Kevin Dundon's Sage & Lemon Turkey with Cranberries and Apricot Stuffing.


Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 5½ hours

  • 1 7kg turkey
  • 3 carrots, halved lengthways
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half across the equator

For the lemon & sage butter:

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

For the traditional stuffing:

  • 150g butter
  • 1 onion
  • 450g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • salt and pepper

For herb and sausage meat stuffing: 

  • 450g sausage meat
  • 100g dried apricots, chopped
  • 100g dry cranberries
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • salt and pepper


Step 1: Christmas Eve 

  1. To prepare the traditional stuffing to go in the main cavity of the turkey, melt the butter in a saucepan on a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, until translucent, then remove the pan from the heat. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, chopped herbs and lemon zest. Pour over the onion and butter mixture and stir well. Season the stuffing with salt and pepper and allow to cool completely, then refrigerate overnight.
  3. Next, prepare the sausage meat stuffing that will go in the neck cavity. In a large bowl, mix together the sausage meat, dried apricots, dried cranberries, onion, garlic, lemon zest and herbs and season well with salt and pepper. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. To prepare the turkey, remove the turkey giblets from the main cavity if supplied. Set aside to use later for the gravy. 
  5. To make the lemon and sage butter, in a small bowl, beat the butter with the lemon zest and thyme and sage until it's pliable. Using your fingers, starting with the neck cavity, gently loosen the skin attached to the turkey breast, being careful not the tear or slit the skin. Carefully push the butter mixture under the skin and spread it all over the breast.
  6. Pack the sausage meat stuffing into the neck cavity to give a smooth shape. If there is any leftover, roll it in baking parchment into a pudding shape, then wrap in tin foil to roast along with the turkey the next morning.
  7. Place the turkey and stuffing back in the refrigerator overnight. 

Step 2:  Christmas morning 

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. 
  2. Remove the turkey from the fridge. Line the main cavity with some baking parchment paper, then loosely pack the traditional stuffing into the bird.
  3. If possible, using kitchen twine, tie the legs together with the parson's nose to keep the legs together while roasting. This helps to keep the stuffing in and makes for a nicer presentation, but it’s not necessary.

Important cooking times
Don’t forget to weigh the turkey again with the stuffing enclosed to ensure you calculate the correct cooking time. It should be 40 minutes per kilo plus 40 minutes, so a 7kg turkey will need about 5½ hours.

You can also insert a digital thermometer by the leg of the turkey and it should read 70°C.

Prepare the roasting tray by placing the reserved giblets, carrots, onions and garlic in the bottom of the tray to create a trivet for the turkey and to make the gravy later. 

Calculate the start time
Work backward from when you want to serve Christmas dinner and add 15 minutes for the turkey to rest. Place the turkey in the oven and season with salt and pepper. Roast according to the weight of the stuffed turkey.

After the first 2 hours, loosely cover the turkey with tin foil to prevent it from browning too much.

Make the gravy
Remove the turkey from the oven, lift out of the roasting tray onto a carving board and loosely cover again with tin foil. Allow the meat to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving while you make the gravy using the roasting tray trimmings.

Kevin's Christmas Tips

Up early to put the turkey on!

07:30am: Preheat the oven, prepare the turkey!. 

08:00am: Weigh the turkey after it has been stuffed, then cover in foil, place the turkey into a preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes per lb, based on a 6.5Kg Turkey it will take approx 4 ½ hrs. 

8:45am: Get your minerals, wines, beers, and champagnes into a cold spot – outside in a bucket of ice if you have no space in the fridge. Decant any red wines and set aside until dinner (a bit early to start!).

If I don’t have space in the fridge to chill wines and Champagnes, I place the bottles in a large container, half-filled with ice-cold water, and topped with ice.

11:45am: Pull back the foil from the turkey, 

Midday: Put your puddings on to steam. Parboil potatoes for Roast Potatoes.

12:30pm: Remove the turkey from the oven, cover with foil and some clean kitchen towels. Pop the ham into the oven, it will take about half an hour to 45mins to glaze and bake, then remove from the oven. Make the gravy and keep warm. Once the ham has been removed from the oven increase the heat and pop the roasties and roast vegetables in. 

1:15pm: Place the sprouts on to cook. Make the bread sauce. 

1:30pm: Carve the turkey and ham and cover to keep warm. Heat serving bowls for vegetables.

1:45pm: Plate up your starters and let the culinary festivities begin!