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Giving Ground Turkey Another Chance - What Brand?

I tried ground turkey years ago and it was AWFUL! Literally a "hot mess." Nasty, gloopy, gloppy white ICK that my husband says even the DOG turned up his nose at.

I know you guys use it so it must be better now. (I think they ground the skin into it back in the 80's!)

Can you recommend a good brand? We do have Whole Foods here but no Trader Joe's and I'd prefer something I can get at Kroger or Walmart.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. the best ground turkey that ive had was the one sold at costco... i think its butterball brand but id have to check next time im there as i dont have any on hand right now.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mattstolz

      Thanks, Matt.

      Forgot about Costco. Does it come in a ginormous quantity?

      1. re: Bliss149

        four of the regular "supermarket sized" vaccuum seal packs. can always freeze three and use one (what i do)

        i think the most important part about ground turkey is that it doesnt stand overcooking NEARLY as well as ground beef or pork does due to being much leaner. i crank the heat on mine and cook it super fast so it still gets some brown on it. normally with some good taco seasoning on it.

        1. re: mattstolz

          This is what I do. I think the quality is fine. You don't brown it the way you would ground beef. I think preparing it involves a bit of a learning curve. But it is fine to eat, as far as I'm concerned.

    2. I don't think it's any different now. I have tried it on occasion - blech! The only time I use it is mixed with ground beef and lots of aromatic vegetables and seasonings, in meatloaf, so as to reduce the amount of fat per serving. IMO, ground turkey needs a LOT of help to be at all palatable. I know some people think it's wonderful and question the function of their taste buds!

      2 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        I agree - I can't stand ground turkey. When I need lean meat, I would rather grind eye round of beef myself - it's almost as lean, and tastes 1000000% better.

        1. re: biondanonima

          I hate it, both the smell when substituted where it doesn't belong, and the taste. Gimme grass fed beef, lean or not so lean, every time.

      2. (I think they ground the skin into it back in the 80's!)
        they still do. if you're buying packages that are simply labeled as "ground turkey," you're getting all the tissue components - the white & dark meat, skin, and fat - from all parts of the turkey.

        if you just want the meat, you have to buy packages that are labeled as such - "ground turkey MEAT."

        and if you want just the ground white meat from the breast, the package must be labeled as "ground turkey BREAST."

        2 Replies
        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Agreed. I have made the mistake before of buying just ground turkey and it was disgusting. I am always very careful now to buy ground turkey breast. I never make burgers or meatloaf. My main use is for turkey chili or instead of ground beef in a baked pasta dish.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Ground turkey breast, or 99% lean, is not for me - too easily dried out and not enough flavor. We buy 94% lean and make turkey burgers.

            To me, the secret to the burger is not to pretend it's beef - season it like it's poultry (e.g. sage).

          2. I have bought Harvestland at Walmart, no hormones or steroids, and it made OK turkey burgers. They also sell Shady Brook Farms, which is actually Cargill, which was subject to the recent ground turkey recall, and I won't buy that. Harvestland was not subject to the recall.

              1. re: PotatoHouse

                Until the recent recall? I notice you use the past tense.

                1. re: coll

                  Is Jennie O part of Cargill does anyone know?
                  couldn't find any connection to Cargill BUT they've had their own recall recently:

                  1. re: Val

                    I'm pretty sure the Cargill recall was Jennie O. Not to sound paranoid, but they are confusing on purpose. Remember Topps burgers had a major recall and supposedly went out of business? Not! They are still around under another name, not that they're necessarily poisoning anyone lately.

                  2. re: coll

                    Actually since I got married three years ago. My wife doesn't care for ground turkey.

                    1. re: PotatoHouse

                      Most people I know buy it for their dogs, if they're on the raw diet. That's what it makes me think of unfortunately.

                  3. re: PotatoHouse

                    i use jennie o as well...

                    they used to make a stuffing and breast meal that was pretty good and easy to cook...
                    and their prepared breasts are pretty good...

                    but have not gotten the ground turkey lately..

                  4. it has a smell I can't stand, like others said maybe maybe in a meat loaf to reduce the fat but barely ever.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: smartie

                      You'd get a much leaner meat loaf by combining veal, pork (so lean these days it's dry!) and lean beef. And it'd smell and taste good.

                      1. re: mcf

                        except I don't eat either pork nor veal!

                        1. re: smartie

                          Well, hmmph. Screw dat, den! ;-)

                    2. Some ground turkey is nasty, but not all.
                      One of the best (to me) is Shadybrook Farms (didn't know about any recall). It has no offensive odor when cooked.
                      Many people use ground turkey to cut fat calories, if this is your case, check the label. Not all ground turkey is created equal both flavor (or stink) and calorie-wise. Some ground turkey has more fat content than regular ground chuck...

                      I agree with WNYamateur, try not to pretend its beef and you'll do OK. It will be drier and have less flavor. It lends itself better to be cooked in a liquid, like in a spaghetti sauce. Burgers with 99% lean come out way too dry.
                      You may also consider ground chicken (which I prefer to turkey).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: porker

                        I also gave up on turkey burgers, and decided that soups are a much better use of the product. I buy the Jenny-O, just because that's what's at my store. I tried several casserole recipes, and they all were way bland and watery. Soups are the only way to go, IMHO (oh, and lots of seasonings.)

                      2. i gotta admit, im a little disappointed in CHers general giving up on this product it seems. normally i like to think of CHers as people who will find good ways to use products, especially if they are not inferior ones, just different. (for example, we're not talking canned tuna vs fresh here, we're talking chicken vs tuna).

                        16 Replies
                        1. re: mattstolz

                          But to me, it *is* an inferior product. It's factory farmed, smells and tastes bad as a substitute for beef, and this CH is all about having a good smelling and tasty food experience.

                          1. re: mcf

                            i think this is the main issue though. ground turkey is ground turkey.

                            if we made the most beautiful kobe ribeyes on thanksgiving expecting it to be a roasted turkey when we ate it, then we would think that the ribeyes were gross.

                            1. re: mattstolz

                              I love turkey, I just don't eat factory farmed stuff and I grind my own meats at home so I know what's in them. I don't grind turkey, though, because I find it an inferior substitute in the types of dishes it's in. I don't get your insistence that preferences different from yours means folks are confused about what food is or supposed to taste like. Even if I ate ground turkey, I'd never eat the mass produced pre packaged stuff.

                              1. re: mcf

                                this makes much more sense. but i'm not saying that preferences different than mine are wrong, i just dont think that using it solely as "a substitute for beef" is giving it a fair chance. thats all!

                                1. re: mattstolz

                                  Can you list all the uses for ground turkey that aren't substitutes for dishes traditionally made with beef or other meats?

                                  1. re: mcf

                                    i guess i'm more trying to say that if youre picturing your TURKEY meatballs as beef meatballs, and expecting a beef meatball, then you will be disappointed, when in reality i tend to think of a turkey meatball as a different entity altogether with its own tastes and textures. I think if you look at it this way instead, it allows more opportunity for turkey to take on its own personality?

                                    not sure if that makes sense or not haha

                                    1. re: mattstolz

                                      Why the eff should I have to do that when I can have good smelling and tasting, wholesome and much more healthy versions of those foods made from other meats that aren't subject to recall monthly for health scares?

                                      Turkey's "own personality" is at its best roasted or deep fried, IMO, and at its worst in plastipaks in the supermarket ground up with whoknowswhat.

                                      1. re: mcf

                                        well... mainly because its a thread asking for the best brand of ground turkey... not whether ground turkey is better than another meat or as a whole roasted breast. lol

                                        other than that, i gotta agree with ya!

                                        1. re: mattstolz

                                          or perhaps,
                                          mainly because its an eff'n thread asking for the best eff'n brand of ground eff'n turkey?

                                          1. re: porker

                                            See previous effing reply. ;-)

                                              1. re: porker

                                                Actually, it's the effing reply that appears right below yours... the OP was about the ick factor, too.

                                          2. re: mattstolz

                                            Actually, reading the content of the OP, it is about how yucky ground turkey is. Then there's the matter of "brand" vs. wholesome turkey.

                            2. re: mattstolz

                              But isn't that the very definition of a CH? When you search for deliciousness and do not find it, you give up and go eat something that is delicious.

                              1. re: Isolda

                                I would say that, like so many worthwhile things in life, foods can be an acquired taste. So just like nobody is born liking opera, jazz, long novels, or NPR, giving up on food you don't appreciate at first is not an accepted Chowhound practice.

                                1. re: Steve

                                  I think that depends upon what value the food in question might offer. In this case, it's nil in terms of dietary or gustatory enrichment.

                            3. I like turkey burgers. No special brand needed. But use a recipe that is specifically for turkey burgers.

                              I think most folks just don't adapt well to burgers made from poultry. It's a non-starter for many.

                              1. Empire Kosher makes decent turkey burgers if extended and moisturized with chopped onions and coated in breadcrumbs before frying.

                                1 Reply
                                1. I made ground turkey kabobs when I couldn't find ground chicken for my Koobideh. I'm sure the pureed onion and its juice helped with the flavor and moisture, but it was good.

                                  I usually put it in chili, but if you're not worried about fat content, add some butter or oil to the burger patties.

                                  1. Thanks for all the replies, everyone! This was helpful. Y'all can make even the most boring topic interesting.