When to Buy a Turkey for Thanksgiving

When to buy a turkey for thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and many of us are scrambling to figure out our dinner menus. The main question is, when do you buy the main event, the turkey?

The answer really depends on when you want your turkey cooked! Are you looking for a fresh or frozen turkey? Do you plan on brining it? All these questions are important when considering when to buy your bird.

When should I buy a Thanksgiving turkey?

The main factor when buying your Thanksgiving Turkey is whether you are getting a fresh or frozen one.

You can get a frozen turkey delivered at least a week before Thanksgiving so you have time to safely thaw it and then brine it.

For a fresh turkey, you will want to pick it up a day or two before cooking it, but you will still most likely need to start thinking about ordering your turkey in late October or early November when butchers and ranchers are taking orders.

When to buy a frozen turkey for Thanksgiving

When it comes to buying a frozen turkey for Thanksgiving, it is best to buy it as early as possible.

Most stores are already selling Thanksgiving frozen turkeys in late summer when they put out their Halloween decorations. Nabbing one then means you don’t have to worry about rushing for one later.

Don’t have time to go to the store? The are plenty mail order turkeys you can pre-order online to guarantee you have your bird for the Thanksgiving Dinner. Porter Road, for instance, ships its products using bio-degradable insulation along with gel packs to ensure a long shelf life in a freezer.

When should I buy a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving?

If you want a fresh bird that just came off the farm for your family feast, then you’ll need to pick it up a day or two before Thanksgiving.

uncooked turkey on a metal cooking tray
With fresh turkey, you can avoid the headache of a long defrosting process

A fresh turkey will last in the refrigerator for up to two-three days when properly stored.

Of course, to secure your fresh turkey you’ll likely need to order it from your local rancher or butcher at least a month before you plan on picking it up.

How long can I keep a turkey in the fridge?

Most modern refrigerators will keep a consistent temperature of at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which means meat stored in it will be kept out of the danger zone, which is between 40-140°F.

Most articles recommend only keeping uncooked turkey in the fridge for two days, but this doesn’t really consider the processing date.

  • Raw turkey – to be safe use within two days, but you should be fine going up to four days when properly stored.
  • Leftover cooked turkey can be stored in the fridge for up to three days when properly stored.

It is recommended that cooked poultry only be left unrefrigerated for two hours at room temperature because bacteria can grow quickly when food is out of the refrigerator.

How long can I keep a turkey in the freezer?

A well-wrapped turkey should last for two to three months in the freezer, but make sure to label your package with the date you put it away so that you know when to use or eat before time runs out!

If a frozen turkey isn’t wrapped tightly enough and is exposed to air and moisture, it can develop what is known as freezer burn.

Frozen packaged turkey inside a refrigerator
A tightly packaged turkey can last a few months in the freezer while keeping its favors

Freezer burn is when the food has been dried out by exposure to cold air and excess moisture. It can occur when a turkey is stored improperly, often when it is left unwrapped and exposed to the cold and dehydrating inside of a freezer.

If you need a turkey recipe check out our spatchcock bbq turkey

Wrapping it all up

So there you have it, if you are buying a frozen turkey, you can go ahead and buy it around the end of October, when they start showing up in stores, and it will keep in your freezer until Thanksgiving.

If you’re buying fresh, it’ll keep for about four days in the fridge, giving you a much tighter timeline to deal with, but none of the headaches around long defrosting times.

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