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Sure, you can go to the grocery store and buy a basic frozen turkey, but it's no secret there are many more choices available online. You can find everything from heritage birds that are not at all like the ones you see at the grocery store to cooked birds that you simply have to heat, slice, and serve. Whether you’re craving something different or simply looking for a free-range and organic bird, you can order online and make the dinner exactly what you want. Even better, many of these sellers offer great turkeys all year long.
We ordered turkeys online and sent them to the homes of our experienced testers and editors so they could evaluate the taste and presentation. Each turkey (or turducken) was rated on the delivery process, freshness, taste, and ease of preparation. We collected additional insights on how long preparation and thawing take so you can decide exactly when to order your bird. Whether you're looking for a turkey for a large family gathering, looking for something to save you time in the kitchen, or you want to experiment with something a little different this year, our list of mail order turkeys has an option for you.
Here are the best mail order turkeys to help you enjoy a delicious feast.
Best Overall: D’Artagnan Turkeys
Farm-raised heritage birds
Wild and organic available
Smoked breasts available
D'Artagnan has earned a reputation as one of the best places to buy mail order turkeys and other gourmet meats. D'Artagnan's turkeys are all farm-raised. In fact, each farmer D'Artagnan works with signs an agreement saying they will never use antibiotics or added hormones. The company offers organic birds, heritage turkeys, bone-in-turkey breast, and even wild turkey, ranging in size from 8 to 24 pounds.
Whether you are looking to change it up or you waited until the last minute and the turkey of your choice isn't available, D'Artagnan also offers some tasty Thanksgiving alternatives. We spoke to D'Artagnan's founder Ariane Daguin and she recommends capon as her number one turkey alternative. "It’s actually the favorite holiday bird for most of Europe!" she explains. "Capon is easy to make, just like roasting a chicken, but it’s bigger—at about 8 pounds—and so tender and juicy."
"You really can't go wrong when you order from D'Artagnan. Any of the meats you can choose from are high quality and the shipping process is pretty seamless. I've ordered a few things and have yet to be disappointed." — Julia Warren, VP of Commerce
Best Fresh: Williams Sonoma Turkey
One-stop-shop for food and accessories
Turkeys are chilled, but not fully frozen
Sides and complete dinners also available
Can't be picked up at stores
Williams Sonoma may not be the name you think of when it comes to turkeys, but the store has the connections to get a fresh turkey shipped right to your door. Order fresh or select a pre-cooked option including smoked, roasted and herb-roasted whole turkeys, stuffed turkey breast, and more. They’re shipped directly from the farms they were raised on and arrive chilled, so there’s no need for thawing.
Best Roast: Rastelli’s Oven-Ready Turkey Breast Roast
Simple to prepare
Removing roast from bag and netting is tricky
This family-run business raises its turkey on American Humane Association-certified family farms in North Carolina, and the meat is antibiotic-, steroid-, and hormone-free. If you’re looking for a turkey dinner that’s as easy to make as it is fresh and delicious, Rastelli’s has you covered with its pre-seasoned, all-white meat turkey breast roast. Between 5 and 5.5 pounds, this roast is enough meat to feed a small group, and the preparation couldn’t be more simple.
Shipped frozen, the turkey will need to thaw in the refrigerator for two to three days—meaning you'll want this in your fridge by the Monday night/Tuesday morning before Thanksgiving. We sent one to our editor, who said it took well over 48 hours to thaw. Then, keep it in the bag, place it in a roasting pan, and pop it into the oven for around two hours or until the internal temperature of the roast reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Our editor was impressed with both the ease of preparation and the taste, although she recommends adding your own gravy—a good accompaniment no matter the turkey breast.
If you don't have a roasting pan, you can get away with putting it in a baking dish, which is what our editor did for her testing. Plus, cooking it in the bag means no basting. The only difficult part of the whole process, according to our test editor, was removing it from the bag and the netting once it cooled. We'd recommend two people for this task, especially if you want to salvage the drippings for gravy. The instructions also include a recipe for making gravy from the drippings, which is another bonus our editor enjoyed.
Our test editor highly recommends this roast for a small Thanksgiving dinner, anyone preparing the meal for the first time, or someone who really wants to sleep in on the big day. If you're looking for some appetizers or side dishes, Rastelli's has you covered there as well, with options like bacon wrapped scallops, mac & cheese, and mashed potatoes.
"I would say that, as someone who once got a terrible pre-cooked turkey, I would lay out the money for this one from Rastelli's if I were to have a small Thanksgiving dinner (3-4 people). The cooking was extremely easy to handle and the taste is just what you want on Turkey Day." — Siobhan Wallace, Editor
Best Ham and Turkey Sampler: Harry & David Sliced Ham and Turkey Sampler
Preparation is easy
Nice smoky flavor
Great for gifting
Turkey tasted slightly salty
Known for fruit baskets and nut selections, Harry and David is also one of the best places to order turkey and ham online. The pre-sliced ham and turkey sampler lets you enjoy the best smoked meats of the season. We sent a sampler to one of our editors to test and she gave both the ham and the turkey high marks for flavor and freshness. It arrives pre-sliced so all you have to do is take it out of the refrigerator and heat it on the big day.
If you're someone who gets more excited about sides than the turkey, this sampler could be the perfect addition to your table. You can spend all your time on cranberry, dressing, and casseroles and still have a delicious choice of meat to round out your meal. It's also ideal for next-day sandwiches and would make a great gift for someone any time of the year.
If you're looking around the rest of the site, you can also buy a complete meal, so you won’t even have to worry about side dishes. The fun doesn’t stop there—you can pick up some relish, buy a platter to serve the food on, or pick up an extra dessert or two.
"I really enjoyed the smoky flavor of both the ham and the turkey, and the convenience cannot be beaten. If you want to save hours on prep time, this should be your go-to. I'd recommend this to anyone who doesn't want their entire day to be about cooking a turkey. It's the perfect low-maintenance addition to a table full of delicious sides." — Mary Kate Hoban, Senior Editor
Best Free-Range: Fossil Farms Turkey Whole Bird
Large range of turkey sizes
Very flavorful turkey
Well packed for shipping
Prepared foods are local delivery only
No cooking instructions
Fossil Farms sells turkeys raised in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where they are free to roam and fed a vegetarian diet that includes a variety of grains. These Nicholas breed turkeys are never given antibiotics, steroids, or hormones.
Turkeys are available in a wide variety of sizes, from 8 pounds up to 28 pounds, so you can find the size you need to feed just about any size of family. Other options from the company include game birds, ostrich, and goose.
We sent our tester a 9-pound bird that came well-packed and still mostly frozen, despite a one-day delay in shipping. There were no cooking instructions included, so our tester was on her own for time and temperature, but this wasn’t a problem since turkey recipes abound online, and meat thermometers in the breast and thigh worked well to alert when the bird was done. Compared to grocery store birds, our tester found this one much more flavorful. Of course, the turkey stock made from the bones and bits was incredibly flavorful as well.
"This is not a standard grocery store turkey, that's for sure. The flavor was much deeper—more turkey-like. The stock I made from the bones and bits was outstanding." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Turducken: Gourmet Butcher Block The All-Madden Turducken
Free shipping only in selected states
This turducken came to fame thanks to former NFL coach and sportscaster John Madden. Dubbed the official food of the 1997 "All-Madden Team," this hefty dish features two layers of sausage stuffing and one layer of cornbread dressing jam-packed inside a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey. That may sound like a lot—because it is. Weighing in at 16 to 18 pounds, this monster bird can serve 20 to 25 people.
We sent one to the home of one of our editors, who was impressed with the quick and smooth delivery process as well as the ease of preparation. Turduckens take a minimum of 18 hours to defrost at room temperature and up to five days in the fridge, so plan accordingly. One thing to note is that it arrives without directions, but there are ample instructions on the Goldbelly website for storage, defrosting, and roasting. Our test editor roasted her turducken according to those instructions, and her meat came out perfect. She recommends adding about 2 cups of water to the roasting pan in the last hour—combined with the pan drippings this creates a gorgeous, flavorful sauce and makes for easier cleanup.
Our editor appreciated the fact that you do not have to deal with any bones, aside from the wings (which you can save to make turkey stock). Then, you simply cut in half lengthwise and carve to reveal all three types of meat and stuffing.
"If you find the typical Thanksgiving roast turkey bland, this is a great alternative. The Cajun seasoning is tasty with subtle peppery-ness but not overpowering. And the turkey breast came out moist without my having to do anything to it." — Adriana Velez, Senior Editor
Best Smoked Whole Bird: Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Whole Turkey
Great alternative to traditional turkey
Amazing smoke flavor
No cooking required
No fresh birds
Skin is chewy rather than crisp
If you’re looking for a smoked turkey, why not get it from a company that specializes in smoked foods, such as Nueske’s? You can choose a whole applewood smoked turkey, a smoked turkey breast with or without a honey glaze, or a combo of ham and smoked turkey breast for even more variety. Tired of turkey? You can also find applewood smoked chicken breasts or duck.
The applewood smoked turkey we tested didn’t require any cooking, which made it incredibly easy to prepare—just thaw and serve. It can be heated if desired, but cool or room temperature smoked turkey is delicious, and it's easy to warm serving sizes rather than the whole bird. The dark meat on the bird was very similar to ham, so it’s great for the family members who aren’t fans of turkey. The white meat was a bit more subtle, but still full of smoke flavor and made great sandwiches. The stock this made had the cured and smoked flavor, making it perfect for bean or pea soup.
Just like home-smoked birds, the skin on this was chewy rather than crisp, so our tester ended up peeling it off rather than serving. It wasn’t a total loss, though, since the skin was a fine addition to the stock pot.
"This was one of the best turkeys I've had, but it's certainly not traditional. The dark meat was very much like ham, so it's great for people who've had it with traditional birds." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Pre-Cooked: Burgers' Smokehouse Hickory Smoked Whole Turkey
Fast and easy to prepare
Great hickory smoked flavor
Several sizes of turkeys
Risk of overcooking
No drippings for gravy
Whether you want a whole turkey, half turkey, or turkey breast, Burger’s Smokehouse has you covered—plus this fully-cooked hickory-smoked turkey makes the holidays easy. Serve it hot or cold, and pair it with the brand's side dishes and desserts for a complete meal.
Our tester's 10-pound bird shipped quickly and arrived frozen and packaged in a styrofoam box with dry ice—no signature required at delivery. The instructions included were brief, as the preparation of this turkey is super simple. After thawing for a couple of days in the fridge, it took less than two hours to heat. Just remove the plastic seal, wrap the turkey in aluminum foil, and pop it into the oven; no other prep is required. You can also use a roaster with a cover or a baking bag.
The finished product was delicious and flavorful, especially considering the ease and speed of preparation. However, our tester did note that "because it is pre-cooked, there is a risk of overdoing the meat, and I did experience a few bites that were a bit too tough."
"This turkey was savory and perfectly smoked—wonderful when served with mashed potatoes and stuffing or on a sandwich." — Taysha Murtaugh, Editorial Director
Best for Large Families: Elmwood Stock Farm Organic, Pasture-Raised Turkey
Large variety of sizes
Samplers and bundle
Stock/broth items available
No sides or desserts
When you’re feeding a large family, Elmwood Stock Farm has enough turkey to go around. You can choose heritage or big-breasted turkeys in a variety of weights; you can serve one large 20-pounder, or choose two or three smaller turkeys, depending on your cooking setup. With this many choices, you’ll have exactly what you need, no many how many folks you’re feeding.
Best Cajun Style: Cajun Grocer Premium Turducken with Cornbread Stuffing
Cooking instructions included
No fresh turkeys
For anyone looking to bring some savory spices to dinner, Cajun Grocer offers turduckens featuring flavorful fillings such as seafood jambalaya, cornbread stuffing, and Creole pork sausage. Serving couldn’t be easier: You simply slice straight through to see the layers, with no bones in the way.
For a smaller gathering, you can get a smaller turducken roll, where the outer layer is just a turkey breast instead of the whole bird. For an even smaller option, there are stuffed, partially deboned chickens, or you can choose a Cajun stuffed pork tenderloin for something completely different.
We sent our tester a turducken stuffed with cornbread stuffing. Cooking instructions are included, as well as carving instructions, but our tester found that the timing was slightly off. Both the thawing and cooking took longer than anticipated, based on the thermometer used. While the instructions suggested three days for thawing, our tester didn't feel confident it was completely thawed until five days, but it will depend on your refrigerator and the size of the bird you order.
Once done, the bird needs a long rest, and then it’s cut horizontally and then cut in slices for serving. As far as taste, our tester found it delicious and just a bit spicy. She raved about the cornbread stuffing, but there are plenty of other stuffings available to choose from and some are probably much spicier for those who want a real kick. The only bones in this bird are the wings, so there wasn’t much to make stock from, but with those wings and the drippings, our tester ended up with a unique Cajun-flavored stock.
"This was unique and quite tasty. I think it would work well for people who like traditional turkey as well as more adventurous folks." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Check out D'Artagnan (view at D'Artagnan) for a gourmet selection of old-breed turkeys sustainably raised on free-range farms. Or, for a smaller Thanksgiving meal that takes a little less effort than cooking an entire bird, the roast from Rastelli's (view at Rastelli's) received rave reviews from our tester for both taste and ease of preparation.
How We Tested
We spent months researching the best options for mail order turkeys of all sizes, as well as alternatives to traditional Thanksgiving turkey options. We then ordered several turkeys to the homes of our experienced product testers and editors so that they could prepare them and provide feedback. They rated each turkey (or sampler or turducken) on the delivery process, freshness, taste, and ease of preparation. We used our research and the testing data to determine placement on this list.
What to Look for in Mail Order Turkeys
How many people are you feeding? Some companies offer a variety of turkey sizes, while others only have one, so you’ll need to calculate how much meat is necessary before you order. The general rule of thumb is you need 1 pound of turkey per guest if you don’t want any leftovers; plan for 1.5 pounds per guest if you want to have meat to spare.
When it comes to mail-order turkeys, you typically have two options: a precooked bird that just needs to be reheated or a frozen or uncooked turkey that you have to prepare yourself. The best option for you ultimately depends on how much work you want to do.
Many companies offer pre-cooked turkeys that are seasoned in various ways. Some are hickory-smoked, some are apple-smoked, and some are even fried. Consider what else you’re serving to find the perfect turkey flavor to round out the meal.
How much turkey should you order per person?
The general rule when buying a whole turkey is 1 pound of turkey per person. That seems like a lot of meat for a single diner to eat, but a whole turkey has a lot of inedible bones to consider. Of course, if you’re looking forward to lots of leftovers and a big pot of soup, or if you like to give leftovers to guests, it’s fine to buy a larger bird and enjoy turkey sandwiches for days.
What is a heritage turkey?
A heritage turkey may be from one of many breeds of turkey that are closer to their wild ancestors—but they’re still domesticated. A heritage breed turkey is likely to have a much smaller breast and may have a stronger flavor than the big-breasted birds that are found in the supermarket.
What is the difference between free-range and organic turkeys?
Free-range turkeys have access to the outdoors. This doesn’t mean, however, that they spend a lot of time outside—they simply have to have access for this label to be applied, and they can get most or all of their food supplied by the farmer. Pasture-raised turkeys sound like they’d be similar to free-range, but they have more freedom and are raised on food they get outdoors, and are not supplemented with grain. Organic turkeys may be free-range, but they don’t have to be. Organic turkeys are raised on an organic diet, which may be supplied entirely by the farmer. They can also graze on organic pasture. In addition to organic food, these turkeys are never given antibiotics.
How long does it take to thaw a frozen turkey?
It takes one day for every 4 pounds of frozen turkey to thaw in the refrigerator. The outside of the turkey may feel thawed in less time, but the thicker areas and joints take longer. Turkeys should never be thawed on the counter at room temperature. If the turkey needs to be thawed quickly, it can be placed in a sink full of cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes. If the turkey is too large to stay submerged, it should be turned every 30 minutes. It will take a minimum of 30 minutes for each pound of turkey, so this still isn’t quick—a 12-pound turkey will take about six hours.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a cookbook author as well as a writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats, specializing in all the latest kitchen gadgets. When the local butcher comes up short, Donna Currie knows where to find what she needs online. She’s ordered from half of the companies on this list on her own, and she personally prepared and tested three of the turkey options on this list for The Spruce Eats.
This roundup was updated by Sharon Lehman, a home cook, registered dietitian nutritionist, and freelance writer for The Spruce Eats, where she specializes in small kitchen appliance reviews.