Ultimate Christmas Dinner Cooking Guide: Turkey & Ham Made Easy

Christmas dinner

The excitement is building for the mouth-watering feast on Christmas day. The cooking part of it, however, can easily become overwhelming. Here we have the ultimate Christmas dinner cooking guide for you, sharing all the top tips for preparing a delicious Christmas dinner.

Let’s start with the main component of the dinner: Turkey. “Think of it like a big chicken”, says chef and restaurateur Neven Maguire.

What size turkey should I buy?

The size of Turkey is dependent on the number of people you’re cooking for, and whether or not you want leftovers (don’t we all?). Here is James Whelan Butcher’s guide to help you with your calculations:

  • 4.5-5.5 kg bird should feed 5-6 adults
  • 5.5-6.5 kg = 6-7 adults
  • 6.5-7.5 kg = 7-8 adults
  • 7.5-8.5 kg = 8-9 adults
  • 8.5-9/5 kg = 9-10 adults

Should I buy fresh or frozen turkey?

Fresh or frozen, turkey is generally good quality when guaranteed Irish, so it’s usually a matter of preference on which to go for. That being said, fresh turkey tend to hold in their moisture better than frozen, which can result in a moister texture and deeper level of flavour.

How do I store my turkey?

If buying frozen, turkey this can last up to one year in the freezer! So, it’s perfect to buy it well in advance for Christmas, to give you one less thing to worry about. Simply ensure you leave enough time for defrosting prior to Christmas day, we’ve included another simple guide for this below.

If buying fresh, ideally your turkey should be bought as close to Christmas as possible and refrigerated as soon as you get home. A fresh turkey should be stored in the bottom shelf of your fridge on deep dish, to catch any juices so that no cross-contamination occurs with other food in your fridge. Safe Food recommends that you don’t store your turkey in the fridge for longer than two days after purchase.

How long does it take to defrost my turkey?

Here is a simple chart to follow to defrost your frozen bird in the fridge:

  • 4.5-5.5 kg bird should take 2-3 days to defrost in the fridge
  • 5.5-6.5 kg = 3-3½ days
  • 6.5-8 kg = 4-4½ days
  • 8-9 kg = 4½ -5 days
  • 9-11 kg = 5-6 days

Check these steps to see if your turkey has completely defrosted:

  • The body should be soft
  • The legs can be moved
  • No ice crystal in the cavity

How long should I cook my turkey?

Follow this handy cooking guide to achieve roast turkey perfection.  All you need to know is the weight of your turkey after stuffing it and just follow the guidelines below:

This guide is for a fan-assisted oven at 180°C:

  • 4.5-5.5 kg should take around 3 hours – 4 hours 20 mins to cook
  • 5.5-6.5 kg = 4 hours 20 mins – 5 hours
  • 6.5-8 kg = 5 hours – 6 hours 20 mins
  • 8-9 kg = 6 hours 20 mins – 7 hours
  • 9-11 kg = 7 hours – 8 hours 20 mins

How long to ‘rest’ your turkey before carving it

It’s hugely important to allow your turkey enough resting time so that all those wonderful juices don’t escape when carving. Letting the turkey ‘rest’ for about 45 minutes should give enough time for the juices to reabsorb throughout the meat. This ensures the turkey stays moist and tender. Smothering your turkey in butter also helps to avoid a dry bird. Simply place a generous amount of softened butter all over the skin of the turkey before roasting!

What size ham should I buy?

If you plan on cooking ham for Christmas, it is better to do so on the 24th December. This will reduce your Christmas day workload and free up the oven for the big day. Moreover, leaving it overnight will make it easier to carve into thin slices!

Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without a delicious Christmas ham with a clove-scented golden glaze. It definitely holds a special place at the Christmas dinner table.

Here is a fool proof guide to help decide what size ham to buy:

  • 10-14 servings = 3 kg
  • 12-16 servings = 5 kg
  • 15-20 servings = 6 kg
  • 20-25 servings = 7 kg
  • 23-27 servings = 8 kg

How do I cook my Ham?

It’s important to soak your ham prior to cooking to remove excess salt. Place your ham in a pot and fill to the top with water, you can soak your ham the night before cooking. To cook, fill your pot with fresh water and bring the ham to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours. Transfer to your baking tray, cover with your favourite glaze (we love this whiskey and clove glaze from Kevin Dundon) and bake in your oven at 150°C according to the times below:

  • 8/10 lb. around 3 1/2 hours
  • 10/12 lb. around 3 1/2 to 4 hours
  • 12/15 lb around 4 to 4 1/2 hours
  • 15/18 lb around 4 1/2 to 5 hours
  • 18/22 lb. around 5 to 6 hours
  • 22/24 lb around 6 to 6 1/2 hours

Ensure to rest your ham for 30 minutes before slicing for a deliciously moist and flavourful result.

We know the Christmas dinner cooking process can be quite daunting but we hope these handy guidelines can help make your Christmas dinner a feast to remember!

Delicious Christmas Feast

Christmas dinner
Christmas dinner
Christmas dinner
Christmas dinner
Christmas dinner
Christmas dinner


If you’d like a Christmas off from all the cooking, Eatto is here to help. Our festive boxes offer you everything you need for a delicious and hassle-free Christmas feast! An extra person for dinner?…why not add some additional sides to your box! These are pre-order boxes and will be delivered in December directly to your door! Christmas is coming🎄☃️


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *