America’s Most Expensive Thanksgiving Turkeys by State

Photo:  rblfmr (Shutterstock)
Photo: rblfmr (Shutterstock)

Inflation has given us many reasons to celebrate Thanksgiving differently in 2022, whether that be dining out or focusing on Friendsgiving. Once again, numbers are showing that the classic notion of a picturesque Thanksgiving table with a giant stuffed turkey at the center is not the ideal path for many Americans, and a recent report from personal finance site FinanceBuzz only underlines that fact.

FinanceBuzz looked at turkey prices across the country to find out where the least and most expensive turkeys are found, on average. Researchers specifically collected data from at least three grocery stores in each state, with the stores being regional chains with multiple locations in a state, not small local grocers or national chains (both of which have their own unique pricing structure). The data focuses specifically on Butterball brand turkeys weighing between 12 and 26 lbs. The prices per pound in each grocery store were averaged to find the cost per state and multiplied by 15 pounds to determine the final rankings.

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If you live in these states, don’t buy a turkey

Per the report, residents of Hawaii can expect to pay an average of $50.35 for a 15-pound turkey. Alaskans can also expect to pay a high price, with $49.85 as the state’s average cost for a turkey. Both states’ residents will be paying more than $15 above the national average for turkey, which is $34.15, or $2.28 per pound.

Map of US with average turkey prices included
Map of US with average turkey prices included

Keep in mind that these are raw turkeys, which are supposed to be cheaper since none of the work has been done for you. Once you lug it home, you still have to put in the work of cooking these suckers. By comparison, I just walked my mother through purchasing a premade roasted turkey from Whole Foods for Thanksgiving. The turkey she purchased, which feeds four and likely weighs close to 10 pounds, cost $59.99. That turkey is prepped and ready to go; all we have to do is heat it in the oven for an hour.

Buying a raw Thanksgiving turkey in Hawaii or Alaska just isn’t worth the trouble. Because these states are so far from the continental U.S., the birds, along with any other food supplies, have a more complex shipping journey than one making its way to the Midwest. This is just one reason that Hawaii is ranked the most expensive state to live in by CNBC. Plus, FinanceBuzz notes, Alaska is the only state without a native turkey population, which adds to the difficulty and cost of snagging one for Thanksgiving.

The cheapest Thanksgiving turkeys in America

Those living in Mississippi, Texas, Utah, Iowa, or Florida will find the least expensive turkeys. Mississippians can expect to pay an average of $26.35 for a 15-pounder, which is about $7 less than the national average. In both Texas and Utah the average turkey price is $28.30, and in Iowa it’s still under $30 at $29.10.

I usually wouldn’t tell people how to spend their holidays—you can and should celebrate however you want. But looking at these turkey prices, I highly encourage certain swaths of the country to take a nontraditional approach. Thursday, November 24 does not have to be Turkey Day. Maybe Thanksgiving is smoked ham day, or salmon, or even lobster. Turkey can take a backseat this year.


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