22 hrs
Weight: 6.75-7.5kg – Thaw in fridge 90 hrs – Thaw in cool room 27-30 hrs

Cooking your Turkey

For recipes click here and browse the selection that we have on listed.

When it comes times, always go by the time on the label directions. If you do not have a label, here is a guide:

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Put the turkey in the oven and cook for 15 minutes then turn down the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and cook for a further:

  • 3kg (6.6lb) – 1¾ hours
  • 4kg (8.8lb) – 2 hours
  • 5kg (11lb) – 2¼ hours
  • 6kg (13.2lb) – 2½ hours
  • 7-8kg (15.5lb – 17.7lb) – 3 hours
  • 9-11kg (19.8lb – 24.2lb) – 3¼ hoursPlease note that weights include stuffing and that cooking times are only approximate.

How to tell if the Turkey is cooked

There are two ways to tell if a Turkey is cooked. One is by checking the juices. You do this by inserting a knife or skewer. Collect some juices into a spoon by applying the spoons next to the bird and adding pressure. The juices should contain no blood and be a pale golden. You will need to check both the thighs and breast. If there is blood, roast for another 5 minutes and keep checking until the juices are pale golden to clear.
The other way is to use a digital thermometer. The thighs should read 80c and the breasts 75c. We actually advise that you use both methods to be safe.

Resting time

It is crucial to allow the bird time to rest once it is cooked. This is actually a good time to roast the veg as the turkey should be rested for around 40 minutes. Place the turkey in a dry and safe corner of the kitchen and cover it with foil. By resting you are allow the meat to relax and juices flow. This will make it easier to carve.

Equipment needed.

Firstly, you need make sure that you have a good quality roasting tin. Don’t be tempted by those cheap foil things in the supermarkets. The meat always gets stuck and they never support the weight of the bird. You can find a good selection listed here but we recommend the KitchenCraft MasterClass Teflon Roasting tin found here.

In the above article we mentioned about use a digital thermometer. You do not need to spend a fortune on one and can pick a good quality thermometer for around £8. Check these ones out here.

Many good turkey recipes, get you to baste the turkey and this is something that we recommend doing too. You can pick up a good sized baster from Amazon here. Make sure it is a syringe type such as this one.

When cooking and resting, you will want to use a good size turkey foil. Click here to buy one.

One other piece of equipment to consider is a decent carving knife set. It is worth buying one. You do not want to of put all that work in cooking the perfect turkey and then hack it to death with the wrong knife. Good presentation makes food taste even better. This carving knife set is perfect for the job:

The finishing touches

A good cooked turkey makes a fantastic center piece. Therefore do consider buying a nice platter plate to put it on. The head of the table can then carve the stunning bird. Check out a good selection of platters here.

You will also want to decide what side dishes and condiments you are going to cook or buy. We have a great selection of recipes found here and please feel free to add your favourite recipes too. Don’t forget to check you have enough oven to tableware, to the the side dishes in. If you do not, then check these ones out.


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