Perfect roast turkey and stuffing

I love roasting turkey with the stuffing inside the cavity of the bird - after all, that’s why it’s called stuffing! It absorbs all the lovely turkey juices, creating a flavourful accompaniment to the Christmas roast. Trust me, you'll never go back to making stuffing in a separate tin again! Oven temperatures vary, so be sure to check your turkey is cooked through.

For this recipe, you will need a piece of muslin cloth large enough to cover the turkey.

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For the turkey and stock

  • 4.5-5.5kg/10-12lb whole turkey, gizzard, heart, wing tips and wishbone removed and reserved
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 2 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 175g/6oz salted butter
  • flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the stuffing

  • 85g/3oz salted butter
  • 175g/6oz onions, finely chopped
  • 225g/8oz fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 2½ tbsp chopped mixed fresh herbs (parsley, chives, thyme, lemon balm, marjoram and sage)

For the gravy


  1. For the stock, put the gizzard, heart, wing tips, wishbone, onion, carrot, celery and herbs in a saucepan and season. Cover well with about 2 litres/3½ pints cold water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours, or until you have a flavoursome stock. Strain and set aside for making the gravy. (The stock can be made a day or two in advance; cover and store in the fridge, then de-grease if any fat floats to the top.)

  2. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. For the stuffing, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. When it is foaming, add the chopped onions and season. Cover with greaseproof paper and a lid, turn the heat to low and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until completely softened. Set aside to cool.

  3. Put the cooled onions in a mixing bowl. Mix in the breadcrumbs and mixed herbs and season to taste. Weigh the stuffing to assist with calculating the cooking time.

  4. Season the turkey cavity at both ends. Stuff some of the stuffing into the main cavity, but be careful not to pack it in - there must be enough space between the stuffing and breastbone to fit the handle of a wooden spoon. Stuff the smaller cavity at the neck end, again leaving a little space (you may not need all the stuffing, depending on the size of your turkey).

  5. To assist with calculating the cooking time, add the weight of the turkey, stuffing and 175g/6oz butter together or weigh the stuffed turkey and add the weight of the 175g/6oz butter.

  6. Put the turkey in a large roasting tray. Melt the 175g/6oz butter, then soak the muslin in the butter and wrap it over the turkey. Roast for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4 and roast for a further 15 minutes per 450g/1lb total turkey/stuffing/butter weight. Baste every 30 minutes; it is important to do this quickly so as to not let the turkey cool down, as this could alter the cooking time. Remove the muslin 15 minutes before the end of roasting and baste again.

  7. To test the turkey is cooked, insert a small fruit or vegetable knife into the thicktest part of the meat, between the leg and breast; the juices that run should be clear, with no sign of pink; if there is any pink, return the turkey to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through. Tranfer the turkey to a carving dish. Cover it with parchment paper, then place a clean tea-towel over it to keep it nice and snug. Leave it to rest for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1½ hours.

  8. Meanwhile, for the gravy, remove the surplus fat from the roasting tray with a spoon. Place the tray on a medium heat and deglaze it by pouring in the stock. Using a whisk, scrape free all the caramelised bits on the bottom of the tray. Bring the mixture to the boil, then carefully pour it into a saucepan through a sieve and season. To thicken the gravy, mix together the butter and flour, then whisk it into the gravy. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then remove from the heat.

  9. Carve the turkey and serve on warm plates with the stuffing and hot gravy.

Recipe Tips

Order your turkey in advance. I like to order directly from a local free-range organic poultry farmer. If you’re not sure where to buy from I think your best port of call is your local butcher. I love a Bronze turkey for its nice thick breast and juicy legs.