How to buy the cheapest Christmas turkey

I believe it's possible to be both festive and frugal

I believe it's possible to be both frugal and festive

They say you can’t put a price on the magic of Christmas –  but it’s worth remembering MoneySaving too so you avoid spending a fortune on a Yuletide feast.

In my family’s home Christmas is very much the time for indulgence (you’ll find multiple Terry’s Chocolate Orange wrappers as evidence). And the turkey, along with all its trimmings, is undoubtedly the centrepiece of the day.

But that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. I believe it’s possible to be both frugal AND festive – and so I’ve crunched the numbers to find out how to buy the cheapest turkey this Christmas.

Don’t assume if it’s more expensive it’s better

It’s worth noting that for one ITV programme a few Christmases ago, Martin held a blind taste test party for nurses at a hospital. They tasted an up-brand and down-brand version of each product in a blind taste test.

While sometimes up-brand won, on turkey, an amazing 73% preferred an own-brand turkey compared to the most expensive brand. So don’t give in to brand snobbery.

How much do they cost?

The tables below compare the price of three different types of turkey – frozen, standard fresh and premium range – at leading UK supermarkets. The tables are ordered alphabetically, so you can see at a glance the cheapest turkey where you shop ― where possible I’ve chosen a turkey big enough to feed at least six people. I’ve also included a link to the bird, where it’s possible.

If you are comparing between stores on price though, I’d suggest looking first at the overall cost of the bird, as in practice you don’t buy turkey by the kilo. Then, where the overall cost is similar, it’s worth looking at the price per kilo to ensure you get the most bird for your buck.

Cheapest frozen turkey compared 

The key selling point of frozen turkeys is that they’re substantially cheaper than fresh ones. Plus you’ll be able to avoid the hassle of waiting in line for a collection or waiting in for a delivery in the busy days before Christmas ― you can buy it now and stash it in the freezer, if you have space.

This year, the cheapest frozen turkeys come from … drumroll … Aldi and Lidl. The budget supermarkets live up to their name and are the clear winners on price.

Supermarket Type of bird Price per kg Average weight Serving Total price Last order dates (where available)
Aldi Whole British turkey £2.08 – £2.75 4kg – 5.30kg 4-10 £11 No orders online
Asda* Chosen by You frozen basted medium turkey £3.20 4.85kg 8-10 £16
Co-op Bernard Matthews Golden Norfolk frozen turkey large £2.86 5.4kg – 7.2kg 8-10 £18
Farm Foods Bernard Matthews Golden Norfolk frozen turkey large £2.08 – £2.76 5.4kg – 7.2kg 8-10 £14.95
Lidl Braemoor Medium Self Basting Turkey with Giblets £2.39 4.-5.4kg 6-8 £11.99
Morrisons Morrisons frozen basted turkey medium £4 4.55kg 9-11 £16 Order until Sun 14 Dec
Ocado Frozen medium free range turkey with giblets £6.63 5.5kg 8 £37 Tue 23 Dec
Sainsbury’s* Sainsbury’s frozen whole basted turkey, medium £4.36 4.55kg 8-10 £17
Tesco* Tesco British medium basted frozen turkey £4.11 3.9kg – 5.2kg 8-10 £16
Waitrose Essential Waitrose turkey medium with giblets £5.34 4kg – 5.49kg 8 £22 Order by Mon 15 Dec
Notes: M&S does not stock frozen turkeys.

Cheapest standard fresh turkey compared

Aldi’s a winner again in the standard fresh category ― a bird which can feed between 9 and 11 people costs £17.99. Lidl is a close contender for second place, as it costs the same per kg as Aldi for its fresh bird. Asda and Morrisons are similarly cheap, charging £19 and £18, respectively.

It’s important to note that in this table the size of the bird varies significantly. Morrisons, for instance, supplied me with the price of a bird that only serves six people, and Ocado’s turkey only feeds five.

Supermarket Type of bird Price per kg Average weight Serving Total price Last order dates (where available)
Aldi Medium fresh whole British turkey £4.49 3.5kg – 4.5kg 9-11 £17.99 Order until 11pm on Mon 15 Dec
Asda Asda Butcher’s Selection small whole turkey £5.01 3.79kg 4-5 £19
Co-op The Co-operative British medium whole turkey £5.20 4kg – 5.99kg 7-8 £26 In stores from Fri 19 Dec
Lidl Birchwood medium fresh British whole white turkey £4.49 4-5kg 8-12 £22.45 (for 5kg) On sale from 19 Dec
Morrisons Whole British turkey, small £6.67 2.7kg – 3.6kg 5-6 £18 Order until Sun 14 Dec
M&S British turkey £5.50 4kg – 5.5kg 6-10 £22-£30.25 Order by 5pm on Mon 15 Dec. In stores only
Ocado Waitrose free-range small turkey £8.29 2.75kg – 3.99kg 5 £27.94
Sainsbury’s* Turkey by Sainsbury’s £5.50 3.97kg – 4.99kg 8-10 £22-£27.44
Tesco* Tesco whole turkey medium £5 4kg – 5.99kg 6-8 £29.95 Order until Mon 15 Dec
Waitrose* Essential Waitrose turkey £5.99 4kg – 6kg 8 £35.94 Order by Mon 15 Dec
Whole Foods Free range British turkey £9.99 4kg 6-10 £39.96 Order online or in stores by Mon 22 Dec

Cheapest premium fresh turkey compared

If you’re looking for something a little bit special and don’t mind paying extra, then you may want to consider a premium category bird ― these are usually organic or free range.

We’ve updated our prices and the winner in this category is Aldi again ― with a price tag of just £22.99. It just beats Lidl by charging £1.25/kg less per bird.

Supermarket Type of bird Price per kg Average weight Serving Total price Last order dates (where available)
Aldi Specially selected medium bronze free range turkey £5.74 3kg – 5kg 8-12 £22.96 (for 4kg) Available in-store from Fri 19 Dec
Asda Asda Extra Special premium medium free range £7.17 5.29kg 6-8 £26 Order until 11pm on Mon 15 Dec
Co-op The Co-operative British medium whole turkey £8.18 5kg – 5.99kg 7-8 £45 Only available in 155 stores, out of 2,500
Lidl Deluxe ultimate fresh British Broadland free range bronze turkey £6.99 4-6kg 8-13 £34.95 (for 5kg) On sale from 19 Dec
Morrisons M Signature Bronze British free range turkey, medium £8.71 3.1kg -3.9kg 5-6 £27 Order until Sun 14 Dec
M&S* Free range British turkey £8 4kg – 4.75kg 6-8 £32-38 Order by 5pm on Mon 15 Dec
Ocado Kelly Bronze turkey dry aged free range £10.99 4kg – 4.99kg 4-7 £49.46
Sainsbury’s* Taste the Difference Norfolk black free range turkey £11.50 5kg – 5.98kg 10-12 £57.50-£68.88
Tesco* Tesco Finest free range bronze turkey medium £7.50 4.26kg – 5.50kg 6-8 £41.25 Order until Mon 15 Dec
Waitrose* Organic free range bronze feathered turkey £9.99 3-5kg 6 £59.95 Order by Mon 15 Dec
Whole Foods Organic & free range British turkey £11.99 4kg 6-10 £47.96 Order by Mon 22 Dec

But what about quality?

The more expensive a retailer is, the more they boast that their birds are of higher quality. But such claims are often subjective and hard to substantiate.

I did think about doing a taste test here at MSE Towers, but the lack of oven/kitchen equipment made it tricky. Plus, I’m looking forward to indulging and I certainly don’t need to put early stress on my waistline.

In the past people have questioned the quality of bargain basement birds, so it might be worth checking out reviews online to see if anyone has ever shared their views on the taste of a particular turkey. All the supermarkets say that their turkeys are raised in ethical conditions – but if you’re worried check the policy of your selected retailer. And tell us what you think in the Cheapest Xmas Turkey forum thread.

What about turkey crowns, aren’t they cheaper? 

I’ve heard on the turkey grapevine (it’s a thing, really) that crowns are becoming increasingly popular with those wanting to save time and money.

While I haven’t conducted a full comparison of prices, turkey crowns usually sell for a few quid cheaper than a whole bird. They’re much quicker to cook too ― the average oven time for a turkey crown is 60 minutes versus three hours for a typical 4 kilo bird.

What about buying from a butcher or local supplier?

There is always something to be said for supporting local businesses, and while independent butchers or poultry suppliers aren’t guaranteed to be MoneySaving, it’s possible they might offer a cheaper alternative to supermarket birds.

You can use the National Farmers Union’s turkey tool to find a local supplier and compare their quotes against the figures above. You might be even be able to get a discount if you haggle.

Enough about turkeys ― what about the rest of the dinner? 

Although those who opt for frozen turkeys often buy well in advance, it’s likely to be a while yet before you do your big Christmas shop.

Once the big supermarkets have released their prices for spuds, sprouts and all the other trimmings, I’ll be writing another blog post looking at how the different stores stack up and I’d love to hear your thoughts below or in the Cheapest Xmas Turkey forum thread.

Also, please let me know if I’ve missed a shop in the tables above – especially if they beat these prices. I’d love to hear what you think? Do you buy a turkey crown? Or are you loyal to your local butcher? Tell me below.

Blog updated on Thu 18 Dec to include Lidl’s prices.