How Much Turkey To Buy And What The Labels Mean

When you think of Thanksgiving, inevitably, a turkey rises to the surface. The key is not just the size of the bird but also how much meat it provides for your guests. Knowing exactly how much meat should be on your bird is a lot easier than calculating the amount needed for each person.

For 10-12 people, you will need 15-20 pound turkey. It means that each adult needs nearly 1,5 pounds of turkey. Knowing these points, you can easily calculate how much turkey to buy for your family dinner.

Related: How Long to Cook Turkey


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How To Buy Turkey?

Turkey is a delicious, filling, and affordable meat that has been enjoyed for centuries. It’s time to use your knowledge of the history behind this tasty protein and share your thoughts on buying turkey with other people interested in cooking it.

In this post, we’re going to talk about things like common misconceptions about buying turkeys, the importance of keeping a turkey fresh while still cooking it, and preparing the perfect bird for you. Let’s dive in!

Fresh Or Frozen?

Turkey is one of the few Thanksgiving items that’s a staple in homes all over the United States. Whether you prefer to roast your turkey or deep fry it, the chances are that the bird will wind up on your dinner table. And because of this, there’s a fair bit of controversy surrounding what type of turkey to buy.

Some people say frozen turkeys are just as good as fresh ones – after all, they contain less water which means more meat per pound, and they come with their gravy. Fresh turkeys, on the other hand, arrive at your doorstep in a state of near butcherdom. They have to be dressed, and some say that they can taste funny (something about the way they absorb air during the trip).

While both of these arguments have some merit, you should know that whether you buy fresh or frozen is a matter of personal preference. We’ll examine each option below.

Fresh Vs. Frozen Turkey – What’s The Real Difference?

When most people talk about the difference between fresh and frozen turkeys, they refer to the difference between FRESH frozen turkey and FROZEN fresh turkeys (defrosted). There is no such thing as a “fresh frozen turkey,” although companies label their birds as such – this is illegal.

What you should be concerned about is how your turkey has been handled since it left the farm. Fresh turkeys can sit on a truck for 2-3 days, then are delivered to the butcher who will decap and gut them. On the other hand, frozen turkeys are typically delivered frozen to the butcher – and with this, you get a much cleaner bird.

Frozen birds don’t sit on trucks for very long, maybe a few hours. When they’re delivered to your door (or freezer), they’re already prepped and ready to eat. This means less work for you – but also less flavor from those procedures that take place before they arrive at your home.

Fresh turkeys do have several advantages over frozen. They’re a much better choice for people who don’t have freezers large enough to hold a full-sized bird. A fresh turkey will last in your fridge for about one week if it is properly wrapped and kept at a temperature of 40 degrees or below. If you can’t fit a frozen turkey in the freezer, you can always buy one larger than you need and save the leftovers for later (although, as mentioned above, they may taste funny).

You should also try to buy your bird from an organic or natural source. Many of the methods used to raise and process turkey are very unnatural and can damage the DNA of the bird.

Best Turkey Buying Tips

Freezing is the best way to preserve fresh meat and poultry, but buying fresh is still healthy for you. Unless you live in a rural area, we recommend purchasing your turkey at least two days before Thanksgiving. Have your turkey defrosted overnight in your refrigerator.

Alternatively, you can leave it in the fridge for 4-8 hours (depending on temperature), then cook it according to package directions. After cooking, keep your cooked turkey refrigerated; freeze any leftovers for later use.

If you live in a rural area and cannot purchase your turkey at least two days before Thanksgiving, you can buy it frozen and plan on cooking it that day. Be sure to thaw the turkey before cooking.

What Do Turkey Package Labels Mean?

Turkey is a Thanksgiving staple in America, and with the holiday upon us, it’s time to start thinking about picking the perfect bird. But before you make your selection, you should know what each turkey label means because they all have implications for how the turkey will taste and how healthy it will be.


Self-basting turkeys have a self-basting mechanism injected into an opening in the bird’s cavity at slaughter. This means they basically “self-roast” without liquid or seasonings, so they are ready to eat as soon as you take them out of the oven.


Natural turkeys have no artificial ingredients in them. They aren’t treated with antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides, or herbicides. They have not been fed anything other than a grain-based diet.


Organic turkeys are raised on pasture with no artificial supplements. Their feed is organic, and they are not given growth hormones or antibiotics.


Kosher turkeys are raised following Jewish dietary laws and require a special certification. They are fed only organic feed and are never given antibiotics.

Free-Range Or Cage-Free

Free-range or cage-free turkeys have been allowed outside instead of being confined to an overcrowded cage.


Heritage turkeys are naturally healthier because they are bred to have a long breast, high-quality meat, and fewer calories since their breasts are smaller than commercial birds.

Choose the turkey that best fits your needs. Pick the turkey that will satisfy you and your family’s needs for the healthiest, tastiest bird possible.

Best Turkey Recipes You May Like

I find some turkey recipes for you:

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Choose A Turkey?

When selecting a turkey, three different sizes typically work well: small (8-12 pounds), medium (14-18 pounds), and large (20-24 pounds). The size you should choose depends on your needs and how many people will be dining at your table. You can select the turkey according to the point that each adult needs approximately 1-1,5 pound turkey.

How Big A Turkey Should I Buy?

The rule of thumb is that for every person at your table, you should buy 1-1,5 pound of turkey per person. For example, if there were five people at your table, then ideally, you would want to get five to eight pounds worth of turkey so that each person has a decent size portion.

Is Frozen Turkey As Good As Fresh?

Fresh turkeys are available all year round and are generally more expensive than frozen turkeys. Frozen turkeys are easy-to-store given they don’t require refrigeration, but if you defrost it, it needs to remain refrigerated until cooking time, so the turkey doesn’t go bad.

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