There's Still Time to Reserve This Year's Thanksgiving Turkey (but Hurry!)

November  6, 2015

The last few months of the year come on so quickly it can feel a bit like the rug is being pulled out from under us (take it from the team here at Food52, where we were actually celebrating Christmas in July). If the speedy onset of the holiday season has caught you off guard, it's possible that you haven't ordered your Thanksgiving turkey yet. We're here to help. 


If you're thinking about opting out of a supermarket bird this year and choosing a locally raised or heritage breed turkey—or want to order any turkey to be shipped to you, or reserved to pick up from a local farmer—it's usually recommended to reserve that turkey a month before Thanksgiving Day (and sometimes even as early as October 1st). They sell out that quickly, and for good reason: Many people think heritage turkeys just taste better, and buying one often means supporting a small farmer.

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If you haven't yet ordered your turkey, there's still time! First: When you do order, plan for about 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per person, which will afford you a little bit extra for leftovers.

Go to your local farmers market and ask around:

Some farmers may still have turkeys available to reserve; usually, this means picking them up from the market a few days before Thanksgiving. FarmFresh and Local Harvest are both great farm directories that can help you find and contact local turkey farmers. And note: Buying directly from a farmer at the market is not necessarily more expensive than ordering one in the mail.

If you'd prefer to have a bird shipped to your house: 

There are still heritage, largely organic, largely free-frange turkeys available to ship anywhere in the United States from these farms and stores:

  • D’Artagnan still has free-range, heritage turkeys in a variety of sizes from little 8-pounders to hulking 20-pounders. 
  • Heritage Foods USA sells turkeys from Good Shepard Poultry Ranch in Kansas. But hurry! The turkeys are almost sold out.
  • Heritage Turkey Farm will ship their free-range, heritage turkeys, grown in Wisconsin.
  • Mary’s Free-Range Turkeys are grown in California. (They also took home the gold in Cook's Illustrated's heritage turkey taste test.) Click here for mail order options. 
  • To Table ships heritage turkeys by BN Ranch (Bill Niman's farm) in California. Order quickly, as they're beginning to sell out. 
  • Zingerman’s (yep, the Ann Arbor landmark) also ships heritage turkeys from BN Ranch in California. 

When ordering, expect to pay between $10 to $15 per pound (which is a lot, we hear you, but if you can afford it you'll be buying a happier turkey); you should also expect to select a "second-day delivery" option at checkout, since the turkeys are shipped frozen.  

If the thought of paying that much for a turkey makes you tense:

Whole Foods also has turkeys you can reserve (to pick up in store only). They're sourced from farms fairly close to the store of your choice (for example, if you live in Berkeley, California, they'll come from Diestel Turkey Ranch in Sonora, California), and you can choose from organic, free-range, and sometimes heritage turkeys. They're usually between $2.50 and $5 per pound.

Where do you get your Thanksgiving turkey? Share your tips in the comments!

Photo by Bobbi Lin

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Jessica T. November 11, 2015
In Manhattan, Brooklyn, Flushing and Long Island OurHarvest ( delivers beautiful NJ turkeys! Check us out as another option!
702551 November 6, 2015
Your local independent grocery store or butcher shop may be the best/ost convenient source for a heritage bird.

I'd bought Willie Birds and Diestels in the past.

Note that Diestel Turkey Ranch is located in *Sonora*, California, not Sonoma. Sonora is in Tuolumne County, right by Yosemite National Park and far from Sonoma.

Willie Bird Turkey Ranch is in fact in Sonoma.
Caroline L. November 8, 2015
thanks for your sharp eyes, cv! i've corrected.
702551 November 8, 2015
You're welcome. As a NorCal resident, when I switched to locally-sourced heritage birds, I wanted to know where the farms were. I remember Diestel as being the "Yosemite" turkey farm.

Very nice bird to put on the table, muy delicioso.
Amber November 6, 2015
Love you guys but it's ANN ARBOR (not Anne Arbor). ;)
Caroline L. November 6, 2015
you're right, amber! i've made the change.