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Turkey cooking guide

03 December 2014

Stefan Kölsch, Donald Russell's Head Chef, offers the following tips for defrosting and cooking your turkey.

Find out how to roast the perfect Christmas turkey

Turkey size guidelines

For 4 people

1 – 1.35kg turkey crown (4-5 Servings)

For 6 people

1.35 – 1.65kg turkey crown (5-7 Servings)

For 8 people

1 whole turkey, 5kg

Defrosting your turkey crown

Defrost your turkey crown slowly in the fridge, for 7-10 hours per 500g – between 24 and 36 hours.

Preparing your turkey crown

Pat your crown dry with kitchen paper, and allow to come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes. This helps it to cook evenly. Weigh your crown to calculate the cooking time required.

Cooking your turkey crown

1. Preheat your oven to 230ºC/Fan 220ºC/Gas 8. Place the turkey crown in a large roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add a cup of water or wine to the tin to keep it moist during cooking.

2. Cook the crown in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes.

3. Reduce the temperature to 180ºC/Fan 170ºC/Gas 4 and continue to cook for a further 15-18 minutes per 450g (lb).

4. Baste occasionally and be careful not to overcook.

Testing your turkey

Piece the thickest part of the breast with a skewer; if the juices run clear, the turkey is cooked. The breast should remain soft when pressed.

Resting your turkey

Once cooked, let the crown rest before carving. Remove it from the oven, cover loosely with foil and rest for at least 30 minutes, to make it moist and tender all the way through. Keep any juices for the gravy.

Carving your turkey

I recommend carving along the breast bone and down the ribs to remove each breast cleanly in one whole piece. The breasts can then be easily cut across the grain into even slices. Arrange all the meat onto a warmed serving platter.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.