We have some great tips on how to cook a Christmas turkey

Cooking a large turkey is not something we do very often. Check our guide below to get it right on the big day.
  • Preparing your bird
  • Seasoning & stuffing
  • Cooking times
  • Carving tips

Christmas Turkey Preparation

When you collect your Turkey it will be oven ready so you just need to prepare it and plan your cooking schedule. (When you get your bird home keep it in a cool place or refrigerate.) Add to the check list – a large enough roasting dish!

When you are ready to cook you Christmas Turkey:

Check the giblets and remove them. These are already separated from the bird and wrapped separately often inside the bird.
Bring the bird up to room temperature. (Allow two hours)
Removing the wishbone makes the carving much easier as you can cut larger, neater slices from the breast. It is the horseshoe shaped bone just inside the opening at the neck end.


  • We recommend that you do not place stuffing in the main cavity as this will prevent hot air from circulating inside the bird which will slow the cooking time. (A large peeled onion halved, fresh thyme sprigs and plenty of seasoning however will enhance the natural flavour of the meat.)
  • Stuffing is good placed in the neck cavity, tuck skin flap underneath. Cocktail sticks are a good way to keep it all in place. Roll any remaining stuffing into small balls and roast in a separate pan with bacon rolls or sausages.
  • Weigh the prepared bird (after you have added any stuffing) to calculate the cooking time – see below

Christmas Turkey Preparation Tips:

  • Smear softened butter  under the turkey skin and over the legs. Season well with salt and pepper.
  • Put the turkey on a rack set inside a roasting tin. Put the giblets, some sliced onion carrot and celery under the rack cover with a little water – these will roast with the bird and combine with the juices to make a great basis for your gravy.
  • You might want to try putting it breast-side down in the roasting tray. The only fat deposits in a turkey are in the back and placing it this way up allows the fat to move through the breast meat as it cooks. (Turn it the right way up for the last half hour of cooking to brown the skin)
  • Cover the turkey and tin loosely with foil, sealing it well under the rim of the tin.
  • Start the turkey roasting at 400°F (200°C) / Gas mark 6 for the first half hour then reduce temperature down to 350°F (180°C) Gas mark 4.
    Baste occasionally and top up the water under the rack if its drying out.
  • Foil should be removed for the last half hour to get a crispy brown skin you might need to raise the oven temperature to do this.
  • The turkey is ready when the juices run clear.  You can test this with a fork or meat skewer behind the knee joint of the thigh where the meat is thickest.
    If the juices are still pink cook for another 15 to 20 minutes and test again.
  • Always leave the turkey to rest on a warm platter and covered loosely with a tent of foil for between 30 – 60 minutes before carving.

Cooking times:

Advice from the British Turkey Information Service is that if the turkey is over 4kg, calculate 20 mins per kg + 90 mins.

For a smaller bird – under 4kg, calculate 20 mins per kg + 70 mins.

Carving your Christmas Turkey:

Before you grab your knife have a look at this video for an easy to follow guide>>.