The 2023 edition of our guide to buying turkeys at Costco. Find out what's available to get your Thanksgiving meal planning going. Does Costco have great deals?
We also share some of our favorite techniques, tricks, and tools you will need to have a happy holiday.
This post includes affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. These are products and services I recommend because I use or trust them. Cookies will be used to track the affiliate links you click.
It's time again for our annual guide to buying a turkey at your favorite warehouse store - Costco.
The last few Thanksgivings I have been able to check on the turkey selection and prices in different parts of the country. 2018 Michigan, 2019 Ohio, 2020 California, 2021 Texas, 2022 South Carolina, and this year Utah.
In each year the lowest cost turkey has been 99 cents. Does that continue in 2023 or is this the year that the cost finally goes up?
💲 Turkey Prices
Here are the prices for the 2023 Thanksgiving season.
|Fresh Whole Turkey (Almost always Butterball)||$.99/lb|
|Fresh Organic Turkey (Brand varies per location)||$3.49/lb|
|Whole Kirkland Smoked Turkey||$4.99/lb|
Since 2014, the Butterball turkeys have been 99 cents a pound and that price has continued to be the same each year.
The other types of turkeys have gone up in price. Last year I saw the organic turkey prices go from $2.99/lb up to $3.49/lb. This year the price remained the same.
The smoked turkey price has gone up the last couple years. It used to be $2.99 a pound and now it's gone up to $4.99 a pound.
🎧 Wondering how Costco turkey prices measure up to other stores? Listen to our podcast episode on - What to Expect to Pay for a Turkey.
I have learned that selection isn't the same at every Costco exactly. There may be slight differences. Check your local store to see what they have.
What I see in every store is a fresh whole turkey, an organic whole turkey, and a smoked whole turkey. I have never seen a bone in turkey breast at Costco before.
Here are some things to note about each type.
|Fresh turkeys||Nearly all of them I have seen have been Butterball turkeys. There was one year I did find Honeysuckle White.||How Far in Advance to Buy a Fresh Turkey|
|Organic turkeys||I have seen 3 different brands - Foster Farms, Plainville Farms (see more in the east), or Norbest (more common in the west).||What is an Organic Turkey?|
|Smoked turkeys||They are hickory smoked turkeys with the Kirkland brand label.||How to Reheat a Smoked Turkey|
The organic turkey is cheaper than Whole Foods Market, unless you have you have a Amazon Prime membership than it's cheaper than Costco at $2:99/lb.
🦃 Additional Turkeys
The store I went to near Palm Springs, California in 2020 had these additional turkeys. I did not seen them in stores elsewhere.
|Just Cook Citrus Herb Spatchcock Turkey||$3.89/lb|
|Diestel Oven Roasted Cooked Whole Turkey||$5.29/lb|
For those intimidated by doing their own spatchcock turkey, the hard work is done for you. I have done them myself and they aren't easy to do. A chicken is so much easier. I think anyone can learn to do it.
If you do find this and decide to go with it. I recommend following Alton Brown's instructions for cooking which includes cooking the turkey directly on the rack over top of veggies and cubed bread.
Diestel turkeys are from California and usually not found in the Midwest and eastern stores. They sell many types of turkey but the ones I saw at Costco where already cooked. You may also find their heirloom turkeys in select locations in Northern California. Call store to check.
For a few years I was seeing a limit on the number of turkeys you can buy but in 2023, I didn't see any of those signs at the Costco store I was in.
💵 Price by Size
Here is a table with what you would pay by size. Whether you are having a lot of people or fewer guests you can find the turkey that is the right size for you - but don't wait till the last minute. 1.5 pounds per person is a generous serving size.
|Size||Butterball or Honeysuckle White ($.99/lb)||Organic ($3.49lb)|
🔥 Are the Smoked Turkeys Good?
If you are considering a smoked turkey, they average between 10-13 pounds. Which means you will pay $50-$65 per turkey.
Are the worth it? I finally got to try one out for myself. I thought it was pretty good. The turkey have a nice smoked flavor. It's not too little or too much. It does cost a lot more to get a smoked turkey than a raw fresh one but if you don't have a way to smoke one yourself and want to give it a try this year, it's a good option to go with.
Stevison Meat Company are the ones that provide the smoked turkeys from Costco. They are under the Kirkland Signature brand.
If you have never had the smoked turkey from Costco and plan on trying it out or you just want to learn how to cook one, check out my review of the Kirkland Smoked Turkey.
📅 How Early Can You Buy?
As soon as the turkeys are in the store you can buy them. The fresh ones won't go bad before the meal. I have never seen one at Costco that had a sell by date that was before Thanksgiving.
The smoked turkeys I found in stock before Halloween. The fresh Butterball and organic turkeys were in the store on Friday, November 10th, which is 13 days before Thanksgiving.
Will they last until Thanksgiving? Here is a look at the sell by dates on the turkeys that I found on the 10th.
- Butterball Turkey - 11/24 (day after Thanksgiving)
- Organic Turkey - 11/27
A whole turkey that is sealed up well with last you a couple weeks, so you really can't buy them too early. My suggestion would be to go the week before Thanksgiving. I find if you go right when they come out their isn't as much selection but if you want to the week right before you they should have one in any size you want.
The smaller bird tends to sell out faster. If that happens when you end up having to cook a 22 pound monster!
❓ Frequently Asked Questions
Let me answer some of the most frequent questions I get about turkey at Costco.
Do They Sell Frozen Whole Turkeys?
No, all the turkeys are fresh. The only thing you can buy frozen is a boneless turkey roast. They contain up 20% of a solution of water, sea salt, and natural flavors. That is a lot of added water! They sell for $19.49 for 4.75 pounds which comes out to about $4.10 a pound. It will cost you more money than a 19 pound whole fresh Butterball turkey.
RELATED - Fresh vs. Frozen Turkeys
Will They Go on Sale?
The price stays the same through Thanksgiving. You might be able to see them cheaper afterward but that is not guaranteed. People have reported them being $5 off for a hen size and $15 for a tom size turkey in years past.
Do They Sell Turkey Legs?
No, I haven't see any kind of turkey legs at Costco in recent years or this year.
Which is the Best Tasting?
I think this comes down to how you season it and cook it yourself the most. But if you start with an organic turkey you will probably have a better tasting bird in the end. Will you be able to really tell the difference that much? That's the real question.
What is the Largest Size?
The largest size turkey I have seen in a Costco display was just over 22 pounds. I personally don't like larger turkeys. They are more difficult to handle and take longer to cook. I say you are better off cooking two smaller turkeys at the same time if you can make it work in your oven.
If your family prefers more white-meat turkey you could pick a turkey breast up from a different store - Costco doesn't carry us the breast meat. And cook a whole turkey as well.
Do the Turkeys Contain Artificial Ingredients?
The Butterball turkeys don't contain artificial ingredients and neither do the organic ones. The smoked turkeys I am pretty confident don't have any artificial ingredients either. They are smoked for 4 to 6 hours.
Do They Contain Turkey Broth?
Broth isn't added to the turkey. However a fresh Butterball turkey does have water, salt, and spices added to it. But not actual broth itself.
Can You Order a Turkey?
Depending on the market you live in, you may be able to get same day delivery on turkey. and other Thanksgiving ingredients. You will need to check the Costco website.
You also can look into using a service like Instacart. Keep in mind all these services will probably be used to their max this year, so don't hesitate if you want to use one.
🎧 Want to learn more about buying meat in bulk at Costco? What can you do with all those large packages so that you don't waste any or you get bored with just eating the same thing? Listen to the interview we conducted with a fellow Costco lover on How to Manage Buying Bulk Costco Meat.
👨🍳 How Are You Going to Cook Your Turkey?
Every year I like to cook a turkey that is dry brined and butterflied or spatchcocked. I follow Alton Brown's method. This makes all the hard work of preparing the turkey done the Sunday before.
A fresh turkey from Costco makes it easier. I have tried to butterflied a turkey that was frozen a bit in the middle still and my hands can't take that kind of cold.
My number 1 cooking tip for a turkey is having a thermometer on hand. Here is the one I recommend:
This is the DOT® Simple Alarm Thermometer from ThermoWorks. You insert the probe into the turkey and it will tell you when it's done. This takes out all the guesswork. Even if the turkey comes with a thermometer those are set to pop when the dark meat is done but they are insert into the white meat, so when they pop the white meat is already overcooked.
🌡️ Check out my podcast episode on How to Properly Temp a Turkey to learn all about how to get a good reading on a turkey with a thermometer.
Here are some other tools you may want to have in your kitchen on Thanksgiving:
- Roasting Pan with Rack - For cooking the turkey in and finishing the gravy in
- Electric Knife - For carving the turkey, also good to slice bread
- Ricer - My secret to fluffy mashed potatoes
- Heating Pad - Can be used to keep food warm, especially good to wrap rolls or bread in
- Coffee Cup warmer - To keep the gravy warm
📖 More About Turkey You'll Want to Read
Keep your turkey education going by checking out these blog posts:
- How to Dry Brine and Butterfly a Turkey
- Dry Brined Air Fryer Turkey Breast
- How to Cook a Turkey in the Instant Pot
- How to Thaw and Brine a Turkey at the Same Time
🍽️ What to Make with Your Costco Turkey
Here are some good dishes to make along side your Costco turkey.
- Fresh Cranberry Sauce | Costco sells fresh cranberries
- Pumpkin Pie | Canned pumpkin, or you actually can make one with butternut squash instead.
- Honeycrisp for Apple Pie | Yes, Honeycrisp apples will work for a pie
- Mashed Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes Swirl | Will look beautiful on your Thanksgiving table.
- Turkey Gravy | How to make an overnight stock
- Green Bean Casserole | Find the green beans all the ingredients you need to make one at Costco. If you like the thinner beans look for the French beans.
- Dinner Rolls | Sure you can pick up a pack of already made rolls, but making them homemade can't be beat.
Are you finding different turkeys in your store or different prices? Let us know what your store has by leaving a comment below. Thanks! Also feel free to ask any question you have.