A turkey crown is a great alternative to a whole turkey for your festive feast and for many people, it is easier to cook a turkey crown. This is the breast of the bird still attached to the bone, with the wings and legs removed. This means it has less dark meat and more white meat, which some people prefer.
It also cooks faster, fits better in the oven and produces fewer leftovers than a whole bird.
Here, the Christmas.co.uk team will explain what to look for when buying a turkey crown, how to prepare and cook it, and how to use up any remaining meat.
Also, we cover buying a turkey crown without a bone in it.
And you can read our guide on how to buy and cook a turkey for Christmas dinner.
What to look for when buying a turkey crown
When buying a turkey crown, you should consider the following factors:
- Size: The size of the turkey crown depends on how many people you want to feed and how much leftovers you want. As a general guide, you can use this table to estimate how much turkey you need per person:
Weight of turkey crown Number of servings
- Quality: The quality of the turkey crown depends on how the bird was raised and processed. You can look for labels such as organic, free-range, or higher welfare to ensure that the bird had a good life and was treated humanely. You can also look for labels such as British, Red Tractor, or RSPCA Assured to ensure that the bird meets high standards of food safety and animal welfare.
- Price: The price of the turkey crown depends on the size, quality, and availability of the product. Generally, a crown is more expensive per kilo than a whole bird, because it has more white meat and less waste. However, you may save money in the long run by buying only what you need and avoiding food waste. You can also look for offers and discounts from different retailers and compare prices online.
How to prepare and cook a turkey crown
Once you have bought your turkey crown, you should follow these steps to prepare and cook it:
Defrost: If your crown is frozen, you need to defrost it thoroughly before cooking. You can do this in the fridge or in a cool place. The time it takes to defrost depends on the weight of the turkey crown. You can use this table2 to estimate how long it will take:
Weight of turkey crown Time in fridge (4°C) Time in cool place (10-18°C)
1.5kg 27 hours 9 hours
2kg 36 hours 12 hours
2.5kg 45 hours 15 hours
3kg 54 hours 18 hours
4kg 72 hours 24 hours
You should check that the crown is fully defrosted by inserting a fork or skewer into the breast’s thickest part. If there is any ice or resistance, it is not ready yet. You should also check that there is no ice in the cavity or under the skin.
- Season: You can season your turkey crown with salt, pepper, herbs, spices, butter, oil, or any other flavourings you like. You can also stuff the neck cavity with your favourite stuffing but be careful not to overfill it. You can use this recipe for an easy sage and onion stuffing that goes well with turkey.
- Roast: You can roast your turkey crown in a preheated oven at 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5. The cooking time depends on the weight of the crown and whether it is stuffed or not. You can use this table to estimate how long it will take:
Christmas.co.uk top tip: Food Standards Scotland says that its internal temperature of the turkey – using a meat thermometer for the bird’s thickest part between the thigh and breast – should be 75°C or above. A visual check will see you looking for steam rising from the meat to indicate it is hot.
Weight of stuffed turkey crown Cooking time
Under 4kg 20 mins per kg plus 70 mins
Over 4kg 20 mins per kg plus 90 mins
Weight of unstuffed turkey crown Cooking time
Under 4kg 20 mins per kg plus 50 mins
Over 4kg 20 mins per kg plus 70 mins
You should place your turkey crown skin-side up in a roasting tin and cover it with foil for the first half of the cooking time. This will help to keep it moist and prevent it from browning too quickly. You should then remove the foil and baste the turkey crown with its juices in the tin every 20 minutes for the rest of the cooking time. This will help to create a crispy and golden skin.
- Rest: You should rest your turkey crown for at least 20 minutes before carving and serving. This will allow the juices to redistribute and the meat to become more tender and juicier. You should transfer your turkey crown to a platter and cover it with foil and a clean tea towel. You can use this time to make the gravy, roast the potatoes, or finish any other side dishes.
How to cook a turkey crown – BBC Good Food
This video from BBC Good Food is excellent and in just two minutes explains how easy a crown is to cook at Christmas.
The presenter explains that turkey crowns are popular because they fit into smaller ovens and will cook a little bit quicker than a full-sized turkey.
Here, leave the crown outside of the fridge to come up to room temperature.
Then the bird is placed into a cooking tray on onions, skin sized up. Then it is covered with olive oil or butter and seasoned.
The video shows how to add bacon and rosemary for better flavour.
There are two learning points here: firstly, the internal temperature should be 65 degrees when taken from the oven BUT it will continue cooking as it rests and should reach 70 degrees, and a 3kg turkey crown will take around 2hrs 10 mins to cook.
Also, if you are after crisp skin or bacon, don’t cover the crown while it is resting.
How to make a simple gravy for your turkey
To make a simple gravy for your turkey crown, you will need:
- The juices and bits from the roasting tin
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 500ml chicken or turkey stock
- Salt and pepper to taste.
To make the gravy, follow these steps:
- Transfer your turkey crown to a platter and cover it with foil and a clean tea towel to rest.
- Place the tin used for roasting over a medium-high heat on the hob and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom with a wooden spoon.
- Sprinkle the flour over the juices and bits and whisk well to combine.
- Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until you have a smooth paste.
- Gradually add the stock, a little at a time, and whisk until you have a smooth and glossy gravy.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and strain through a sieve into a jug or gravy boat.
How to use up leftover turkey crown
If you have any leftover turkey crown, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days or in the freezer for up to two months. You can use it in various recipes, such as:
- Turkey sandwiches: Slice some turkey and layer it with cranberry sauce, stuffing, cheese, lettuce, and mayonnaise on your favourite bread. Toast it if you like or enjoy it cold.
- Turkey curry: Cut some turkey into bite-sized pieces and add it to your favourite curry sauce. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until heated through. Serve with rice, naan bread, yoghurt, and coriander.
- Turkey pie: Chop some turkey and mix it with some cooked vegetables, such as carrots, peas, and leeks. Add some cream of chicken soup or white sauce and season with salt, pepper, and herbs. Spoon the mixture into a pie dish and cover with puff pastry. Brush with beaten egg and bake in a preheated oven at 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6 for about 25 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
- Turkey salad: Shred some turkey and toss it with some salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, feta cheese, and olives. Drizzle with some lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano for a simple dressing.
We also have seven classic turkey recipes to impress – a nice idea if you want to do something creative after Christmas Day!
The recipes include a Jamie Oliver creation that adds bacon and cranberries, an excellent idea to use a slow cooker to create a dinner – complete with veg and stiffing balls – for guests. And we love the rolled stuffed turkey breast idea which sees the meat wrapped in crisp prosciutto.
How to buy and cook a turkey crown without a bone
You can also buy a turkey crown without a bone, which is called a turkey breast joint or a turkey breast roast. This is the boneless breast meat of the turkey that has been removed from the bone and tied into a neat shape. Some turkey breast joints may also have added stuffing, bacon, or herbs for extra flavour.
The advantages of buying a turkey crown without a bone include:
- It is easier to carve and serve than a whole turkey or a turkey crown with a bone.
- It has less waste and more white meat, which some people prefer.
- It cooks faster and more evenly than a whole turkey or a turkey crown with a bone.
- It takes up less space in the oven and the fridge than a whole turkey or a turkey crown with a bone.
Some disadvantages of buying a turkey crown without a bone are:
- It may be more expensive per kilo than a whole turkey or a turkey crown with a bone, because it has more white meat and less waste.
- It may dry out more easily than a whole turkey or a turkey crown with a bone because it has less fat and moisture – You will need to ensure you cook it properly but be aware that that this joint will be less forgiving if it is overcooked.
- It may have less flavour and texture than a whole turkey or a turkey crown with a bone because it has fewer bones and skin.
Some tips for buying and cooking a turkey crown without a bone
As above, you should choose a quality product that meets your standards of animal welfare, food safety and taste. That means checking the label to see whether it is organic, free-range, Red Tractor, or RSPCA Assured. If you have a butcher you trust, then they will supply a quality product.
The size and weight you need will be similar to those given above, – so a 1.5kg turkey crown will feed between four and six people -and if your boneless crown is frozen, defrost it thoroughly before cooking. The guide above also works for a crown with a bone in it.
Again, you will need to season the crown and cook it for the recommended amount of time. If there is no guide on the label, the table above will tell you how long is needed.
After regular basting you will need to check the meat is thoroughly cooked and leave to rest if it is.
How to Cook a Crown of Turkey – Tesco Food
We also enjoyed this video offering from Tesco on how to cook a crown of turkey.
It’s only a minute long but shows a great step-by-step process to achieve great results.
One big difference here is that the Tesco team uses butter for smearing on the crown – but they add lemon zest, garlic and sage before rubbing onto the meat.
Then use pancetta or bacon to criss-cross the turkey crown before tying everything up with butcher’s string.
Place into a baking tray, add water, wine or stock and cover with foil.
Roast in the centre of the oven for an hour, then take the crown out and remove the oven, baste with the juices and cook for another 40 mins until golden.
(Tesco says you should baste the crown three or four times when cooking).
Rest for 30 mins and strain the bird’s roasting juices to make a gravy with.
Then carve and serve your crown to grateful dinner guests!
Enjoying a turkey crown at Christmas
For many people, a turkey crown is a delicious and convenient option for your Christmas dinner – mainly because it is a value for money option with a quicker cooking time and more white meat.
The size of the crown also makes it easier to estimate how large the crown needs to be to feed everyone adequately.
So, whether you choose a turkey crown with or without a bone, you will easily find one that suits your budget and should be easier to cook.
If you buy a frozen one, ensure it is defrosted thoroughly before cooking and then roasted in the oven until golden and cooked through.
Once rested and carved, you’ll have a great centrepiece for your festive dinner table. Enjoy!