Gordon Ramsay Turkey Recipe


Gordon Ramsay’s roast turkey recipe shows you how to cook your Christmas or Thanksgiving bird like a pro. It’s easy and utterly delicious.

Many people worry about turkey meat drying out while it roasts, but Gordon Ramsay has a trick for that. He says: “This is my favourite way to roast turkey – with a savoury butter under the skin to keep the breast meat moist and flavourful. Another of my secrets is to rest the turkey for a couple of hours or more. As it relaxes, the juices are re-absorbed, making the meat succulent, tender and easier to carve. It may seem like a long time, but the texture will be improved the longer you leave the turkey to rest. Piping hot gravy will restore the heat.” He also cooked the stuffing separately from the turkey, which makes it easier to cook the bird properly.


serves 8–10

  • 1 free-range turkey (ideally Norfolk Black or Bronze), about 5–5.5kg
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 onions, peeled and halved
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
  • 6 bay leaves
  • olive oil, to drizzle
  • 8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon

Lemon, parsley, and garlic butter:

  • 375g butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • finely grated zest and juice of 2 small lemons
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • small bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped


  • Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas 7. Meanwhile, prepare the herb butter. Put the butter into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and mix well. Add the lemon zest and juice, crushed garlic, and chopped parsley. Mix well to combine.
  • Remove the giblets from the turkey cavity. Season the cavity well with salt and pepper, then stuff with the onions, lemon, garlic halves, and 2 bay leaves.
  • With your hands, loosen the skin on the breast from both ends of the bird so that you will be able to stuff the flavoured butter underneath it, making sure you keep the skin intact. Repeat with the skin on the legs – from the lower side of the breast feel your way under the skin and out towards the leg, loosening the gap.
  • Stuff half the butter mix into the opened spaces under the skin. From the outside of the skin, gently massage the butter around the breasts so that the meat is evenly covered. Finally, insert the rest of the bay leaves under the skin of the breasts.
  • Place the bird in a large roasting tray, breast side up. Spread the rest of the butter all over the skin. Season well with salt and pepper, then drizzle with a little olive oil. (If preparing a day ahead, cover the turkey with foil and refrigerate at this stage.)
  • Roast the turkey in the hot oven for 10–15 minutes. Take the tray out of the oven, baste the bird with the pan juices, and lay the bacon rashers over the breast to keep it moist. Baste again. Lower the setting to 180°C/Gas 4 and cook for about 2 1⁄2 hours (calculating at 30 minutes per kg), basting occasionally.
  • To test whether your turkey is cooked, insert a skewer into the thickest part of the leg and check that the juices are running clear, rather than pink. As oven temperatures and turkey shapes and sizes vary, it is crucial to check your turkey about 30 minutes before the calculated roasting time. If the juices are pink, roast for another 15 minutes and check again. Repeat as necessary until the turkey is cooked.
  • Transfer the turkey to a warmed platter and remove the parson’s nose, wings, and tips of the drumsticks; reserve these for the gravy. Leave the turkey to rest in a warm place for at least 45 minutes; make the gravy in the meantime. Remove the bay leaves from under the skin before carving. Serve the turkey with the piping hot gravy, stuffing, and accompaniments.

Top tips for making Gordon Ramsay’s turkey

How to keep the meat moist and juicy

Turkey is very lean meat, which means it can dry out if overcooked. Adding fat in the form of butter under the skin gives the meat something to baste in while it cooks, keeping it succulent. The bacon, added a little after the cooking has started, has the same effect.

Should I brine my turkey?

Brining a turkey means soaking it in cold, salty water for several hours before cooking it. It can be difficult because you need a pot big enough to completely immerse the bird in, and ideally, you should keep it in the fridge while it brines (a very cold-pantry will suffice). Brine for 1 hour per 500g: so a medium 4kg turkey takes 8 hours. We find with the above recipe, brining is not required.

Can I cook the stuffing inside the turkey?

Stuffing cooked inside the turkey tastes great as it absorbs all the delicious juices from the bird as it roasts. However it does make roasting more complex. Stuffing must be made in advance so it is completely cool before you use it, but you should only stuff the bird directly before you roast it. You must also stuff loosely and leave enough space around the breast bone for it to cook properly. Gordon says, “To ensure both the turkey and pork stuffing are cooked properly, I bake the stuffing separately.”

How long should I rest the turkey before serving it?

Gordon says, “One of my secrets is to rest the turkey for a couple of hours or more. As it relaxes, the juices are reabsorbed, making the meat succulent, tender, and easier to carve. It may seem like a long time, but the texture will be improved the longer you leave the turkey to rest. Piping hot gravy will restore the heat.”

Can you prepare the turkey the night before?

You can do all the prep for the turkey the night before. Just cover the turkey in tin foil once you’ve buttered and stuffed it. Store it in the fridge overnight and it’s ready to cook first thing on Christmas or Thanksgiving morning.

How long does it take to defrost a turkey?

A long time! Defrost in a cool room – no more than 17ºC and allow 2 hours for every 450g, so a 4kg turkey will take at least 18 hours. If you prefer to do it in the fridge, allow 4 hours for every 450g, so a 4kg turkey will take a full three days. A really big bird can take 5-6 days. Allow more time, not less, as you can store thawed turkey in the fridge for a couple of days, but you can’t cook partially defrosted turkey. Keep it in the original packaging as you thaw it, unless the packaging directs otherwise.

More information about resting turkey and absolutely everything else, you need to know about cooking a festive turkey can be found in our Ultimate Christmas turkey cooking guide.

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