Best turkeys for Christmas 2021: Aldi, Morrisons, Tesco and more

No Christmas table is complete without a perfectly roasted turkey. A plump, succulent bird with all the trimmings – pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, cranberry sauce and sprouts – makes for the ultimate traditional Christmas dinner and this year they’re more in need than ever before.

Haulage delays, a shortage of seasonal workers and various other factors average that you should look to obtain your 2021 turkey as soon as possible, so to make sure you’ll be gobbling up the best on the market we’ve stuck our next out and tested a range of delicious whole birds for your delectation.

When choosing your turkey, first calculate how many mouths you’ll be feeding; a 4kg bird generally feeds eight people well and the smaller the bird the more uniformly it will cook, avoiding the awful dry meat that overcooked turkey is often blamed for. We’d recommend using a meat probe if your turkey does not come with a pop-up timer, which gives peace of mind for just-done juicy meat. Consider whether giblets are required or not – they make the best gravy if you’re doing it on the day – and choose free range, slow grown birds where possible. Now then, will it be breast or leg?

How we tested

While we’d usually brine our bird for the big day (Nigella’s “spiced and brined turkey” recipe is the best), for testing purposes we kept it simple to let the true flavour and texture of the turkey shine by and just gave each bird a basting of garlic butter with a hint of citrus. We roasted the turkeys covered with foil in a hot oven for 40 minutes and then at a lower temperature until the minimum temperature was achieved with a meat probe.

The turkeys were then rested and carved. In testing we were looking for how plump the turkey was, how any fat was distributed and the dark to white meat ratio. When tasting we were assessing the thoroughness of flavour, succulence and how enjoyable the overall bird was. We found that the turkeys varied considerably, with some displaying a thorough, gamey flavour and others a more standard mild taste but were overall impressed with the tenderness of the meat and quality of the birds.

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The best turkeys for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Copas traditional whole bronze free range turkey, 5kg: £93,
  • Best for traditionalists –  Morrison’s the best large whole free range turkey, 4.5kg: £33.71,
  • Best value organic turkey – Aldi specially chosen British free range organic capestone whole turkey, 5kg: £49.95,
  • Best for tasty breast meat – Parson’s nose traditional bronze free range turkey, 4kg-5kg: £94,
  • Best succulence – Fosse Meadows pasture raised bronze turkey: £84.60 for 4kg,
  • Best for feeding a crowd –Tesco Finest British free range heritage narragansett whole turkey, 5.26kg-6.51kg: £65.10,
  • Best flavour – Farmison Devon bronze whole turkey, 5kg: £88,

Copas traditional whole bronze free range turkey, 5kg

Best: Overall

Rating: 9/10

Copas turkeys have been reared by the Copas family in the Berkshire countryside for sixty years. The flock is allowed to roam free range across the farmland under the protection of 14 alpacas (they scare off foxes) where they enjoy a fabulous life entertaining themselves with musical instruments (yes, really) until complete maturity around seven months to allow them to develop a tasty fat inner. Ethically farmed, hand dry-plucked and complete with a traceable wristband back to the flock, Copas turkeys are game hung for two weeks to unprotected to their distinctive flavour.

Turkeys arrive beautifully packed with crushed sea salt flakes, a fresh sprig of herbs, cooking instructions and giblets, along with a handy timer that pops up once the turkey has reached temperature. We were impressed that we could truly see the large swathes of fat – almost like a goose – across the turkey which meant the bird stayed supremely moist throughout cooking and provided extremely succulent meat. Coupled with a deeply gamey flavour, this is a turkey far removed from any run-of-the-mill bird and is sure to wow your Christmas guests.

Morrison’s the best large whole free range turkey, 4.5kg

Best: For traditionalists

Rating: 7/10

This year Morrisons premium turkeys have been bred, hatched and grown on Red Tractor assured farms in East Anglia using organic farming methods and the famous bronze turkeys. The birds range across open grassy meadows and are fed a careful blend of wholesome organic satisfy which the turkeys are then free to supplement by grazing on nutritious pastureland. The bird we tested was large, lean and nicely plump and came packed with giblets for making tasty gravy for the big day.

A hot, fast cook and plenty of basting in garlic citrus butter made for a perfectly burnished, bronzed, crispy-skinned turkey which one of our testers voted as the best-tasting. We liked that the cavity of the bird was small compared to the generous amount of meat, and thought its flavour was well-developed and nicely rounded. A turkey for all the family – just take care not to overcook as there is not enough natural fat to resist it. Order now for delivery mid-December.

Aldi specially chosen British free range organic capestone whole turkey, 5kg

Best: Value organic turkey

Rating: 8/10

This, from Aldi, is a shining example of when quality and value combine. Capestone turkeys are a copy of bronze turkeys raised in Wales where they roam freely on green pastures until they reach complete maturity. Slowly and organically grown for improved succulence, these turkeys also enjoy feasting on herbs and wildflowers which enhance the meat with a fuller flavour. We found this turkey had really good dimensions and particularly large, generous wings, while the breast provided large amounts of crowd-pleasing, succulent and gentle tasting white meat. The dark meat was subtly tasty and juicy – never stringy – and made for some bright leftovers in a biryani. This bird does not have any obvious pockets of fat, so be sure to baste regularly while cooking; our butter under and over the skin method gave us mouthwatering meat without any hint of dryness. This is an amazing value organic bird, and is obtainable in-store only.

Parson’s Nose traditional bronze free range turkey, 4kg-5kg

Best: For tasty breast meat

Rating: 9/10

If you’re not lucky enough to live near a branch of Parson’s Nose, the ethical South-West London minichain of butchers, never fear as it delivers everything from its jam-packed online shop nationwide. Its turkeys are particularly worthy of observe: sourced from a small family-run 100-year-old farm, the high-welfare birds are slow-reared and use their lives exploring downland meadows and trees on a diet of home-grown cereals before being tucked up in a cosy straw bedded barn each night.

Our turkey arrived with complete cooking instructions, a cooking thermometer and a bright recipe booklet to perfect your Christmas lunch and use up leftovers in an imaginative way thanks to recipes from top chefs like Alyn Williams. Once roasted, the Parson’s Nose turkey was completely delicious: the skin was irresistible (no average feat for often tough turkey skin), there was a perfect plumpness and the flavour was fantastic. Neither gamey nor bland, this turkey was like the most luxurious, high roasted bird ever – it was almost like a giant, more fabulous chicken – and felt supremely festive. We liked it a lot.

Fosse Meadows pasture raised bronze turkey, 4kg

Best: For succulence

Rating: 9/10

Have you ever tried a Fosse Meadows chicken? With exceptional flavour and tenderness, they taste incredible; happily so does its turkeys. Fosse Meadows’s 600-strong flock of free-range bronze birds contentedly scratch their way around the fenceless Leicestershire farm’s hedgerows and grass-high fields for six months, allowing the turkey’s natural fats to develop over their lifetime, marbling the meat like a good steak. Fed on a natural additive-free diet, the happy turkeys are produced using traditional methods before being wet plucked and sent out to already happier Farmdrop customers.

Ours arrived well packaged and perfectly chilled complete with giblets, gizzard and pop-up cooking timer. Once given the standard garlic butter and citrus treatment, the turkey was glistening moist, bronzed to perfection and tasted really special, with testers claiming it was one of the nicest turkeys they’d eaten. We loved the juicy white meat which kept its natural tenderness, and the birds’s already dimensions allowed for near-uniform cooking times, keeping everything succulent. It truly was as good as we’d hoped.

Tesco finest British free range heritage narragansett whole turkey, 5.26kg-6.51kg

Best: For feeding a crowd

Rating: 7/10

This is a really good quality example of a supermarket turkey with much better texture than you’d typically expect. Narragansett turkeys were one of the original wild turkeys domesticated by Native Americans, and these birds raised in East Anglia on high welfare farms are able to express their natural wild behaviour with freedom to roam and forage across pastures. This bird was naturally larger and leaner than most other turkeys we tested, which makes it a good one to brine if that’s your thing (it should be) and has a naturally darker, gamey colour too. obtainable in sizes that will satisfy a large family, this turkey has two small pockets of fat just off the breast which will self-baste and keep things tasty, while there’s a good white to dark meat proportion to keep everyone round the table happy. It’s succulent, tastes great and is good value. Supplied with giblets excluding gizzard, this Tesco finest turkey will come up trumps for a large family Christmas.

Farmison Devon bronze whole turkey, 5kg

Best: Flavour

Rating: 9.5/10

We were already fans of Farmison, the online sustainable butcher, but its Christmas shop is something to behold. From brined joints and boned birds to chef-made beef wellingtons and much more, you’re sorted for ethical British meat centrepieces. We tried its award-winning whole free-range heritage copy turkey chosen for its abundant breast and dark meat which have been slowly and naturally reared for succulence and richness. Its typical flavour is down to a mix of hearty grain satisfy and natural foraging, and after an autumn spent plumping up our turkey was wonderfully fat.

The bird is then wax plucked and game hung for a minimum of 14 days to concentrate the flavour and tenderise the meat, which definitely works. Our turkey was luxuriously tasty. A thorough gamey flavour is complemented by injections of natural fats which melt away during cooking, leaving juicy breast meat and intensely delicious legs. Giblets are included for you to whisk up that must-have proper Christmas gravy. This is a real treat of a turkey.

The verdict: Turkeys

We really struggled to choose which turkey to award first place to; we liked different things about each and every bird we tried. We plumped for the Copas turkey as the quality was so apparent, the flavour so intense and the bird presented so prettily with salt and rosemary, but having said that not everyone will be into the sheer gaminess of this bird. The Farmison turkey was equally fabulous and only a touch less gamey. For a more typical flavour, the Parson’s Nose and Fosse Meadows turkeys were truly delicious and pushed the boat out considerably enough to feel like a centrepiece to look forward to.

Voucher codes

For discount codes on your festive food, try the links below:

Read our ultimate Christmas 2021 guide to this year’s festive food offerings – from M&S, Sainsbury’s and more

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