When it comes to finding and then buying the best frozen turkey and turkey crowns, then consumers in 2019 have an impressive choice.
For many sourcing a cheap, frozen turkey is the ideal solution for delivering their Christmas day dinner, though you’ll need to ensure it’s properly defrosted beforehand.
And there’s no doubt that it’s always best to shop around to find what various retailers have on offer and if you’re feeling very brave, you could leave the search to closer to the big day when prices will start being reduced.
That does mean playing a game of frozen turkey roulette however! Can you hold your nerve as the supermarket freezers empty?! You might be left with either the astronomically expensive or slightly suspect alternatives.
So, ideally you need to be organised. We all want to enjoy a crispy-skinned caramel coloured roasted turkey that delivers that incredible savoury smell as it’s being cooked.
It’s such an important part of Christmas, that ensuring that you get the best frozen turkey possible is vital. These birds are a popular choice and in 2018 Brits managed to eat their way through 10 million turkeys, both fresh and frozen. This year, two in three of us will be giving a turkey the pride of place at the dinner table on the big day.
What is the difference between a whole turkey and a turkey crown?
If you are responsible for buying the turkey this year, then you need to know the difference between a whole turkey and a turkey crown.
The answer is very simple! A turkey crown is essentially the breast meat with the dark meat removed – so there are no wings and legs or giblets. Crowns tend to be slightly cheaper than buying a whole turkey and are also quicker to cook.
A whole turkey is what we traditionally enjoy in the UK. Some will come with giblets that need to be cooked so you can make a delicious gravy with them.
Best frozen small turkey
Here, the Christmas.co.uk team have taken time to compare frozen turkeys to find the best on a like-for-like basis, based on a cost per kilogram, wherever possible.
We’ll also take a look at the price of crowns, as opposed to whole turkeys and we begin with the best, cheapest frozen small turkey you can buy this year.
Aldi are offering a price of £2.64 per kilogram which means that their small British turkey is £8.99, It’s a tasty option, is available now and will serve between four and seven people.
Also in the best small British whole frozen turkey category is Morrison’s with their £9 offering, followed by Tesco with small basted whole turkey which feeds between four and seven people and also costs £9.
We were also taken by Asda’s small turkey which costs £9.50 and Iceland has a Bernard Matthews small Golden Basted Turkey for £10. While it only feeds between four and five people, it does offer an impressive and tasty small bird to enjoy.
The big surprise for us here is that the Aldi offering is not only the cheapest small frozen turkey to buy when compared with its competitors – but it also costs the same as its 2018 offering.
Also, frozen turkeys are available now, while those who want fresh turkeys may wait until a few days before Christmas. They are certainly worth considering as a sound alternative to the fresh choices.
How to defrost your frozen turkey
Buying a frozen turkey or crown is a great way to ensure you get the bird you want for your Christmas dinner. But don’t forget, in the run-up to the festivities, that you need to know how to defrost your turkey thoroughly.
Firstly, you should check the guidance that is on the packaging well before you think it needs to be defrosted.
Some frozen turkeys can be cooked from frozen if the instructions say they can but it’s better to check while time is still on your side.
These are the tips from the Food Standards Agency:
- Do not defrost a frozen turkey at room temperature
- Defrost your turkey in a large container to catch juices and avoid cross contamination
- A large frozen turkey weighing between 6kg and 7 kg could take four days to fully defrost
- If there are no instructions, allow for up to 12 hours per kilogram to defrost in a fridge.
The reason why it’s super important to fully defrost your turkey before cooking is that it may not cook evenly.
As a result, harmful bacteria may survive the cooking process, so you and your Christmas dinner guests are at risk of food poisoning.
Please don’t take the risk by not fully defrosting your turkey and follow the instructions given on the packing package or use the guidance given here.
The best large frozen turkeys
Having looked at the best small frozen turkeys, for those who are really pushing the boat out with the entertainment this year, there are large frozen turkeys available as well.
These will generally feed more people, though you need to understand that they also take longer to cook. You may also need to start defrosting the day before.
It turns out that this category is a slightly tricky one for the Christmas.co.uk team to judge and here’s why.
Essentially, topping the list for the cheapest frozen turkey is the Golden Norfolk XX Large basted turkey by Bernard Matthews and available from Iceland.
This is undoubtedly a big bird for everyone to tuck into and costs from £2.61 per kilogram.
However, while this offers value for money, we thought Tesco’s frozen ‘extra, extra, large’ basted turkey from £2.88 per kilogram had better taste and texture.
When properly cooked, the Tesco bird offers a mouth-watering turkey dinner and it is certainly worth considering if you want to pay slightly more and enjoy the better quality turkey.
Special mention also goes to the Asda’s extra large basted British turkey at £2.95 per kilogram.
We also enjoyed the extra large basted whole frozen turkey from Sainsbury’s, which costs £3.16 per kilogram and the more expensive at £4 per kilogram Essential frozen turkey with giblets from Waitrose.
However, if your budget for a large frozen turkey is bigger and you can stretch to a better quality and better tasting bird, then the frozen Oakham turkey from Marks & Spencer is the one for you.
While it’s a great tasting and great looking turkey, it costs £4.50 per kilogram – expensive but it’s certainly a frozen turkey to impress your Christmas dinner guests with.
There’s a lot to consider when shopping for your big frozen turkey since it is the centrepiece for your Christmas dinner table. You need a tender and juicy turkey delivering tasty and moist flesh for guests to enjoy.
Tips for cooking your turkey this year
While we have looked at the wide range of frozen turkeys available in 2019, it is still important that you choose the one that will feed all your dinner guests.
There are also other tips to consider when selecting and then cooking a frozen turkey including:
- Ensure your frozen turkey will fit into your oven
- Understand that cooking times for a frozen bird can vary dramatically
- Some turkeys may not take as long to cook as you believe
- Always ensure that you rest your cooked turkey after taking it out of the oven
- This gives you time to prepare the trimmings and gravy.
Slice the turkey, dish up and enjoy!
Best frozen turkey crowns in 2019
While many of us still prefer to have a whole frozen turkey, whether small or large, what about frozen turkey crowns?
A turkey crown is not only easier and quicker to cook, there’s less waste and no legs or wings to deal with.
They also tend to be cheaper and you’ll find retailers will add sage and onion stuffing or place bacon on the top to help deliver a crisp skin and more flavour.
For the Christmas.co.uk team, the best frozen turkey crown is the one from Marks & Spencer.
With a pork, sage and onion stuffing, their turkey crown costs £14 for a 1.2 kg creation.
It delivers a cracking flavoursome turkey that your dinner guests will enjoy – it’s also super easy to cook.
Speaking of being easy to cook, we were impressed with Asda’s cook-in-a-bag stuffed turkey crown and the 1.75 kg product costs £13.
Since the crown is in the bag, the moisture is retained and if you’re not a confident cook then this turkey crown is highly recommended because it would be very difficult to make a mess of it and not deliver a properly cooked turkey that everyone can enjoy.
Competition for the turkey crown category is stiff since not everyone will like stuffing in their crown or have smoked bacon on top of it.
However, we were also very impressed with Lidl’s free-range bronze turkey crown that comes with a pork, chestnut and thyme stuffing, as well as a smoked bacon lattice on top. This weighs in at between 1.5 kg to 2.5 kg and costs from £16.99.
It’s really tasty and there’s a lot of meat for the money. If you have got lots of people coming for Christmas dinner and want the easy solution, then this is certainly one worth considering.
Aldi is also selling a tasty turkey crown with their Oakhurst large crown offering, it is one of two frozen offerings with the smaller ones being priced from £12.49 and the larger ones costing from £13.99.
Defrosting and then cooking a frozen turkey
Essentially, when it comes to defrosting and then cooking a frozen turkey it can be a nerve-wracking undertaking for even the most experienced of cooks and so it is a good idea to buy the best frozen turkey you can afford.
That’s because you will need to avoid the disappointment of serving up a bland tasting bird – or even worse, have a turkey that is too dry.
Hopefully, this Christmas.co.uk guide will help you narrow down the wide choice of frozen birds available to find the one that you and your dinner guests will all enjoy. Good luck and enjoy!