How to make the ultimate turkey

Good Food experts and Good Food fans share their top tips for getting the most out of your Christmas bird...

Christmas turkey

For many, a turkey is the pride and joy of the festive season and foodies up and down the country agonise over the basting, resting and roasting of their show-off centerpiece. To ease the pressure, our Good Food experts, and Good Food fans have shared their top tips for getting the most out of your Christmas bird...

Watch our video on how to carve a turkey:

What our experts say:

Which turkey?

Food editor,, Caroline Hire: "Ask the butcher for a turkey for the exact number of people you're having. There's always so much food on Christmas Day, going large on the turkey isn't really necessary, furthermore big birds take a long time to cook and if you're not careful you'll end up with a very dry breast."

Before you start

Food editor, Barney Desmazery: "Always try to bring the bird to room temperature before roasting and make sure you remove the neck and giblets from the cavity - don't panic, it's only a big chicken!"

Rustic chestnut stuffingStuffing

Cookery assistant, Cassie Best: "If you're stuffing the turkey, stuff the neck cavity only as any stuffing inside the turkey will dramatically increase the cooking time and cause the breast to dry out."

Don't let it dry out

Deputy food editor, Sarah Cook: "The breast meat can dry out really quickly so, start roasting breast-side down, smear under the skin with butter, or make sure you baste regularly."

Turkey in roasting trayWaste not, want not

Cookery assistant, Adam Russell: "Make sure to not waste the juice and crispy bits left in the tin, these will all add to a delicious gravy."

What our fans say:

From twitter:
@ EdShaerf Always leave it to stand for at least an hour after cooking
@ jimsyjampots Bacon over the top, cook on a low heat overnight. This keeps the turkey as moist as possible. Increase heat at the end
@ JosHocking We did ours on a kettle bar b q last year and it was delicious - meant I had loads of extra oven space too! (sic)

From Facebook:
Stu Gash
For a nice juicy bird at Xmas I always bone out the turkey. This has a few benefits as it reduces the cooking time drastically, reduces waste, and makes it far easier to carve at the table. Also most people buy a turkey it barely fits in the oven, boning it reduces its size as well. I then use the bones to make a stock for proper gravy:)
Lisa Forster
My mum does it with veg in the bottom and a bottle of white wine and brings it to the boil on the stove then roasts it with a double layer of foil so it steams and it's always juicy.

Try out these suggestions with our collection of turkey recipes, or join the debate on Facebook and let us know your tips.


Comments, questions and tips

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17th Nov, 2016
Thankyou for ure suggestions. My first time of cooking Christmas roast dinner. So hoping all goes well. Really nervous about it. Usually my husband does it. Wanted motive him a break. My son is coming for Christmas dinner so between us we will get it done. Just hope turkey will be as it should. Have a great Christmas everyone..
27th Nov, 2014
1. Choose a quality turkey that contains natural fats ie bronze, norfolk black. 2. needs to be keep somewhere cool overnight such as garage not fridge so not over chilled. Pop into kitchen as early as possible. 3. Stuff turkey with a delicious forcemeat stuffing. 4. Cook very hot initially, then medium 5. Cook upside down for the majority of time as the fat continues to render the breast. 6. Baste a couple of times and then flip over and blast with heat again. 7. Because the breast meat cooks quicker than the inside leg. Cut a good indent between the breast and leg and use a piece of onion or cocktail stick to keep open so the heat penetrates to hardest part to cook. 8. A good quality turkey with good natural fat (say 18lb) will cook in about 2.5hrs not 4hrs. 9. Totally ignore the cooking times stated by the Food standard agency you will have a ruined dry turkey leaving it in the oven for 1 hour more than needed. 10. Leave to rest for 1hr this gives time to roast all the veg plus any adjustments that may be needed.
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