Turkey cooking guidelines – boneless and full bird

Turkey cooking guidelines - boneless and full bird

The biggest and most anticipated meal of the year is quickly approaching and whether it’s your first time cooking Christmas dinner for the family, or you have years of experience under your belt, all eyes will be on the turkey. Despite it holding onto the title of the most popular Christmas meat, it’s not always easy to get right. But with the help of this guide, you’ll have the key cooking guidelines you need to reach perfection with your turkey year after year.

How to cook boneless turkey

If you’re cooking for a smaller group, often a better option rather than cooking a full bird is to opt for a boneless turkey breast. However, these can vary in weight and size so cooking times may vary. See our guidelines for preparing a turkey breast joint below.

  • Take the turkey breast out the fridge and leave it for about an hour to come up to room temperature. Heat your oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5 and put a rack inside a baking tray with your festive vegetables underneath. Or you can arrange the veg in an ovenproof frying pan depending on your preference.
  • If you know the weight of your turkey breast, work out 40 minutes of cooking time per kilo plus an extra 20 minutes. If you’re unsure on the weight of your turkey, weigh it first to accurately calculate a precise cooking time.
  • Rub butter over the skin of the meat and season well. Place the breast on top of the rack or veg. Pour in water to cover the veg and then cover the whole tray/pan with foil.
  • Roast the turkey for your calculated time, removing the foil 20 minutes prior to the end of the cooking time to brown the skin. Test with a knife to see if the juices go clear. Use a meat thermometer if you have one, which should read between 65C and 70C. If it’s not fully cooked, leave it to roast for a further 10 minutes.
  • Put the turkey somewhere warm to rest for 20 minutes. The final internal temperature will go up to 70C or slightly above.
  • Get ready to serve, using the strained veg, remaining liquid, and resting juices to create a flavourful gravy.

How to cook a full turkey

When you’re cooking for a large family at Christmas, you can’t beat a beautiful full turkey, but the right techniques are essential to avoiding dryness. See our general guidelines below for cooking a whole turkey. It’s important to note that if you purchase a Kelly Bronze turkey from The Village Butchers, this will come with its own, specific instructions.

  • Make sure your turkey has been left to come up to room temperature for 1 hour and preheat your oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.
  • To calculate your cooking time, first weigh your turkey if you don’t already know its weight in kilograms. Allow 20 minutes per kg then an additional 70 minutes for a 2-3.9kg turkey or 90 minutes for a 4-10kg turkey. This guidance is based on the weight of an unstuffed turkey, so be sure to add on the weight of any stuffing to get an accurate cooking time.
  • Rub soft butter between the meat and skin of the turkey to keep it moist and brush melted butter over the top of the skin for a golden, crispy finish. If you’re especially conscious of keeping your turkey moist, forming a bacon lattice on top will help with that as well.
  • Put the turkey in the oven and baste it around every 40 minutes by pouring the juices over the top of the meat.
  • The best way to tell if your turkey is fully cooked is by using a meat thermometer. Insert it into the thickest part of the leg, taking care not to touch the bone. If the temperature reads 70C for 2 minutes, the meat is ready. If not, put it back in the oven for 15 minutes and test it again. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can insert a skewer or knife into the thickest part of the leg and see if the juices run clear.
  • Once the turkey is cooked, leave it to rest in a warm place away from draughts, loosely covered with foil for at least 30-45 minutes (up to 90 minutes). Now it’s ready to carve and serve.


No matter whether you’re planning on cooking boneless turkey or the full bird, the above guidelines for each will help to ensure it comes out perfectly. If you’re looking for fresh high-quality turkey ready for Christmas, shop online at The Village Butchers.

We have a selection of amazing, free-range turkeys as well as various Christmas trimmings you need to complete your dinner. Order today and get fast and efficient delivery straight to your door, ready for you to freeze in preparation for the big day. Contact us if you have any questions.

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