How to Roast a Turkey

Turkey is very lean so basting with pan juices and covering with sliced bacon and a layer of foil is the usual method employed to keep the meat moist and succulent while imparting flavour into the flesh.  Frequent opening of the oven will slow the cooking due to heat loss. 

Always defrost a frozen turkey in the fridge, not in the sink or on the bench as it can take two - three days to completely defrost.  If it's still partially frozen, recommended cooking times won't be long enough to cook it thoroughly.  This means bacteria that cause food poisoning could survive the cooking process. Food Standards U.K suggests the following defrosting guide time.
In a fridge at 4ºC (39ºF), allow about 10 to 12 hours per kg, but remember not all fridges will be this temperature.
When your turkey is fully defrosted, put it in the fridge until you are ready to cook it.  If this isn't possible make sure you cook it immediately.
Make the stuffing but store in a bowl in the fridge and stuff the turkey just before you cook it.
Roast the turkey according to the time stated on the back of the packet or by using the following table as a guide:

Turkey Size

Cooking Time

Serving Guide

(based on 150g serving size)


2 hrs35 mins

6 – 7 servings



2 hrs 40 mins

7 – 8 servings



2 hrs 45 mins

8 – 9 servings



 2 hrs 50 mins

9 – 10 servings



2 hrs 55 mins

10 – 11 servings



3 hrs

11 – 12 servings



3 hrs 5 mins

12 – 13 servings



3 hrs 10 mins

13 – 14 servings



These times are a guide only. Always check that the meat is cooked thoroughly before serving by inserting a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh, if the juices run clear the turkey is cooked.  Rest the meat for 10 minutes before carving.  


Preheat the oven to 160°C. Prepare the stuffing – Remove the neck and giblet packs from the body and cavity of the turkey. Wipe the cavity and skin with paper towels.

Stuff the turkey with the prepared stuffing if using, tie the legs together and fold under the wing tips.  Place the turkey, breast side up onto a rack in a roasting dish.  Pour in some chicken stock and cover the breast with bacon strips. Cover the turkey with a layer of baking paper followed by a layer of tin foil and roast for 1 hour.

Lift the baking paper and foil and baste with the juices in the dish. Continue cooking, following the recommended cooking times, or until the turkey is golden brown and the juices run clear when the turkey is pierced through the thickest part of the thigh. The foil can be removed in the last ½ hr of cooking to allow the breast to brown and crisp.

For a quick & easy stuffing, combine chopped onion, parsley, a pinch of dried herbs, breadcrumbs and a beaten egg & season with salt & pepper.

As an alternative to stuffing the turkey, you could make individual stuffing balls: simply roll the stuffing into ping pong sized balls and keep refrigerated until the turkey is nearly cooked. Place the balls in to a lightly oiled roasting tin and cook for approximately 15 minutes at 180 C, turning once during cooking.
For the veggies, if you find that you do not have room in your oven to cook both the turkey and veggies at the same time, cook the vege first and then set aside to be re heated once the turkey is cooked.

It’s very important to keep cooked meat and poultry in the fridge.  After you have carved your turkey, cool any leftovers, cover and refrigerate.  

If you're reheating leftover turkey, or other food, always make sure it's piping hot all the way through before you eat it, and don't reheat more than once.  Ideally, try to use leftovers within 48 hours.

Cooked rice freezes well so cook extra for a fried rice on another night.

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