What Is Utility Turkey & Is It Worth Trying?

What is Utility Turkey, and Is It Worth Buying
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Turkey meat is super lean and super healthy, but it can be a bit pricy, though, especially if you want a whole turkey. There are probably hundreds of brands, types, and different cuts of meat, but there is only one grading system. Which grade the turkey will get depends solely on its looks, not meat quality, feeding habits, antibiotics, or taste. Grade A and grade B turkeys are everywhere, but utility turkeys are something else. Since they can be quite a bargain, I feel so lucky when I come across one. So, what is utility turkey?

Utility turkey is quality meat with some parts like legs, wings, or parts of skin missing. It is worth buying if you don’t care about the little imperfections, as it’s a lot cheaper than A-grade turkey. It’s hard to find in standard stores, so better contact the local farms or check out Wholesales Club or IGA stores.

I had never tried utility turkey before last Thanksgiving, and I pretty much didn’t know what to expect. I was surprised by the fact that you can get the same-tasting and same-quality WHOLE bird for a bargain! Read on to have an insight into what you buying and where you can find it!

What Is Considered Utility Turkey?

Utility turkey is just a regular turkey but with one or a few parts missing. Let me explain. Birds are very delicate to work with, so it’s very simple to tear them up when packing, for example.

Also, in the processing plants, turkeys are hung up by the legs, which makes them even more prone to lose a part of the body. Usually, that will be a wing, leg, or a part of the skin. The utility is a grade, nonetheless, and with a lack of even the smallest part of the skin, they can’t be named anything else. 

I find it very interesting that even the slight skin slit must be labeled the same. Although, turkeys get the grade according to their appearance, so if it’s not perfect – they get graded down. 

utility turkey with missing parts

What Is the Opposite of Utility Turkey?

Opposite from utility turkey is, of course, A-grade turkey. A-grade turkeys are intact and perfectly packed, with all the parts in their respective places. Besides, they don’t have any cuts, rips, bruises, or fractured bones.

There are a few more differences, though. Utility turkeys are always frozen, while you can buy A-grade turkeys both frozen and fresh. When it comes to giblets, A-grade birds’ giblets come stuffed inside and packed in the bag, but utility turkeys don’t have them at all.


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Is Utility Turkey Still Worth Buying?

Definitely, yes, if you don’t mind missing a leg or wing. To be honest, the perfect turkey looks more appealing, but I don’t mind buying utility, either. The meat quality is the same as A-grade, and that’s most important for me.

Also, this grade has no impact on taste either, so be free to try it! The biggest difference here is not the looks, but the price! Utility turkeys are waaay cheaper than regular ones; thus, there are 0 reasons to avoid buying them.

If the centerpiece turkey is not a must for you, go for utility! You can slice it beforehand and serve it like that, along with sides, on a large platter. I did just that, plus poured some sauce over it, and it was mouth-watering!

Roast Utility Turkey Served in Pieces

Where Can You Find a Good Utility Turkey?

You will rarely find these turkeys in supermarkets, even though mass-produce companies have thousands of utility-graded meat. Utility turkeys will be used in restaurants, fast food chains, or in turkey meat-based products (like patties). The best place to look for them is your local farmers or stores.

Utility turkeys are popular in Canada, but in the USA, not so much. Still, look for them among small retailers that don’t have a collaboration with restaurants or have leftover utility turkey to sell! IGA stores offer good utility-graded meat, and you can find it in both USA and Canada.

Also, check out Wholesales Club as they, too, offer them. They all have one more thing in common – maple leaf on the packing, as that’s, to the core, a Canadian thing!

Have you already tried utility turkey? How’s the availability where you live? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below!

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