6 of the Best Precooked Thanksgiving Turkeys

6 of the Best Precooked Thanksgiving Turkeys

You could make your own fully dressed turkey at home. Or you could also order turkey takeout.

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Thanksgiving turkey and sides from Boston Market
Image: Boston Market

Last year, it was supply chain and labor issues at the plants. This year, it’s a bird flu that’s making it harder to find your Thanksgiving turkey—the disease took out 5.4 million turkeys between January and July alone. If you didn’t know that turkey prices are at a premium and consumer shortages are once again nigh, well, now you do. And thus 2022 begins to draw to a fitting close.

I, for one, am reluctant to fight with Granny Annie at the supermarket over the last unseasoned, uncooked Butterball. I am also tired from this mess of a year, for which my mantra has been “take the path of least resistance.” And so, my argument is: why bother when I can instead let someone else do all the hard work?

Think about everything that goes into a Thanksgiving turkey dinner. Sourcing. Brining. Stuffing. Roasting. Deep-frying. Taking the blame if the white meat comes out dry. Whatever. You don’t need to take on any of it.

Because here’s the thing: While factors like turkey shortages impact the Joneses you’re trying to keep up with, big brands have their own sway… and thus their own stock. With all things considered, I’m pro letting pros do the work. And if you want to jump aboard this bandwagon with me, I’m sharing some tips for how to do it, because we at The Takeout give thanks for the option to take out. Here’s where to get your fully dressed, fully cooked turkey when you don’t feel like making one yourself.

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Honey Baked Ham Boneless Turkey Breast

Honey Baked Ham Boneless Turkey Breast

Honey Baked Ham and Boneless Turkey Breast
Image: HoneyBaked Ham

I love meat candy. (Who doesn’t?) To me, no one does it better than Honey Baked Ham, whose claim to fame is sweet crusts of caramelized sugar and honey covering salt-balanced, succulent and tender meat. While heaping hunks of ham is in the company name, though, the turkey is an undersung superstar. And for the holiday season, Honey Baked has a whopping five different ways to avoid making your own turkey.

The boneless turkey breast is first smoked and covered in the signature sweet and crunchy glaze. It’s ridiculously delicious, very tender, and you can get a half or a whole—but I’d opt for the bigger one since, in my experience, it goes really quickly.

If you mean business about having that wow-worthy centerpiece, you can get a big 11- to 13-pounder either smoked, “Cajun” spice-rubbed for a little bit of a kick, or classically roasted.

Plus, if you can’t resist Honey Baked’s namesake ham, you can buy a holiday package that includes your choice of sides, size, and bone-ness, plus coupon codes for a fiver off, because every dollar counts. Signing up for MyHoneyBaked Rewards lets you earn points toward the next holiday spread you don’t feel like cooking.

Prices vary by location but start at $36 for a roughly 3-pound breast that serves 6 – 8 and $73.99 for a whole 11-13 pound turkey that serves 10 – 12. Order by 11/21 for standard shipping; pick up pre-ordered turkeys/meals in store 11/19 – 11/20.

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Popeyes Cajun Style Turkey

Popeyes Cajun Style Turkey

Popeyes Cajun Style Turkey for Thanksgiving 2022
Image: Popeyes

Like most of America, we heart Popeyes’ fried chicken. But you know what else? We also heart its annual Cajun turkey. In fact, one staffer recently dubbed it “the world’s best Thanksgiving turkey” and dares you to @ him about it. And I’m happily raising my hand in another vote of support for this slow-roasted, flash-fried, fully cooked turkey, a seasonal bird that’s as special as the holiday itself.

The first time I tasted this turkey was at an office party in New Orleans in the early aughts, and I never forgot it. (Thank you forever, Scott Zeitzer.) Long before Popeyes had a chicken sandwich cult following, before its national growth exploded like a deep-fried turkey made at home (YouTube it), the chain was a hometown hero, and we weren’t the only ones who proudly trucked over to our local franchise to pick up a turkey for the holiday.

We were able to get it hot and ready to carve back then, but it’s since grown in significant popularity, so you’ll need your oven to get it table-ready. After thawing, it’ll crisp up right and proper in just a couple of hours since it’s fully cooked. Toward the end of its warming time, throw in the biscuits you couldn’t resist adding to your order for a surefire hit.

Prices vary by location but start at $49.99 for a 14-pound turkey that serves 8 – 12 for in-store pickup and is $94.99 (plus tax) with shipping when delivered via The Cajun Fix. Order online for delivery within one to three business days or in person in stores or by phone, both while supplies last, and pick up pre-ordered turkeys in store at the scheduled date/time set at time of order.

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Boston Market Heat & Serve Turkey

Boston Market Heat & Serve Turkey

Frying and roasting chicken and turkey is great, but you know what? So is having it cooked on a rotisserie spit, especially when the meat is marinated in garlic and herbs and the blistered brown skin glistens with natural juices. Boston Market may not be the power player it once was, but with a year-round offer of roasted turkey breast, it’s just business as usual for the chain when it comes time to talk turkey—and you’d best believe it’s done right.

For Thanksgiving, Boston Market breaks out the whole bird, which comes fully cooked and chilled, not frozen, making it the very picture of simplicity to bring it up to temp at home. To make things even easier, you can order complete meals that include mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetable stuffing, spinach and artichoke dip, cranberry walnut relish, dinner rolls, and one each of apple pie and pumpkin pie for as little as $11.99 a person for a 10-person minimum, per the PR folks.

Or you can even skip the whole ceremonial turkey-carving bit and just get the whole shebang catered for a dollar more per person if you’re trying to feed 10 or more. With the catering option, your local store can even deliver it straight to your door so you have more time to get yourself dressed while your turkey gets fully dressed.

Prices vary by location but start at $69 for a whole turkey that serves 10 – 12. Order by 11/23 and pick up pre-ordered turkeys and catered or individual meals in store 11/20 – 11/24—all the way up until Thanksgiving Day.

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Kentucky Fried Chicken Deep Fried Turkey

Kentucky Fried Chicken Deep Fried Turkey

Okay, so this is a weird one. Like my Popeyes turkey experience of years long past, you have to be lucky in locale to score a turkey from this chain. In 2021, Mountainside High School’s newspaper reported that the nearby neighborhood of Sherwood, Oregon was one of the only towns to have access to a KFC-“Cajun” spice-rubbed deep-fried turkey. And to make it even more exclusive, that KFC location was stocked with only 30 of them.

Yeah. Pretty obscure. Very mysterious.

The good news is that it may not remain so. I was out in Sacramento just a couple of weeks ago, and lo and behold, a single KFC with a large window decal screamed out that I should ask them about the deep-fried turkey! And so I did.

What I learned is that at select participating restaurants in California, Washington. Colorado, and Utah, you can order a 12- to 14-pound turkey expected to feed about 12 people. This is a significant increase in availability from the Harman Management Corporation’s one-restaurant experiment 20 years ago. Naturally, it’ll be namely owned franchises where you’ll find these big birds. An even better deal, though, is the KFC Holiday Meal for just $20 more, which gives you mashed potatoes, gravy, and cole slaw by the literal gallon, plus a dozen biscuits. For a total price of $119.99, you can add on a gallon of mac and cheese, corn, and a cake.

These packages are available in limited quantity until they sell out, and must be prepaid when orders are submitted in person at the restaurants. You’ve got to do it old-school; these locations are not taking online or even phone orders, nor are they providing home delivery like Popeyes. Buzz is, though, that it’s worth the effort, and bonus points for being served hot and ready for carving, with reheating instructions if you can resist the tantalizing aroma of savory fried turkey in the moment you pick up.

Prices vary by location but start at $79.99 for a 12- to 14-pound turkey that serves around 12. Order in person in store while supplies last and pick up pre-ordered turkeys in store at the scheduled date/time set at time of order.

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Kroger/Home Chef Seasoned Butterball Turkey

Kroger/Home Chef Seasoned Butterball Turkey

Kroger/Home Chef Thanksgiving table spread
Image: Home Chef

Supermarkets are actually great sources for pre-seasoned, pre-cooked, chilled and sometimes even hot Thanksgiving turkeys and Thanksgiving meal packages. I’ve personally used a few local, small markets like Pat’s Marketplace on Long Island. All of these community specialty markets are worth checking out, no matter where you are. But only Kroger has a partnership with Home Chef, a nationally recognized meal kit company.

Most stores offer bone-in rotisserie turkey breasts at the deli every day, but for the holiday, markets under this brand (Kroger, Smith’s Ralph’s, Dillons, Bakers, Fry’s, QFC, King Soopers, Fred Meyer) in select states are selling fully cooked and seasoned Butterball bone-in turkeys, which you can get either roasted or smoked. To reserve yours, they say to call the deli department, visit the store, or order ahead online for pickup starting November 2. You can easily throw sides onto your order while you’re at it so that you’re not scrambling in the deli case as you’re wrangling your bird.

Alternatively, the Home Chef brand also lets you order a fully cooked boneless turkey roast that serves 8, then have it (and whatever else you want to tack on) delivered straight to your door. This option is already available for scheduling. The sides require prep, but the bird is so effortless that you literally just heat and slice—no proper carving even necessary.

Prices start at $49.50 for a boneless turkey roast that serves 6 – 8 when ordered for delivery via Home Chef and $6.99/pound for an 8- to 12-pound boneless turkey roast that serves 8 – 10 or $4.99/pound for the fully-cooked whole, bone-in Butterball 10- to 12-pound turkey for in-store pickup by 11/20 – 11/24. Order by 11/18 for Home Chef delivery and by 11/22 for in-store pickup.

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Cajun Grocer Turducken

Cajun Grocer Turducken

Okay, yes, this is the former New Orleanian in me peeking back out… but I can’t leave out the convenience, tastiness, and novelty of a turducken. And if anyone is going to give you any shit about not making your own turkey, well, they won’t have much to say when you challenge them with, “Well, have you ever tried to stick a hen in a duck in a turkey?”

About a decade ago, when I was in New York and missing my Deep South, that was totally me ordering in a turducken from this site, and people fricking loved it. It’s not the cheapest bird on the block, but it’s certainly among the most interesting, and pretty reasonable compared to what we’re now used to ponying up for Goldbelly.

This turducken is easy enough to cook, since it comes ready to thaw, heat, and eat. You can choose to get it as a 5-pound roll if your party’s small enough, a 10-pound whole turkey, or you can wild out with a 15-pound Frankenbird that you can carve old-school to oohs and ahhs as the layers and the stuffing of your choice are revealed. It’s boneless through the middle, so no navigational worries there—just drama. You can get crawfish, a seafood mix, jambalaya, Creole pork sausage, boudin sausage, pork or jalapeno cornbread stuffing, dirty rice, or chicken sausage stuffing for more bird-on-bird violence.

Prices start at $57.99 for a boneless turducken roast that serves 5 – 7 and $99.99 for a whole 15-pound turducken that serves 10 – 15. Order by 11/16 for delivery by Thanksgiving; several shipping options available.

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