Turkey….Is Heritage worth it?

First time purchasing a Heritage Turkey.
Hoping for a noticeable difference! The cost is substantially higher.
Any thoughts here?

Have not done it, looking forward to your conclusions

Good question and I don’t know the answer.
Many years ago I made the switch to Heritage Turkeys (normally Mary’s from Whole Foods) based on reviews.
Figured it was really just once a year, so wanted to get the most out of the bird even though quite a bit more expensive.
I have not done a side by side taste test (no reason to cook two birds just for that), but I have noticed less breast meat (good for us, as we generally like dark meat more) and I think tastier dark meat.


without knowing what you bought, it’s difficult. but you will likely notice a big difference between that and a supermarket bird. you may not like the difference!

cooking will likely be different as well - less forgiving. highly recommend spatching it and just letting it dry out in the fridge for 2 days on a wire rack. 24 hour dry brine would help as well.

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I ordered one in 2018 and did a balantine (deboned and wet brined). The flavor was more interesting and a little gamey in a good way. The texture wasn’t as soft/moist but not in a bad way. I’d prefer it over a traditional turkey, but agree with ybarselah that some people may not like the difference. I don’t really like regular turkey and the heritage was a nice change.

I actually start the dry brine process on Sunday night (3 nights in a bag and 1 night out of the bag) and into the oven Thursday morning. Turns out fantastic each time, such that every year, I ask my wife if she wants me to smoke a turkey on the BGE, and always a no and to do it first on a day other than Thanksgiving, since everyone loves the dry brine/oven roast heritage bird.

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I did heritage the last 4 years I was in the US. Agree with the comments above - a bit chewier, a bit gamier (in a good way). If you were using industrial-farmed birds before be prepared for bigger legs and smaller breasts.

Because of the different proportions (in my experience) it’s a bit tricky to get everything done in the oven at the same time without overcooking the breasts. Even when spatchcocked.

As a result the last two times I broke the bird down. I braised the legs, and then did the breasts in a turkey “porchetta style”. Removed the skin, butterflied the breasts, rubbed them in herbs and salt and then rolled it up like porchetta, wrapping the skin back around. Brought the breasts to temp in the oven and then finished in the fryer to crisp the skin. This proved a huge hit - the herbs played nicely with the slightly gamier breasts, and the skin was just so crispy.


Thanks for the input.
For a point of reference we buy from D’artagnan. Been buying their organic turkey for many years. Looking forward to trying something different.
Also I’ve noticed that some high end restaurants serve Heritage turkey for their thanksgiving dinners.


more dark meat and more intense flavor. but in the end still turkey (the ones from D’Artagnan)

Cooked a Narragansett a couple of years ago that was purchased from a local farm. First time trying a heritage breed. Definitely a different flavor profile. Was a little too gamey for me, others loved it.