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Choosing a fresh or frozen turkey depends largely on preference, but also on how soon you plan on cooking your turkey. Make the right decision for you by considering these general tips.
- Fresh turkeys are ready to prepare. Fresh turkeys are best if held in the refrigerator for 24 hours before final preparation.
- Frozen turkeys can be purchased weeks in advance, but need several days to thaw and require adequate space in your freezer and refrigerator. See our How To Thaw page for more information.
Also, check out our How to Choose guide to help you decide what’s best for you.
- Check the date – make sure your frozen turkey was purchased within 2 years or make sure your fresh turkey is not beyond the sell-by-date as both of these factors could impact the quality of your turkey.
- Storing turkey – make sure to keep your frozen turkey in a deep freeze rather than a frost free refrigerator as freezer burn could result in a dry turkey. In addition, make sure the packaging does not have any tears or holes.
- Thaw properly – How you thaw your turkey can make a big impact. There are a couple of different ways to do so, check out our How To Thaw page to learn more.
- Cooking process – cooking at a high temperature and too long can result in a dry turkey. Butterball has a variety of ways to cook a turkey, visit our How To's section to learn about different cooking methods.
Also, check out the Why Butterball® Turkeys are the Best Available page to learn about how our turkeys are tender and juicy.
There are a variety of different meat thermometers and they range in price. The most important factor when choosing is accuracy. Test your thermometer before using in your turkey to ensure it gives you an accurate temperature read to reduce the risk of over or under cooking. When checking for doneness, always use a properly calibrated meat thermometer which should read at least 165o in the breast and 180o in the thigh.
Learn more about how to check your turkey for doneness or read incredibly easy tips for placing the meat thermometer in the turkey correctly.
Giblets are the heart, liver and gizzard of the turkey. These parts should be removed from the turkey cavity before cooking but can be used to make rich, flavorful gravy. See our Holiday Turkey with Giblet Gravy recipe for more details or check out our Why Butterball® Turkeys are the Best Available page to learn about the cook proof bag our giblets come in.
You can store an unopened whole turkey in the freezer for up to 2 years.
As a general rule, you can keep your Frozen Butterball Turkey in the freezer in its original packaging for up to 2 years and it should still be of good quality. Turkeys kept in commercial freezers, like those at grocery stores, may be kept even longer. Butterball uses a coding system known as the lot code system. An example of it has been provided below:
- 5026: Plant information
- 6: Last digit of the year the turkey was processed (in above example, the year is 2016)
- 229: Julian date (the 229th day of the year, and in 2016, the 229th day was August 16)
- 00: Code place holders
This number should be on the back of the Butterball tag. If the store has placed their sticker on the tag, you will need to peel it off to see these numbers.
Still need help? Download our Shelf Life Table for specific details by product.
All of the Butterball products are gluten free except for Butterball Stuffed Turkey (bread stuffing) and Butterball Frozen Meatballs. For our products that are packaged with gravy packets, the gravy packets are gluten free as well. The gravy contains rice flour instead of wheat flour and the modified food starch is corn based.
Turkey containing no artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring ingredient, chemical preservative, or any other artificial or synthetic ingredient and that is minimally processed (a process that does not fundamentally alter the product) may be labeled "natural." The label must explain the use of the term "natural" (e.g., no added colorings or artificial ingredients, minimally processed). Source: USDA
Butterball, LLC does not add MSG to any of its products. According to USDA regulations, MSG must be listed in the ingredient statement if it is add to food products.
The USDA requires that any of the top 8 allergens be listed on the packaging of our products. Example: Butterball products will say “contains wheat” or “contains milk”.
- Butterball whole turkeys (fresh and frozen), bone-in breasts and boneless roasts do not contain any of the top 8 allergens.
- We cannot provide a list of ingredients in the flavorings in our products because they are proprietary. If a consumer is allergic to a specific food other than one of the top 8, please call our Consumer Affairs team at 1-800-288-8372, select option 4.
It is our responsibility to produce healthy, high-quality turkeys in a responsible way. Animal Care and Well-Being is central to who we are as a company, and we are committed to maintaining the health and well-being of our turkeys through ongoing efforts including:
- Establishing an independent Animal Care and Well-Being Advisory Council, made up of well-known animal care experts.
- Strengthening our employee training through identifying and implementing best industry practices.
- Implementing audits conducted by American Humane, a highly recognized, independent third party that audits our facilities and practices according to peer-reviewed, science based-criteria.
- Rigorous continuous improvement of our operational processes to incorporate new technologies and processes.
The American Humane Certified program, a voluntary program offered by American Humane, is the nation’s first independent, third-party humane certification program for farm animals. Through rigorous inspections and examinations, American Humane provides third-party, independent verification that certified producers’ care and handling of farm animals meet or exceed the peer-reviewed, science-based animal welfare standards of American Humane.
For more information on the American Humane, visit http://www.americanhumane.org/.
For more information on the American Humane Certified program, visit http://www.humaneheartland.org/.