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Roasted Turkey

Roast Turkey

This is a primer on how to roast a turkey. There isn't a lot of mystery just a little technique will get you great results.
5 from 10 votes
Course Entertaining, Holiday Main Courses, Main Courses
Cuisine Chicken and other Birds


  • 1 turkey
  • 1 Sausage and Apple Stuffing recipe.
  • cotton string for trussing the bird
  • 2 tbsp veg or olive oil for coating the turkey
  • 300 gr softened butter


  • Preheat your oven set at 230°C or 450°F Do not use your convention fan if you have one.
  • Wash the turkey well inside and out, dry well with paper towels.
  • Prepare the breasts for filling with butter (see: Everything you need to know about Turkey!) Rub the outside of the bird with butter or a little oil, salt and pepper, sprinkle lightly with a little thyme if you like.
  • Stuff with dressing (stuffing – an average turkey will take about 1 ½ liters or 1 ½ quarts of stuffing).
  • Cover the turkey with a thin layer of pork fat, or soak a piece of gauze (bandage), or a thin kitchen towel in butter and cover the top of the bird with it, be sure not to leave the tops of the legs exposed. Truss the bird (tie it up tightly), being sure to secure the fat in place with the string, place on a rack in a roasting pan and set in the oven. If the bird is not stuffed insert in its breast cavity a few sprigs of thyme, rosemary and 2 lemons cut in half
  • Place bird in the hot oven and let roast for ½ hour then reduce the heat as recommended below depending on the size of the bird.
  • After the first hour baste every 30 minutes with pan drippings and additional butter if you need more liquid as the turkey roasts to keep the breasts moist.
  • ½ hour before the bird is ready remove all the pork fat from the bird and discard – this will help the skin brown, and baste it.
  • The internal temp needs to reach 85°C or 180°F to 185°F. The internal temperature of the stuffing must reach 74°C or 165°F in order for it to be cooked well enough.


Roasting times are as follows:
Timing the cooking of a turkey for the layman is a real pain but the small investment of an electronic meat thermometer. If your oven has a built in thermometer that you can insert into the bird it will help a great deal. The internal temp needs to reach 85°C or 180°F to 185°F when you insert the meat thermometer into the bird’s inner thigh muscle - between the thigh and the bird’s breast, being careful not to touch the thigh bone.
The internal temperature of the stuffing must reach 74°C or 165°F in order for it to be cooked well enough.
Estimating cooking times:
40 to 50 minutes per kilo for birds up to 3 kilo (Stuffed)
20 to 25 minutes for birds up to 3 kilos or 6 pounds. (not stuffed)
30 to 40 minutes per kilo for birds larger than 3 kilos. (Stuffed)
15 to 20 minutes for per pound for birds larger than 6 pounds. (not stuffed)
26 to 30 minutes per kilo for birds over 7 kilos. (Stuffed)
13 to 15 minutes per pound for birds over 16 pounds. (not stuffed)
Have ready oven mitts or towels ready. A large turkey can be an unyielding thing steaming hot out of the oven, not to mention really heavy.
When the bird is done remove the pan from the oven and place on a kitchen counter that can take the heat of the pan.
This is important and you mustn’t skip this step.
Remove the bird to some extra wide and heavy aluminum foil and wrap the bird tightly in it. Place on a large plate breast side down and cover with a towel in a warm place. Let sit for ½ hour to 45 minutes.
Take the roasting pan and drain off all the fat leaving behind any liquid that the bird gave off during the roasting. Place the roasting pan on the stove over a medium heat, pour in about a half a cup of white wine or stock and scrape up all the bits in the bottom of the pan (not anything that is actually burnt).  When done, strain it through a fine sieve and it’s ready for making gravy.
Any liquid that the bird gives off while it was resting can also be added to the gray stock.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!