You’ve got the best grill for the job, now you just need to get the right bird. This guide will cover you everything you need to know to select the perfect turkey for the big day.
1. Let’s begin with choosing how much turkey you’ll need:
- 8 people: 8-10 lbs.
- 12 people: 12-14 lbs.
- 16 people: 16-18 lbs.
- 20 people: 20-22 lbs.
2. You’ll want to avoid buying a turkey over 16 pounds. Generally, any bird bigger than that is male turkey. Male turkeys are not as tender as female, and lead to a tougher final product.
So rather than buying the biggest bird you can find, we recommend buying multiple smaller turkeys, or even a 12-13 pound turkey and pairing it with a bone-in turkey breast if you need more than 16 pounds of meat, especially if you want leftovers.
3. When looking at labels, we strongly recommend avoiding the following, otherwise you’ll lose control over the turkey’s flavor profile and end up with an inferior final product.
- Flavor Enhanced
These words mean that the turkey has been pumped up with a solution that adds a significant amount of water weight, as well as salt. Since these birds are already very salty, you won’t be able to add your own brine or rub. They can also result in a spongy texture, and may contain artificial flavors and emulsifiers.
4. And finally, buy a fresh turkey whenever possible. You’ll have to be on the lookout for these within a few days of thanksgiving, as you want them as fresh as possible (although keep in mind that they often sell out quickly, so don’t wait too long). If buying frozen, be sure to allow plenty of time for the turkey to thaw – roughly one day for every five pounds of bird.