Butterball announces shortage of small turkeys, here's how to salvage your Thanksgiving

The Butterball Turkey Hotline is now open. But do you have a turkey? Butterball just announced smaller turkeys will be harder to find this year.  

Many shoppers tell us they're already finding it hard to get their hands on turkeys for Thanksgiving, along with cranberry sauce, pumpkins, apples, and wine. And turkeys this year are hitting record prices.

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Butterball and Shady Brook Farms say smaller turkeys will be harder to find.  Rastelli Foods Group says bigger birds are in short supply.

No matter how you slice it, the USDA says prices for a frozen 8 to 16-pound turkey are up nearly 22% over last year and 68% over 2019.  

Supply chain delays are driving up food prices across the board.

"I think consumers can expect this increase in prices will continue for the next few months. There’s no way to know how long that will be. But I think it will continue for at least the short term," said Leslie Sarasin, FMI, The Food Industry Association.

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The key to Thanksgiving dinner this year is being thankful for options.  

"I think we’ve all learned during the pandemic we can do things differently," said Sarasin.

"Another food you can try is pork tenderloin," said Registered Dietician Monique Dorsey with UT Health Houston and UT Physicians. "That can be a great lean protein alternative to turkey, and it can really be a great centerpiece for the table as well."

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Other options include roasted chicken, cornish game hens, duck, turkey legs or breast, prime rib, ribeye, and rising in the ranks, turkey meatloaf.

"It’s really similar," said Dorsey. "So you have your ground turkey, of course, paprika, panko, a broth of your choice, beef broth, or chicken broth."

Dorsey says you can replace hard-to-find cranberries, pumpkins, and apples, with seasonal berries and pears.  


While Thanksgiving dinner may not include all the traditional foods this year, Dorsey says it helps to remember what the holiday is really about.

"A shortage of turkey or foods you're used to shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying this meal together," she said.

If you're looking for a turkey, the sooner you buy, the better. Experts say consider ordering a fresh one from a local farm and check your local independent grocers.