Believe it or not, the holiday season is upon us. Soon, we will all be throwing get-togethers, spending cherished time with friends and family, and, of course, sitting down to gluttonous dinners. While there are always plenty of tasty options on the Thanksgiving table—from mashed potatoes to the green bean casserole—for most of us, a flawlessly executed, juicy turkey, is the undisputed star of the show.
But, where is the best place to buy this oh-so-important main course? A standard grocery store? Or, a local butcher, perhaps? We went straight to the source and asked chefs, cooks, and other experienced foodies to weigh in with their expert takes on the matter. Most overwhelmingly agree that ordering your turkey ahead of time directly from a farm, market, restaurant, or another online service, is the superior method. This way, you'll avoid the last-minute mad dash at the grocery store and the ransacked bins with just a few sad turkeys left—a scenario that is even more imminent this year amidst a possible turkey shortage.
Instead, stick with the experts, and check out a few of the best, vetted places you can pre-order your turkey during the 2022 holiday season.
Don't let the one-sided name fool you. Omaha Steaks has been delivering delicious meats of all kinds since its inception over a century ago–including whole turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. Chef David Rose—Food Network personality and Executive Chef with Omaha Steaks—may be a little biased, but says that Omaha is the perfect one-stop shop for your turkey and beyond.
"Omaha Steaks makes it easy for people to order their Thanksgiving meal with convenient delivery anywhere in the United States," he says. "It's a great alternative to the hassle of hoping you'll find a turkey at the store, and made easy with the right size and sides, or whatever you need."
He says that Omaha plans ahead with suppliers in order to have a stockpile of turkeys on deck for the busy season, and all orders come with a 100% unconditional guarantee. Options from the company include an 8-pound Smoked Whole Turkey, 10-pound Whole Basted Turkey, or, for those who are more adventurous, a 32-ounce Turkey Roulade. According to Rose, what really makes these Omaha turkeys stand out is the "flash-freeze" method used to preserve them. He says this technique "locks in peak flavor, tenderness, and juiciness as butchers intend."
Elmwood Stock Farm
Melissa Oleary, the mind behind cooking and recipe blog Keeping It Simple, lists Kentucky's Elmwood Stock Farm as her number one choice for all her turkey needs. She orders online because she prefers heritage breed turkeys which are harder to come by at typical grocery stores. She says this turkey variety, which Elmwood delivers nationwide, is "better tasting (deeper richer flavor) opposed to just organic or free range birds."
"You can order them online and you are buying directly from the farm which I like," Oleary adds. "You take care of all the brining and seasoning at home with their turkey orders." All turkey products from Elmwood Stock Farm are organic, pasture-based, and supplemented with non-GMO organic grains. Whole turkey options include the Organic Heritage Breed, Oleary's favorite, and the Organic Broad-Breasted Turkey.
Pure breed heritage turkeys from Heritage Foods come in as a strong number two for Oleary. She says the company's turkeys, and other heritage meats, are full of flavor and can also be delivered right to your door.
Heritage Foods claims to be America's best tasting and oldest line of poultry, and puts a strong emphasis on humane farming techniques. On the Heritage website, you can order your fresh heritage turkeys in sizes ranging from 8 pounds all the way up to 22 pounds, and pre-order for Thanksgiving delivery on either Thursday, Nov. 17 or Tuesday, Nov. 22.
If you're looking to order a whole turkey plus all the other necessary Thanksgiving sides and fixin's, then HelloFresh may be your best bet, according to nutritionist Lisa Richards.
"HelloFresh is offering a Thanksgiving special that can take the pressure off the meal and allow you to focus on your guests," she shares. "This kit comes with turkey, five side dishes, and a dessert. There is an option to add on additional sides and an appetizer as well."
The all-inclusive turkey meal kit serves 8-10 people and rings up at $18.99 per person. Richards also notes that the whole roasted turkey does take four days to thaw, so make sure to plan ahead!
Higher-End Local Grocer
Shirlene Kyin, director of operations at nutrition and meal replacement company Soylent, prefers to go the grocery store route, and specifically recommends the organic health chain Natural Grocers, available across 20 states west of the Mississippi River. The store sells the brand Mary's Turkeys in several varieties, including a pre-cooked oven-roasted one.
"Natural Grocers can be a great place to preorder a turkey," Kyin says. "This is especially the case for those looking for organic meat or concerned about the ethics of the meat trade, since Natural Grocers' turkeys are all free range and organic." Unfortunately, Natural Grocers is no longer accepting online turkey reservations for Thanksgiving 2022, but they may still be available in stores.
Alison Cayne, founder of cooking school and sauce company Haven's Kitchen, agrees that if you're looking to order a turkey from a grocery store, a less "conventional" market is the way to go. She points to chains such as Wegmans, Sprouts, Whole Foods, and The Fresh Market as other great choices for their fresh and more sustainable options.
Along with curated packages of high-quality meat, Butcher Box can also deliver whole turkeys for your Thanksgiving feast. Plus, you don't even need a membership to order. Cayne shares that the company's commitment to quality and rigorous standards as a certified B-Corp, makes it a great online ordering option.
Audrey Sommer, food writer and creator of the blog Audreythena: Food Goddess, is a fan of Butcher Box for a few different reasons. "Butcher Box is great because you can get free shipping on your orders, and the turkey is pretty reasonably priced for a delivery service," she says. "At Butcher Box, you can buy just a turkey, or opt for the Turkey Box or Turkey Feast. This includes a turkey, ground Italian sausage, Charcuterie variety pack, and boneless turkey breast."
Williams-Sonoma is another popular answer among food experts. Yes, the company does in fact sell food in addition to high-quality cookware, bakeware, and other kitchen essentials. And, according to Sommer, the store's fresh, fully-cooked turkeys are to die for. She points out that Williams-Sonoma offers full Thanksgiving meals as well to round out your entire menu. The meals serve anywhere from 4 to 12 people, and include various sides like sausage cranberry stuffing, bacon mac and cheese, and pumpkin or pecan pies.
Food writer and recipe developer behind Scratch Market, Dee Broughton, also praised the fried whole turkeys from the company. Both a mild and spicy version of Williams-Sonoma's 9- to 11-pound Cajun Deep-Fried Turkey are currently available for $169.95 each. They arrive fully cooked so all you need to do is thaw and then warm in the oven before serving—a feature which Broughton highly prefers. "With this option, I can solely focus on my side dishes, desserts and any other meats I've added to the holiday menu," she says.
Or, Try This Alternative Instead
The USDA has predicted a turkey shortage for the 2022 holiday season due to this year's outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). In order to avoid the potential scramble and inevitably higher prices, Chef Sean Mclendon suggests a slight change of plans for your Thanksgiving dinner: chicken.
Mclendon is Head of Culinary Innovation at Farmer Focus, a family company which prides itself on the humane treatment of its chickens and its traceable farms. In order to convince you why a whole chicken may be a better choice this year, and maybe for years to come, he also points out that chickens take less time to cook and are perfect for a more intimate family gathering. Farmer Focus sells its chickens through the site Crowd Cow, and whole chickens—as well as other options like chicken breasts, thighs, drumsticks, or even ground chicken—can easily be purchased to be shipped nationally.