How Far In Advance to Buy a Fresh Turkey

(Last Updated On: November 24, 2015)


Welcome to my 2015 Thanksgiving Q&A series. I will be answering questions asked by the readers of my blog. You can check out all the posts in this series by clicking on the Thanksgiving Q&A 2015 tag.

Costco Turkey Thanksgiving Prices 2015

Question – How Far In Advance to Buy a Fresh Turkey?

So you have decided that you want to go with a fresh turkey this year. You may be wondering how long does a fresh turkey keep, especially if you are use to a frozen turkey that you just defrost and then cook immediately. It won’t last indefinitely. You need to treat it as you would any other poultry. A fresh turkey should have a sell by date on it. I asked a couple of my favorite turkey farms their thoughts on the manner. The general consensus was that a fresh turkey bought in the store should be cooked within 3 to 5 days. Now if you buy your turkey directly from the source you have a lot more time, up to 10 days. If you want to buy your turkey far in advance of Thanksgiving, go directly to the source. Find a nearby turkey farm.

The reason the grocery store turkey has a shorter shelf life, is that takes time to get from farm to store. The turkey probably had to go through the store’s distribution center before it even arrived at the store. Then it has to make it out to the sales floor. I recommend that you buy your fresh turkey as close to Thanksgiving as you can. Tuesday morning (hey that’s right now) would be a great time to head to the store to buy it. You don’t want to wait too last minute or your selection might not be what you want. A lot of stores will reserve a turkey for you so that you can be guaranteed to get what you want and when you want it. If you want to get it the day before, I would recommend reserving it. Even if it’s past their deadlines you can still call a store and ask them what they have in stock and see if they will set something aside for you. Any store with good customer service should be more than willing to help.