What Breed of Turkey Is the One You Eat on Thanksgiving

What Breed of Turkey Is Eaten on Thanksgiving?

Last Updated on February 25, 2024 by Kimberlee Johnson

The main highlight of Thanksgiving is not the cranberry sauce or mashed potatoes, but rather the delicious and sizable turkey at the center.

But what breed of turkey is the one you eat on Thanksgiving? 

I remember the first time I had to choose the right turkey for our Thanksgiving meal. I was surprised to see different turkeys, each with special features at the store. 

So, I’ll share about Thanksgiving turkeys and find out which kind we eat on this special day.

What Breed Of Turkey Do You Eat On Thanksgiving?

Slicing Turkey

The turkey [1] you see on your Thanksgiving table is usually the Broad Breasted White. It’s the most common turkey raised for food. 

People like it because it grows fast and has a lot of meat, which is what you want for a big Thanksgiving feast. 

“Most people don’t realize turkeys are friendly, they’re social, they’re loyal, they have emotions.” 

Shannon Elizabeth, American Actress & Animal Activist

This type of turkey is at the store, making it a popular choice for the traditional Thanksgiving meal. 

So, if you’re wondering what kind of turkey is in front of you during the holiday, chances are it’s a Broad Breasted White. But how can you say “Happy Thanksgiving” in Spanish?

What Are The Five Kinds Of Turkeys?

  • Rio Grande: These turkeys call the southwestern United States home and are known for their adaptability to arid landscapes.
  • Merriam’s: Residing in the mountainous regions of the western United States, Merriam’s turkeys display strikingly white-tipped tail feathers and flourish in high-altitude environments.
  • Osceola: Also known as the Florida turkey, the Osceola turkey is exclusive to the Sunshine State, thriving in its dense forests and swamps.
  • Eastern: Dominating the eastern United States, these turkeys are the classic symbol of American Thanksgiving, featuring rich, dark plumage.
  • Gould’s: Residing in the mountains of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States, Gould’s turkeys boast vibrant plumage and a unique range.

Are Most Of The Turkeys We Eat Male Or Female?

When talking about the turkeys we gobble up on Thanksgiving, it turns out that most of them are guys or males.

About 57 percent of these turkeys are toms, the males, and the other 43 percent are hens, the females.

Why is that? Well, it’s because toms tend to grow faster and have bigger, juicier breast meat, which is what we like to have as the star of our Thanksgiving meal.

Find out what you can do on Thanksgiving alone here.

Hen Or Tom Turkey: Which Is Better To Use For Thanksgiving?

When picking the best turkey for your Thanksgiving meal, most experts suggest going for a hen, which is a female turkey. 

Hens are usually smaller, weighing less than 16 pounds, while toms, the male turkeys, are bigger, often over 16 pounds. 

Next, they are favored because toms have more significant bones and less meat you can eat. But here’s the secret: It’s not about whether it’s a boy or a girl turkey. 

“Thanksgiving is the day when the Broad Breasted White takes its well-deserved place at the center of our appreciation for family, food, and fellowship.”

Howkapow Gift Site

And the most important thing for a tender turkey is its age. Younger turkeys are more tender, whether they’re hens or toms.

Also Read: What Do Chinese Eat During Thanksgiving?

How Do You Know If A Thanksgiving Turkey Is Male Or Female?

Preparing Turkey for Thanksgiving

Distinguishing between male and female turkeys, or “toms” and “hens,” is quite straightforward. Hens are smaller, less colorful, and have shorter tails and legs.

On the other hand, toms are the bigger ones, with a bit more flair. They often flaunt a fleshy bump on their bills called a “snood.” 

So, if you ever find yourself wondering about the gender of your Thanksgiving turkey, look for these telltale signs: size, color, tail length, and that distinctive snood for the toms. 

Check out these reasons why you shouldn’t eat turkey on Thanksgiving here.

When Is The Best Time To Purchase A Turkey For Thanksgiving?

Timing is important when it comes to buying a turkey for Thanksgiving. If you’re after a fresh bird, your best bet is to purchase it just a day or two before you cook it. 

This means you should aim to get your fresh turkey two days before the big feast. 

Fresh turkeys have a shorter shelf life than frozen ones, so waiting until the eleventh hour ensures optimal freshness and flavor. 

Read: A Guide To Make Turkey Out Of Balloons


Which brand of turkey is the most tender?

For a reliably tender and juicy turkey, Butterball is the top choice. 

What sets Butterball apart is their meticulous process of individually pre-brining turkeys based on size, ensuring consistently delicious results that will impress your guests.

Find out what state eats turkey the most every Thanksgiving here.

What type of turkey is the calmest?

The White Holland turkey is known for its calm temperament. These turkeys trace their origins to early Dutch settlers who reintroduced them to the American colonies.

What kind of meat is the least expensive for Thanksgiving?

Roast chicken [2] is a budget-friendly alternative for smaller Thanksgiving gatherings. It’s cost-effective, easy to roast, and boasts delicious flavor.

Smaller portions than a large turkey are ideal for single individuals, couples, or small family celebrations.

But what percent of Americans at Thanksgiving don’t eat turkey?

Can turkey be left out all night to thaw?

Leaving turkey out all night for thawing is not recommended. This practice can promote the growth of harmful bacteria. 

For safety, it’s advisable to thaw turkey in the refrigerator, using cold water, or in the microwave according to established guidelines to ensure a safe and delicious Thanksgiving meal.

But how much does a typical turkey for Thanksgiving weigh?

Key Takeaways

So, there you have it. The turkey you enjoy on Thanksgiving is usually the Broad Breasted White. It’s popular because it grows fast and has tasty meat at the store.

And remember the five different kinds of wild turkeys in North America. The Rio Grande, Merriam’s, Osceola, Eastern, and Gould’s are there. 

They each have their special places and colors in the wild. Thanksgiving is about tradition, and the turkey you eat is tasty. 

So, when you dig into your Thanksgiving meal, remember you’re savoring a bit of history and the beauty of nature. 


Kimberlee Johnson
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