Tips to find a low sodium holiday turkey


You don’t have to dread holiday meals while living a low salt lifestyle. Whether you are preparing for a Thanksgiving dinner or a Christmas feast, the key to a low salt holiday is to find a low sodium holiday turkey.


You must read the nutrition label on a turkey before tossing one in your cart. 4-ounces of turkey should be in the ballpark of 80 mg of sodium. This represents the average amount of sodium naturally found in turkey meat.

Which frozen turkey has the lowest sodium? Fresh, Premium, or Fully Cooked?

Let’s examine the sodium content of Butterball, one of the best-selling frozen turkey brands in America. All three of the turkeys in the picture above are sold as frozen products. The packaging may look similar, but the sodium content varies.

The turkey labeled “Fully Cooked” clocks in at 630 mg of sodium for a 4-ounce serving. That is crazy! Rember, a 4-ounce serving of turkey naturally has about 80mg of sodium. So, what’s with the additional 550 mg of sodium??? It is because it has been “seasoned” and pumped with salt water.

Now that the fully cooked one is off the table, it leaves the one labeled “Fresh” and the one with the “Premium” label. Surely one of them must be low in salt? The Fresh Butterball has 130 mg of sodium per 4-ounce serving while the Premium Butterball has 200 mg of sodium for the same serving size. That means technically, the “Fresh” one is lower in sodium, but it is still higher than the target range of about 80 mg of sodium per serving.


The answer is you have to look around at the grocery store. Compare labels and explore all available brands. Don’t overlook store brands because oftentimes the store brand isn’t packed with all of the extras like saltwater.

For example, Wegmans sells a turkey with only 55mg of sodium per serving. Note, their serving size is 3-ounces while most other brands use a 4-ounce serving. But some quick math tells us that 4-ounces of the Wegmans turkey has 73 mg of sodium. That beats our target number and is almost half of the sodium found in the Butterball turkey!

Purchasing a store brand might also save you money. Many stores offer steeply discounted prices on their turkeys around the holidays. Oftentimes these special discounts are offered through their loyalty program.


RETHINK YOUR MENU: If you can’t find a full turkey without a lot of added salt, why not serve a turkey breast? Many brands sell a frozen turkey breast that is not packaged in saltwater. So usually these are easier to find which makes it an ideal solution to minimizing the salt on your holiday table.

TALK TO YOUR BUTCHER: Visit the meat department counter at your grocery store and ask if they can get a whole turkey with little to no added salt. Oftentimes they can special order you one. Since everyone defines “low salt” differently, it is best to tell the butcher you are looking for a turkey in the range of 80 mg of sodium per serving. I suggest you plan in advance if you are going this route because you need to give the butcher enough time to get your order shipped to the store.

SHOP AROUND: I know time is tight, especially around the holidays. But if you take some time to visit different grocery stores, you will probably find the low sodium holiday turkey you are looking for!

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