The foolproof turkey guide

Everything you need to know to make sure this year's Christmas turkey is the tastiest yet.

Roast turkey and potatoes

The technical bit...

Scandinavian roast turkeyWhat size to buy

  • 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 below for 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.

Thawing your turkey

Your stuffing can be prepared ahead, but don't stuff the bird until it is about to be cooked. Only stuff the neck cavity, never the body cavity (as it will not cook through). This can be filled with sprigs of fresh herbs and slices of lemon or onion to infuse the meat with extra flavours.

  • 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

Christmas turkey with clementine and bay butter

A good roasting

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

Time for 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, turkey thighs should read 80C, breasts 75C. 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.

How-to-carve video

Watch our video guide to carving turkey

Written guides are useful, but there's nothing like seeing how to carve a turkey first-hand. Watch Barney's video and then impress your guests.

Roast turkey with chestnut stuffing

The turkey recipe collection

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 3 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

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