A roast turkey is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving and because the meal is built around it, cooks often feel some pressure to get it cooked perfectly. The turkey, usually sold frozen, must be thawed for quite some time before it can be prepped – and for every two chefs out there there are 3 opinions on how the turkey should be cooked. There is one turkey that I know of that promises to make Thanksgiving easier by eliminating all of these variables: the Jennie-O Turkey Store Oven Ready Whole Turkey.
The turkey comes in an oven bag and is baked from frozen. All you really need to do is take the turkey, still in the bag, and place it in a roasting pan in a preheated oven. An 11-13 pound turkey takes about 3 1/2 hours to cook completely. There is an oven thermometer already in the turkey that “pops up” when the turkey is done so you know exactly when to take it out of the oven.
I was skeptical before I tried it. Frozen turkey? No work required? It honestly seemed like it was too simple, but the fact that I didn’t have to handle a huge raw turkey was extremely appealing, as was the idea that the turkey is a huge Thanksgiving time-saver.
The turkey turned out great. I followed the package directions exactly and the turkey was well-cooked – both white and dark meat – flavorful and very moist. The turkey is prepared with “up to 10 percent solution to enhance juiciness and tenderness” and comes pre-seasoned, with salt and spices, including onion powder, paprika and garlic powder, all of which I would normally put on a turkey made from scratch. The skin was well-browned and, while not as crispy as some turkey skin I’ve had before, was still tender and not soggy. The turkey had lots of flavorful drippings, which I used to make gravy once the turkey was done. In fact, it was even easy to get the drippings out of the oven bag by snipping off a corner and letting them drain into a measuring cup so I could skim off the fat.
All in all, this turkey is definitely worth a try. I loved the fact that I didn’t have to worry about whether or not the turkey was cooking properly, as well as that I didn’t need to handle the bird in advance, saving time for other Thanksgiving prep work. The meat was tender and tasty, and the homemade gravy turned out great. If you’re set on a heritage turkey or going for totally organic bird, you might have to wait until Jennie-O expands their line. Otherwise, this is a great option and one you (and a turkey-loving family) won’t be disappointed with.
Homemade Turkey Gravy
approx 3 cups turkey drippings, fat skimmed
1/4 cup all purpose flour
salt and pepper, to taste
In a stovetop-safe roasting pan, or a medium saucepan, whisk together turkey drippings and flour until smooth. Cook over medium heat until gravy comes to a simmer and thickens slightly. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve while warm, with turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes.
Makes about 3 cups gravy.
AmandaNovember 12, 2008
Awesome review. I’ve always wanted to know what these are like. Sounds easy enough, I’m gonna have to try one now.
MaryNovember 12, 2008
Was the convenience worth the increased price? My guest list is a mere shadow of former years and the idea of less prep appeals to me, but the oven-ready turkeys are twice the price.
NicoleNovember 12, 2008
Mary – I can’t really answer that question, since I think the answer will be different for everyone. For me, probably, since I really don’t like dealing with the raw turkey and it was really nice not to give the bird a second thought (or have to thaw it for two days in the fridge). I don’t really need a turkey larger than this for my Thanksgivings, either. I also have a couple of close family members who get very stressed out just thinking about making the “perfect” turkey, and I think that they would benefit, whether they know it or not.
GlennaNovember 14, 2008
Thanks for this review. I’m going to have to look for this product since I have to work from Thanksgiving through the whole weekend (nights) but we’re still going to have our family Thanksgiving on Saturday afternoon. This could mean the difference between some sleep and no sleep, you know what I mean?
ErinNovember 18, 2008
Where are these sold? The meat-guy at Fred Meyer said they were discontinued — at least for them.
NicoleNovember 18, 2008
Erin – I’ve seen them at Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Albertsons and other grocery stores in my area. I’d just call around to see who has them in stock, they’re definitely not just sold at one particular grocery store
vickiNovember 19, 2008
i cooked one last year and would never have any other kind, but i have not been able to find one. i live in the madison, ms area, if you could help me out. walmart says they have the breasts, but no turkey in a bag. hurry, thanksgiving is almost here.
JakeNovember 24, 2008
I bought this turkey for 2008 Thanksgiving. I believe it will be terrific, and I bought the last one available at my market. They seem to be popular.
YvonneJanuary 18, 2009
To Whom it may concern, By accident I let my turkey un thaw in the frig can I still cook it? Thank You Yvonne
jdmabbyMarch 22, 2010
wow that looks so good.
AnotherNicoleAugust 31, 2010
Not a fan of Jennie O. Your remark about the skin not crisping echoes my experience with their products. I sometimes buy the wings when I have no other choice and they never crisp like regular turkey. Maybe it’s the 12% solution. Really annoying.
I can tolerate their non frozen sausage and ground breast meat. There’s just something abnormal about their whole birds and cuts.
BarbNovember 25, 2010
Tried one for Thanksgiving this year, it was awful. The dark meat was rubbery and even though we cooked it a lot longer than suggested, the breast meat was at 180, the dark meat was undercooked. This is a total waist of money.
BarbNovember 25, 2010
Sorry… It’s a waste of money. 🙂
Dolores SilvaOctober 16, 2011
I love the oven ready turkey, no mess & cooks up perfect every time. I am always able to purchase them at Genuardis supermarket in Barnegat. N.J. Hope they still get them in this year. I know they are more pricey but definitely worth it! I wish they were sold in more supermarkets, I get nervous I won’t be able to find one. Can it be ordered on line? Can you give me a list of markets in Southern N.J. who carry them?
Theresa WatsonJune 19, 2013
This turkey is wonderful. I have tried to purchase again for July 4th party but eas told they are not available until Thanksgiving. Where can I order one
PatDecember 15, 2013
I cooked this today and I can’t even begin to tell you how awful it is. The seasoning is overdone and permeates even the deepest white meat. Neither by smell nor taste would you know you were eating turkey. It totally distorts the turkey taste, and turns a healthy meat into a sodium disaster.
And, the “gravy”……..don’t even go there.
We each had 1 slice of white meat and the rest went in the garbage.
MikeNovember 28, 2014
My family has been cooking these turkeys for the last 3 or 4 years. Every year it turns out GREAT. Moist, juicy, flavorful turkey. Everyone comments on how juicy they are. Really takes the guesswork out of cooking a great bird for Thanksgiving.
StarrNovember 21, 2016
This is the best turkey ever the oven ready because if don’t have the time to prepare and if don’t the ingredient it same time and money I love The Jennie o turkey the best please please don’t stop making this turkey
MplsCarrieNovember 24, 2016
I make at least one of these during the year. I don’t care for the gravy packet but this bird has enough juices to work with that I can make my own gravy.
Once I actually cooked it upside down by mistake and it was still brown and delicious.
It’s true that it is quite a bit more expensive than a regular frozen turkey but for someone who does not do a lot of from-scratch cooking, it’s a good way to serve a turkey with excellent results.
alNovember 22, 2017
purchased 5 2.75 lbs boneless frozen turkey breasts thinking we would have approx 14 lbs of turkey, but they stick in a frozen package of gravy with each bird, so we actually only had approx 10 lbs.
went to their web site to contact them and you had to agree to their terms and conditions to submit any complaint. so they are just telling you to buzz off.
won’t be buying any other products from them.