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Phil Vickery's Christmas turkey

It’s what we’ve all been waiting for, Phil’s annual how to cook your Christmas turkey to perfection masterclass!

Phil's turkey masterclass

Prep time: 25 mins

Ready in: approximately 2.5 hours

Serves: 8 - 10


1 x 5 kg just under 12lb, bronze turkey, with giblets and the wish bone removed

Phil’s stuffing (recipe below)

2 large carrots, peeled

2 large onion, peeled

6 sticks of celery

1 leek

2 bay leaves

½ bottle dry white wine

2 pints cold water

2 chicken stock cubes (optionally Gluten-Free stock cubes)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

55g melted butter

2 tbsp roughly cornflour

4-6 tbsp cold water


Preheat the oven to Gas 6 / 400 °F / 200 °C / 180 °C Fan

  • First job is to remove the giblets from the bird, and if you are using a frozen bird then make sure that it is fully defrosted. Season the bird well inside and out well with salt and pepper and pack the stuffing into the body cavity (stuffing recipe below). Tie the legs and the parson's nose together with a piece of string and secure well, so the stuffing is held inside the bird.

  • Chop all the vegetables into large chunks and place in the bottom of a large baking tray place the turkey on top, the tray should be large enough so the bird has at least 2 inch (5cm) gap all around. Pour in the white wine, cold water and chicken stock cube, and place the whole tray on to the stove.

  • Bring to the boil and cover tightly with two layers of foil and pop into a preheated oven. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT Simmer for 5 minutes, covered to get the steam and heat going!

  • Cook the bird for about 2 hours, approximately. To check if the bird is cooked, remove from the oven carefully as there will be a lot of stock, wine and turkey juices. Remove the foil and insert a knife where the thigh attaches itself to the body of the bird, the juices should run clear. If not, then cover again with foil and cook for a further 20 minutes

  • When the bird is cooked, remove from the oven, turn the oven up to Gas 8 / 450 °F / 230 °C / 210 °C Fan. Tip off the juices for the gravy, then brush the bird well with melted butter or oil and return to the oven to brown beautifully.

  • Once browned, remove from oven and wrap in a double layer of foil then 2 clean tea towels, this should keep warm for up to 1 hour.

To serve: Re-boil the stock and juices, you may need to add a little more water in a saucepan and skim well.

Deep-fried sprouts with shallots, chestnuts and redcurrant jelly

Makes: serves 4


500g trimmed sprouts

Iced water

2 tbsp any oil

4 banana shallots, finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

250g vac-pac chestnuts, chopped into small pieces

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

4 heaped tbsp redcurrant jelly


ground pepper


  • Criss cross the bottom of the trimmed sprouts halfway into the sprout (this ensures the sprouts cook right through). Place in iced water and leave overnight in the fridge if you can.

  • Next day drain really well then spin in a salad spinner in 2 or 3 batches, you need to get as much water out as possible. Then pat with kitchen towel.

  • Heat the 2 tbsp of oil then add the shallots, garlic and chestnuts and cook over a moderate heat to take some nice colour, then add the vinegar, jelly and salt and pepper and cook until the jelly is melted.

  • Heat the vegetable oil to 175C, then carefully fry the sprouts in 4 batches making sure you take care

  • Once nicely browned and cooked through drain well

  • Once all cooked, season well with salt and pepper then add the dressing and fold through, serve warm

Turkey cooking times

Phil says: At this time of year, I always get lots of questions from people worrying about their turkey, so, here are a few of my top tips to help you relax and have a stress-free Christmas.

What size turkey do I need?

Allow 500g / 1lb of meat on the bone for each person, this will give you enough for a meal with some left over.6-8 people: 4kg (8lbs 13oz) turkey10 people: 5kg (11lbs) turkey
12 people: 6kg (13lbs 4oz) turkeyMake sure you have a roasting tray big enough for your bird and that it will fit in your oven.

How long to defrost a frozen turkey?

At a cool room temperature (no more than 17.5°C), it will take about 2 hours for every 450g / 16oz

How do I calculate the cooking time?

My method is different from traditional methods and has a unique set of steps for preparation and cooking. If you follow these simple steps closely you will get a perfectly cooked succulent turkey in just a couple of hours.

Stuffed turkey cooking times

Turkey crown cooking times

These times are approximate, so be aware.

Do I need to rest the turkey?

Absolutely YES, resting time is the real key to a succulent turkey; it allows the meat to relax making it tender and juicy, and to finish cooking. I have found 1 hour is the ideal length of time to rest if you wrap it in foil and importantly it frees up your oven to cook everything else.

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