I am interested in sourcing a turkey and cooking it. It's not that easy to get a turkey from where I am. I am only wondering if it would be worthwhile to do so. Having never eaten a turkey, I can't help to be curious.

If there is not much of a difference between a turkey and chicken it would not be worth the trouble.

What are the differences between a chicken and a turkey in terms of:

  • taste
  • appearance
  • cooking
  • 2
    Appearance wise, it's just that it's big relative to a chicken ... I guess it's a sign of abundance. I personally think it tastes better, but that's likely because most of the chicken sucks in the US. Depending on what's available in your area, you might want to look into other poultry (duck, geese, etc.)
    – Joe
    Nov 25, 2015 at 11:59
  • 4
    Agreed, but I think chicken is more flavorful. I think people think turkey is more flavorful, not because it actually has more flavor, but because people usually eat more chicken then they do turkey so it's less familiar. When I have been challenged in the past I have done a side by side taste test of turkey breast and chicken breast, and the chicken has always won for most flavor.
    – Escoce
    Nov 25, 2015 at 18:30

2 Answers 2


Essentially, it's like a giant chicken with a "deeper" and more distinctive flavor. The main reason I like them (other than the flavor) is the sheer quantity of meat you can get from one roasting session. One could roast multiple chickens for a similar effect, but with a turkey you only have one skeleton to pick meat off of, so it goes faster. Leftovers can be frozen and/or reused in all sorts of ways (sandwiches, soups, casseroles, etc.).

  • taste

The breast meat of turkey is a little different from chicken, but they have a similar texture and both tend to be rather mild in flavor compared to game birds. If you had access to a wild turkey, the meat will be gamier. The dark meat of the turkey (particularly legs and wings) is generally much more flavorful than chicken, with a "deeper" flavor that some people love and others dislike. (This may be the reason for the increasing popularity of whole turkey breasts sold by themselves in the U.S., which can be roasted like a whole bird, but don't have the "other parts" that are seen as less desirable by many. The vast majority of people I know tend mostly to eat turkey breast meat, usually served with gravy and stuffing.)

I've seen turkey wings and legs sometimes offered at Southern U.S. BBQ joints; when slow-cooked, they are a bit of a "Southern delicacy." On most farm-raised turkeys I've had recently, the thigh meat doesn't have as much of that "rich turkey" flavor that I seem to recall in the past, but it has a more distinctive flavor than the breast meat. Internal organs ("giblets") also tend to have a stronger flavor than chickens, if you're into eating livers, gizzards, hearts, etc.

There's often more fat in various parts of the bird than in typical U.S. chickens, which adds to a richer flavor. However, there's usually not as much fat as found in other common U.S. poultry (particularly duck and goose).

  • appearance

When prepared and ready to buy at a butcher, turkeys essentially look the same as any large poultry. They are often much larger than chickens, easily going to 20 lbs. (10 kg) and more. There are some differences in proportions and details that you'll see when cutting up or eating. In particular, the legs and wings have a bit more connective tissue and bony/cartilage bits than a chicken, since it's a larger bird and needs more support. This also tends to make the leg and wing meat a bit "stringy," which may be the reason for the slow-cooked versions I mentioned above, allowing time for the meat to break down more than when just roasting the whole bird. The meat is also a bit darker in color than chickens, particularly noticeable in the "dark meat" sections.

  • cooking

If buying a whole bird, most people in the U.S. essentially prepare it as they would make a large chicken, which usually means roasting in the oven. They are usually cooked at somewhat lower temperatures than chicken, to give time for the whole turkey to cook without drying out the exterior. Given the long roasting time for such a large bird, there's been a bit of a trend recently to cut up the turkey so it lies flat ("butterfly" or "spatchcock"), which allows it to cook faster and potentially more evenly.

Other than that, one can often buy individual turkey parts and use them in similar ways to chicken parts, keeping in mind the longer cooking time required. They can also be used (as with other poultry) for soup meat, etc.

  • 1
    Turkey legs aren't just for BBQ places in the South, they're also one of the canonical foods at fairs, at least in Texas. Anything sort of big event with food stands has a good chance of having turkey legs, in the same vein as roasted corn on the cob and lemonade and so on.
    – Cascabel
    Nov 25, 2015 at 18:31
  • @Jefromi - true, I have seen that. My sense is that they are still prepared in a similar way, though -- often smoked or otherwise cooked slowly for a long time (as with most southern BBQ stuff). Is that your experience?
    – Athanasius
    Nov 25, 2015 at 18:40
  • 1
    Yup, I think it's similar - for some reason I never thought of it as BBQ but yeah, I think roasted or smoked, probably with some kind of rub or sauce cooked onto it.
    – Cascabel
    Nov 25, 2015 at 19:16
  • The people you know sure are missing out on that delicious dark meat.
    – JAB
    Nov 18, 2017 at 0:00

Turkey legs & thigh are a darker meat than pen raised chicken. Breast is dryer. More taste to the bird. It is best to bake upside down. This lets the fat in the back drip threw it. Makeing it self basting. The last hour remove lid or foil turn over & bake at 375 till skin is golden brown. Has good appearance with out burning the wing tips & such. Baked I like them stuffed,, with giblets except the liver. Liver should be fine chopped mixed with fat spice & onion not to much. Baked last hour for a liver dish on the side. Neck is best saved for soup with chicken parts. I like the legs & thighs. Breast is best for sandwich's. A dryer meat. They are good cut up like a chicken & deep fried. Breast can be split or boned fried. Or saved skinned baked with bacon on top of the breast. For a little extra oil in the meat. I use to fix 2 or 3 a year in America. Here I go with peacock for a large bird for a party. A turkeys advantage is size. Fix one to feed all. Not a dozen chickens or more. Also cost per LB. to serve. Here were I live. its advantage is being very special to serve. As it cost over $12 a pound U.S. So putting on something from America very special for guest.

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