Make your life simple this Christmas and cook my Easy Roast Turkey Crown – all the delicious taste of a whole roast turkey, but less of the stress. Plus lots of tips on buying, defrosting and cooking a turkey crown and delicious ideas for your turkey leftovers!
Hands up who finds cooking turkey at Christmas stressful? It’s often cited as one of the most stressful parts of Christmas Day…but it really needn’t be!
In fact it’s something people find so stressful, I have written a whole post full of tips and ideas about how to make cooking turkey at Christmas less stressful – you can find it here: 20 simple tips to take the stress out of cooking your Christmas turkey.
One way to make cooking turkey at Christmas less stressful is to not cook a whole bird. Whole turkeys can be difficult to store and can take a long time to cook. They are easy to overcook or undercook as different parts of the turkey take different lengths of time to cook. Also, cooking a whole turkey can result in lots of waste, as many people prefer the white breast meat to the brown leg and thigh meat.
One way to avoid this is by not cooking a whole large turkey at all…you could for example make my Prosciutto Wrapped Turkey Mini Fillets with Sage and Sausage Stuffing – which is a very elegant, but quick and cheap way to cook turkey at Christmas without the hassle.
However, if you have your heart set on a beautiful bronzed turkey to carve at the table on Christmas day, a roast turkey crown is a great halfway house – you still have a wonderful centrepiece to impress your friends and family with, but with a lot less stress.
A turkey crown is much easier to get right than a whole turkey. They also tend to be easier to store in your fridge or freezer, quicker to defrost, quicker to cook and easier to carve, but they still make a great showpiece for your Christmas table.
What size turkey crown should I buy?
One of my top turkey tips is to buy a turkey crown the size you actually need. It’s so tempting to buy an enormous turkey, but a giant size turkey is usually eyewateringly expensive, takes forever to cook and often doesn’t get even half finished on Christmas Day!
The thing about Christmas lunch that everyone always forgets (myself included!) is that most of your guests have already stuffed themselves silly with a late breakfast and copious amounts of nibbles and chocolates on Christmas morning, and then when it comes to lunchtime they are presented with a table groaning with every vegetable, sauce and garnish under the sun as well as a ginormous turkey…it’s no wonder that so much food gets wasted at Christmas!
So when choosing what size turkey crown to buy, ask yourself how many people do you want to feed? A good guide for a turkey crown is to times the number of people you are feeding by 250g-333g – depending on appetites. So, for example, a 2kg turkey crown will feed 6-8 adults and probably 8-10 if your party includes children. In fact you may find that this still leaves you with leftovers for all the reasons I mentioned above…but a little amount of leftovers is a good thing, no?
How long should I cook a turkey crown?
My rule of thumb is to cook a turkey crown that is 4kg or less for 70 minutes plus 20mins x the number of kilograms, so for a 2kg turkey crown that’s 70 + (20×2) = 110minutes = 1h50m. For a 3kg turkey crown that’s 70 + (20×3) = 130minutes = 2h10m. And for a 4kg turkey crown that’s 70 + (20×4) = 150minutes = 2h30m.
This will ensure your turkey is juicy on the inside, but not overcooked and with a lovely crispy skin on the outside. See below for the recipe.
I prefer to cook my turkey unstuffed and cook my stuffing separately, but if you prefer to cook your turkey crown with stuffing inside, remember to calculate the cooking time based on the weight of both the turkey AND the stuffing together.
If you are doing a super large turkey crown, the general wisdom is to cook a turkey larger than 4kg for 90 minutes plus 20mins x the number of kilograms, so for example a 5kg turkey would need cooking for 90 + (20×5) = 190minutes = 3h10m.
If you need help with the BBC have a very helpful turkey cooking calculator on their website: BBC Turkey Cooking Calculator.
How do I know if my turkey crown is cooked?
To be honest I have never had an undercooked turkey by following the guidelines above. But just to make double and triple sure, there are 2 ways to check your turkey crown is done: the easiest way is to use a meat thermometer which you insert into the thickest part of your turkey crown. Your turkey crown should be be done when it reaches 74C (165F). If you have stuffed your turkey crown, make sure your stuffing has reached this temperature too.
If, however, you don’t own a meat thermometer, simply insert a sharp knife into the thickest part of your turkey crown. If the juices run clear your turkey is done. If you can see any pink, it needs a little longer. If you are not sure, always err on the side of caution – an overdone turkey is much better than a dose of food poisoning!
Turkey crown defrosting guidelines
Please note all of the advice above is based on a fully defrosted turkey. NEVER try to cook a frozen or partially frozen turkey crown, or you risk giving yourself food poisoning.
Turkeys take longer to defrost than you might think. It is safest to defrost your turkey in the fridge. As a good rule of thumb allow 12 hours per kilo, if you are defrosting in the fridge (below 4C). So for a 4kg turkey crown that’s 48 hours in the fridge…that’s a lot more than most people allow!
If you haven’t got time to defrost your turkey in the fridge you can defrost it in a cool room (below 15C). Allow 4 hours per kilo in a cool room, but get the turkey straight into the fridge once it has defrosted. (Do bear in mind that the warmer the temperature you defrost at, the greater your risk of food poisoning.)
Before cooking your defrosted turkey crown, check inside the main cavity to ensure there are no ice crystals. Always make sure your turkey is fully defrosted before you start to cook it.
For more advice, check out the NHS’s tips on defrosting and preparing your turkey safely.
What to do with turkey leftovers?
It is inevitable, despite our best intentions, that we end up with lots of turkey leftovers! Hopefully by following my guidelines above you won’t end up with a crazy amount, but if you do end up with mountains of leftover turkey after Christmas, what should you do with it? Well, you are in luck because I am the queen of turkey leftovers (and leftovers in general really) and I have some cracking recipes to use up your leftovers this year you can find all my turkey leftovers recipes here: Easy Peasy Leftover Turkey Recipes.
But my top recommendations would be my Leftover Turkey Tacos or my Moroccan Turkey Filo Pie. Remember to get your turkey leftovers into the fridge or freezer within 2 hours of cooking your turkey and don’t keep leftover turkey in the fridge for more than 3 days. If properly stored your turkey leftovers will keep for a month or more in the freezer.
Easy Turkey Crown Recipe
If you are looking for a simple, foolproof roast turkey crown recipe this Christmas, you are in luck. I have a great one here. This recipe is for a 2kg turkey crown, suitable for between 6-10 people, depending on appetites and your desire for leftovers! If your turkey crown is bigger than this, check out the recipe notes below for how to adjust the cooking times.
What to serve with your turkey crown
Need some ideas on what to serve with your turkey crown this year? Why not check out some of these recipes:
- Easy Sage and Onion Stuffing Balls
- Easy Peasy Turkey Gravy
- Easy Peasy Roast Potatoes
- Easy Roast Parsnips and Carrots
- Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Chestnuts
- Easy Peasy Cranberry Sauce
Easy Roast Turkey Crown
- 2 kg Turkey Crown (fully defrosted, if necessary)
- Olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Thoroughly defrost your turkey crown first (see note 1).
- Remove your turkey crown from the fridge about an hour before you are going to cook it.
- Preheat your oven to 180C / 160C fan / gas mark 4 / 350F about 15 minutes before you want to start cooking your turkey. It is really important that your oven is at the right temperature before you start.
- Next, drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the turkey and sprinkle over 1 teaspoon of salt and about 20 good grindings of black pepper. Rub the oil, salt and pepper all over the bird and place it, breast side up, in a roasting tray.
- Cover the turkey crown in foil and roast for 60 minutes. The foil will help keep the breast meat juicy and stop the skin browning too soon and burning before the meat is cooked.
- After 60 minutes, remove the turkey from the oven and remove the foil. Baste the turkey with the juices you find at the bottom of the tin. Put the turkey back in the oven, uncovered this time, for a further 20 minutes (see note 2).
- After 20 minutes, turn the oven up to 220C / 200C fan / gas mark 7 / 425F, remove the turkey from the oven and baste with the juices. Return the turkey back to the oven for a further 30 minutes. Cooking the turkey at a higher temperature will help the turkey skin to brown and crisp up. 220C is also the perfect temperature for roast potatoes, meaning you can start your roasties now and they will be ready when the turkey has rested for 30 minutes.
- After the final 30 minutes (the turkey will have cooked for a total of 1 hour and 50 minutes), remove the turkey from the oven and check it is done. Stick a small sharp knife in the fattest part of the turkey crown, and the juices should run clear and the meat should be white. If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be 74C (165F).
- Transfer the turkey crown to a clean roasting tin (or similar). Allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes, covered loosely in foil. It will not get cold and the meat will taste much nicer.
- Use the turkey roasting tray to make delicious easy peasy turkey gravy.
If you are cooking a 3kg turkey crown, your times are 60 minutes 180C covered + 40 minutes 180C uncovered + 30 minutes 220C uncovered.
If you are cooking a 4kg turkey crown, your times are 80 minutes 180C covered + 40 minutes 180C uncovered + 30 minutes 220C uncovered. Suitable for freezing. Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.
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