As Inflation Drives Up Turkey Prices, Here Are 6 Alternatives To Serve for Thanksgiving

Roast Rib eye of British Beef with all the Trimmings on White Dish.
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Inflation, supply chain issues and a severe bird flu outbreak are driving turkey prices up this Thanksgiving, The New York Post recently reported. According to data published by The Wall Street Journal, turkey prices are 57% higher compared to the average price over the past five years — and fresh turkey breast meat costs an average of $6.50 per pound heading into Thanksgiving. In 2020, according to The New York Post, turkey breast cost just $2 per pound.

You should expect a whole frozen turkey weighing between 8 to 16 pounds to set you back roughly $1.99 per pound, compared to last year’s price of $1.15. That’s a 73% increase, according to CNBC. For many, buying frozen turkey is a low-cost alternative to fresh, but you just can’t beat the taste of fresh, never-frozen poultry.

Consider Less Expensive Meal Alternatives for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving

With turkey prices being disproportionately high this year — even compared to the national average inflation of 11.2% for food at home as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index for September 2022 — you might be considering alternatives for Thanksgiving dinner.

A recent survey from Personal Capital, as reported by GOBankingRates, found that 33% of respondents celebrating “friendsgiving” (a gathering of close friends compared to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with extended family members) are opting to serve pizza.

Here are six other tasty alternatives to the traditional turkey feast.

Roast Chicken

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI report for September 2022, whole fresh chicken will only set you back $2.11 per pound. That’s a tremendous savings compared to turkey. Many people prefer the flavor of chicken over turkey, as well. Because fresh roasting chickens tend to be smaller than turkeys, it is often easier to roast a chicken without risk of it drying out, too. However, you may need to buy two if you’re feeding a crowd.

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You can still make all the traditional Thanksgiving sides — including mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and vegetables — as they will complement the flavor of chicken as well as turkey. Plus, you’ll still get the most coveted part of your Thanksgiving meal: drumsticks! You’ll even get a wishbone to break if that is part of your family tradition.

Fresh Ham

Fresh ham is often on the menu for Christmas or Easter. Like turkey or roast chicken, fresh ham goes well with traditional Thanksgiving sides of mashed potatoes, gravy, and fresh baked rolls and is the perfect fall meal.

You can skip the sugary cranberry sauce and add pickled red cabbage or sauerkraut to your spread to complement the flavor of roast pork. Bone-in ham and pork, on average, ranges in price from $3.81 to $4.87 this year, which is less expensive than fresh turkey.  

Roast Beef

You might not think a hearty roast beef would cost less than your turkey dinner, but it does. USDA Choice round roast is $6.35 per pound, which is a little less than fresh turkey. And, again, you can pair it with all the traditional sides, including mashed potatoes, rolls, and gravy.

Add garlic cloves and fresh herbs to the roast and your whole home will smell fantastic while you’re watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Spiral-sliced or Glazed Ham

Keeping in mind the (relatively) low price of pork this year, spiral-sliced or glazed ham is another great option for your Thanksgiving table. If you opt for a boneless variety, which will cook faster and be easier to carve, you can expect to spend an average of $5.92 per pound, but a bone-in spiral ham will run under $5 per pound.

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To make an easy glaze, combine 1 and 1/4 cups brown sugar, 1/3 cup pineapple juice, 1/3 cup honey, 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves in a saucepan. Cook at medium-high heat while whisking continuously until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the glaze thickens.

Not only is ham an affordable Thanksgiving option, but you can look forward to leftovers such as split pea soup and ham-and-egg quiche.

Fresh Atlantic Salmon

You may not think of serving salmon for Thanksgiving, but this heart-healthy seafood cooks quickly and easily and a salmon side can feed a crowd. Right now, Target is offering MOWI fresh Atlantic salmon side for $19.99 for 30 oz. With a serving size of 3 to 4 oz., this could feed eight to 10 people.

The price per pound falls at just over $10, making this a pricier option than turkey. But it is a healthy alternative that will please the pescatarians at your table. Plus, if you find yourself scrambling to find a turkey at the last minute, salmon is readily available.

Atlantic salmon takes on the flavor of the seasonings, so you can choose bold options like lemon pepper or a balsamic glaze. Consider pairing it with wild rice and seasonal vegetables like zucchini, carrots, brussels sprouts and parsnips, instead of stuffing and potatoes.


If you’re planning Thanksgiving on a budget, one way to cut costs dramatically is to go vegetarian. Lasagna is a hearty meal that’s perfect for fall. If you choose to add ground beef, you’ll pay an average of just $5.42 per pound — and a pound can go a long way if you’re mixing it with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. By eliminating the meat, you can shave an extra $6 to $12 off the costs of this easy meal.

Make Your Money Work for You

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