Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and that means you’ve probably already started buying some of the ingredients that you’ll need to make your Thanksgiving feast, or you will be soon! And while there are a lot of dishes that go on a Thanksgiving table, I think most of us can agree that there’s one that always gets a little extra attention – the turkey.
If you’ve never picked out a turkey, the options can be a little overwhelming, but don’t worry, our Test Kitchen is here to guide you. Just follow these easy tips and you’ll find the perfect bird that will have your family hoping for lots of leftovers.
- Fresh vs. Frozen – Frozen is the usually the best option. Turkeys are flash frozen right after they’ve been butchered, so you don’t have to worry! Frozen turkey is also more budget-friendly. If you’re buying frozen turkey, just make sure you check out our tips on How to Thaw a Turkey, so that your bird is ready for cooking in time! If you’d rather go with a fresh turkey, just make sure you get it into the refrigerator right away, and don’t buy it in advance ‘cause fresh turkeys need to be cooked within a couple of days!
- Turkey Age – Ever taken a look at the turkeys at the grocery store and noticed that some of them have the turkey’s age on it, or say “Young Turkey”? They do that ‘cause a turkey’s age actually matters! Roaster turkeys and young turkeys are less than 7 months old and are more tender and flavorful, which is why we like these the best! Year-old turkeys are less expensive, and still moderately tender, making them a great option, too. We don’t recommend turkeys over 15 months old, since these can be tougher.
- Size Matters – When you’re buying your Thanksgiving turkey, it’s important to pay attention to the size. You want to make sure you get a bird big enough to feed all your guests. We recommend about 1lb per person, so if you’re feeding 8 a 12lb turkey should be more than enough. Yeah, we like when there’s a little extra turkey, ‘cause then we can make Skillet Turkey Stew with the leftovers!
- Turkey Brand – As you can imagine, turkey prices go up during the holiday season. You don’t have to pay big bucks for a main brand, when a lesser known brand is basically the same thing! You do want to make sure your turkey isn’t “plumped up” with any strange ingredients. And, when you’re shopping for your turkey pay attention to the price per pound, so you can make sure you’re getting the best deal for your dollar.
- Pre-Stuffed – Just stay away! A pre-stuffed turkey can be dangerous to your health, and can dry out your turkey. See what Howard has to say about it in our video for How to Prepare a Turkey.
Well, those are the basics on how to pick the perfect turkey. If you’re looking for more turkey tips and tricks, be sure to check out our Thanksgiving Survival Guide. It’s got a ton of great recipes, how-to videos, and more!
What part of the turkey do you like best? How about your family?