Fresh or Frozen Turkey Which is Better

The age-old question: fresh or frozen turkey which is better? The answer is not as cut and dry as you might think. Fresh turkeys are typically more expensive and they have to be cooked and consumed within a few days of purchase. They are very popular and tend to be thought of as the superior choice, but I’m not so sure. Frozen turkeys definitely have their upsides too. Read on and let’s see how they stack up!

Fresh or Frozen Turkey Which is Better


When it comes to price, frozen turkey tends to be a little bit cheaper on average than fresh turkeys. Especially when you are factoring in organic turkey. We all know that organic food, especially meat, tends to jack up the price tag quite significantly.

In the months and weeks heading into the holiday season, you should be able to find plenty of sales on frozen turkeys. But you won’t find many on fresh turkeys unless you preorder yours. The reason for this is because you should actually cook and eat your fresh turkey within a day or two of purchasing it. While you can safely keep your frozen turkey in the freezer for quite some time, allowing you to get the best deal and store it for the big day.

So when it comes to price, frozen turkey is the winner.


There are a lot of people who prefer the taste of fresh turkey to frozen turkey. Personally, I think it all depends on the recipe, the cook, and the method of cooking. For example, I prefer a smoked turkey to a traditional roasted turkey. So if you were serving a frozen smoked turkey and a fresh roasted turkey, I’m going to pick the smoked turkey. Regardless of the state it was in when it was purchased.

I really don’t find much of a difference in the taste being attributed to whether the turkey was fresh or frozen as I do with the method in which it is prepared. If you get a dry turkey, it’s a dry turkey. Whether it was fresh or frozen. Same thing with a juicy, flavorful turkey. If you prep it right, you can make it happen with either fresh or frozen. So I’m giving this one a draw!

Now if you need help making sure you get that moist, tender turkey, check out our post on how to keep a turkey from drying out.


One of the big stinkers when it comes to frozen turkey is the defrosting period. You have to let it sit in your fridge to defrost slowly over a period of a few days. While this is happening you are losing extremely valuable refrigerator real estate. Typically at a time when you can’t afford to lose fridge space! This is a little bit of a buzzkill when it comes to frozen turkey.

On the flipside, fresh turkeys must be cooked within a day or two of purchasing. Check out our post on how long to keep thawed turkey in the fridge for more info, but basically, you have to cook it relatively soon so that it doesn’t go bad. Now it still takes up room in the fridge, but it’s more of a one-nighter instead of someone moving in.

Another convenience factor is that you can buy a frozen turkey plenty of weeks ahead of time and throw it in the icebox and not have to worry about a thing until a few days before the big cook. I think that makes frozen turkey the winner when it comes to convenience. The stress of worrying whether you’ll get your hands on a good fresh bird a day before Turkey day is too much for me to be willing to gamble on.

So we have gone over a few factors here and attempted to answer the big question: fresh or frozen turkey which is better? I hope you were able to pluck a few nuggets out of here and help you decide what to go with on your big day.

If you want any other ideas for your Thanksgiving cook, check out some of these articles too:

When to Buy a Turkey for Thanksgiving

How To Make Turkey Stock For Gravy

What To Serve With Smoked Turkey

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