Just like chickens, turkeys lay eggs. But when it comes to the grocery store and restaurant menus, turkey eggs are conspicuously absent. Although the first thought may be that they aren't edible, the lack of these eggs in the market is due to a combination of other factors. If you are interested in trying turkey eggs, which are similar in taste to chicken eggs, there are ways to purchase them.
Turkey Eggs vs. Chicken Eggs
Turkey and chicken eggs share some similarities but are also very different from each other. Turkey eggs are quite a bit bigger than chicken eggs—more than 50 percent larger. Whereas a chicken egg weighs about 50 grams, a turkey egg comes in at about 90 grams, similar to the size of duck eggs.
When it comes to taste, it's generally agreed that these two types of eggs taste about the same, although turkey eggs are often described as being creamier. The membrane between the turkey eggshell and egg is thicker, as is the eggshell itself, which requires a sharp blow to crack. Turkey eggshells can be white, cream-colored, brown, or speckled.
One aspect that differentiates these eggs is the nutritional breakdown. A turkey egg provides almost double the calories, protein, and fat as a chicken egg, partly due to its larger size.
Turkey Egg Nutrition
A single turkey egg contains 135 calories (compared with about 72 for a chicken egg), about 11 grams of protein (vs. 6 grams), and 9 grams of fat (vs. 5 grams). Notably, a turkey egg contains more than twice as much cholesterol (933 milligrams vs. 372 milligrams) as a chicken egg.
The Economics of Turkey Eggs
Unless you know someone who raises their own turkeys, turkey eggs are extremely difficult to find. The reason for that comes down to economics, which in turn is a function of the turkey's fertility cycle. For starters, turkeys lay about 100 eggs per year, compared to about 350 chicken eggs laid per year.
Moreover, turkeys are bigger and require more space and more food, which means it's more expensive to raise turkeys. Turkeys also take longer to start laying eggs, beginning at around 28 weeks of age as opposed to around 20 weeks for chickens. To put that in context, a turkey is ready for slaughter at 14 to 18 weeks, meaning it requires and additional 10 to 14 weeks of feeding before it ever lays a single egg. When the turkey does finally start laying, it's at a rate of around just two eggs per week, compared to one chicken egg a day.
Why Don't We Eat Turkey Eggs?
When you take the higher cost of production plus the longer time required and combine it with the relative scarcity of the eggs, what you end up with are turkey eggs that cost around $2 to $3 per egg, or up to $36 per dozen. Since there is virtually no market for $3 eggs, farmers opt to raise their turkeys for meat rather than eggs and use their hens' eggs for producing more turkeys rather than for consumption.
A single turkey egg contains as much cholesterol as 34 strips of bacon or four sticks of butter. However, that needn't deter you. Research has found that cholesterol from eggs doesn't increase risk for cardiovascular disease.
Where to Buy Turkey Eggs
If you're determined, you can find turkey eggs, but not at the grocery store. Instead, try farmers markets or, better yet, reach out to the local farms that raise heritage turkeys and ask if they sell turkey eggs.
Egg, whole, raw, fresh. USDA Agricultural Research Service. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171287/nutrients. Published 2021. Accessed October 22, 2021.
Egg, turkey, whole, fresh, raw. USDA Agricultural Research Service. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172192/nutrients. Published 2021.
McNamara DJ. The fifty year rehabilitation of the egg. Nutrients. 2015;7(10):8716-8722.