Friday, November 16, 2012

Easy Way to Cook a Turkey

Everyone enjoys a delicious, moist turkey - but cooking one can seem overwhelming.  Here is a very simple method that will guarantee success every time.  It might seem a bit fiddly to begin with, but all the work is done at the start.  Once you get this bird into the oven you need to do very little else. (Image from )

Working out the cooking time

Keeping in mind that ovens are wildly different, here are a few general guidelines that I have found useful :

for a 8 to 10 lb. turkey (3.5 - 4.5 kg) :
-  425'F for 30 minutes
-  325'F for 2 1/2 to 3 hours
-  400'F uncovered for 30 minutes

for a 11 to 14 lb. turkey (5  - 6.5 kg) :
-  425'F for 40 minutes
-  325'F for 3 to 4 1/2 hours
-  400'F uncovered for 30 minutes

for a 15 to 20 lb. turkey (6.75 - 9 kg) :
-  425'F for 45 minutes
-  325'F for 4 to 5 hours
-  400'F uncovered for 30 minutes

When working out when to put your turkey into the oven, work backwards and allow 30 to 45 minutes of rest time after the turkey comes out of the oven.  This will allow all the juices that have come to the surface to seep back in and will ensure that your turkey is moist and succulent.

Preparing the turkey for the oven

I use the "tent" method for all my roasts and birds, and it always works perfectly.  The key is to create a tent to surround your meat or bird.  This creates an oven within the oven, and allows it to roast in it's own juices without drying out.

It might seem complicated but it really isn't.  Here is what you need :
  • your turkey and stuffing
  • a roasting pan large enough for your bird (I use disposable aluminum ones for less cleanup)
  • extra wide aluminum foil
  • 1/2 a stick of butter
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 lb. of bacon

Preheat your oven to 425'F, making sure the rack is at the bottom of the oven.  You need to have enough room for the covered turkey.

First, you need to stuff your turkey.  The easiest way to do this is to put it into the sink (as in this image from  ).  That way you have more control while stuffing.

As an extra nice touch, you can also stuff a few herbs between the skin and the meat.  This is especially nice to do with sage if you are using sage stuffing.  (You can see how delicious this looks in this image from

Prepare your pan by laying two long pieces of foil one on top of the other, then fitting these into the pan. Stuff your turkey, then place it on the foil.  Melt the butter and rub it all over the bird.  Season well with seas salt and freshly ground black pepper, then cover with about half a pound of bacon.

Now you're going to create your tent. The key is to make sure the turkey is firmly sealed in the foil, but that there is air space around it inside the packet. Bring two of the pieces up and fold them at the ends. Now bring up the remaining two pieces and fold these over, making sure the bird is completely covered.

Now put your turkey into the preheated oven. After cooking for the required time, turn down the temperature  to 325'F. and cook again for the required time at this heat.

Once the timer goes, turn the oven up to 400'F and remove the turkey from the oven. (You might need some help with this!)

Remove the foil from the top and sides, as shown in this image from (I usually fold it around the rim of the pan. This makes it neater and easier to handle).

Take off the bacon slices and baste the turkey with the juices in the pan.  Now return it to the hot oven and let it finish browning for half an hour.  If you have room in the oven, put the bacon into an oven-proof dish and let it bake beside the turkey until it is crisp.  Otherwise you can always finish it off in the microwave.

Once the timer goes of, remove the turkey, cover loosely with a large sheet of foil, and let it rest for at least half an hour and up to an hour.  Then carve and enjoy!


If you like this recipe, you'll find others like it in my Christmas recipe book 10 Easy Christmas Dinner Recipes. There are three books in my Christmas collection and together they will give you all the recipes you will need to have a great Holiday Season.

Image from

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