Delia's Christmas turkey tips

Christmas Eve

The turkey arrives

"There is absolutely no need to wash or wipe the turkey, just place it on a sheet of greaseproofpaper and remove the giblets. Make sure you know what it weighs and store it covered in the fridge till just before you go to bed. You may well need to remove one shelf from the fridge to house it, but if space is a desperate problem, don’t worry: you can use an unheated bedroom,or the garage (with suitable covering) – even, in an emergency, the locked boot of the car, which can be pretty cold on a winter’s night."

Before you go to bed

"It is important to take the turkey out of the fridge now to allow it to come to room temperature so that it heats up immediately when you put it in the oven. The same applies to the stuffing, store them covered in a cool place, and you also need to remove 75g of butter to soften ready for the morning."

Christmas Day

What time is lunch?

"The specific timings that follow are those tested over the years in our house, but because lunchtime will vary from one family to another you can adjust these timings to suit yourself. With young children you will doubtless be up early and want to eat lunch reasonably early; with older children it’s not quite so important to open the presents at the first light of dawn! For an average family-sized 6.5kg (14lb) turkey (oven-ready weight), I am calculating for a 2pm lunch. If you plan to eat half an hour later or earlier, simply add or subtract 30 minutes to or from my timings."

Principles of turkey cooking

"Many people have their own favourite way to cook turkey, usually because it’s the way they were taught. I’m sure there is no best way, and I offer you the following method simply becauseit has always worked well for me and countless others. The turkey is placed in a ‘tent’ of foil, which essentially means it cooks in an oven within an oven. If you wrap the foil too closely to the turkey, though, it ends up steaming instead of roasting. Give it plenty of space between the flesh and the foil and it will roast in its own buttery juices without becoming dry. This method keeps all the juices intact. If you allow the bird to rest for 30-45 minutes before carving, all the juices which have bubbled up to the surface will seep back and ensure the meat is moist and succulent."


Delia's Classic Christmas turkey

Delia's giblet stock


These recipes are adapted from Delia's Happy Christmas published by Ebury Press 2009 © Delia Smith 2011

Watch Delia making this turkey recipe.



It is important that both the turkey and the stuffing are very thoroughly defrosted.

Delia's Classic Christmas turkey recipe has been used by millions over the years but new guidelines recommend the turkey being removed from the fridge only 2 hours before cooking and the stuffing and butter removed 1 hour before. Follow guidelines on Waitrose turkey packaging and our Christmas roasts tips.