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How to Cook the Perfect Turkey

The turkey may not be the most majestic bird, but it’s certainly earned its place as an Ocado Shopping List staple at Christmas. Many home chefs get a little nervous when it comes to big birds like this for fear of drying out the meat. The following checklist should help you get all the timings (and trimmings!) right to make sure that your centerpiece is a real show-stopper.


First things first: make sure your turkey is going to fit into the oven. You might laugh but it’s a common hurdle at Christmas.


You’re going to need a roasting tin that’s big enough for the bird with room to spare, and deep enough to catch all the fat and cooking juices.


Make a note of the weight of your bird, and check it again if you have scales big enough at home. Knowing the exact weight will make sure the cooking time is correct, and avoid an overcooked, dry bird or a raw one.


If you have a fresh turkey, make sure you get it out of the fridge 30 minutes before you cook it. You’ll get less shrinkage when it goes into a hot oven at room temperature.


If you have a frozen turkey, thaw it completely before cooking, otherwise it will be very difficult  to get an even cook.

Top thawing tip: it takes approximately 24 hours for 2kg+ of turkey to fully thaw in the fridge. To thaw in cold water, it approximately takes 30 mins per 0.4 kg of poultry.


Cover the turkey loosely with foil, but remove it just under an hour before the timing is up to get the turkey nicely browned, and to ensure the skin has the perfect crisp to it.


Always preheat your oven for at least 20 minutes before cooking your turkey to make sure it’s  the right temperature.


Place a metal trivet of veggies and onions in the bottom of the tray to help make an epic gravy with all the juices.


Get your timings right. We recommend cooking your turkey in the oven at 180°C/gas 4 but timing depends on the size of your bird. We suggest: 

  • 4-5kg – cook 2¼ to 2½ hours.
  • 5-6kg – cook 2½ to 3 hours.
  • 6-7kg – cook 3 to 3½ hours.
  • 7-8kg – cook 3½ to 4 hours.
  • 8-9kg – cook 4 to 4¼ hours.
  • 9-10kg – cook 4¼ to 4½ hours.


Top tips for flavour (after thawing):

Brining – Submerge the turkey in water with 4 tbsp sugar and 4 tbsp salt for 4 hours. Once completed, rinse and pat dry before cooking.

Use a butter rub to give a crispy skin – Ease the skin from the flesh using a tablespoon – work your way up from the cavity. Mix 150g butter with salt, pepper, chopped thyme and rosemary. Push half under the skin, massaging it to spread out and rub the other half over the top.


Roast your bird for the calculated time, or until the juices run clear from the thigh, if you pierce it with a knife or a skewer. 

Top tip: to cook your bird for the perfect amount of time, use a meat thermometer. This will tell you when the bird is cooked and prevents you from repeatedly poking the turkey skin and letting out that beautiful juice.


Once cooked, carefully lift the turkey out of the tray and rest on a board. Turkeys between 4-6kg should be rested for 1½ hours, and ones from 6-10kg can rest for two hours.

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