Learn how far in advance you need to order a turkey if you are going to order one to be shipped to your house. I also have tips on what to look for.
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How early can you order a turkey online? You will start seeing most listings for turkeys in October. Many companies won't ship the turkey until closer to Thanksgiving, which is great if you don't want to store a turkey for over a month but you don't want to miss out on the best choices.
What if you want to buy your turkey online instead of in a grocery store? Typically this isn't to save money but to get yourself a top, high quality turkey for the biggest meal of the year.
When should you be ordering it? And what are some things you'll want to know before you decide on your turkey. Let's give you all those answers.
🛒 When to Order
As soon as listings go live, you will want to make your move that way you have the most options. Just as you see in the grocery store, the smaller turkeys will go first. You don't want to end up with a 22 pound more expensive turkey if that's not what you want.
In 2023, I got an email from Porter Road that they were having an early bird special. That email came on October 20th, a whole month before Thanksgiving. For 3 days they offered 10% off their pasture-raised turkey.
When you order a turkey online, whoever you order from doesn't necessarily send the turkey immediately. They will send it to you in time to arrive for Thanksgiving. Some places will choose the date, and some send them all out at the same time. If frozen it should arrive with plenty of time for you to thaw your turkey.
This isn't true with all companies. Some will send it immediately. In that case if you don't want to store it you need to "risk it" and wait until closer to Thanksgiving.
Here is a table that shows you what some of the popular online turkeys are shipped.
|Company||Time of Shipment|
|Porter Road||Turkeys arrive the weekend before Thanksgiving|
|D'Artagnan||Friday, November 17, 2023 through Tuesday, November 21, 2023|
|Fossil Farms||Anytime, but require Next Day UPS Air if you want shipping for week of Thanksgiving.|
|Williams-Sonoma||Turkeys will arrive by November 22|
|Rastelli's||No particularly ship date mentioned, order anytime|
|Omaha Steaks||No particularly ship date mentioned, order anytime|
👀 What to Look For
When you are ordering a turkey online, here are some things you should take under consideration.
- Most important is that your turkey is going to arrive safe to eat. It needs to remain at the proper temperature during shipment. Find out how the company packs the turkey. What materials do they use to keep it fresh. Is it shipped frozen? Even if you ship frozen parts of the turkey will start to thaw during shipment and those parts can't go above 40 degrees, which is when harmful bacteria can begin to grow.
- Next, you need to know when you turkey is going to arrive. It's best to get it inside and refrigerated as soon as you receive it. Ask a neighbor to hold it for you if you aren't going to be home.
- It is going to arrive in time for Thanksgiving? That must include time for the turkey to thaw if shipped frozen. You can do a quick thaw in you need it but you will need to be prepared for that with a 5 gallon bucket and a pound of ice. Wherever you choose make sure you know the date they ship.
- What can you find out about how the turkey was raised? If you are going to go through the trouble and increased cost you want to know everything you can about the turkey. You want quality. A question you should ask was the turkey pastured raised? You don't want to just end up with the same quality turkey you could have gotten in the grocery store.
- Will it feed my crowd? Make sure you get the right amount of turkey so you have plenty. You don't want people to feel like they can't eat as much as they want. If you are concerned you always could do a turkey breast as well and have extra white meat. I have an easy recipe for an Instant Pot Turkey Breast that is quick and tasty.
- Look at shipping costs to determine what the turkey is going to cost you. Check to see if they charge more money to ship a larger bird.
- You can order a smoked turkey if you like to. Those are already cooked so you just need to re-heat them. I wouldn't recommend buying a turkey that is already cooked if it's not smoked, it's not worth the cost. Smoked turkeys may be if you don't have a way to smoke one yourself.
- Try to support a small business when shopping for your turkey. Does your source say what farm the turkey is coming from?
🦃 My Recommendation
My go to source for get meat online is Porter Road. They have a butcher shop in Nashville that I have had the pleasure of touring with their co-founder James Peisker. I have done several orders with them and have loved their unique offerings like Pork Brisket, Dry Aged Hot Dogs and Teres Major steak.
I asked James about how they source their turkeys. Here is what he said:
We at Porter Road try extremely hard to choose the right farmer partners to buy animals from. We met our current poultry farmer over 8 years ago, long before we ever launched online. When we first went out to Samuels farm he was renting a small plot of land and raising chicken out on pasture that was right by the side of the road. We knew Samuel was going to be our guy because of the passion he had when he talked about his animals.
They were not just inventory to him. He looked at raising poultry as a mutually beneficial relationship. He would care for the birds to the best of his ability, give them a nice life, and in return they would help revitalize his farm and produced amazing tasting and healthy meat.
We were able to help Jolly Barnyard grow from renting a small plot of land to owning a large farm. He now has the ability to raise his birds out on his own pasture and help rejuvenate his own land for his family for years to come.
He raised birds the hard way, out on pasture with no antibiotics or growth promoters. He feeds them non-gmo grain because he says the birds are healthier that way. He says he can prove it by showing you the difference in their poop.
If the birds do happen to get sick, he used old methods to bring them back to health, like raw garlic in their feed. He cares for his animals in it shows in the end product.James Peisker, Co-Founder of Porter Road
💡 Top Cooking Tip
If you are going to invest in buying a high quality turkey then you certainly don't want to mess it up. Whenever someone asks me how long they should cook their turkey I always reply don't cook to time, cook to temperature. You want to have a quality thermometer on hand.
The one that I use for cooking turkeys is the DOT® Simple Alarm Thermometer from ThermoWorks. I have purchased several cheap alarm thermometers over the years and the probe always wears out before the unit goes bad. I have found this one to be more reliable, easy to read, and accurate.
Looking for a turkey recipe? I love doing the Dry Brined, Spatchcock method from Alton Brown.
I never put a turkey or any type of meat in an oven without using it. It's a huge advantage and stress reducer to know the exact temperature of the meat while it cooks.