Fresh whole turkeys recently arrived at Trader Joe’s in time for the holiday season. We’ve written a bit about whole turkeys and bone-in turkey breasts from Aldi, but we’ve never gotten around to trying any birds from Aldi’s cousin, Trader Joe’s. When fellow Aldi Reviewer writer Elizabeth mentioned to me how much she likes TJ’s turkeys, I made a point to get out to Trader Joe’s on November 12th, 2021, which was the day the grocery store’s Fearless Flyer stated that fresh turkeys — never frozen — would hit the shelves.
Trader Joe’s is selling several different types of whole turkeys while supplies last:
- All Natural Antibiotic Free Brined Fresh Young Turkeys for $1.99 per pound
- All Natural Glatt Kosher Fresh Young Turkeys for $2.99 per pound
- Free Range Organic Young Turkeys for $3.49 per pound
Most of these turkeys sold fast on the day they were put on the shelves. When I showed up about 45 minutes after opening at the Trader Joe’s nearest to my house, there were three brined turkeys, one kosher turkey, and a decent-sized pile of organic turkeys (the most expensive birds) left on the shelves. A store employee seemed to indicate that more turkeys might be stocked later, but I’m not sure about that.
I opted to buy the All Natural Brined Young Turkey because the flavor the brine adds sounded appealing. I bought a 12.12-pound bird, and at $1.99 per pound, it totaled $24.11.
The Fearless Flyer states the brined turkeys “are soaked in a sweet-savory brine that really amps up the flavor.” This turkey contains an 8% solution of added water, sea salt, sugar, natural turkey broth powder, and natural flavorings. It may contain giblets. It is minimally processed with no artificial ingredients, and it should be kept refrigerated or frozen. My turkey has a use-or-freeze-by date of November 29, 2021.
No antibiotics were used when raising this turkey, and it was fed an all-vegetarian diet with no animal by-products. Turkeys are actually omnivores and will eat bugs, worms, and whatever else they can catch while grazing in a pasture. So the vegetarian diet label on many poultry products across various brands and retailers is — for the most part — a way to appeal to consumers who think it sounds healthier.
The back of the turkey package states:
Trader Joe’s All Natural Turkeys are raised on a balanced diet of corn and soybean meal and are never fed animal fat or animal by-products. Never treated with antibiotics or hormones, they are grown in spacious houses where they are allowed to roam freely in an environment with natural ventilation and natural sunlight.
For the juiciest, most tender turkey, professional chefs immerse their turkeys in a brine (salt water) solution at least overnight. There is nothing which results in as delicious a turkey as one which has been brined — and we’ve done this for you! It’s brined and ready to roast in the oven or barbecue as you would any other turkey.
The package also states this turkey is “great for the oven, grill or rotisserie.”
One serving of turkey is about 4 ounces (112 grams), which will net you 190 calories, 10 grams of total fat (16% DV), 3 grams of saturated fat (15% DV), 80 mg of cholesterol (27% DV), 135 mg of sodium (6% DV), no carbohydrates, no dietary fiber, no added sugars, and 23 grams of protein.
There are no cooking directions on the turkey packaging, which is not entirely unusual. I was going to do some quick Googling to refresh my memory about how many minutes per pound and what temperature to roast my turkey at. Then while I was leafing through a physical copy of Trader Joe’s most recent Fearless Flyer that I picked up at the same time I bought my turkey, I discovered a whole page dedicated to helping people properly roast their turkeys. I didn’t spot the same roasting instructions when viewing the online version of the Fearless Flyer, but TJ’s has since posted it on a separate page. You can also view the page from my physical copy below:
The Trader Joe’s roasting guide gets fairly fancy, calling for the addition of butter, herbs, seasonings, onions, and lemons. Those are all good ingredients, and I’d normally be up for experimenting with such a recipe. However, I opted to keep it simple so we could get a good sense how the turkey itself tastes without all the extras. I stuck my turkey on a rack in a roasting pan coated with cooking spray, removed the neck and giblets, removed the plastic hock lock or leg truss holding the turkey’s legs together, and sprinkled plenty of ground salt and pepper over the turkey.
Following the TJ’s Fearless Flyer directions, I initially roasted the bird for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Then I lowered the oven temperature to 325 degrees and cooked for another 2 hours and 50 minutes, until a meat thermometer in the thigh indicated it had reached 165 degrees, for a total cook time of about 3 hours and 20 minutes for my 12.12-pound turkey. Also according to the Fearless Flyer directions, I lightly tented the turkey with foil after it had been roasting for 2 hours.
The most helpful part of the Fearless Flyer direction page was the chart showing how long to roast a turkey at 325 degrees based on its size and whether it is stuffed. You can view the chart in the photo above or read a summary below:
- For a 12-14-pound turkey, roast for 3 to 3 1/3 hours if unstuffed or 3 1/2 to 4 hours if stuffed.
- For a 14-18-pound turkey, roast for 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours if unstuffed or 4 to 4 1/4 hours if stuffed.
- For an 18-20-pound turkey, roast for 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours if unstuffed or 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours if stuffed.
- For a 20-24-pound turkey, roast 4 1/2 to 5 hours if unstuffed or 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours if stuffed.
This was a great-tasting turkey. The meat was tender with good turkey flavor, and the skin crisped up nicely while roasting. It also had lots of meat for a Thanksgiving dinner, plus plenty of leftovers for making sandwiches, shepherd’s pie, tetrazzini, soup, and stock.
Trader Joe’s All Natural Brined Young Turkey is one of several fresh turkey options at Aldi’s cousin. The brine adds extra tenderness and flavor, and this is a solid option for your Thanksgiving dinner table.