The foolproof turkey guide

    Are you roasting the turkey this year? We have everything you need to know to make sure you serve the best Christmas dinner the family has ever tasted.

    Turkey carved with stuffing

    Don't fret over the festive cooking – the team at Good Food are sharing all their top tips for preparing a showstopping Christmas dinner. Get our foolproof turkey recipes, advice on how to cook a turkey and how to carve your bird at the table. Impress dinner guests with a succulent main that will have them begging you to cook again next Christmas...

    How to carve a turkey

    Carving a turkey
    Part of the theatre of Christmas is carving a big, juicy turkey at the dinner table. Learn the best techniques for dividing up your roast with our handy video.

    Watch our video guide to carving turkey:

    Carve the turkey in the right order:

    1. First, remove the legs
    2. Then, cut the drumsticks away from the thighs
    3. Remove the wings next
    4. Slice the breast meat

    What size turkey to buy

    Roasted turkey

    • 2-2.5kg serves 4-6
    • 3kg serves 6-7
    • 3.5kg serves 7-8
    • 4-4.5kg serves 8-10
    • 5-5.5kg serves 10-12
    • 6-6.5kg serves 12-15

    Fresh or frozen?

    Frozen birds are generally better value, but if you are a perfectionist, or are looking for a particular breed, go for fresh. See our guide on how to cook turkey for advice on defrosting your frozen turkey, or if opting for fresh, bring to room temperature before cooking by removing from the fridge an hour or more ahead.

    A good roasting

    Roast turkey crown
    Right, you've bought your bird, now what? Essential information on how to prepare, store and cook your turkey on our glossary page.

    Turkey glossary page

    How long to cook a turkey

    Be a sea of calm among the Christmas Day chaos by getting your timings spot on. Our roast calculator will generate a cook time according to the weight of your bird and oven type, plus has plenty of tips for testing whether it's fully cooked throughout. 

    Roast calculator

    When is it done?

    The best way to tell if your turkey is cooked is by using a digital cooking thermometer. When cooked, the internal temperature of your turkey should reach 70C. The turkey will continue to cook and the temperature will rise as it rests. Always double-check by sticking the probe in several different spots within the thigh or breast, to find the lowest reading. If returning to the oven, allow 10-15 minutes, then test again until the correct temperature is reached.

    Without a thermometer, the classic way to test is to push a spoon under the turkey leg so that it pierces the skin (or use a skewer), and inspect the juices that collect in the spoon. The juices should be pale gold and clear; if there are traces of blood, return to the oven as above.

    Resting time

    It is essential to rest your turkey for 30-45 minutes before carving (the temperature will continue to rise, but there’s no need to test). Put the bird in a warm place, tented with foil. It won’t get cold – but it will become juicier, and easier to carve.

    Cooking a turkey crown 

    Cooking for a smaller group this year? Find out how to cook a turkey crown to perfection and get recipe ideas with our guide. 

    The turkey recipe collection

    Whole roast turkey
    From traditional to 'with a twist', we've got the perfect roast turkey recipe for you.

    The turkey recipe collection

    Luscious leftovers

    Don't let any part of your turkey go to waste. When you have eaten lunch, strip the meat off the turkey (use rubber gloves if you don't like greasy hands) and put it in a bag or plastic box. You might find it convenient to shred it at this point, depending on how you plan to use it. When cold, refrigerate for up to three days. Break up the carcass and bones so they take up less space, bag up and store in the fridge for three days, or freeze for later. Use to make superior stock, or a soup base.

    When it comes to eating your turkey leftovers, it doesn't have to be all turkey curry and cold cut sandwiches. Here's how to transform your leftover meat into something altogether more inspiring.

    What to do with your leftovers

    Want even more turkey cooking advice? Check out our guides... 

    How to baste a turkey
    How to cook a turkey crown
    How to prepare and carve a turkey
    How to make the ultimate turkey

    What are your top turkey tips? Leave a comment below... 

    Comments, questions and tips

    Sign in or create your My Good Food account to join the discussion.
    4th Dec, 2017
    There are only usually two of us so we get a crown. After Christmas dinner we save some left overs for cold cuts and then keep one whole breast aside, tightly wrap it in cling film, put in a freezer bag and freeze for use later. The thawed meat is as juicy as it was fresh, helped by the use of a temperature probe to cook it correctly in the first place (the first time I used a probe it took 3/4 hour off my calculated cooking time!).
    Jo Mussett's picture
    Jo Mussett
    24th Dec, 2018
    What temperature and how long to cook a rolled boned turkey,weight 5 kilos.
    goodfoodteam's picture
    27th Dec, 2018
    Thanks for your question. We're sorry this may be too late but we'd recommend 15 mins per 450g, plus 20 - 30 mins. Place in a roasting tin with a glass of water or wine, cover with foil and cook for the first 20 mins at 220C/200C fan, then turn down to 200C/ 180C fan. Uncover for the last 20 mins of cooking time.
    30th Nov, 2018
    Should I wear gloves when I carve turkey for guests? I don’t usually- I wash my hands- but my sister says I should.
    goodfoodteam's picture
    3rd Dec, 2018
    Thanks for your question. Washing hands is sufficient but we don't want to start a family argument!
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