Turkeys lay eggs just like chickens, but can you eat turkey eggs? And if so, why do we not see them at the grocery store? The answer is yes, you can eat turkey eggs, and yes, they're good. But finding them is another matter. Here's everything you need to know about turkey eggs.
Turkey Eggs vs Chicken Eggs
Turkey eggs are laid by female turkeys, and the first thing you'll notice about them is that they're quite a bit bigger than chicken eggs—more than 50 percent larger, in fact. That makes them similar to the size of duck eggs.
A turkey egg weighs about 90 grams compared with about 50 grams for a chicken egg. And they're not just bigger in size. They also contain more protein, fat, and cholesterol than chicken eggs. A single turkey egg contains 135 calories, compared with 75 for a chicken egg; 11 grams of protein (vs. 6 grams); and 9 grams of fat (vs. 5 grams). In other words, a turkey egg provides almost double the calories, protein, and fat as a single chicken egg.
Notably, a turkey egg contains nearly four times as much cholesterol (737 mg vs 207 mg) as a chicken egg. The daily recommended amount of cholesterol is 300 mg per day. So eating a turkey egg means consuming more than double the recommended daily amount of cholesterol in a single sitting.
What Do Turkey Eggs Taste Like?
Some tasters report that turkey eggs have a creamier flavor, which is also one of the ways the flavor of ducks eggs is described relative to chicken eggs—probably due to the higher proportion of fat. But by and large, most people report that turkey eggs taste just like chicken eggs.
Turkey eggs also resemble duck eggs in that their shells are much thicker than chicken eggs and require a sharp blow to crack them. The shells themselves can be white, cream-colored, brown, or speckled.
Why Don't We Eat Turkey Eggs?
They're also hard to find. 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 with about 350 per year—around one a day—that chickens lay.
Moreover, turkeys are bigger and require more space and more food, which means it's more expensive to raise turkeys. They also take longer to start laying eggs. Turkeys start laying eggs at around 32 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. So that's an additional 12 to 18 weeks of feeding a turkey before it ever lays a single egg. When it does finally start laying, it's at a rate of around just two eggs per week.
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 end up costing around $3 per egg, or $36 per dozen.
Keep in mind that female turkeys will lay eggs whether or not they have mated with a male. If they mate and the egg is fertilized, it produces a fertile egg that will hatch into a chick. The decision has to be made beforehand, and 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.
Can You Buy Turkey Eggs?
If you're determined, you can absolutely buy turkey eggs. But don't expect to find them at the grocery store. Instead, try farmer's markets, or, better yet, reach out to the local farms that raise heritage turkeys and ask if they sell turkey eggs.