Rendang Roast Turkey (perfect for Christmas and Eid)

roast turkey on a wooden board with wine bottle and Christmas lights in background
Rendang Roast Turkey

What is Rendang?

Rendang is a curry that has its origin in Indonesia, way back in the 16th century, where it started life as a buffalo curry. But it has long been beef rendang with its meltingly tender meat in a thick, aromatic and highly spiced gravy, that many of us consider the king of curries.

Beef rendang is considered a Malay curry in Singapore and Malaysia. And as I mention on the video, it’s a must at many Malay weddings and certainly on the first day of Eid for Malay families and some non Malays like mine.

So my Rendang Roast Turkey today uses the exact same ingredients that I would use in cooking beef rendang. But instead of a curry, we marinate our turkey in the homemade rendang spice paste and coconut milk.

Here, on SMR, I have 2 rendang recipes, as you see below. The beef rendang is my mum’s, probably my favourite rendang ever.

Beef Rendang Recipe (Resepi Rendang Daging)
Beef Rendang (rendang daging), the way my mum made it. A curry with meltingly tender beef, slow cooked in a rich, aromatic and highly spiced coconut gravy.
Check out this recipe!
Beef rendang in a dark bowl with yellow rice in the background
Vegetarian Rendang Recipe (Rendang Sayur)
Vegetarian Rendang recipe, completely vegan and based on my mum's beef rendang recipe. Made in 45 minutes, click here for the recipe!
Check out this recipe!
Vegetarian Rendang photo

Christmas Schedule

A slight detour. So I’ve been hosting family Christmas meals for over 2 decades now. First, as a single girl in London for all my fellow expatriate friends.

Then, after I got married, because my MIL hates cooking, I’ve gladly done most of them with the very odd exception. Because if I don’t cook the Christmas meal, I have to suffer through boxed stuffing and fake gravy. Good thing I cook for a living and love it! So I’ve got lots of years, mistakes and stress in my bag!

And as any experienced cook will tell you, the devil is in the detail:

Plan. Everything.

So, let me share with you my years-old Christmas Schedule. Use it as it is, or customise it to your needs.

Click here to get my Christmas Schedule

Rendang Roast Turkey Recipe

It’s a standard roast turkey recipe. I’m keeping it simple and not stuffing it. The only thing different will be the rendang paste marinade that we will be making. This is what we’ll be doing:

  1. soak the red chillies
  2. make the kerisik (dry roasted grated/desiccated coconut)
  3. chop the above 2 plus all the aromatics to a fine paste
  4. marinate the turkey, preferably overnight (or at least 1 hour)
  5. roast the turkey (time depends on the size – see all times below)

If you are making this for Christmas, or even Thanksgiving, you want to do as much as possible the day before. So marinating the turkey overnight is a good thing for you and the bird!

Rendang Turkey Marinade Ingredients

As you can see above, the process itself is pretty easy, and many of the ingredients are easy to come by. But there is the odd ingredient that you might find difficult to get if you’re not in South East Asia. So let’s take a look at them.

Galangal (Lengkuas)

Galangal, an essential ingredient in the South East Asian kitchen (not just Thai), is a tuberous root that is used both for culinary as well as medicinal purposes. It belongs to the same family as ginger, but apart from them both being rhizomes, they are worlds apart in character.

Galangal is floral and sweet, while ginger is citrusy and spicy.

So NEVER substitute ginger for galangal. No matter what other food sites tell you.

Here in the UK, galangal paste is easy to come in our larger supermarkets, both Barts and Thai Taste make them, and they are pretty good.

About 4 times a year, I but galangal online, and in bulk. And I freeze them in useable portions. This is the best option, get chummy with online shopping. Sometimes, I even grow them in the summer, only if I can get previously unfrozen tubers.

So what to do if you really, really can’t get galangal, even online? Leave it out. Not much else you can do, right? Some ingredients just cannot be substituted. Like Indian curry leaves.

Lemongrass (Serai)

We also use lemongrass, in our Rendang Roast Turkey, but I think lemongrass is a fairly commonplace ingredient these days, isn’t it?

It has a sharp, pine-like aroma with a sweet and spicy, citrusy flavour. This is a herb that you should be able to get fairly easily. Here in the UK, all our supermarkets and many grocers sell it.

How to Make Galangal Paste
Find out how to make galangal paste for all your South East Asian recipes. Will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks and can also be frozen.
Check out this recipe!
galangal paste (lengkuas) in black bowl
How to use Lemongrass
How to use lemongrass in the kitchen. Do you chop it? Grind it? Leave it whole? Find out here!
Check out this recipe!
lemongrass photo

Rendang Herbs

Turmeric Leaves (Daun Kunyit)

  • Daun = leaf
  • Kunyit = turmeric

When making any kind of rendang, I always use turmeric leaves. The aroma of turmeric leaves is the defining character of a Singaporean and Malaysian rendang, and I simply cannot enjoy rendang without them.

The good news is, turmeric leaves are easy to grow in the tropics, and in the warmer months, in colder climates. All you need is a fresh turmeric tuber, pot it up in some compost, and leave it to shoot. Earliest time to do this would be in spring. Your turmeric will even send up shoots if your kitchen is warm enough.

How to Use Turmeric Leaves
What are turmeric leaves, (daun kunyit in Malay)? Find out how to grow them and how to use them in your kitchen from a lifelong user!
Check out this recipe!
turmeric leaves (daun kunyit) growing in a pot

Kaffir Lime Leaves (Daun Limau Purut)

An alternative herb that you can use and that seems to be the common rendang ingredient in the West, is Kaffir lime leaves, also called makrut lime leaves. They are rather unmistakable in appearance with double leaves, and impart a sweet, citrusy aroma to dishes.

How to Use Kaffir Lime Leaves (Makrut Lime Leaves)
What are kaffir lime leaves and how to use them? Find out right here, along with how to grow them, store them and recipe examples.
Check out this recipe!
photo of whole and shredded kaffir lime leaves (makrut lime leaves) and fruit

Still, these are not the easiest to get for some people. Here in the UK, our larger supermarkets stock the fresh ones.

If you can’t get either herb mentioned above, just add fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) to your rendang paste. Or stuff the bird with a handful.

photo of whole and shredded kaffir lime leaves (makrut lime leaves) and fruit
kaffir lime leaves and fruit

Turkey Cooking Times

If you do an online search, you’ll find various advice for cooking turkey. The times also seem to have changed over the years, keeping with food safety standards in various countries.

However, when you add the various times, you’ll find that the total is always about the same for a similarly sized turkey.

The method I’ve always used is to give 20 minutes to every half a kg. Then, I give it an additional 20 -30 minutes on top of that, if the turkey needs it. I err on the side of caution and have my turkey well done. Unlike red meat, to me that’s the way to go with turkey.

So a 5kg turkey will need 20 minutes x 10 = 200 minutes = 3 hours and 10 minutes. But it’s not an exact science as a turkey is hardly ever an exact weight.

In the recipe card below, I’m asking you to check the turkey at 3 hours. So adjust the times accordingly. If you have a 4.5kg turkey (10 lbs), that should be more than enough time, you want to check the turkey at 2½ hours. The bigger the turkey, the longer it’ll take, naturally.

If you are stuffing your turkey, weigh the turkey after it’s been stuffed, and use that as total weight. Or weigh the stuffing you’ll be using and total the weights up. I’m going for easy today, and not stuffing the turkey.

Turkey Timings

I roast turkey at 180°C/350°F. So at that temperature, these are your estimated times. Don’t forget to give your roasted turkey time to rest before serving. A small turkey should have a resting time of at least 30 minutes. I tend to give our 4-6 kg birds and hour to rest.

  • 4-5kg – cook 2½ – 3 hours
  • 5-6kg – cook 3 – 3 ½ hours
  • 6-7kg – cook 3½ – 4 hours
  • 7-8kg – cook 4 to 4½ hours
  • 8-9kg – cook 4½ – 5 hours
rendang roast turkey on a wooden board with wine bottle and Christmas lights in background
finish off with a squirt of lime, if you like

How much Turkey per Person

It’s always handy to know what size turkey you will need for the number of people you are expecting. So here’s an estimate, the Imperial conversions are rounded off. You want to make sure that your oven is big enough, as are your roasting dishes.

Make sure you have everything you need way before the last frantic few days. Be prepared with the right tools in the kitchen.
You might be interested in the articles I wrote on LinsFood: 5 Secrets to a Stress Free Christmas.
Click here for Secret #1.

  • A turkey crown (2 – 2.5 kg/4.5 – 5.5 lb) will feed 6 people
  • A small turkey (3 – 4.5 kg/6 – 10 lb) will feed 6-8 people
  • A medium turkey (4 – 5 kg/9 – 11 lb) will feed 8-10 people
  • A medium-large turkey (about 5.5 kg/12 lb) will feed 10-12 people
  • A large turkey (6 – 6.5 kg/13 – 14 lb) will feed 12-15 people

How to Serve Rendang Roast Turkey

How to serve rendang roast turkey rather depends on the type of Christmas meal you’re having. Is it going to be a Western-style meal or an Asian one?

Singaporean or Malaysian Christmas

I think we’d have this rendang roast turkey with rice and a few side dishes. If I were planning it, I’d have:

Sayur Lemak Recipe (Vegetables Cooked in Coconut Milk)
Sayur lemak is a quick and easy Malay and Indonesian dish of vegetables cooked in coconut milk and flavoured and coloured with turmeric.
Check out this recipe!
sayur lemak yellow vegetable curry in a bowl
Singapore Sling (Raffles Hotel Recipe)
Get yourself the Raffles Hotel Singapore Sling recipe, from this self confessed Sling expert, having spent far too much time at The Long Bar!
Check out this recipe!
singapore sling in a tall collins glass with a pineapple on a cocktail stick
Sambal Fishball (Fishball in Red Chilli Paste)
Sambal fishball is an easy, spicy side dish made with Chinese fishballs and perfect as part of a South East Asian meal.
Check out this recipe!
fishball sambal in white bowl

An English Christmas

This one is easy. I’d serve it as we’d do our usual Christmas meal. So we’ll have:

  • Rendang Roast Turkey
  • Roast Potatoes
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Gravy
  • Cranberry Sauce – maybe a slightly spiced version?

You’ll find a huge collection of global Christmas recipes on LinsFood, including some of the ones above.

Nasi Kunyit

Easy Nasi Kunyit recipe, whether to serve your rendang roast turkey with, or to stuff. If stuffing, use sticky rice or glutinous rice for a better result.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 500g/1lb 1.5oz uncooked rice
  • 400ml/14fl oz coconut milk
  • 300ml/10.5fl oz water 
  • 2 lemongrass, bruised
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 pandan leaves, tied into a knot 3 lime leaves, torn slightly (if unavailable, leave out)


  1. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear.
  2. Place all the ingredients into a saucepan over a low medium heat, give it a stir and bring to a simmer. Leave to cook uncovered until the liquid all but evaporates.
  3. Give it a stir at this point, to discourage the coconut milk from catching. Usually, I don’t stir rice once it’s on the heat but when cooking with coconut milk, it’s a necessary step.
  4. Turn the heat right down, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for another 12 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat off and leave to sit for another 5 minutes on the hot hob. Then fluff up the rice and serve.

And that’s it, folks. Don’t forget to check out the video on the recipe card, or on my YouTube Channel.

If you like the recipe, drop me a comment and if you’re feeling like a star, that 5-star rating! Thank you!

And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood

Lin xx

Images by LinsFoodies

rendang roast turkey on a wooden board with wine bottle and Christmas lights in background

Rendang Roast Turkey

Azlin Bloor
An easy to follow roast turkey recipe, with homemade rendang paste to marinate our turkey. Turkey with an attitude!
5 from 19 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Marinade Time 12 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine Eurasian, fusion
Servings 10 (serves 8-10)
Calories 331 kcal


  • Oven
  • Roasting Tin
  • chopper
  • knife
  • chopping board
  • Food grade gloves if desired
  • Foil
  • Basting Tool (I'm just using a ladle)


The Turkey and Bits
  • 1 turkey weighing about 4.5 – 5 kg (about 10 lb)
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 2.5 cm galangal
  • 2.5 cm ginger
  • 1 lime
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves or 1 small handful fresh coriander leaves (cilantro
Rendang Marinade
  • 10 dried red chillies more, if you want it spicy
  • 4 Tbsp grated coconut or unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1 large onion about 200g/7 oz prepeeled weight
  • 5 cm ginger
  • 2.5 cm galangal or 1 tsp galangal paste
  • 4 medium garlic cloves
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves or 1 turmeric leaf not used in the video
  • coconut milk as needed from the 200 ml above
  • 1 tsp salt


Start the Night Before to Marinate the Turkey Overnight

    Soak the Dried Chillies

    • Put the kettle on. Cut the dried red chillies in 2-3 pieces, depending on their lengths.
    • Pour the hot water over the cut chillies, cover with a side plate and leave to soak 15 minutes or so while you get the other ingredients ready.

    Let's make the Kerisik

    • Tip the grated/desiccated coconut into a medium-sized frying pan and dry fry over medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes.
    • Be sure to shake the pan constantly or use a spatula to ensure that the coconut browns evenly. Take it off the heat when it's a medium brown colour and leave to cool while you get on with the other ingredients.

    Let's make the Rendang Paste (Marinade)

    • Quarter the onion, or dice it (as in the video) and place in the chopper.
    • Peel and slice the ginger and add to the chopper. Do the same with the galangal.
    • Peel the garlic and add to chopper.
    • Top and tail the lemongrass and slice into rings, then add to the chopper. Click here to read more about how to prepare lemongrass.
    • Add about 4 tablespoons of coconut mil and the salt to the chopper.
    • Drain the soaking chillies and add to the chopper.
    • Tip all the kerisik into the chopper.
    • Remove the middle vein of the lime leaves and add to the chopper. If using turmeric leaf, just snip the whole leaf with a pair of scissors straight into the chopper.
      ps: I didn't add any leaves in the video.
    • Chop everything to a fairly fine paste. Add more coconut milk if you need it.

    Marinate the Turkey

    • Add the rest of the coconut milk to lighten the marinade. Place your turkey on your chosen roasting tin. Then rub the marinade all over the turkey, in the cavity, and getting under the skin, but without tearing it.
      If you use meat injectors, you'll probably need to blend the marinade up into a finer mix.
    • Leave a little of the marinade (about ¼ of it) to use later on after we've taken off the foil. Cover this marinade with clingfilm and keep in the fridge until the turkey is in the oven.
    • Cover the turkey and leave to marinate overnight or for at least an hour.
      Cover the leftover marinade with clingfilm and keep in the fridge until roasting time.

    Let's Roast the Turkey

    • Bring the turkey and leftover marinade out of the fridge 1 hour before roasting time, a minimum of 30 minutes. This is to allow even cooking and also to prevent the skin from shrinking from the sudden change in temperature.
      Turn the oven on to preheat to 180°C/350°F/160°C Fan.
    • Top and tail the lemongrass, then bruise it.
      Scrub the galangal and ginger, no need to peel. then slice them in 2-3 pieces.
      Slice the lime into rounds.
      Tear the edges of the lime leaves slightly.
      Now place all these aromatics and fruit into the turkey cavity.
    • Cover the turkey with foil, and roast for 2 hours, no need to baste during this time.
    • At the end of 2 hours, discard the foil, and baste with the juices in the pan. Then remember the remainder marinade? Using a brush, slather the turkey with all of it, and continue roasting for 1 hour, uncovered.
      Check your turkey at the end of 45 minutes to see if it's done. Give it more time if you think it needs it. Use a meat thermometer if that's your thing.
      Or the old fashioned way: if the meat and skin has pulled right back on the legs, the bird is done.
      Another method: if you pierce a knife in the thickest part of the bird (usually the legs), the liquid should run clear and not bloody.
    • Take the turkey out of the oven, covered with fresh foil, then top with a large tea towel. Leave it to rest for 1 hour before serving. It can rest up to 2 hours without cooling down too much.
      This will give you enough time to do your potatoes, parsnips, gravy and other vegetables. See the link right at the top of this article for my Christmas Schedule.
      Serve as discussed in the article.


    Rendang Roast Turkey (perfect for Christmas and Thanksgiving)


    Calories: 331kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 57gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 185mgSodium: 526mgPotassium: 705mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 281IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 43mgIron: 3mg
    Keyword christmas recipes, festive, turkey
    Tried this recipe?Mention @azlinbloor or tag #linsfood!
    Made it? Upload your Photos!Mention @azlinbloor or tag #linsfood!

    Share this with Someone!

    6 thoughts on “Rendang Roast Turkey (perfect for Christmas and Eid)”

    Leave a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Recipe Rating