Turkey buying guide

Everything you need to know about buying, preparing
and cooking your Christmas turkey

Turkey buying guide

Whether you’re a Christmas dinner novice or a seasoned Christmas cook, creating a truly mouthwatering feast for family and friends can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to be! Take a look at our helpful tips and simple timeplan on how to cook a turkey and all the trimmings.

trimmings and sides

How to cook a turkey:

Prep in advance

Get ahead by making as much as you can in advance and freeze or refrigerate. This could include your stuffing, cranberry sauce, bread sauce, gravy, pigs in blankets and braised red cabbage.

Use up the giblets

Every Waitrose whole turkey comes with giblets. Remove these from the turkey before cooking but don’t throw away - they make fantastic gravy. See our turkey gravy recipe by clicking through to Recipes at the top.

Stuffing the turkey

If stuffing the turkey, loosely fill the neck end only so the heat can circulate, and always weigh the bird after it’s been stuffed for accurate cooking times.

Cooking instructions

Check your turkey’s cooking instructions but as a general rule, cook in a 180°C (160°C fan) preheated oven for 35 minutes per kg (including stuffing).

Cook upside down

Cooking the turkey breast-side down for the first half of the cooking time keeps the lean breast meat succulent. Turn it over halfway through, and baste with the juices occasionally. Make sure to remove the foil for the last 30 minutes or so to allow the skin to turn golden and crisp up.

Test if it's cooked

How to test if a turkey is cooked: insert a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh and see if the juices run clear. If there’s any pinkness, return to the oven and check every 15 minutes. Or use a meat thermometer; the temperature needs to read 70°C when inserted into the thickest part of the meat.

Rest for as long as possible

This is so important to allow the meat to relax and to stay moist and tender. Half an hour is the minimum but the longer the better - up to 11/2 hours. Don’t worry about the turkey going cold, it will stay warm enough to eat plus your hot gravy will heat it up again.

• Carve the turkey

Get step by step instructions on carving your turkey like a pro, with our simple carving guide >



Cooking a turkey and all the trimmings this year? Follow these simple steps for an effortless feast.

These timings are based on a 4kg whole turkey to serve 6-8 people at approximately 2pm.


9:30 am

Take the turkey out of fridge and add your stuffing if using. Weigh turkey to calculate your cooking time


10:00 am

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan)


10:30 am

Cover the turkey loosely with foil, and put in the oven, breast-side down


11:50 am

Remove the foil from the turkey and turn the bird over to brown the skin. Baste with the juices, put back in oven


12:50 pm

Check if turkey is cooked, then remove turkey from the oven and transfer to a large board or plate, cover tightly with foil and tea towels to keep warm.

Increase oven temperature to 200°C (180°C fan)

Preheat fat for potatoes in oven. Parboil potatoes



Toss potatoes in the hot fat and put in oven on the top shelf

Make gravy if not already done



Put carrots and parsnips in the oven to roast

Serve starter, if having



Put pigs in blankets and stuffing in the oven



Reheat ready-made red cabbage



Cook Brussels sprouts

Reheat gravy, adding the turkey juices from the tin

Heat up bread sauce

Transfer sides and sauces to serving dishes



Take turkey and all the trimmings to the table and tuck in