Fuss Free Christmas Turkey
Over the years I’ve evolved my fuss free Christmas turkey recipe to help me spend less time in the kitchen on the big day itself, and more time with my family.
Without a doubt, the star of my Christmas feast is the turkey. There are of course many ways to prepare and cook a turkey, and what I’m about to share with you is what I’m going to be doing with my turkey.
With this recipe you can prepare the turkey the day before, but if you’re having a frozen turkey, remember to factor in your Christmas Eve prep into your defrosting schedule.
|Turkey, fresh or frozen
|Butter (room temperature)
|Dry Stuffing Mix
|Ready Made Stuffing
|Dry Cure Streaky Bacon
- Turkey Foil
- Disposable Roasting Tin (large)
- Turkey Roasting Bag
- Tea Towels (for resting the turkey)
- Cocktail Sticks (to close the stuffed neck area)
- If you’ve bought a frozen turkey, please read the instructions provided with the turkey regarding the best way and the timings to defrost your turkey. If you can’t locate the defrosting instructions, there is a link at the end of this post to help you. If like me you like to prepare the turkey on Christmas Eve, make sure you allow for this in your defrosting timings.
- For those of you who’ve bought a dry stuffing mix, make this according to the manufacturers instructions and allow it to cool before combining it with the sausage meat by hand. This should only take a few minutes.
- Remove the turkey from its packaging. The cavity should contain the giblets and neck in a small plastic bag. Remove and discard if you don’t plan to keep/use them.
- Please don’t be tempted to wash the turkey before you start preparing it. The cooking process will kill any bugs and stop you from unnecessarily contaminating your kitchen sink and/or work surfaces.
- Place the turkey onto a large plastic tray instead of the draining board – this way you just have a tray to clean and not a whole sink to decontaminate.
- Turn the turkey over and stuff the neck cavity with your prepared stuffing. When the area is comfortably full but not full enough to burst, take 4-6 cocktail sticks and seal the flap by securing it to the underside of the bird (literally stick it in at an angle to secure the flap).
- Carefully rotate the bird so that it’s breast side up. At this point you have 2 options depending on your preference. You can either slip your hand between the skin and the meat to create a pocket and stuff this with your butter, or you can simply smear the top of the skin with butter. Either is fine.
- Place the whole onion (skin on) inside the other cavity.
- At this point carefully place the turkey into the bag if you’re using one (remembering to snip a corner of the bag to allow steam to escape) or alternatively place the turkey into the roasting tin.
- Cover the turkey with foil, but don’t pack the foil too tightly around it. Leave a little room around the turkey to allow heat to circulate.
- Refrigerate the turkey and calculate the cooking time remembering to allow a minimum of an hour to rest.
- Remove the turkey from the fridge at least an hour before it needs to go into the oven to allow it to come to room temperature.
- Preheat your oven to the temperature provided on your cooking instructions.
- Place the turkey in the oven to cook and set the timer.
- For those using a turkey bag – set the timer for an hour less so that you can check the turkeys progress. You may decide to rotate the roasting tray if the bird is colouring on one side quicker than the other.
- For those using just foil – baste the turkey every hour to keep the breast moist.
- When the cooking time is up, remove the roasting tray from the oven and place it on a trivet out of the way to rest. Cover the top of the turkey with another layer of foil along with several tea towels.
- At this point pop the bacon onto a roasting tin and pop into the oven. I find my family think it’s a perk to eat the bacon that was on the turkey before the meal is served, but the turkey doesn’t need it and doing this saves me having to uncover the turkey when the next family member tiptoes in!
- The oven is free to cook everything else.
- I like to prepare the turkey ahead of time (on Christmas Eve) to save the stress of preparing the main event on Christmas Day.
- When calculating the cooking time, follow the guidance on the turkey’s packaging if you’re using just foil and a roasting tin OR for those using a turkey bag, follow the timings on the turkey bag packaging. It’s a little quicker to cook the turkey in the bag, so you’ll have plenty of time to rest the turkey while you cook everything else.
- Resting the turkey will ensure it’s juicy when you serve it so don’t worry about it getting cold because even after 2 hours under the cover to foil and numerous tea towels, the turkey will be hot.
- The turkey I used for the recipe photograph was frozen when bought and I followed the suggested defrosting guide provided with the turkey.
- To make storage of leftover turkey a little simpler, remove the meat from the bones once the turkey has cooled.
- My butter is salted so I didn’t feel it necessary to add more seasoning during cooking.
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Updated 1st December 2022