Turkey roasting guide

Article by: Allrecipes staff  |  Picture by: Cynthia Ross
Turkey roasting guide
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Our guide to roasting turkey is all you need for a perfect Christmas dinner centrepiece, complete with invaluable tips, step-by-step instructions and turkey cooking times.
What you'll need...
Essential tools for roasting turkey include a roasting tin, ovenproof meat thermometer, roasting rack, aluminium foil and kitchen string.

How to roast your turkey
To prepare the turkey for roasting, first remove the giblets (and save for gravy or stuffing). Next, rinse the turkey inside and out and pat dry with kitchen paper, then follow these steps:

• If you are stuffing your turkey, stuff it loosely, allowing about 100 to 175g of stuffing per 450g of turkey.
• Brush the turkey's skin with melted butter or oil. Tie drumsticks together with kitchen string (for stuffed birds only).
• Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The thermometer should point towards the body, and should not touch the bone.
• Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting tin, and into a preheated 180 C / Gas 4 oven. Use the chart below to estimate the turkey's cooking time.
• Roast until the skin is a light golden colour, and then cover loosely with an aluminium foil tent. During the last 45 minutes of roasting, remove the foil tent to brown the skin. Basting is not necessary, but helps promote even browning.
Turkey tip
Turkey cooks best if hot air is allowed to circulate underneath and all around the bird. Setting the turkey on a roasting rack is key. The fat drips down and can be collected in the roasting tin. The rack lets the air circulate and also keeps the turkey from soaking in its own fat.
Turkey cooking times

Turkey Weight

Roasting Time

Roasting Time

4.5-8kg (10-18 lb)

3-3.5 hours

3.75-4.5 hours

7-10kg (15-22 lb)

3.5-4 hours

4.5-5 hours

10-11kg (22-24 lb)

4-4.5 hours

5-5.5 hours

11-13kg (24-29 lb)

4.5-5 hours

5.5-6.25 hours

When is my turkey done cooking?
The only reliable test for doneness is the temperature of the meat, not the colour of the skin. The turkey is done when the thigh meat reaches an internal temperature of 74 degrees C.

If your turkey has been stuffed, it is important to check the temperature of the stuffing. The stuffing should be 74 degrees C as well.

No thermometer?
A meat thermometer is a great investment and eliminates guesswork. But in a pinch, look for other signs that you're turkey is done: check to see that the juices are clear and that the colour of the meat closest to the bone is no longer pink.
A perfect finish
When the turkey is done, remove from the oven and allow to stand for 20 minutes before carving. After resting at room temperature, the juices are redistributed throughout the turkey and the meat stands up to carving better - the juices stay in the turkey, rather than on your work surface.

Transfer the turkey to a cutting board to rest and use the drippings in the roasting tin to make gravy. Use a sharp knife for carving and serve the turkey on a warmed platter.

Top turkey resources
For that perfect bird, check out more of our turkey resources:

Roast turkey recipe collection
How to carve turkey
How to make turkey gravy
How to roast turkey video

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  • Very helpful and interesting site.
    Posted: 27 Dec 2012 Easy
    Clear and precise instructions
    Posted: 24 Dec 2012 Moderately easy
    • hutch
    • Intermediate
    • Hampton Middlesex, UK

    Comment: zaden

    Thanks for good advice. Looking forward to my turkey
    Posted: 24 Dec 2011


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