GBF Jubilee Promo GBF Jubilee Promo
Image for blog - How To: Cook Your Christmas Turkey Image for blog - How To: Cook Your Christmas Turkey
Features // Blog

How To: Cook Your Christmas Turkey

Publisher - Great British Food Awards
published by

Dani R

Dec 22, 2021
7 minutes to read

We spoke to Simon Maynard, Head Butcher of Macknade, about how to cook your Christmas turkey to perfection

Are you feeling daunted by the sheer magnitude of your Christmas turkey? Wondering how to ensure it stays nice and tender? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Simon Maynard, Head Butcher at Macknade, has a few simple tips to help you out.

“The first step is to choose the right size turkey for your Christmas gathering. Once you know the weight of the turkey, then you’ll be able to work out how long to cook it,” he explains.

Turkey Weight & Timings

5kg Feeds Up To 8 People Cook for 3.5 hours at 180°C

6.5kg Feeds Up To 10 People Cook for 4 hours 10 mins at 180°C

8kg Feeds Up To 12 People Cook for 4 hours 35 mins at 180°C

9kg Feeds Up To 14 People Cook for 5 hours 180°C

This guide gives an approximate cooking time for weight of bird. Please bear in mind that variations on individual ovens may affect this.

How to cook your turkey

Image for blog - How To: Cook Your Christmas Turkey
  • Choose a high quality free range bird. Simon recommends turkey which has been certified by Golden Turkey Farmers, slow grown and cared for in the best conditions to produce an incredible flavour.
  • With a high quality turkey there will be a good amount of natural fat, so the bird will, in effect, be self-basting. You also want to ensure that you retain all that flavour, so you won’t need to do much to prepare your turkey for the oven, in fact, just season with salt (no pepper as it burns).
  • Pre heat your oven to 180°C/ Gas Mark 4.
  • Place your turkey in a roasting tray on a trivet, allowing the juices to be collected (you’ll need these for your gravy later).
  • Place your turkey into the oven and allow to roast.
  • Using a temperature probe check both the legs and breast of the bird as it roasts.
  • Once cooked, the turkey should reach 75°C on the temperature gauge all over. Be sure to check the legs carefully as they take a bit longer.

Image for blog - How To: Cook Your Christmas Turkey

Common Problems

Overcooking the turkey is one of the most common problems. Don’t be scared. Once your turkey reaches 75°C all over including the legs, take it out of the oven and allow it to rest. It will be perfect and juicy.

Talking of resting, this is very important. Don’t try and cook to order with turkey, it needs to rest. Simon always cooks his turkey on Christmas morning, then allows it to rest uncovered. If you cover the turkey in foil, it will continue to cook and will end up overcooked. Ensure your gravy is hot when you serve, so that when it’s poured on the turkey, it will bring it to the right temperature.

Top Tip

Simon always recommends having the stuffing as a side dish, rather than stuffing the bird itself. If you fill the cavity of the bird, you prevent the heated oven from cooking the bird through. You could also end up doubling the cooking time, as you have created a much denser bird.

About Simon

About Simon

Simon heads up the Butchery Team at Macknade. Formerly a chef, who worked his way up through the ranks in a variety of kitchens around the UK, Simon found a new passion in butchery and has been at Macknade for four years.

Macknade are a certified butcher of pasture-fed meat and work with several farms that are certified by the Pasture Fed Livestock Association – an organisation who champion British farmers dedicated to only feeding their animals on a natural diet of grasses, wildflowers & herbs.

stay connected
Download your FREE Guide
40 British Producers You Need to Know