Brown Black Spots on Turkey (What Should You Do?)

Have you noticed some black and brown spots on your turkey?

Are you wondering if you can still eat it? 

Or do you need to go to the supermarket and buy a new one?


Why Does My Turkey Have Black or Brown Spots?

These spots are from the plucking of the feathers.

The color of the feathers results in the color of the spots.

Since most store-bought turkeys have white feathers, they usually have lighter spots.

You might not even notice them since the turkey skin is also white.

If your turkey had darker feathers, you’ll probably notice the dark spots.

What Should I Do if My Turkey Has Black or Brown Spots?

If you notice dark brown or black spots on your turkey, proceed as normal.

They are from plucking the feathers. There is nothing wrong with the turkey.

Thaw, season, and cook your turkey as normal. It will taste the same as any other turkey.


How to Tell if My Turkey Is Bad

The longer a frozen turkey is thawed, the more likely it has gone bad.

If you purchase a fresh turkey, you should cook it within two days.

Turkeys can last longer in the freezer than in the refrigerator.

This is the easiest way to know if a turkey has gone bad.

If you have followed the timing recommendations, the turkey is probably safe to eat.

But if you’re still worried, smell it. Turkey will smell rancid, or at least weird if it has gone bad.

You can also feel the turkey. If it feels slimy or sticky, it may not be safe to eat.

While black and brown spots are fine, blue and gray spots are not. These are good indicators of mold.

How to Tell if Turkey Is Safe to Eat

If your turkey passes the sight, smell, and feel tests, it is safe to cook.

If the turkey meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, it is safe to eat.

If you notice a pink color, that is okay. Turkey often retains a pinkish hue.

As long as the turkey reached a safe temperature of 165°F, you can eat it.

The Difference Between Breeds of Turkeys

Domesticated turkeys are much different from wild turkeys.

This is because they have been bred for one specific purpose: eating.

While it is common to see white turkeys on turkey farms, it is rare to see wild turkeys with white feathers.

In the 1950s, the Broad-breasted White turkey was specifically bred for eating.

The white feathers and lighter skin color were more attractive to consumers.

While white domestic turkey breeds are common, there are some darker domesticated breeds.

For instance, the Heritage Black turkey is a popular breed available at most stores.

Heritage turkeys will often have dark spots since their feathers are darker.

If you don’t prefer seeing dark spots on your turkey, you may want to avoid buying heritage breeds.

Black and brown turkeys will likely have darker skin and visible spots.


How to Store a Turkey

Store a turkey in a freezer whenever possible.

If you will cook the turkey within two days, you can store it in the refrigerator.

The fresh meat will only last for a couple of days in the fridge.

You can also refrigerate cooked turkey leftovers if you will eat them within a few days.

Otherwise, you may want to freeze the leftover turkey for up to several months.

How to Cook a Turkey

First, thaw the turkey completely.

The best way to do this is to put it in the fridge for a few days or in a cooler

If you’re short on time, you can defrost it in the microwave or cold water.

Never thaw it at room temperature or in hot water.

You can brine or season the turkey before you cook it. This step is optional and depends on personal preference.

Then you cook it for the estimated cook time. Measure the temperature when it should be almost ready.

Avoid checking the temperature too early as it will allow cold air to increase the cooking time.

We recommend using a probe thermometer to monitor the temperature.

Once the internal temperature reaches 165°F, it is fully cooked. The dark meat may reach 180°F.

Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

Then you can carve it and enjoy eating it with your guests!

If you’re unsure if your turkey meat is safe to eat, you should closely examine it.

A good rule of thumb is to smell and touch the turkey.

If it smells and feels fine, it’s probably fine.

Even if you see darker spots on your turkey, it’s probably fine to eat.


Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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