Please note that this blog was originally published on the 18th December 2018. It was updated on the 10th December 2020 and the 9th December 2021.

As Christmas Day draws ever closer, it is time to start thinking about Christmas dinner (I do little else from about the 25th November). Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and roast potatoes are staples of a traditional festive meal. Everybody (in my house at least) looks forward to turkey on Christmas Day but achieving the perfect roast is harder than it looks, let alone essential to preventing food poisoning (not something you want at Christmas).  

Frozen turkeys are notoriously difficult to cook as you have to ensure the temperature inside the bird is hot enough to kill all the bacteria and provide an even roast. Using a food thermometer to periodically check the temperature inside the turkey will help you to ensure that cooking temperatures are maintained and that your guests go away delighted and full rather than miserable and ill.

Quick Links

Cooking Guidelines

The following can be used as a basic guide to roasting a turkey:

  • The British Turkey Information Service advises that turkeys over 4kg should be cooked for 20 mins per 1kg plus 90 mins; turkeys under 4kg should be cooked for 20 mins per 1kg plus 70 mins.[1]
  • Cook the turkey at 180°C[2]
  • When the thickest part of the thigh reaches 75°C-80°C the turkey is cooked. Use a food thermometer (ideally a meat thermometer) to check the temperature. The internal temperature should be taken at several spots along the thigh and/or breast to find the lowest reading.[3]
  • Rest the turkey for 30-45mins[4]
  • Pull some crackers, wear a silly hat, and enjoy a delicious turkey Christmas dinner!!

Thawing Times

When preparing a Christmas meal, it is also important to bear in mind the time it takes to defrost a frozen turkey. Thawing times depend on the turkey’s weight.

Refrigerator Thawing Times

It is advised that you allow 24 hours of thawing time per every 2kg of turkey when defrosting in the fridge.[5] For example:

  • 2kg to 6kg - 1 to 3 days
  • 6kg to 8kg - 3 to 4 days
  • 8kg to 10kg - 4 to 5 days
  • 10kg to 12kg - 5 to 6 days

Cold Water Thawing Times

When defrosting a turkey using the cold water method, you should allocate approximately 1 hour of thawing time per every 1kg.[6] For example:

  • 2kg to 6kg - 2 to 6 hours
  • 6kg to 8kg - 6 to 8 hours
  • 8kg to 10kg - 8 to 10 hours
  • 10kg to 12kg - 10 to 12 hours

Further Information

We hope we have given you some helpful tips and advice. Please browse our range of food and catering thermometers by leading brands such as Comark, ETI and Testo. For further information, please don’t hesitate to contact our sales team on 01642 931 329 or via our online form.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!


[1] BBC Good Food Team, How to cook a turkey, last accessed 10 December 2020 <https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/how-to-cook-a-turkey-glossary>

[2] BBC Good Food Team, How to cook a turkey

[3] BBC Good Food, Roast Timer, last accessed 10 December 2020 <https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/roast-timer>

[4] BBC Good Food Team, How to cook a turkey

[5] Barney Desmazery, How to defrost a turkey, last accessed 10 December 2020 <https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-to-defrost-a-turkey>

[6] Barney Desmazery, How to defrost a turkey