Preparing, stuffing and cooking your turkey

Turkey, like other poultry, can carry food poisoning bacteria. Proper cooking will kill any bacteria present, but there is a risk of spreading the bacteria when you’re preparing the turkey.

Preparing your turkey

  • Handle your turkey as little as possible Unpack it directly into a roasting tray before placing it straight in the oven.
  • Don't wash the turkey This can spread bacteria around your kitchen through drips, drops and splashes.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly Before and after you handle your turkey, wash your hands with warm soapy water and dry with a clean towel.

Cooking your turkey

advice for cooking your turkey (safely)

Stuffing made easy

Stuffing is great at Christmas and whether it's breadcrumb, sausage meat or your own favourite recipe, remember to:

  • Prepare the stuffing just before cooking
  • Don’t overstuff your bird; use only 10% of the weight of the bird in stuffing e.g. 500g stuffing for a 5kg turkey
  • Allow extra cooking time for stuffed birds - use our turkey cooking calculator to find out how long
  • Check that stuffing is piping hot all the way through before serving.

how to stuff your turkey

This only applies to birds cooked in electric, fan assisted ovens. For other oven types, we recommended that you cook your stuffing in a separate oven-proof dish.

How to tell when the turkey is cooked

Pierce the thickest part of the breast meat (between the leg and breast) with a clean fork or skewer.

  • Are the juices running clear?
  • Is there no pink meat?
  • Is the turkey is piping hot all the way through?

If the turkey is stuffed, allow extra cooking time and check that the stuffing itself is piping hot all the way through to the centre.

If you are cooking a boned and rolled turkey or a turkey crown, then follow the cooking advice of 20 minutes per pound plus an extra 20 minutes at the end.

Do keep in mind that even when ovens are at the right temperature, opening and closing the oven door, or having other items in the oven, may mean you need extra cooking time.

Whether stuffed, unstuffed, or boned and rolled, it's important to make sure the juices run clear, there is no pink meat left and the turkey is piping hot all the way through.

how to check your turkey is cooked