Roasting a turkey is the perfect dish for the traditional Christmas or Thanksgiving meal. To learn how to roast turkey needn't be stressful - learn all about cooking turkeys here.
The first thing to tell you about roast turkey is that it isn’t rocket science, although some roasted turkey recipes can be pretty complicated! I know that people want their turkey to be perfect and this may add to the perceived stress of getting it right. Just remember to keep it simple, follow this roast turkey recipe carefully, and allow yourself plenty of time.
The first of my turkey cooking tips is 'Fresh Is Best'. If you can only get a frozen turkey, make sure it is completely defrosted before you start. Also, weigh the turkey once it's been removed from any packaging – don't rely on what the label might say. Then you'll know exactly how long to cook the turkey for.
All up, you'll need about 3½ hours from the start of cooking until the turkey is ready to carve; 6½ hours if you include the time from taking it out of the fridge until it's at room temperature.
Before you begin roasting a turkey, you'll need:
The equipment you'll need is:
The best way to prepare your roast turkey is do the stuffing part of it the day before. So, stuff your turkey and then place it in the roasting tray, on top of a couple of pieces of paper towel (this will catch any moisture). Cover the turkey with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.
Remove the turkey from the fridge early so it has time to come up to room temperature – about 3 hours before should be enough.
Take your turkey out of the roasting tray and discard the paper towel. Line your roasting tray with 2 layers of tin foil – one going top to bottom, and the other from side to side. You'll be wrapping the turkey with this foil, so make sure there's enough to do this. Spray the tin foil with some cooking spray to prevent it sticking to the turkey.
Place the turkey into the centre of the tin. Now place the rashers of bacon across the breast of the turkey. Finally, bring the tin foil up and very loosely cover the turkey. Make sure you leave some space between the turkey and the tin foil to allow air to circulate.
Heat your oven to 180° Celsius / 350° Fahrenheit / Gas Mark 4 / Moderate oven. Once the oven is ready, place your turkey in.
The cooking time for turkey, of course, depends on the size of the turkey. The following times are for a 4½ kilogram (10 pound) turkey. Increase or decrease the time depending on your turkey's size. Don't worry, I'll tell you how to check! Alternatively, you can check my meat cooking times page.
Cook the turkey, covered with the tin foil, for 1¾ hours.
Once this time is up, remove the turkey from the oven. Reset the oven temperature to 200° Celsius / 400° Fahrenheit / Gas Mark 6 / Moderately Hot oven. While the oven is heating up further, remove the tin foil covering and then remove the bacon. Baste the turkey with the juices from the roasting tray.
Once the oven is ready, put the turkey back in, uncovered, and cook for another 45 minutes. This part of the cooking process will ensure the turkey gets nice and brown.
When the 45 minutes are up, remove the turkey and pierce the breast with a skewer or carving fork. If the juices run clear, then it's cooked. If they're a bit pink, put the turkey back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Repeat this process until the juices are clear. A more exact method to check if the turkey is cooked is to take its temperature with a meat thermometer. The correct final turkey cooking temperature is 85° Celsius / 185° Fahrenheit.
An important part of roasting a turkey is that you need to rest the turkey to allow the fibres of the meat to relax and become juicy and succulent. Place the turkey on your carving tray and cover with more tin foil. Leave it for 45 minutes. Don't worry about it going cold – it won't!
After 45 minutes, your roast turkey is ready to carve! Serve up with roast potatoes, vegetables and whatever else takes your fancy, and thanks to your easy roasting a turkey recipe, you're set for a memorable dinner!