Christmas dinner – A beginner’s guide

Turkey Christmas

Covid restrictions this Christmas has meant that you can be finding yourself cooking Christmas dinner for the first time instead of letting mum/dad/gran/the dog do the cooking.  So, how do you cook a full Christmas dinner for the first time? Don’t worry, We are here with some tips to keep you sane. (Here’s a link to a selection of Christmas recipes for inspo)


🎄 Don’t increase stress on the day by trying to do too much. Cut the veggies and mix the stuffing the night before. Put on your silliest Christmas hat and stick on some Mariah Carey.

🎄 Pick no-cook starters and desserts. Cold ones, even better as there’s no need even to worry about heating them up.

🎄 Think about the size of your oven.  Do you need to cook your vegetables before the turkey steals all the space?

🎄 Timing is the key for a juicy turkey.  20 minutes in the oven at 200C per 500g is seemingly the magic formula.

🎄 How to check your turkey is cooked? You’re going to want the meat to be at 72C or above to make sure it’s cooked. Use a meat thermometer or if you haven’t got one,  push a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh. If the juices run clear, you can remove fully from the oven.  If the juices are pinkish, cook for 15 another minutes, then test again.

🎄 Think small. There’s no need for a HUGE turkey. Have a smaller chicken, the best bit is the trimmings after all!

🎄 You don’t have to have turkey. I know, controversial.  Have whatever you want, even a microwave meal. It will still be Christmas with or without a turkey.

Christmas dinner turkey

Turkey cooking time guide

4-5kg – cook 2¼ to 2½ hours
5-6kg – cook 2½ to 3 hours
6-7kg – cook 3 hours to 3½ hours
7-8kg – cook 3½ to 4 hours
8-9kg – cook 4 to 4¼ hours
9-10kg – cook 4¼ to 4½ hours

turkey crown pinterest
Click ⬆️  to find out how to cook a turkey crown

Timings for Christmas dinner

Christmas Eve

Make your stuffing, wrap it and store in the fridge.

Boil potatoes ready for tomorrow. Cover and place in the fridge.

Parboil sprouts, store in the fridge. Give them a quick stir fry on Christmas Day.

foodie explorers hasselback potatoes pinterest pin
Click ⬆️  for a recipe for delish Hasselback potatoes

Christmas Day

8 am – Take your turkey and stuffing out of the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature.

9.30 am – Preheat the oven, rub the turkey with butter and season. Fill with the stuffing.

10 am – Cook the turkey in the oven. (Check the guide times above, this time depends on the weight of your turkey)

11 am – Set the table.

1 pm – Remove the turkey from the oven and check that it is cooked. Cover tightly with foil and leave to rest.

Turn up the oven for potatoes. Place the roasting tray with fat into the oven.

1.15pm – Place the potatoes in the hot fat and return to the oven.

1.30 pm – Cook the pigs in blankets in the oven, remove and keep warm.

1.40 pm – Make gravy using juices from the cooked turkey.

1.50 pm – Quickly fry Brussels sprouts with chestnuts and bacon.

Warm plates and serving bowls ready for the table.

Open the wine.

2 pm – Get everyone to help get the food onto the table. Enjoy!

🎄 Merry Christmas! 🎄


eating out dining table image


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Christmas dinner - A beginner's guide to the perfect feast

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I am Emma and with my husband Mark write Foodie Explorers, which is a food and travel website.

I am a member of the Guild of Food Writers and British Guild of Travel Writers.

We have a wide range of judging experience covering products, hotels and have judged, for example, for Great Taste Awards and Scottish Baker of the Year.

Along the way Mark gained WSET Level 2 in Wine and I have WSET Level 2 in Spirits as well as picking up an award with The Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.    

Usually I can be found sleeping beside a cat.

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