How to cook turkey crown
Everything you need to know about choosing, preparing and cooking the perfect turkey crown.
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A turkey crown makes a handsome centrepiece on the Christmas table and is the ideal turkey option for smaller festive gatherings.
A turkey (opens in new tab) crown is a whole turkey with the legs and usually the wings removed, so just the white breast meat is left on the bone. It is also possible to buy a deboned stuffed turkey crown where the bones are removed making it extra easy to carve.
Both are an ideal choice for a smaller Christmas fest as there is less meat. And although very similar, we do find a turkey crown a bit simpler to cook than a whole turkey. As when cooking an entire bird there can be a difference in cooking times between the light and dark meat.
Turkey crowns are readily available from supermarket and butchers in the weeks leading up to Christmas and Thanksgiving. They will often come adorned with an attractive bacon lattice or herby decoration to make them look extra special - and to save you the job of dressing it yourself!
Per kilo turkey crowns are generally more expensive than buying a whole turkey. We have compared the supermarkets to find the cheapest Christmas turkey (opens in new tab) this year. If you are after a cheaper option it's often more cost-effective to buy a frozen turkey crown. Just make sure you allow plenty of time to defrost it prior to cooking.
Turkey crown cooking times: How long to cook turkey crown
Cooking times will vary depending on the weight of the turkey crown. An average-sized 3kg turkey crown will require 1 hr 45 mins of cooking time uncovered and 2 hrs 15 mins if cooked covered in foil. Beware as a turkey crown is made up of entirely white meat which can be extremely dry if overcooked, so it's vital not to overcook it.
For the cooking times below we suggest you set the oven to 190C, Gas 5. If you have an oven with a fan setting set it to 170C. Using a fan oven is great if your oven is packed full as it will help everything to cook evenly. These are times for cooking a turkey crown with bones. If your turkey crown has stuffing in the cavity base then calculate the weight of the bird once stuffed.
READ MORE: How to calculate Christmas turkey cooking times by size and weight (opens in new tab)
A stuffed rolled boneless joint may require a different cooking time which will be specified on the packaging.
As a general rule with the oven set to 190C, Gas 5, fan 170C cook the turkey crown uncovered for 15 mins per kg plus 60 mins. A turkey crown covered in foil will take longer, allow for 15 mins per kg plus 90 mins. Remove the foil for the last 15 mins of the cooking time. Always test if the meat is cooked using one of the methods suggested in our top tips below.
- 1kg turkey crown cook for 1 hr 15 mins uncovered / 1 hr 45 mins covered
- 2kg turkey crown cook for 1 hr 30 mins uncovered / 2 hrs covered
- 3kg turkey crown cook for 1 hr 45 mins uncovered / 2 hrs 15 mins covered
- 4kg turkey crown cook for 2 hrs uncovered / 2 hrs 30 mins covered
- 5kg turkey crown cook for 2 hrs 15 mins uncovered / 2 hrs 45 mins covered
How to cook turkey crown: The best turkey crown recipe
- Turkey crown
- 50-70g unsalted butter
- lemon, garlic, apple or onion and herbs, optional
- Start by bringing the turkey crown to room temperature. We advise taking it out of the fridge 1-2 hours prior to cooking. Check that the giblets are not inside.
- We prefer to cook the turkey crown without stuffing inside as this can cause it to take longer to cook. Instead, we cook stuffing balls separately and serve them on the side. However, if you choose to stuff the cavity loosely with ingredients designed to impart flavours, such as vegetables and herbs (suggestions above), we're on board. We like to flavour ours with a bunch of rosemary, a lemon cut in half and a whole head of garlic cut in half. Not only does this impart flavour on the meat but it also adds a great depth of flavour to the gravy.
- Heat the oven to 190C, Gas 5 and calculate the cooking time required using our calculation above.
- When it comes to cooking poultry butter is your best friend. Yes, it's not the most healthy, but it's Christmas so we're up for spoiling ourselves. Soften more butter than you think is sensible in a bowl. Add salt and pepper and any other seasonings or chopped herbs you fancy. Then prise the skin of the turkey away and smother the butter under the skin.
- Put the turkey crown into the oven covered loosely with a sheet of foil. Every 30 - 40 mins baste the bird by spooning over the fat and juices that have collected in the tray. This will help the meat to stay moist as well as making the skin delightfully crisp.
- For the last 20 mins of the cooking time remove the foil (but keep hold of it) allowing the meat to turn a gorgeous golden brown. Or if you're feeling adventurous at this point top with a bacon lattice (opens in new tab).
- Check that the turkey is cooked using our tips below. Then remove it from the oven, place onto the carving board and rest under the sheet of foil for 30 mins - 1 hr before carving your turkey. Save the juices in the tray to use as the basis for your turkey gravy (opens in new tab).
Top tips for cooking a turkey crown
In this recipie, we have covered the turkey crown in foil for most of the cooking time to help the meat to stay moist. Some recipes also add water to the roasting tray.
Rebecca Alderton, Brand Manager at Gressingham highly recommends cooking the turkey crown in water to avoid drying out the meat. In her recipe, she suggests you 'place the turkey in a deep roasting tray and add 500ml of water to the tray around the bird' before seasoning and cooking the crown.
Here are some more of our top tips when it comes to turkey crown cooking...
How do you know when a turkey crown is cooked?
When the juices run clear the turkey is sufficiently cooked. Make an incision into the breast, if the liquid that comes out is red return the turkey to the oven. But if the juices are clear it means it's cooked and ready to rest.
When cooking meat we always use a thermometer to check when it is cooked to perfection. Insert the probe into the thickest part of the meat. If the temperature reaches 60C the turkey is ready to come out of the oven and rest. As it rests the temperature will rise to 70C.
Should I rest a turkey crown?
The answer is a resounding yes! You should always rest meat as it will make it more moist and tender. We would recommend resting a turkey crown from 30 mins to 1 hr covered in foil. The residual heat in the meat continues cooking it during this resting time, the temperature will climb about 10 degrees c more.
Rebecca Alderton is the Brand Manager at Gressingham, were many Christmas turkeys come from, advises resting the meat for 30 mins before carving. She explains 'When thoroughly cooked and juices run clear cover with foil and allow to rest for 30 minutes before carving. This retains more of the juices for a more succulent meat.' This is because resting meat also allows the moisture to redistribute through the breast. Therefore when you cut into it you don't lose the lovely juices that will make the meat gorgeously moist and succulent.
How do you keep a turkey crown moist while cooking?
Turkey has a tendency to dry out when cooking as it's lean meat. But in order to keep a turkey crown succulent and moist, we have a few suggestions. Rebecca Alderton suggests adding 500ml of water to the roasting tray while cooking to keep a turkey crown moist.
You could, as we suggest in the recipe above, add oodles of butter and regularly bast the turkey crown. Cover the turkey crown in foil will also help the moisture to stay in the meat.
Alternatively GoodtoKnow Food Director Elisa Roche is an advocate of the upside-down method. As most of the fat in the turkey is underneath she likes to cook the turkey breasts down in the roasting tray for half of the cooking time so the fat distributes through the meat making it succulent and moist.
For another option brining is also a great way to keep the meat moist, although it is quite labour intensive. Sam Goldsmith Food Editor is a fan of the simpler dry-brining method.
READ MORE: How to cook a turkey: The best way to keep a turkey moist when roasting (opens in new tab).
Resting the turkey crown will also help the meat to stay moist as the moisture will be absorbed back into the meat as it relaxes.
Do you cover a turkey crown when roasting?
You can cover a turkey crown when roasting it. Covering it in foil is a good way to stop the meat from drying out but it will take a little longer to cook. Make sure that you remove the foil for the last 15-20 mins of roasting to allow the meat to get a gorgeously golden appetising colour.
Can I cook a turkey crown overnight?
Cooking turkey overnight is an unusual trend where the turkey is slow-cooked during the night and presumably served at breakfast. It's popular in hotter climates where having the oven blasting to cook a turkey isn't ideal during the daytime.
Turkey crown recipes
Rosemary Conley’s turkey crown with roast turkey & parsley stuffing
This tasty turkey crown recipie is a particularly healthy option with a lower-cal leek and parsley stuffing.
Get the recipe: Turkey crown with roast turkey & parsley stuffing recipe (opens in new tab)
Gordon Ramsay’s roast turkey with lemon, parsley and garlic recipe
Gordon Ramsay is on team butter, you can see from him delicious recipe for roast turkey that can also be used to cook a turkey crown.
Get the recipe: Gordon Ramsay’s roast turkey with lemon, parsley and garlic recipe (opens in new tab)
John Torode’s roast turkey with caramelised onions recipe
For a classic centrepiece, this turkey recipie by John Totode is a winner!
Get the recipe: Roast turkey with caramelised onions recipe (opens in new tab)
Rose Fooks is Deputy Food Editor at Future Publishing, creating recipes, reviewing products and writing food features for a range of lifestyle and home titles including GoodTo and Woman&Home. Before joining the team, Rose obtained a Diplome de Patisserie and Culinary Management at London’s Le Cordon Bleu. Going on to work in professional kitchens at The Delaunay and Zedel.