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How to cook a Christmas turkey: what size bird you need, time it takes to roast - and what’s a turkey crown?

Published: December 18, 2020
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With Christmas right around the corner, chefs of all levels of experience will be starting to think about serving up their turkey dinners.

Whether you're a dab hand in the kitchen or new to the culinary arts, picking out a turkey for Christmas Day and cooking it can be tricky.

Not least because turkeys come in all different sizes - what size turkey do you need to feed your household?

Fear not. Help is here.

What size turkey do I need?

According to BBC Good Food, a 2.5-3kg bird will easily feed six grown adults.

The guide below should serve you well this Christmas:


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2-2.5kg serves 4-6

3kg serves 6-7

3.5kg serves 7-8

4-4.5kg serves 8-10

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5-5.5kg serves 10-12

6-6.5kg serves 12-15

Each Christmas chef will have or develop their own personalised way of basting the bird, but here’s a starting point to get the turkey nice and hot and ready to serve.

How to cook a turkey?

Firstly, make sure your turkey is fully thawed and heat the oven to a temperature of 190C (fan) or 170C. A hot oven will help to evenly cook the turkey throughout.

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The time it spends in the oven depends on how big the bird is. For every kilogram, the turkey will need 20 minutes to cook plus 90 minutes added on at the end.

So a 3kg turkey will need an hour, plus 90 minutes, so allow 2.5 hours to cook.

The internal temperature of the turkey should be tested using a digital cooking thermometer, with the temperature needing to reach 70C.

Most chefs allow their turkeys to rest outside the oven, which can take 30-45 minutes, before carving. Leave the bird in the baking tray and cover with foil. Set your timer once more and then carve.

What is a turkey crown?

A turkey crown is a good alternative if you have fewer people to serve.

It's essentially a smaller alternative to a full turkey, with the breast of a bird with the legs and wings removed.

It will cook more quickly and should fit in most ovens but it's weight to pound ratio is slightly more expensive.

Just like a full turkey it needs to be fully defrosted before cooking and needs to reach a temperature of 70C before it's ready to serve, according to the Food Standards Agency.

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What to do with turkey leftovers?

Turkey sandwiches are just as much of a Christmas tradition as the dinner itself.

Strip the turkey of all its meat and place into a plastic box and put in the fridge when cooled.

It'll be good for up to three days for plenty of sandwiches or even a curry if there’s enough.

Let us know what you think


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