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Perfect your Christmas turkey with Phil Vickery

Christmas is just around the corner! Phil Vickery is here to give us the ultimate turkey guide! He’s spilling the secrets on where to get the best value supermarket turkeys and of course giving us his masterclass in the best way to cook it to make sure you get the most for your money this Christmas. 

Christmas Turkey


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

Phil’s Christmas cake 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


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

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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!

5. 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

6. 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.

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

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

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.

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.

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) turkey

10 people: 5kg (11lbs) turkey

12 people: 6kg (13lbs 4oz) turkey

Make 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 

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.

Christmas Pudding Stuffing:


2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 tsp allspice

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

500g good quality sausage meat

200g Christmas cake, no icing or marzipan, crumbled

About 6 tbsp natural dried breadcrumbs

1 whole medium egg

150g dried cranberries

Salt and freshly milled black pepper


1. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onions, allspice and garlic and cook for a few minutes until soft and translucent.

2. Add the sausage meat and stir well.

3. Just break down the sausage meat but do not actually cook it through.

4. Then cool slightly, add enough bread crumbs to stiffen up the mixture, but remember that they will continue to thicken as they reconstitute themselves so take care not to add too many.

5. Stir in the whole egg and cranberries and beat the whole mixture well.

6. Finally, add the Christmas pudding and some salt and pepper.

7. Stuff the bird when required.

Phil's top supermarket turkey buys

Fresh turkey

Aldi - Small Fresh Turkey, average size 3.25kg, serves 8-9 people,  £16.09 

Sainsbury’s - Medium Fresh Turkey, 5kg serves 10-12 people, £21.95 

Morrisons - Large Fresh Turkey, size 4.7kg, serves 11-13 people, £31.44  

Frozen turkey


Aldi - Oakhurst Small British Frozen Whole Turkey, approx size 2.8kg-4kg, serves 4-7 people, £13.49     

Lidl Braemoor Small British Self-Basting Turkey with Giblets, approx size 2.8kg - 4kg,  £13.49


Sainsbury’s Whole Basted British Turkey, approx size 4.54kg, approx £4.40/kg, serves 8-10 people £20.00, 


Lidl Oakhurst Large British Ready Basted Turkey, approx size 6.3kg, serves 11-15 people, £19.99

Tesco British Frozen Large Basted Whole Turkey, approx size, 5.3kg-6.9kg, £22

Frozen joint

Iceland Turkey Breast Joint Wrapped in Bacon, 1.15kg,  serves 4-6,  £10 - also part of their £28 bundle – 1x main, 5x sides. 

Products to feed a family of four for less than £20 include: Iceland Luxury Extra Tasty Stuffed Turkey Joint with Bacon (£10.00, 1kg), Roast Potatoes (£1.00, 907g), Pigs in Blankets (£2.40, 12pk), Yorkshire Puddings (£1.00, 20pk), Garden Peas (£1.00, 800g), Button Sprouts (£1.00, 900g), Carrot Batons (£1.00, 800g), Mince Pies (£1.20, 6pk)


*Prices are similar per KG across most supermarkets. 

Lidl Braemoor British Large Turkey Crown, approx size 2.8kg, £16.99

Morrisons Large Turkey Crown, approx size 3.5kg, serves 10-12 people £31.47


Aldi British Three Bird Roast - a trio of duck, chicken, pork wrapped in bacon, 1.2kg, £22.49 available 19th December. 

Extra Special Free Range & Corn Fed Norfolk Bronze Turkey Crown with Pork, Sage & Caramelised Onion Stuffing with Beechwood Smoked Bacon, £20/kg - approx 1.87kg £37.50

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