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How to cook a turkey (the easy way)

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By Will Godfrey

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I don’t usually cook turkey just for myself.

It’s something that I only really share with family and friends during the festive season, so when I bring that bronzed beauty out of the oven on Christmas morning, the chances are I’ve got a whole audience to impress.

Plus, there’s the added fear of it not living up to those perfectly golden-brown ones on the front cover of all the Christmassy magazines. Talk about living up to the pressures of society!

If you’ve never cooked a turkey before, the thought of tackling a bird of that size can be pretty daunting. More than anything else, it better not be dry: no one wants to end up with a Christmas dinner that tastes like plasterboard!

But there’s really no need to worry – cooking a turkey isn’t tricky! In fact, if you follow this method it’s pretty easy. Who knows, you might even start cooking turkey more often as a result…

How to calculate turkey cooking times:

Working out how long to cook a turkey all depends on the weight of your bird (that’s after stuffing it).

  • If your turkey weighs more than 4kg (around 9lb)

Calculate 20 minutes per kg, plus 90 minutes to finish.

  • If your turkey weighs less than 4kg

Calculate 20 minutes per kg, plus 70 minutes to finish.

To help you on your way, here’s what might just be the most foolproof turkey recipe ever. It’s nice and simple, and the results are great.

Ingredients

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 4
  2. Place the turkey in a roasting tin (or dish), remove the string from the legs and open them out. If you’re making any, this is where you’ll add the stuffing to the cavity.
  3. Dot the softened butter over the turkey. Season with as much salt and freshly ground pepper as you like.
  4. Cover the bird (loosely) with a sheet or foil and seal is around the sides of the tin (this will help to keep the turkey moist).
  5. Calculate the cooking time (see the ‘How to calculate cooking time for a turkey’ section above).
  6. Baste the turkey with the buttery juices every hour or so using a baster (or a spoon) to keep it from drying out.
  7. Remove the foil for the final half hour of cooking time (don’t bin it – you’ll need it again later).
  8. Test to see if the juices run clear by inserting a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh. If they’re still running pink then pop the turkey back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes and check again.
  9. Take out of the oven and pop the foil back on.
  10. Rest for at least half an hour (or an hour if you can) to allow the meat to relax and tenderise.
  11. Carve and serve – your Christmas (or Thanksgiving) lunch is ready!

Top tips for a textbook turkey

  • Your turkey is done when the juices run clear when you pierce the thigh.
  • If it’s not quite ready yet, pop it back in for another 15-20 minutes before checking again.
  • Leave it to rest for at least 30 minutes (an hour if you can!) before carving – this allows the meat to relax, making it easier to slice.

Do you have any top tips for cooking the turkey at Christmas? What do you like to serve it with? We’d love to hear from you – so let us know in the comments below!

Not sure what to serve along with your turkey? Take a look at these 3 Unbeatable Christmas Side Dishes for some inspiration.

And if you’re cooking for a vegetarian this Christmas, we’ve got you covered with this Christmas vegetarian pithivier recipes that was a massive hit last year!

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