How to Buy Turkey: Types, Sizes and Storage
By Theo Weening
Theo Weening is a third-generation butcher and the Global Meat Buyer at Whole Foods Market. His in-depth knowledge of raising practices, cuts and preparation techniques have made him a highly sought-out national expert. See his expert buying tips below.
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.
Insider tip: Buy your turkey early to skip the stress and make this year your smoothest celebration yet. Thanksgiving deal extended through 11/26: Prime members, stop by a store for Whole Turkeys, raised with no antibiotics, ever, $1.99 lb, or Organic Turkeys, $2.99 lb.* We’re also offering unique “insurance” coverage so you can have a little extra peace of mind this year.
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. All options are Animal Welfare Certified (except kosher turkeys), which requires third-party auditing of farms for over 100 animal welfare standards. 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. We know our suppliers; we know how they raise their birds.
What types of turkey do we offer?
Here are the kinds of turkeys you’ll see 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.
Classic turkeys: These tasty, tender turkeys are a great choice for value, quality and flavor.
Organic turkeys: These birds get organic, non-GMO feed and are given access to fresh air and the outdoors.
Brined turkeys: We’ve marinated these birds in a seasoned brine for moist, flavorful meat. If I want to fry a turkey, I go with brined.
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. They’re also raised to meet 100+ animal welfare standards.
Heritage turkeys: These turkeys are leaner with a smaller meat-to-bone ratio and can be very flavorful.
Heirloom turkeys: A little bigger than heritage turkeys, heirloom turkeys are still really flavorful. Plus, there's lots of great dark meat.
Turkey breasts: Feeding a smaller group? Turkey breast is easy to brine and takes 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.
How much turkey should I buy?
I love having turkey leftovers, so I recommend going for more than what you really need. Rule of thumb is 1½–2 pounds per person, but I’d start with 5 to 6 pounds for four people. Check out our Holiday Servings Calculator to plan your order based on the number of people you’re feeding.
I’ve just received my turkey — how do I store it?
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 it. Follow these tips for success.
How to store our 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. Over time, the ice will easily melt, and your bird will be perfect by Thanksgiving.
How to store our 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. To read thawing instructions for frozen turkeys, check out our Holiday FAQ.
For cooking and leftover storage tips, check out our Ultimate Guide to Cooking Your Turkey.
Introducing: The Thanksgiving Turkey Protection Plan
No one plans to burn or overcook their turkey, but mishaps can happen. If you’re buying and obtaining your bird early this year, you’re eligible for turkey “insurance” to give you confidence in the kitchen.
What it is: Introducing the first-ever “insurance” for the beloved centerpiece of the year’s most anticipated meal, from Whole Foods Market in collaboration with Progressive Insurance.
Why it’s a game changer: If it’s your first time cooking the turkey, you’re trying a new recipe or you’re scarred from a previous bird blunder, you’ll have a little extra peace of mind this year.
How it works: To be eligible for the Thanksgiving Turkey Protection Plan, shoppers must purchase their whole uncooked Whole Foods Market branded turkey — in-store or online — and bring it home or have it delivered between November 11 and November 22. If your turkey turns out overcooked, undercooked, burnt, dry or just doesn’t end up cooking like you thought it would, submit your claim between November 26 and November 27 and Whole Foods Market has you covered with a $35 Whole Foods Market gift card. Visit TurkeyProtectionPlan.com for full details on how to qualify for the Turkey Protection Plan.**
*Valid 11/11-11/26/20. U.S. only. Discount applied at checkout. Excludes brined, smoked, cooked, oven-ready, heirloom, heritage and kosher turkeys. Quantity limits apply. Quantities limited. While supplies last. No rain checks except where required by law. Must scan Prime code or use linked phone number at checkout to receive offer.
**Must be a legal resident of 50 US/DC, at least 18 years old. Must purchase a Whole Foods Market uncooked whole Thanksgiving turkey at any U.S. Whole Foods Market store or online from Whole Foods Market’s eStore on wholefoodsmarket.com or Whole Foods Market on Amazon.com (amazon.com/wholefoods) from 11/11/20 and 11/22/20 and pick it up or have it delivered by 11:59:59 PM (PT) 11/22/20 (“Qualifying Purchase”), while supplies last. If you have a “turkey cooking fail” while preparing the Qualifying Purchase, visit turkeyprotectionplan.com and follow instructions to register and upload original Qualifying Purchase receipt, turkey fail photo, and description of the turkey fail between 11/26/20 and 11/27/20. Subject to eligibility verification, qualifying participants will be sent a $35 Whole Foods Market gift card code (“Offer Item”). Offer Items are subject to availability and only available while supplies last. Limited to the first 1,000 claims. Limit 1 Offer Item per person. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Subject to full Terms and Conditions available at turkeyprotectionplan.com/terms. We reserve the right to modify or cancel the Offer at any time. “Turkey Protection Plan” is not an actual insurance product nor is it an endorsement of any insurance product or insurance company. Whole Foods Market is not an insurance agent, broker, producer or insurer.