We all love the classic Christmas turkey, but the prospect of getting it wrong on the big day can be a real source of stress for the cook. Follow our simple guide below to find all the timings and tips you need, and be guaranteed the golden, succulent centrepiece of your dreams.
How long should I cook it?
Follow our easy guide below to find the right cooking time for your turkey. Times shown below are for unstuffed birds cooked at 220˚C/200˚C fan/gas mark 7. Note: Oven temperatures vary, so always ensure your turkey is fully cooked before serving.
How do I check if it’s done?
Check for doneness by inserting a skewer or knife into the thickest part of the thigh and ensuring the juices run clear. If not, put it back in the oven for another 20 minutes, then test again. If you’re nervous, it’s well worth buying a meat thermometer to ease your mind; the turkey is ready when the internal temperature at its thickest part registers at least 74 ̊C.
Cooking for a smaller group?
A boned and rolled turkey breast will serve four with leftovers for sandwiches (or two, with enough left for a second dinner as well a few sambos). Preheat the oven to 220˚C/200˚C fan/gas mark 7. Mix together 50g softened Kerrygold Butter, 2 tsp lemon zest, 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary, 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme and some salt and black pepper. Rub a 2kg boned and rolled turkey breast all over with the herbed butter, then place into a roasting tin and cover with foil. Roast for one hour and 40 minutes, removing the foil during the last 20 minutes to brown the skin. Transfer to a plate, tent loosely with foil and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving and serving.
Turkey dos and don’ts
- DO thaw frozen turkeys completely in the fridge before roasting. Depending on the size, this can take up to four days.
- DO allow the turkey to sit at room temperature for at least an hour before cooking.
- DO dry the skin with kitchen paper to help it crisp during roasting.
- DO rub softened Kerrygold Butter under the skin to keep the breast meat from drying out. Be gently to avoid tearing the skin.
- DO season from the inside out: fill the cavity with aromatics like garlic, fresh herbs, lemon wedges and onion.
- If you have a lot of people to feed, DO consider buying two smaller birds rather than one large one.
- DO use a roasting rack in the roasting tin to elevate the turkey from the bottom of the tin. This will result in a more evenly-cooked bird.
- DON’T wash the turkey! Washing the turkey can contaminate your kitchen with bacteria as water droplets splatter. Cooking the turkey to the right temperature is sufficient to kill any bacteria inside.
- DON’T baste the bird if you want crispy skin. If you really must baste, do it once only.
- DON’T carve straight away. Leaving the roast turkey to rest for around 45 minutes after cooking will result in moister meat — and give you a change to finish the sides and make your gravy. Simply tent it with foil, then layer with 2-3 clean kitchen towels to keep in the heat.
- DON’T waste the juices in the bottom of the roasting tin! Reduce them in a saucepan with a chicken stock or white wine and thicken with cornflour for an amazing gravy.
Top tip: Always make extra stuffing — it disappears quickly, and is great in sandwiches, too! Kerrygold Butter makes moist, flavoursome stuffing with a beautiful golden colour.