How to Buy a Thanksgiving Turkey

How to Buy a Thanksgiving Turkey

Should I buy fresh or frozen?

In our years of roasting turkeys, we’ve learned a thing or two about birds. Frozen turkeys are cheap, around $1 to $2 a pound. But since they’ve been frozen, they can lose more moisture than fresh birds as they cook, which can lead to dry meat. 

On the other end of the price spectrum are fresh heritage birds, a.k.a. the Rolls-Royce of turkeys. Old-school breeds with names like White Holland and Bourbon Red have a higher dark-meat-to-white-meat ratio than conventionally raised birds and denser, more flavorful meat. But they also have to be preordered months in advance and cost about $7 to $12 per pound. 

Somewhere between those extremes is a fresh organic turkey that will give you flavorful, juicy meat and, at $4 to $7 a pound, won’t break the bank.

How big should the bird be?

When guesstimating what size bird to buy, 1 pound of turkey for each person should fill them up and leave plenty of extra meat for Round 2.

When should I buy the turkey?

Order a fresh turkey a few weeks in advance, and pick up the bird a day or two before Thanksgiving. 

How long will a frozen turkey take to defrost?

Going the frozen route? For every 4 to 5 pounds, you need 24 hours to defrost, so buy a 15-pounder three days ahead and stick it in the fridge.



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