Turkey: Buying, Handling & Thawing

Tips for buying the size turkey you need, handling it safely, and guidelines for thawing it.
Purchasing

What Size Bird to Buy

Herb-Butter-Roasted Turkey

  • When buying a turkey, allow 1 pound per adult serving if the bird weighs 12 pounds or less.
  • For turkeys over 12 pounds, count on 3/4 pound for each serving.
  • For boneless turkey breast, figure 1/2 pound per person.
  • If you want leftovers, buy a bird that's 2 to 4 pounds larger than the size you'll need for serving.

"Sell By" Date

  • Also check for the "sell by" date on the label of a fresh turkey. This date is the last day the turkey should be sold by the retailer.
  • The unopened turkey should maintain its quality and be safe to use for one or two days after the "sell by" date.

Frozen Turkey

  • If you buy a frozen turkey, look for packaging that is clean, undamaged, and frost-free.

Tip

  • Although not all turkeys are labeled indicating whether the bird is a hen or tom, select a hen turkey if you want more white meat and a tom if you want more dark meat.

Continued on page 2:  Safe Handling