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How to Buy Turkey: Types, Sizes and Storage

Planning a turkey this year? Let us help you find the perfect bird for your table.

roasted turkey on platter surrounded by thanksgiving dishes

Buying the right turkey can mean the difference between a good Thanksgiving and a legendary Thanksgiving. And while you can’t go wrong with any of our birds, shopping for a specific size or certification can be tricky. Rest assured, we’re here to help simplify the process. Below, learn more about our birds, plus get expert buying and storing tips.

We also have a special deal just for Prime members: Shop in-store and save on Organic Fresh Whole Turkeys ($2.99 per lb) and Fresh Whole Turkeys ($1.99 per lb) through 11/28.*

What Makes Our Turkeys Different?

Whether classic or kosher, heirloom or organic, all of the fresh and frozen turkeys we sell meet our Quality Standards. Turkeys are third-party audited to meet over 100 animal welfare standards and all options are Animal Welfare Certified (except kosher turkeys). And, like all meat and poultry in the department, the animals must be raised with no antibiotics ever and no animal by-products in feed.

What Types of Turkey Do We Offer?

So, fresh or frozen? Organic or heirloom? Here’s what you need to know about our turkey selection when shopping our Meat department. Kosher, heirloom and heritage birds may not be available in all locations, so be sure to contact your store ahead of time.

Essential Birds

These essential birds are always crowd-pleasers. Packed with flavor and wallet-friendly, you can’t go wrong.

  • Classic Turkeys: These tasty, tender turkeys are a great choice for value, quality and flavor.

  • Organic Turkeys: These birds receive organic, non-GMO feed and have specific requirements for the amount of access to the outdoors.

Leveled-Up Birds

If you’re looking to try something different this year, don’t miss our assortment of unique, special birds.

  • Heritage turkeys: These unique, old-world birds are leaner with a smaller meat-to-bone ratio and can be very flavorful.

  • Heirloom Turkeys: A little bigger than heritage turkeys, this special variety has robust flavor and a lot of dark meat.

  • Brined Turkeys: We’ve marinated these birds in a seasoned brine for moist, flavorful meat. If you’re planning to fry your turkey, start with one of our brined birds.

  • Kosher Turkeys: Rubbed with kosher salt inside and out, kosher birds are checked by specially trained rabbinical inspectors to make sure they’re processed in accordance with kosher standards. The kosher salt preseasons the bird and gives it extra flavor.

  • Turkey Breasts: Feeding a smaller group? Our classic (no antibiotics ever) and organic turkey breasts are easy to brine and take less time to prepare than a whole turkey. We offer bone-in, organic bone-in and boneless options.

All fresh and frozen turkeys from our Meat department must meet our standards for being raised with no antibiotics ever, no animal by-products in feed and 100+ animal welfare standards. Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising turkeys.

Mary’s Free Range Heritage Turkey, located in Madera County, California, has been family-owned and -operated by the Pitman family since 1954.

Supplier Spotlight: Farms We Love

We care deeply about animal welfare, including how our turkeys are raised. That’s why we've built strong relationships with our suppliers and know them personally.

Koch’s Turkey Farm

Located in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, Koch’s Turkey Farm is a fourth-generation family farm that values the traditional standards of their Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, such as being committed to growing their birds slowly. Since 1939, they’ve raised Heirloom Bronze turkeys, a very old strain of the Orlopp Bronze breed.

Mary’s Free Range Heritage Turkey

Family-owned and -operated by the Pitman family since 1954, Mary’s Free Range Heritage Turkey is run by third-generation sons David and Ben in Madera County, California. These birds are lean yet rich and flavorful — supported by their active lifestyle and diet.

Bell & Evans

Started by the Bell family in the 1890s, Bell & Evans is now operated by Scott Sechler and known as the oldest branded chicken company in the United States. Because their turkeys contain less fat, they cook differently than most. Available seasonally, their brined turkeys are barrel-brined in a brown sugar–spice marinade.

How Much Turkey Do You Need?

When buying your turkey, go for more than what you really need (because who doesn’t love turkey leftovers?). Even so, consider the size of your fridge and oven before coming home with a huge bird. Here’s how to plan your order based on the number of people you’re feeding.

Turkey Size

Serves

8–10 pounds (bone-in breast)

4 people

12–14 pounds

6 people

20–24 pounds

12 people

Rule of thumb: 2 pounds of turkey per person, but start with 8 to 10 pounds for four people.

How to Store Your Turkey

Whether you’ve picked up your turkey from our stores or you’re having it delivered, it’s important to store your bird properly before cooking. Follow these tips for success.

Fresh Turkeys

Our fresh turkeys are kept in a deep chill to maintain a crust of ice on the surface. This ensures that you can safely store your bird at home until you’re ready to cook. Keep your turkey deep-chilled (35°F) in the coldest spot in your fridge, turned down as low as possible, or store in a secondary fridge. The ice will easily melt over time, but be sure to check your bird the day before Thanksgiving. If it looks a bit crisp, place under running water to ensure it's perfect by your feast.

Frozen Turkeys

Store frozen birds in your freezer (ideally in a secondary freezer if you have one) until you’re ready to thaw. Depending on how much time you have, you can thaw your turkey in your refrigerator or by submerging it in cold water.

How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey

If you do choose one of our frozen birds, make sure to leave plenty of time for thawing. Use this handy chart to plan ahead.

Turkey Size

Day in Fridge

Hours in Cold Water

14 pounds

3

7

20 pounds

4

10

We recommend thawing your turkey one of two ways:

Most Reliable Way: Put a tray or pan underneath the bird in its packaging to catch drips and place it in the refrigerator on the lowest shelf for 1 full day for every 5 pounds of turkey.

Fastest Way: Short on time or fridge space? This is your best option. Make sure the turkey is sealed in a leak-proof wrapper and place it in a vessel large enough to completely contain it. Add cold tap water to cover. Change the water every 30 minutes and allow 30 minutes of thawing time per pound.

Need to stock up on turkey essentials like spices, fresh herbs and more? You can shop holiday groceries for pickup or delivery with Prime.**

For plenty of inspiration, check out our Turkey Recipe Collection for menu ideas and our Essential Turkey Cooking Tips for expert pointers.

*Valid 11/17–11/28/21. Limitations — Fresh Whole Turkey: Excludes organic, smoked, brined, heirloom, heritage and cooked. Organic Fresh Whole Turkey: Excludes smoked, brined, heirloom, heritage and cooked. While supplies last. Quantities limited. Quantity limits apply. No rain checks except where required by law. Must identify as a Prime member to receive Prime member discount.
**Exclusively for Prime members in select ZIP codes.

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