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Home & garden.

Updated: 1 Feb 2022

How to cook a turkey crown

Avoid a dry and tasteless turkey crown on Christmas Day by following our top cooking tips and easy to follow turkey crown recipe. 
Liz Ransome-Croker

Cooked correctly, turkey crown can be a succulent, mouth-watering dish that will delight your guests on Christmas Day. But, unfortunately, it’s easy to get it wrong. Keep reading for top tips on how to get it right.

Cooking a turkey crown isn’t too different from cooking a whole turkey, but it means you’ll have fewer leftovers, so there’ll be less chance of turkey curry on Boxing Day.

Find out which is the best champagne to tuck into with your turkey crown.

How to cook a turkey crown

  1. Set the oven to: 190°C/180°C fan/gas 5
  2. Weigh your bird to calculate the correct cooking time – it’s 20 minutes per kg. Then add on another 70 minutes (or 90 minutes if your turkey crown weighs more than 4kg).
  3. Add some fat to keep it moist – either butter or fat from another meat.
  4. Cover the turkey with a loose tent of foil, which will help stop it drying out.
  5. Remove the foil 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, put the temperature up to 200°C/190°C fan/gas 6.
  6. Baste the turkey with its own juices.
  7. Insert a skewer into the thickest part of the crown when you think it’s cooked. If it’s cooked, the juices should run clear rather than pink.
  8. If it’s not, put it back in the oven and check it with the skewer regularly.

To help you find the tastiest accompaniments to your Christmas dinner, see our guide to the best roast potatoes and the best pigs in blankets.

Roast turkey on a wooden board with two slices carved

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Turkey crown: top cooking tips

Stop it getting dry

As a turkey crown is only breast (white) meat, adding some fat to your cooking is key to getting a tasty turkey that doesn't go dry.

That’s because the white meat has a lower fat content than the dark meat, which is great if you’re on a diet, but not so great if you want the fat to keep the white meat of your turkey crown nice and moist.

This is why most recipes for a turkey include butter slathered under the turkey skin of the breast meat, or pancetta or bacon draped over the turkey skin of the breast meat. 

To ensure tasty and moist meat throughout, it's recommended to use a turkey baster to redistribute the juices. See our best turkey basters and find out which are easiest to use. 

Make sure it fits in your oven

One really important thing to double check before the big day is to make sure your turkey crown fits in your oven. 

When we test built-in ovens and freestanding cookers, we measure how much actual useable space there is in the oven so you can be sure your new oven fits whatever you need to squeeze in.

Check out our ovens reviews.

What temperature should I cook my turkey crown at?

Generally speaking, turkey crown should be cooked at around 180°C/190°C fan, 350F or gas mark 5, depending on your oven.

A lot of popular recipes suggest preheating the oven to a hot temperature to start with (for example, 200°C fan), and then turning it down immediately, or after a few minutes, once you’ve put the turkey in. 

This is so that it gets the initial high heat to crisp up the skin. Some recipes also suggest turning the temperature up at the end again. 

Turkey crown cooking times

Once you know the weight of the turkey crown you’re getting, you can work out how long it will take to cook it. 

The British Turkey Information Service quotes 20 minutes per kg, and then 70 minutes on top if it weighs less than 4kg, and 90 minutes if it weighs more than 4kg.

Cooking times are as follows when the oven is on 180°C fan/350F/gas mark 4:

  • 1kg – 1 hour 30 minutes
  • 1.5kg – 1 hour 40 minutes
  • 2kg – 1 hour 50 minutes
  • 2.5kg – 2 hours
  • 3kg – 2 hours 10 minutes

Make sure you check the cooking times for the bird you buy on the packaging, or ask the butcher if you’re not buying from a supermarket. 

But cooking times can vary depending on how well your cooker sticks to its temperature.  

Best Buy built-in ovens and Best Buy freestanding cookers stay very close to the set temperatures (we measure this), but the least accurate ovens can overheat by more than 30°C. This is enough to result in a dry, or even burnt turkey crown on Christmas Day.

Where in the oven you place the turkey will also make a difference. We found one Don’t Buy built-in oven that was set to 180°C, but was around 27°C higher on the top level and around 12°C less on the bottom level.

You’ll know the turkey is cooked by piercing it with a skewer in the thickest part of the breast: the juices should run clear.

See our meat thermometer reviews and serve your guests perfectly cooked turkey. 

Roast turkey on a wooden board with three slices carved

Resting the turkey

Whatever size of turkey you plump for, all the best chefs agree that resting the turkey is an essential part of the cooking process. Resting essentially means leaving it out of the oven before serving. 

Doing so will prevent the juices pouring out as soon as you cut it, as they will have had time to absorb back into the meat, ensuring it’s nice and moist. 

Leave the meat for around 15 to 20 minutes, covered in foil so that it remains warm and to keep the moisture locked inside.

Want something different to traditional turkey for your Christmas dinner? Why not consider a joint of beef? Find out how to cook roast beef on Christmas day. 

What size of turkey crown should I get?

The weight of the turkey crown you choose will affect how long you need to cook it for. Rule of thumb is that you’ll need between 300g to 400g per person. 

The list below will give you an idea of roughly what weight of turkey crown you will need to feed your entire guest list.

  • 3 to 4 people – 1kg
  • 5 to 6 people – 1.5kg
  • 6 to 8 people – 2kg
  • 8 to 10 people – 2.5kg
  • 10 to 12 people – 3kg

Follow our tips on how to cook red cabbage - the perfect accompaniment to a turkey dinner. 

Video: How to carve a turkey like a pro?

Watch our video below to find out how the experts at Toby Carvery recommend slicing a whole turkey and a turkey crown for Christmas dinner.

See our reviews of electric carving knives and make quick and light work of carving up your turkey. 

What about a boneless turkey crown?

You can buy either a boned or boneless turkey crown, often called a boneless turkey breast. These often come already stuffed or adorned with trimmings, such as bacon.

The cooking times for these are pretty much the same for both, again dependent on weight. 

But a lot of recipes suggest cooking on 170°C fan instead of 180°C. Again, check the packaging or ask your butcher.

Roast turkey in oven tray topped with sprig of rosemary

More turkey recipes

Now you’ve got the basic recipe for cooking a turkey crown, you can add tasty extras to give your Christmas dinner centrepiece extra wow. You won’t find many top chefs’ recipes for turkey crowns, so if you’re looking for ‘how to cook a turkey crown’ Jamie Oliver-style, then you’re out of luck. But favourites Mary Berry, Delia Smith and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have all come up with their take on turkey crowns for Christmas.