The Best Boutique Mail-Order Turkeys

Meet the winners of our taste test.

Nicholas Breed Turkeys from Fossil Farms
Photo: Fossil Farms

Why mail order a turkey, when every supermarket carries them? They're better-tasting birds, for one. Many purveyors partner with farmers who raise heritage turkeys, with an emphasis on slow-growing breeds that develop richer, more concentrated flavor on smaller frames. The birds tend to be pasture-raised or free-range, so they eat a diverse diet while having plenty of room to roam. This combination adds up to savory, succulent meat, skin that crisps up easily, and different proportions than supermarket poultry (most notably, a smaller breast). Mail order is also better for farmers allowing them to sell outside of the standard market and get more for their hard work, and it's better for the land, putting less stress on the soil and environment. While the turkeys are a splurge, these factors, to us, make this a justifiable, once-a-year luxury.

To pick these turkeys, we shipped 14 freshly frozen birds to our test kitchens for a blind tasting. Each turkey was simply seasoned with salt, pepper, and oil; roasted according to the farmers' instructions; and served without sides, gravy, or jus. Our editors sampled white and dark meat from each turkey, narrowing down the crowd to three birds perfect for the holiday table.

Best of the Birds – the top turkeys from our tasting

For the Crispiest Skin

Heritage Black Turkey from Joyce Farms

Heritage Black Turkey from Joyce Farms
Joyce Farms

The Heritage Black turkey is one of the oldest breeds developed from Native American livestock. "The white and dark meat were moist and tender and completely packed with what I think of as robust turkey flavor," said one editor. "The skin was ridiculously crisp, while maintaining a nice layer of fat," noted another. The turkey meat was just as moist when served cold in leftovers sandwiches, too. "It has the best skin and is very moist, and the white meat is very tender." To preserve flavor, tenderness, and texture, this bird is raised and processed on a small family farm in North Carolina.

Order by November 18. $130–$190 at

For Prime Rib Lovers

Narragansett and Bourbon Red Heritage Turkeys from D'Artagnan

Narragansett Bourbon Red Heritage Turkey
Deana Sidney

One editor called this Heritage Turkey "the prime rib of turkeys." Another noted "very juicy meat, slightly sweet and smoky in a great way, and a tender bite." These free-range turkeys are raised on small farms, where they can grow slowly, developing more flavor than industrially farmed birds. While smaller than conventional birds, these varieties make up for it with decadent dark meat and tender, concentrated "real turkey flavor" that stood out from the flock. These turkeys are hand-processed and air-chilled to ensure the skin is extra-crispy when roasted.

Order by 6 p.m. EST on November 20. $166–$220,

For Extra-Tender Meat

Whole KellyBronze Turkey from KellyBronze

Whole KellyBronze Turkey from KellyBronze

These Virginia-raised birds have extra intramuscular fat that makes even the lean breast meat succulent and helps the bird cook faster. Editors noted "a pleasantly true turkey flavor" and that "besides crispy skin and juicy meat, the slices are pristine." This is a meaty turkey, perfect for the folks who love red meat and ham at the holidays. The birds are hung dry for seven days, allowing an enzyme reaction to break down the connective tissue, resulting in more tender meat. Be sure to follow the cooking instructions on their site — this bird is best roasted whole in the oven and cooked to a lower temperature than is typical.

Order by November 16. $145–$405 at

For the Barbecue Lovers

Pasture Raised Turkeys from Jackson Hole Buffalo Meat Co.

Pasture Raised Turkeys from Jackson Hole Buffalo Meat Co.
Brian McGeogh

It is Jackson Hole Buffalo Meat Company's goal to maintain the ranching traditions of the American West. To them, that means raising their turkeys without antibiotics, steroids, and hormones and on an open range. These birds eat a diet of seeds, insects, and organic grains. "This has dark meat with a slight smokiness to it that is almost pork-like," remarked one of our testers. All turkey orders will ship the week of 11/14/22.

Order by November 13. $289.95 at

For Dark Meat Aficionados

Nicholas Breed Turkeys from Fossil Farms

Nicholas Breed Turkeys from Fossil Farms
Fossil Farms

This 100% all-natural bird is raised by third and fourth generation farmers on a free roaming, cage-free farm in Pennsylvania. One of our editors noted how pristine its texture was, "Easy slicing, perfect texture with the most tender dark meat." In addition to being free of antibiotics, steroids, and hormones, these birds are fed a vegetarian diet that consists of farm local rye, oats, alfalfa, and soybean meal.

Order by November 13. $90-$270 at

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