Selecting Your Turkey

Size

How many people will you be feeding? As a general guideline, you should allow 1 lb of turkey for every adult and 1/2 lb for every child. If you want leftovers, add 50% to the total weight. Remember, it’s always better to have too much than too little. You can always use what’s leftover for other delicious recipes.

Turkey Size Calculator

*Whole Turkeys generally range in size between 8-25 lbs (3.6-11.3 kg). If you have a very large group, multiple turkeys may be required.

Quality

Fresh vs Frozen

Fresh: A fresh turkey has never been chilled below -3C. These can be held for quite a while before they make it to the store, so they might not be as fresh as you think! Always check the use-by date and try to purchase these within one or two days of your event.

Frozen: Flash-frozen below 0 degrees. If they are sold defrosted, they are labeled as “previously frozen.” If you buy a frozen turkey, you should plan for 24 hours refrigerator thawing time for every five pounds of turkey, or submerge it in cold water that you change every 30 minutes, which takes about 30 minutes per pound.

Which one you buy depends largely on your schedule. If you want to shop well before your event and have the time to thaw a bird, then frozen is just fine. But a truly fresh turkey, never frozen, often tastes better.

What is “Free Range”

  • How they’re raised: These turkeys must have continuous, free access to the outdoors over 51% of their lives, which some believe makes the meat taste better. While the idea of a range where turkeys can roam free is nice, a free-range label may just mean that the turkey has access to a door outside and there’s no guarantee he actually trotted out for a jaunt. If it’s important that your turkey actually roamed outside, look for the word “pastured” on the label. Free-range also does not indicate if the bird was raised without antibiotics or hormones.
  • Processing: There are no set regulations for processing, although they are usually humanely processed and contain no additives.
  • Flavor and texture: Good flavor and texture, and depending on how much exercise the bird received, the meat may be leaner.

What does Organic Turkey mean?

  • How they’re raised: To be labeled organic, the turkeys eat only organic feed, which by law contains no genetically modified grains, pesticides, herbicides, chemical residues, or animal byproducts. They are also raised without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones and are free range.
  • Processing: There are no set regulations for processing, although they are usually humanely processed and contain no additives.
  • Flavor and texture: Their taste varies, although they are usually considered to have very good flavor.