Guidelines for Picking a Thanksgiving Turkey

It’s nearly Turkey Day, so if you haven’t yet picked out your bird, now’s the time.

Come Thanksgiving time, the turkey aisle at the supermarket can feel overwhelming, with birds large and small, frozen and fresh, brined and plain to choose from.

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Here are some things to consider before you arrive at the grocery store:

How large is your party?

You should allot about three-quarters of a pound of turkey per person, or one pound per person if you want leftovers, says Norma Farrell, consumer education specialist at the National Turkey Federation. Most people want leftovers, Ms. Farrell says.

How long until the big meal?

Frozen turkeys (stored at zero degrees Fahrenheit) are typically cheaper than fresh turkeys and “hard-chilled” turkeys (stored at 20 degrees Fahrenheit).

But you might want to spring for the more-thawed variety if you’re cutting it close to Thursday evening; Ms. Farrell says you should ideally allow 24 hours of thaw time in the refrigerator per 4.5 pounds of turkey meat.

What’s your flavor preference?

Some turkeys come pre-brined, meaning that they are soaked in salt, with the possible additions of brown sugar, herbs, fruit or even jalapeño. You should avoid adding additional salt to pre-brined turkeys, she adds.

The most common way to cook a turkey is by oven-roasting. The next most-common are deep-frying and grilling, Ms. Farrell says.

If you plan to deep-fry or grill, make sure your turkey weighs no more than 12 or 13 pounds, she advises. You might have trouble lowering heavier birds into the oil or fitting them onto the grill.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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