OK, Wait — When Should I Buy My Thanksgiving Turkey?

OK, Wait — When Should I Buy My Thanksgiving Turkey?


It seems impossible, but Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. And although you might wait until 4:45 pm to plan your weeknight dinner, procrastinating on the Thanksgiving front isn’t recommended. 

If you’re going for a classic feast, you’ve gotta have a turkey in the center of the table. For most of us, turkey roasting is a once-a-year activity, so it can be hard to remember all of the pertinent details, including when to buy the big bird. Luckily, we have a direct line to a few turkey experts, who were more than happy to walk us through the process. Here’s what you need to know about when to buy your Thanksgiving turkey

There are a few points that factor into this question, namely if you’re buying the bird frozen or fresh and where you prefer to pick it up.

Related: 21 Aldi Thanksgiving Essentials

How Far in Advance to Buy a Fresh Turkey

If you’re going for a fresh turkey, Evan Gunthorp—owner of LaGrange, Indiana-based Gunthorp Farms—recommends purchasing the bird the week of Thanksgiving. If you’re planning to buy from a small local farm, it’s a good idea to call ahead to see if they require that you pre-order the turkey. Pre-ordering guarantees that you’ll have a turkey and also helps the farmers prepare for the holiday rush. Fresh turkeys will start popping up in grocery stores about a week before the big day. It’s also a good idea to ask at your grocery store about their turkey timing to make sure you don’t miss your window.

Related: When Trader Joe’s Turkeys Arrive in Stores

How Far in Advance to Buy a Frozen Turkey

If you opt for a frozen bird, you can grab your turkey as early as you’d like (assuming you have some room in your freezer). “I definitely feel that you should go ahead and start buying a [frozen] turkey now,” said Mary Alice Coffey, turkey expert for Butterball. “As soon as you see one and it’s the size that you want, go ahead and pick it up.”

Related: How to Cook the Perfect Turkey

More Thanksgiving Essentials

Now that you’ve got the bird sorted, check out some of our favorite apps, sides, desserts—and other Thanksgiving goodies.
27 Epic Thanksgiving Charcuterie Boards
42 Festive Thanksgiving Cocktail Recipes
• 101 Best Thanksgiving Sides
30 Easy Thanksgiving Sheet Cakes
150 Easy Thanksgiving Desserts

Up next: You’ve Gotta Try Michelle Obama’s Apple Cobbler

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