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Cooking and Carving

The Perfect Turkey

Your Christmas Turkey

Our method should help you produce a truly tasty turkey with especially succulent breast meat. Remember that the white breast meat cooks more quickly than the dark, denser meat of the legs and wings, so it is best to cook your turkey breast side down to start with. This should keep the juices in the breast and prevent it from becoming too dry. Another tip for even cooking is to loosen the trussing.

How to cook your turkey

If you wish to stuff your turkey, prepare your favourite stuffing recipe and fill the neck cavity only. You may like to put a large Bramley apple or peeled onion into the body cavity.

Sprinkle the bird with salt and pepper then place it breast side down (covered with foil if you prefer) in a roasting tin. The oven should be pre-heated to 230°C/450°F/Gas mark 8 and the bird cooked at this temperature for 30 to 60 minutes depending on size, before reducing the heat to 190°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.

About 30 minutes before the end of cooking (see table below for suggested total times), open the foil if used and turn the bird onto its back to brown the breast. Do try to avoid over-cooking. Test with a fork on the inside of the thigh – the bird is ready when the juices run clear. After cooking, allow the turkey to rest for about 15 to 20 minutes, and then carve.

Suggested Cooking Times (remember ovens vary greatly)

Oven Ready Weight Total Cooking Time
Kilos Lbs Without Foil Hours Mins With Foil Hours Mins
4 8.8 1.5 2.35
5 11 2.10 2.55
6 13.2 2.30 3.15
7 15.4 2.50 3.40
8 17.6 3.10 4.00
9 19.8 3.30 4.25
10 22 3.50 4.45
11 24.2 4.00 5.00

The BBC also have a handy cooking time calculator.


You will find the following sequence makes for easy carving:

1. Hold the leg by the end knuckle, cut close to the body and twist off. Carve this dark leg meat.
2. Similarly remove the wing and cut in half.
3. Slice the breast meat from one side.
4. Repeat for the other side.