A Simple Guide on How to Cook Poultry

Poultry is one of the most commonly consumed meats in the world, second only to pork, and little wonder. Derived from a range of different birds, popular types of poultry include chicken, turkey, duck, goose and pigeon – all delicious in their own way. A great source of protein, poultry is valued for its versatility in the kitchen and is also prized for its ability to absorb different flavours. With so many different cuts of meat to choose from, poultry can be easily incorporated into most meals.

Cooking poultry opens up a whole world of culinary potential. From easy roasted chicken and garlic and herb tray bake to more technical harissa spatchcock grilled chicken and sautéed pears with smoked duck breast, there are so many poultry recipes to try that you’ll take your culinary skills from basic to advanced in no time.

However, it’s important to always keep in mind that undercooked poultry carries risk of foodborne illness. Using the recommended time and temperature guidelines on each recipe that you try or using a meat thermometer will ensure that the poultry is cooked to a safe internal temperature.

Here is a quick guide to cooking some of the most popular types of poultry:

How to cook a whole chicken


Whether you’re feeding a large family or are keen to avoid food waste and make use of leftovers, cooking a whole chicken offers great value for money. While many of us rely on the convenience of pre-cut chicken, cooking a whole roast chicken and cutting it into parts yourself allows you to extend its usage across different meals. To work out how long to cook a chicken, you’ll need to consider the weight of the chicken. As a general rule of thumb, you should roast a chicken on gas mark 5 (190°C) for 20 minutes per lb (450 g) plus 10-20 minutes extra. This equates to between 1 hour and 50 minutes and 2 hours for a 5 lb (2.25 kg) bird. To keep the chicken moist and juicy, baste it several times during cooking. This succulent lemon thyme roast chicken is a great recipe for anyone new to roasting chicken.

How to cook chicken breast


Skinless, boneless chicken breasts are one of the most versatile meats. Chicken breasts are the preferred cut of poultry for many people, because they are relatively lean, low fat and cook quickly. There are so many ways to cook chicken breasts, including grilling, baking and pan-frying. Cook your chicken breasts whole, dice them or cut into strips to rustle up a range of tasty meals including stir fries, fajitas and more. As a general rule of thumb, bake chicken breasts in the centre of a pre-heated oven, gas mark 5 (190°C), for 25 – 30 minutes. If you are frying chicken, be sure to maintain a steady temperature and turn with tongs every 2 minutes until your chicken is deep golden brown. On average, it takes around 12 minutes to fry chicken breast. To make midweek chicken breasts burst with flavour, try this easy recipe for chicken breast marinade.

How long to cook chicken thighs


Chicken thighs are prized by many as the juiciest and tastiest part of the bird. Dark meat has a higher fat content than chicken breast, so it’s great to use in meals when you really want to ramp up the flavour, like in this recipe for French-inspired chicken thighs in red wine. Cooking thighs slow and low will give them great melt-in-the-mouth texture and ensure that the meat does not dry out. Chicken thighs take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour to fully cook in a pre-heated oven, gas mark 5 (190°C), but you may prefer to cook them in the slow cooker, depending on the recipe requirements. Remember, make sure to use a meat thermometer to ensure your chicken thighs are fully cooked to a safe internal temperature.

How long to cook chicken legs


Chicken legs (otherwise known as drumsticks) are also what is referred to as dark meat, which is typically fattier than chicken breast. Chicken drumsticks on the bone are one of the most affordable options when it comes to meat, and these can be roasted or deep fried. These chicken legs in curry and orange sauce are so tender, marinated in a mouth-watering sauce combining orange, shallots, Makrut lime leaves, Noilly Prat, chives and ground coriander. Of course, chicken drumsticks are a mainstay at any BBQand perfectly suited to sizzling over a grill.

How long to cook chicken wings

Chicken wings are well known as a finger-licking appetiser. Smothered in marinade, chicken wings are best cooked in the BBQ or deep fried for around 9 – 12 minutes. When deep-frying chicken wings, the ultimate aim is to achieve a tender interior and crisp exterior. The outside should remain crisp even as it soaks up the sauce. Whether you’re making grilled Suya-spiced chicken wings or spicy Japanese Izakaya style wings, cooking chicken wings really allows you to experiment with flavour.

How long to cook a turkey


When thinking of how to cook turkey, the process is very similar to cooking a whole chicken, the time comes down to the weight of the bird. Place your turkey in a baking tin and roast for 40 minutes per 1kg for the first 4kg. If you have a larger bird, you’ll want to add 45 minutes for every 1kg over that weight. Whether you’re putting on a show at Christmas and want the turkey to taste spectacular or you’re wondering how long to roast a turkey for Sunday lunch, there are a few guidelines to ensure you achieve the best tasting turkey. As a fairly mild-tasting meat, turkey really benefits from a generous helping of seasoning, so be sure to apply your chosen herbs and spices to your turkey both inside and out and under the skin. Cook low and slow to prevent the turkey from drying out, and baste regularly to ensure the juiciest turkey possible and allow the bird to rest for 10 minutes before carving. This roast turkey with lemon is delicately flavoured with mixed herbs for a beautiful savoury aroma.

A sprinkle of Schwartz herbs and spices is all you need to add deep, beautiful flavour to poultry recipes. Why not start by looking at our mouth-watering chicken recipes?