How cook the perfect roast turkey

feasting backed turkey on...
feasting backed turkey on...

A cook's biggest worry about roasting a Christmas turkey is probably the fear that the meat will be dry. With a large turkey in particular, it's easy to forget that it's still a lean game bird, so making sure that it's soft and juicy when you serve it is crucial.

The secret is all in the preparation. Give yourself plenty of time for this and it will pay dividends when you serve it. The good news is that it can be done the night before. Gravy can also be made in advance (see the recipes below).

When you're ready to roast your bird, knowing the right temperature is crucial to ensure it's properly cooked but not overdone. Here, Gordon Ramsay gives you all the advice you'll need to ensure it's perfect on the day.

If you have a frozen turkey (or other large pieces of meat) then bear in mind that it can take days to defrost properly - so calculate when you need to take it out of the freezer. For example, a 3.5kg (7lb 11oz) turkey will take 35 hours to defrost in the fridge and about 3 hours to cook in an oven preheated to 180ºC (350ºF, Gas Mark 4). Allow more time if you're opening the oven a lot. Check the safety information below:
Defrosting times
Turkey cooking times
More food safety advice and tips

Stuffing recipes:
Pork stuffing
Make your own chestnut stuffing
Apple, chestnut and pistachio stuffing

Tasty gravy options (can be made in advance and either frozen or refrigerated):
Gordon Ramsay's turkey gravy
How to make a delicious turkey gravy
Red wine and clementine gravy

Don't fancy turkey?
Roast duck with clementines
Traditional roast rib of beef
Classic British beef Wellington
Stuffed saddle of lamb with pine nuts
No fuss slow-roasted pork belly
Showstopping venison Wellington

More turkey know-how:
Prepare and stuff the turkey
How to carve a turkey like an expert
The very best gravy to make on the day
Perfect roast potatoes
Twelve ways to cook Brussels sprouts

More festive food ideas:
Christmas menus: Festive food for everyone
Christmas cooking for one or two
Festive cocktails, hot drinks and party food
How to have a Scandinavian-style Christmas
Christmas baking and dessert recipes

Make Christmas easier on yourself:
Nine magic Christmas hacks
The ultimate Christmas countdown
How to decode a whisky label
Quick and easy last-minute Christmas
Take the stress out of Christmas