From independent producers like Parson’s Nose to supermarket favourites like Aldi, find out where to buy the best turkey for Christmas 2021.
Tried and tasted by our panel of food experts, this selection of roast turkeys features among our selection of the best Christmas food available to buy this year.
“We tasted a range of turkeys, from magnificent whole birds to ready prepped and stuffed cook in the bag crowns,” says Deputy Food Editor, Rose Fooks. “There were lots of sensational options, from Waitrose’s turkey crown to M&S stuffed turkey joint. And there were some surprise winners too. I was impressed with the choice of easy cook options, great for ease and saving time at Christmas.”
This year’s Tried & Tasted Awards were judged by Goodto’s expert Food Team; Food Editor Samuel Goldsmith, Deputy Food Editor Rose Fooks, Senior Food Writer Jessica Ransom, and Food Writer Keiron George. With an array of qualifications under their belts, including an impressive Diplome at London’s Le Cordon Bleu by Deputy Food Editor Rose Fooks, the team certainly know a thing or two when it comes to roast turkey. Leading the testing this year was Food Editor Samuel Goldsmith, who has around 12 years of expertise in the food industry; from food writing to nutritional information.
How did we test the best turkey?
Blind-tasted by Goodto’s Food Team, samples of each were delivered to our test kitchen and judged by the taste, look, and feel of each bird. The accuracy of the preparation and cooking instructions were also considered when making the final decision on the best products in this roundup of fresh turkeys.
When judging the turkeys the panel looked out for specifics such as golden and crisp skin, moist and flavourful meat, and a plump, tender texture. The team also looked favourably at products that were either free-range or organic. To ensure that the testing process was fair, each turkey was cooked according to its packet instructions without any seasoning, flavours, or marinades.
What is the best turkey you can buy 2021?
Parson’s Nose turkey
Winner: Best turkey
Order: Ready to pre-order now | Delivery: From late November onwards.
The stand-out winner of the Tried & Tasted Awards 2021 produced by Parson’s Nose, an independent London-based butcher that delivers nationwide. This turkey really impressed the judges due to its exceptional flavour and show-stopping appearance. The skin was perfectly crisp and the meat was very succulent and had a real depth of flavour to it.
The cooking times were a little inaccurate but the turkey did come with a popper, a temperature probe that pops up once the turkey is cooked through, to signal when it was done which was very helpful. The turkey is also sold with a book of leftover recipes which our judges thought was a nice added touch and a great way to discourage food waste over the festive period.
Best turkeys 2021 – the best of the rest
Co-op irresistible organic Pembrokeshire turkey
Winner: Best supermarket turkey
Order: Launching on 22nd December.
This turkey from the Co-op was another hit with the judges. The perfect balance of having a lovely golden and crisp skin whilst the meat retained an incredible amount of moisture and a wonderful tender texture. The accompanying jus and resting juices made a delicious gravy, which paired perfectly with the bird.
Aldi Specially Selected ultimate turkey stuffed crown and bacon-wrapped thigh
Winner: Best turkey crown
Order: Available to order from 19th December.
If you do not want to have the fuss of a large bird at Christmas, buying a crown is always a great option. This crown from Aldi was a particularly impressive product as the crown itself is stuffed with a delicious moist filling. It also comes with bacon-wrapped thighs so you don’t miss out on the brown meat. The cooking instructions were easy and accurate and ensured succulent meat.
The Best of Both: Free Range Bronze Turkey Crown with Thighs
Tried & Tasted
Order: Available to order now | Delivery: From 20th – 24th December
A really special turkey – this comes in a cookable bag so the meat stays lovely and moist. The bacon on top imparts a smokey flavour onto the breast and the sage stuffing has coarse herbs which added textural contrast to the tender meat. Senior Food Writer, Jess Ransom says, “I was impressed by the Waitrose turkey where the turkey thighs are separately prepared. It ensures an often overlooked part of the turkey gets some special treatment and is important for minimising waste.”
Copas Turkey’s free-range bronze whole turkey
Tried & Tasted
Order: Available to order now | Delivery: On 22nd December or collection from the farm on 22-23rd December
This was a gorgeous bird that took on a fantastic golden colour once cooked and was one of the best tastings. The cooking method is unusual as the cooking begins upside down, which is not usually how to cook a turkey. It did however ensure succulent meat through all the juices dripping into the breast. The cooking time seemed a little long, however it did come with a pop-up timer to avoid a dried-out bird. Deputy Food Editor, Rose Fooks says, “This magnificent bird was incredibly succulent. It was personally one of my favorites.”
The Perfect British Oakham Stuffed Turkey Joint
Tried & Tasted
Order: Available for pre-order now for collection in selected stored 22nd-24th December.
Lovely subtle flavour with well-seasoned meat and a great texture. The stuffing was deliciously tangy and contrasted well with the mild turkey and smoky bacon. This bird ranges from £32 to £64 depending on which size you prefer and how many people you’re feeding. This joint is buttermilk stock-basted and can be stored in the freezer until needed.
Tesco Finest Narragansett Turkey
Tried & Tasted
Order: Available for pre-order 16th November | Delivery: From 19th December.
A very attractive-looking turkey with deep almost bronzed skin which would make an impressive centrepiece. The meat was particularly moist and gave the overall turkey a soft, pulled-like texture. You can choose between two different sizes of bird; 4kg-5.25kg – serving 10-12 people, or 5.26kg-6.51kg – serving 13-15.
How long before Christmas should you buy your turkey?
Pre-order your Christmas turkey as soon as possible or as soon as supermarket or independent producers allow. Turkeys do tend to sell out nearer the festive period. The ones that are on sale in-store at the last minute can be much too big or small.
If you do this try to get a delivery slot that is as close to Christmas Day as possible. This will ensure the bird is very fresh. It will also stop the risk of it going off or taking up too much space in your fridge in the run-up to Christmas.
However, if you do not get round to this and you are left to collect a turkey in-store at the last minute make sure you check the use-by date – this seems obvious but it is easy to assume all will be fine by Christmas Day but this is not always the case.
Is it better to buy a fresh or frozen turkey?
A fresh turkey tends to be a lot moister than a frozen one as you can lose moisture when defrosting it – and when cooking it too, so keep in mind the correct Christmas turkey cooking times at this stage. The deep meaty flavour of the meat can also be a little affected by the freezing process so overall a fresh bird will taste a bit better.
However, there is nothing wrong with getting a frozen turkey. They are often cheaper and you can get your bird ahead of time so you have one less thing to worry about. You could also defrost it in a flavoured brine to try and get some of the moisture back into it.