Cooking times and temperatures for the perfect roast

December 13, 2017 (Last Updated: December 13, 2022)
Sage-roasted pork belly recipe

How to make the perfect roast this Christmas

  • Make sure your roast is defrosted correctly. If it’s a large roast, defrost in the fridge. For every 1kg, it takes about 3 hours (or preferably overnight) to thaw completely. Defrosting in the fridge will ensure that the ice crystals formed in the meat are broken down gradually at a controlled temperature, thus not allowing the structure of the meat fibres to break, which would result in a dry, tough roast.
  • When roasting a chicken or turkey, rub the breast with butter to prevent it from drying out.
  • Set the time and temperature for roasting your meat. When cooking a chicken, cover with foil and set the oven to 180°C. Remove the foil when you have 15 minutes remaining and turn the heat up to 200°C to ensure a crispy skin. For your turkey, make sure you cook the meat at a low temperature of 160°C, covered with foil, to allow the roast to cook properly inside. Remove the foil when you have half an hour left and increase the temperature to 180°C or 200°C to ensure a crispy, brown skin.

Here’s our guide for cooking times and temperatures for roasts


For chicken and turkey, cook for 1 hour per 1kg at 160°C – 180°C, covered with foil. Roast for 45 minutes, remove the foil, then increase the heat to 200°C and roast for a final 15 minutes to brown the skin.

Pork roast:

For gammon, shoulder and belly, cook at 200°C for 45 minutes for a 1,5kg roast. Turn the heat down to 150°C and roast for a final hour. Remove from oven and let it rest for 15 – 20 minutes before carving.


For a trout or salmon roast, preheat the oven to 180°C, place the fish in a baking tray, cover with foil and cook for 15 minutes per 1kg.


When roasting silverside, preheat the oven to 150°C and cook the meat for about 40 minutes per 1kg. It’s a versatile cut that needs time to cook to ensure it is perfectly tender. For beef fillet,  reheat the oven to 200°C and cook for about 15 minutes per 500g for medium. Don’t forget to rest the fillet for 10 – 15 minutes, loosely covered with foil, when it comes out of the oven.

Written by Thulisa Martins and Nomvuselelo Mncube 

ALSO SEE: 15 Christmas roasts you must make this festive season

15 Christmas roasts you must make this festive season

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