Refrigerated cases everywhere are overflowing with turkeys right now, and if you haven’t grabbed one yet, you probably plan on doing it soon. But before you buy, there are a few things you should know.

To help those who need some extra guidance on their turkey endeavor, Tony Spit is here to share some tips on what kind of turkey is best for your Thanksgiving table. Fortunately, the store isn’t the only place where you can find one!

For starters, you can order a turkey ahead. Uncooked, unprepped birds are available through mail-order and can be delivered to you frozen. Order whatever size you choose online or at a local spot, depending on where you live. Many companies start taking orders right after Labor Day.

Options include wild turkeys, organic turkeys, heritage turkeys, or standard. Know that heritage turkeys cost a pretty penny because of the breed and how they’re raised. These are the quintessential birds of yore that existed before processing plants became the norm. It’s said the taste is more refined, but it takes some getting used to if you’ve never had one.

Also available through mail-order are precooked, frozen  varieties of turkey. Already seasoned and roasted, those will help you save time in the kitchen because all you have to do is warm it up!

Most turkey types are available to you as fresh options as well. As said in the video, fresh turkeys taste better! You don’t have to worry about thawing it out or ice pockets interfering with the bird.

Additionally, the injections present in some frozen turkeys don’t occur in fresh versions, making the weight more accurate. Why is that important? As a guideline, you want to buy 1-1 ½ pounds of meat per person who will be eating it. So, if you have 10 people showing up to eat turkey, then buy one between 10-15 pounds, but consider whether you want leftovers too.

Unless you order one ahead through a retailer or local farm (or farmer’s market), you generally have to wait to buy a fresh bird until one or two days before you cook it. When ordering online, order at least a month in advance. For local orders, try to get your order in at least two weeks ahead of time.

If you’re grabbing one from the supermarket shelf during the pre-Thanksgiving rush, always check the sell-by date!

Like frozen turkeys, fresh turkeys can also be bought pre-cooked. Stores like Whole Foods Market offer them for pre-order and you can warm them up in the oven. This is great for folks who are unable to cook one for their feasts or who just want to save a whole lot of time.

With any of these turkey choices, make sure your oven is big enough! And be sure to let it rest before you serve it. Click on this short clip to hear more info about making a big turkey purchase. Happy turkey hunting!


Do you sometimes get confused about turkey-buying options? What’s your stance on fresh versus frozen?