Turkey Size Guide: What size turkey to order

When it comes to Christmas dinner, turkey is the classic choice but deciding what size turkey to order can be challenging.

Getting too big a turkey will lead to days and days of leftovers and that may be an issue if you can’t finish them all but getting one too small might leave you having to scrape together enough to feed everyone at your dinner table.

We have all the information you need to ensure you get the right size turkey and some top tips to getting it juicy when you cook it.

What Size Turkey Should I Order?

Roast Turkey at Christmas

When it comes to picking a turkey size, it all depends on how many mouths you need to feed with it and whether or not you want leftovers for Boxing Day sandwiches, our tasty turkey pasta salad, creamy turkey pasta, or our turkey and bacon pie

The general rule of thumb is to allow for 450 grams per serving and if you want leftovers aim for 675g per person. Obviously, that’s not how much everyone will eat, but it will mean there is an extra 225g per person that will become leftovers.

Turkey Size Guide and Serving Number

Here are some turkey sizes and the number of people they will serve.

  • 2-2.5kg will serve 4-6 people
  • 3kg will serve 6-7 people
  • 3.5kg will serve 7-8 people
  • 4-4.5kg will serve 8-10 people
  • 5-5.5kg will serve 10-23 people
  • 6-6.5kg will serve 12-15 people

If you’re cooking for a really small group. A turkey crown may be a better option depending on how much you want for leftovers.

Should I Get A Fresh Or Frozen Turkey?

Frozen are better value but if you’re looking for a particular breed, fresh is better.

It best to defrost a turkey in the fridge over 24 hours. If you’re using a fresh turkey its best to bring them up to room temperature before cooking. You do this by removing the bird from the fridge a few hours ahead of cooking.

How Long Should I Cook A Turkey

Roast Turkey

The amount of time really depends on the size of the turkey you have. To accurately test if the turkey is cooked through use a meat thermometer on the inner thigh of the meat to get a reading of 70C. 

BBC Good Food has a great calculator for how long to cook a turkey depending on the weight of the bird. Click here to get to the roast timer.

Alongside the amount of time, the temperature you should cook the turkey at is also widely contested. But going slow and steady at 180C for the amount of time you’ve been recommended for the size of your turkey is a good start. If you take your time cooking the bird it will allow you more opportunities to baste and make sure it’s rising to the internal temperature nicely.

Tips For a Juicy Turkey

If it was frozen make sure it is completely thawed before cooking. Even if that means leaving it in the fridge the day before you need it. It’s better to be safe than have a half-frozen turkey in the oven on Christmas day.

Before cooking, brine the bird. Putting the bird in a basic brine of salt, sugar and water before cooking will help keep it moist when you cook it. It will also add a whole new layer of flavour to the meat. With the brine, you can customise it by adding herbs and spices of your choice.

When you get to cooking the turkey, make sure to baste it every 30-45 minutes to keep the meat moist. Especially the breasts, as the turkey breast tends to be dryer than other parts of the bird.

A good way to make sure the turkey breasts are not dry is to start cooking the turkey upside down. This will allow all the juices to collect in the breast. After an hour or so you can flip the turkey so that the breasts are pointing up and finish the bird in that position to get colour.

You should also start with foil on the bird to allow it to cook without browning for some time.


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Turkey size guide