A turkey crown is perfect for smaller Christmas and Thanksgiving gatherings. Here’s the complete guide to cooking a turkey crown perfectly, with our one simple secret for perfectly cooked, moist, juicy turkey every time.
Cooking Turkey Crown
A turkey crown is the perfect centrepiece for a smaller celebration, be it Christmas or Thanksgiving.
A crown will cook much faster than a whole turkey and fits easily in normal sized ovens and roasting tins, so there’s no need for a disposable foil roasting tin. You’ll also have plenty of room left in the oven for roast potatoes.
A turkey crown is ideal for smaller families and couples. You will be left with less meat after the main event, so you won’t be facing endless turkey sandwiches. I love leftovers, but there is a point where enough is enough.
What is a Turkey Crown?
A turkey crown is the body of the bird with the legs, wings, and backbone removed. There’s no cavity; it is only breast meat. They range in size from about 1 kg up to over 4 kg.
Cooking a turkey crown is a practical, less messy option and ideal for nervous cooks who are new to cooking Christmas dinner alone.
How Many People Will a Turkey Crown Feed?
For turkey crowns with the bone, allow 300–400 g per person, but because a smaller bird has proportionally more bone, the more you will need per person.
- So a 1.2 kg crown will feed 3.
- A 2.5kg crown will feed 8.
I always recommend allowing a little more than you think you will need. If you have cooked a big roast, it is good to have some leftovers to see you through the week.
Cook to Temperature, Not Weight
We are all used to calculating the cooking time of a joint of meat, or a bird by weight. However, this is really only half the story. So much depends on your oven, the roasting tin you use, the temperature of the bird before it goes into the oven, what else is in the oven, and how many times you open the oven door.
A probe meat thermometer is essential for the best results and to accurately know when the turkey is perfectly cooked.
You can buy a digital probe thermometer for just a few pounds. We’ve been using one for years and as you get perfect results every time it is well worth the investment. (We also use ours every time we make jam!)
For a perfectly cooked turkey crown, cook to temperature, not weight.
The turkey crown is cooked when the internal temperature has reached 74°C / 165°F. At this point, the meat will be moist and juicy. With my oven, I find that a turkey or chicken is nearly always ready before a cooking time calculated on weight. If you cook the meat for too long, it will dry out, which is a shame and an unnecessary waste of an expensive turkey.
To check if your turkey crown is cooked, just check the temperature by inserting a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast meat. Take care not to touch the bone. At 74°C / 165°F, your turkey is done.
Approximate Cooking Time for Turkey Crown By Weight
The cooking time for a turkey crown is easy to calculate. For a crown of less than 4.5 kg takes 20 minutes per kilo, plus 70 minutes. 4.5 kg and over, it’s 20 minutes per kilo plus 90 minutes. Once roasted, cover with foil, drape a towel over and let it rest for 20–30 minutes before carving.
Start by deciding at what time you want to eat, and work backwards when calculating your roasting times. Remember to include the resting time. This can be from 20 minutes up to 45 minutes. If your turkey crown has cooked faster than you calculated, don’t worry. There is plenty of time to finish your roast potatoes and sides while the turkey is resting.
Why Does Roast Meat Need to Rest?
When you roast a joint or a bird, the muscle tissues in the meat contract and moisture moves towards the surface. Some of that moisture evaporates and is lost, but some sits beneath the skin of the bird.
If you cut into the meat when it first comes out of the oven, that moisture will be lost and your meat may be dry. To avoid this, allow the turkey to rest and cool very slightly. As long as you have not overcooked your turkey crown, resting it will allow the moisture to be redistributed and reabsorbed back into the meat.
Your turkey will cool very slowly and will remain hot enough if covered properly. Heating the plates before serving will help to make sure it doesn’t cool too quickly once carved.
Can I Stuff a Turkey Crown?
A turkey crown has no body cavity, so no, it can’t be stuffed. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to go without your favourite stuffing. Simply cook it in an ovenproof dish alongside the turkey.
Defrost your turkey crown slowly in the fridge for about 12 hours per kilo. Make sure it’s fully defrosted before cooking.
If you need to defrost in a cool room, it takes about half that time – 6 hours a kilo, depending on the temperature of the room. Halve the time again (2 hrs/kg) for defrosting at room temperature (20°C). The best way is in the fridge.
How to Cook A Turkey Crown
First, decide when you want to eat and work out when you need to start cooking.
Step one – Heat oven to 170°C (fan) / 340°F (fan) / Gas Mark 5. Then place the turkey on a rack in a roasting tray. Rub the skin with butter, and season with salt and pepper.
Step two – Cover with foil, tucking down around the edge, and place the turkey in the oven.
Step three – Forty five minutes before the approximate roasting time is over, check the temperature. If the turkey is approaching 70°C / 165°F, remove the foil and turn the oven up to 200°C (fan) / 400°F (fan) /Gas Mark 6, so that the turkey will brown. Otherwise, give it another 15 minutes before you uncover it and turn the oven up.
Step four – Ten minutes before roasting time is over, check the thickest part of the breast with a meat thermometer. Avoid touching the bone. The turkey crown is perfectly cooked when the temperature reaches 74°C / 165°F.
How to Cook a Turkey Crown
- 1 turkey crown
- 1 tbsp butter
- salt and pepper
- Heat oven to 170°C (fan) / 340°F (fan) / Gas Mark 5.
- Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting tray. Rub the skin with butter, and season with salt and pepper.
- Cover the roasting tin with foil, tucking it in round the sides.
- Place in the oven to cook. If under 4.5kg, roast for 20 min per kg, plus an extra 70 minutes. If 4.5 kg or over, roast for 20 mins per kg plus an extra 90 minutes. Remember that roasting times are an approximation. We are going to cook to temperature, not weight.
- 45 minutes before your approximate roasting time is over, check the temperature using a probe thermometer. If the turkey is approaching 70°C / 165°F, remove the foil and turn the oven up to 200°C (fan) / 400°F (fan) /Gas Mark 6. Otherwise, give it another 15 minutes before you uncover it and turn the oven up.
- 15 minutes after you have turned the oven up, check the internal temperature by inserting the probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, taking care not to touch the bone. The turkey crown is cooked when the temperature is 74°C / 165°F.
- Remove from the oven, and loosely cover with foil. Allow to rest for 20–40 minutes, while you finish cooking the rest of the meal.
- Carve and enjoy!