10 Frozen Turkey Dinners Ranked, Worst To Best According To Reviews

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Let's be honest: No frozen turkey dinner can hold a candle to an actual, made-from-scratch Thanksgiving feast lovingly prepared by friends or family. But there's a time and place for everything — and occasionally that flat box in the freezer is just what you need. Also, rest assured that frozen dinners aren't a shameful violation of the spirit of Thanksgiving — because Thanksgiving is the very reason frozen TV dinners exist in the first place. When the frozen-food company C.A. Swanson and Sons found it had massively overestimated the number of turkeys it would sell over Thanksgiving in 1953, it desperately needed a way to get rid of the surplus turkeys — and fast! 

An enterprising Swanson's employee suggested processing them into individual meals in compartmentalized foil containers and calling them "TV Dinners," capitalizing on the then-new and trendy medium of television. The turkey dinners were a huge hit — and continue to be popular. And while Swanson's still makes them, many other players are now in the game, some offering low-carb or lower-calorie versions. 

So how good are they? Taste is subjective — we'll simply share rankings from online reviewers. We averaged the ratings from several review sites, and ranked them from lowest to highest. Here's what the wisdom of the crowd has to say about frozen turkey dinners.

10. Banquet Turkey Meal

It takes serious hubris for a frozen food company to call itself "Banquet": Unless you're confident you can consistently produce superior meals, you run the risk of setting yourself up for ridicule — or a platoon of angry customers. But perhaps because it wisely never marketed itself as a purveyor of gourmet meals, Banquet has managed to plug along steadily since 1953, building a reputation for affordability and convenience rather than exceptional cuisine.

And the reviews for Banquet's turkey meal reflect this. The meal consists of three thinnish slices of turkey, whose unnaturally perfect semicircular shape suggests the meat has been heavily processed, rather than sliced directly from the bird. The slices sit atop a small quantity of stuffing and come immersed in gravy. Beside this are compartments of mashed potatoes and peas. And while the meals are pure nostalgia for some reviewers ("I ate these obsessively as a kid and young adult. I still think about them every week," one reviewer wrote), others dinged the dinners for poor or inconsistent quality. "Maybe two breadcrumbs under the three half sliced turkey pieces. One of the turkey pieces had nothing but gristle in it," another reviewer groused. It's worth noting that Banquet's turkey meal is noticeably cheaper than most of its competitors – so yeah, looks like you get what you pay for.

9. Smart Ones Slow Roasted Turkey Breast

We know healthy eating is a good thing and almost all of us should be practicing this more. Still, the idea of a Thanksgiving dinner produced by Smart Ones, Weight Watchers' brand of frozen meals, is enough to give serious food lovers pause: Is a Thanksgiving meal really the place to be cutting calories and fat? After all, if you can't splurge on Thanksgiving, when can you?

With this in mind, many reviewers approached this meal with their expectations held firmly in check and graded the meal on a generous curve. "Obviously this isn't going to be your Mommas Thanksgiving turkey and potatoes. If that is what you expect, you will be very disappointed, but for a low-fat diet food it's not bad," one reviewer said. Indeed, another reviewer, judging the meal on its own merits, found it deeply unsatisfying, noting that the conspicuous absence of vegetables was odd for a meal designed around nutrition. Instead, the turkey (actual carved turkey pieces with a decent flavor) came with "the weirdest and probably the worst frozen mashed potatoes I've ever eaten." So if mashed potatoes are your favorite part of your Thanksgiving meal, this isn't the choice for you.

8. Atkins Roasted Turkey with Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

Since carbs are as much a part of Thanksgiving tradition as turkey, football, and traffic jams, an Atkins turkey meal faces an uphill battle when it comes to winning over non-believers. To be truly satisfying as a full meal, whatever sides are included really have to rock. Unfortunately, even Atkins devotees found the garlic mashed cauliflower included with this meal to be displeasing. "The mashed cauliflower was extremely disappointing," one reviewer said. "I've had mashed cauliflower and riced cauliflower and been very happy with both of them. I even had a loaded mashed cauliflower that had cheese and bacon in it. This was NOT mashed cauliflower, it was soup, a very thin watery soup with very little taste."

Multiple reviewers expressed disappointment at the thin, watery cauliflower (but one noted that it made a pretty tasty sauce when spooned over the turkey). All of this is too bad, since the quality of the turkey and gravy are pretty solid. The turkey comes in a generous portion, and the pieces are real slices, not processed meat. And while the Atkins diet eschews carbs, animal fat is fine — so the gravy is loaded with cream and is pleasantly flavored with herbs. If you crave rich gravy and can forgive a so-so side, this might be worth a try.

7. Hungry-Man Roasted Carved White Meat Turkey

Like Swanson's original turkey TV dinner, the Hungry-Man dinner offers a full, multicourse meal — only more of it. Each meal weighs a whole pound, and features turkey on a bed of stuffing and gravy, along with servings of mashed potato, mixed vegetables, and a cranberry-apple dessert. It sounds promising — but does it deliver?

Well, sort of, according to reviewers. Tasters praised the mashed potatoes for not tasting like instant (admittedly, that's a low bar), and found the cranberry-apple dessert flavorful, albeit a bit watery. The turkey and stuffing, which should have been the star of the show, however, were problematic for some tasters. "It wasn't bad, but it didn't taste like white meat turkey or really turkey at all. The dogs loved it but not the humans," a reviewer wrote. 

Still, Hungry-Man's consistency and familiarity made it a go-to comfort food for many, especially on super busy days. "This isn't the first [time] this hungry man has been there for me when no one was so I had to come and do a review!" one fan wrote. Taken together, all this puts Hungry-Man close to the middle of the pack.

6. Stouffer's Turkey Tetrazzini

For many of us, the Thanksgiving feast itself is just the prelude to the best part of the holiday: those sweet, sweet leftovers. For leftover lovers, a fully loaded turkey sandwich, complete with stuffing and cranberry sauce, is an essential midnight snack or Black Friday lunch, and one of the most underrated parts of Thanksgiving weekend. And all that leftover turkey offers endless potential for creative meals — such as turkey Tetrazzini, an old-school casserole of turkey, mushrooms, celery, and pasta in a creamy sauce.

Stouffer's Turkey Tetrazzini seems like a meal custom-made for lovers of turkey leftovers who don't have access to leftover turkey. However, it's probably the most polarizing of the turkey meals reviewed here, drawing a large number of rave reviews, an even larger number of haters, and few rankings in between. Fans commented that "It even tastes like you cooked it yourself. Big win!" and called it "creamy and savory, with tender pieces of turkey that bring a homemade feel to the dish. The pasta is perfectly cooked, and the sauce is well-balanced, offering a harmonious blend of flavors." 

But some haters felt the quality of this old favorite has gone downhill, citing a lack of flavor or paltry quantities of vegetables. "What is now being offered is nothing like the recipe I used to love. I am not only disappointed, I am mad!" a reviewer said. 

5. Marie Callender's Roasted Turkey Breast and Stuffing

Diners flock to Marie Callender's restaurants for their large variety of pies and generous portions of comfort food, so a classic turkey dinner seems like a natural thing for the restaurant to include in its frozen food line. And according to most reviewers, it delivers a pretty solid frozen meal, nothing surprising nor horribly disappointing. The meal featured a generous portion of turkey slices atop a bed of stuffing and mashed potatoes, topped with gravy, plus a serving of that generic mixed-veggie medley in a second, smaller compartment.

"The turkey-stuffing-mashed potato-gravy amalgamation was for the most part, just fine," one reviewer noted, also praising the gravy for its flavor and just-right consistency. However, he added that the under-seasoned mixed veggies felt like an afterthought and could have benefited from more zing. Other reviewers rated it highly, but again, on the generous curve reserved for frozen meals. One five-star review, for example, seemed to damn it with faint praise. "Cheap, easy and doesn't taste like cardboard. Actually tastes like a decent meal you'd have at a shelter." 

Another reviewer praised it for offering just what it promises: an affordable Thanksgiving meal in a hurry. "Those who I'd go to for the holiday have moved on, and an injury that makes cooking a turkey with all the fixins [sic] impossible! I've invited MARIE CALLENDERS over. Only two items who couldn't make it was the cranberry sauce and a pecan pie. Thank goodness for MARIE!"

4. Boston Market Turkey Breast Medallions

Boston Market is best known for its chicken, but one can argue that poultry cookery skills are transferrable across species. Many reviewers praised the quality of the turkey, with one calling it "moist and tender with a distinct grain and long fibers, just like real carved Thanksgiving turkey." Others spoke highly of the whole meal, noting that even the vegetables (a mixture of carrots and green beans) were flavorful. "The gravy is actually pretty effin' delicious, the turkey is actually juicy, the veggies have a crisp crunch to them as if they were just picked fresh two hours beforehand, and the stuffing is JUST right!" another reviewer wrote.

Unfortunately, consistency seemed to be an issue with this meal. While some reviewers raved about the turkey, others wondered where the heck the turkey actually was. "There was a knuckle of turkey. That was it. I had to check the box several times to make sure Turkey was supposed to be in," one complained. "A few hidden pieces of turkey. This was disgusting. No oven roasted taste in these specs of meat," another wrote. So what to make of this? Buy one and you might enjoy a quite-satisfying turkey dinner. But get one packed by someone having a bad day, and you won't.

3. Stouffer's Roast Turkey Classics

Stouffer's is known for delivering respectable renditions of familiar comfort foods such as mac and cheese and lasagna, and its turkey meal leans into the most comforting elements of a Thanksgiving dinner – stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and of course, turkey. It makes for a very beige meal (apart from some noticeable bits of celery in the stuffing) that makes no pretense of nutritional balance: It is, quite simply, all the things most people gravitate to first on the Thanksgiving table.

Reviewers found it offered the comfort they expected. "I'm giving it a 5 because the flavor is innocuous but pleasing to the most people's memory of these combinations and how you remembered the spicing, " one reviewer wrote. The mashed potatoes — served in a generous portion — also received strong praise. "The potatoes are smooth and fluffy and tasted like they were actually made from real potatoes, rather than instant flakes," a happy customer noted. 

And most importantly, reviewers found the turkey itself to be tasty. "The meat is tender and well-seasoned and the texture was among the best I tried," a review read. Thus, familiar flavors rendered well with good-quality ingredients put this in the top three in reviewer rankings.

2. Lean Cuisine Glazed Turkey Tenderloins

The Lean Cuisine turkey dinner proves that low fat meals don't have to be an exercise in self-sacrifice. Reviewers gave this meal high rankings for flavor. And a few strategic ingredient choices served to add both color and flavor while keeping the calorie count under control. The meal comes with a side of mashed sweet potatoes, and the stuffing includes whole cranberries, which add pops of color and tartness that some reviewers loved. "You are the only company that has cranberries with the meal, who eats turkey without cranberries?" one reviewer wrote. The sweet potatoes were also highly regarded. "It comes with fabulous mashed SWEET POTATOES!!! I feel like I'm indulging, but it's all so healthy: low fat, low sodium and all the goodness of sweet potatoes!" a second reviewer wrote. The turkey, too, got good ratings, with another happy customer calling it "very tender and quite flavorful."

This meal is such a favorite that several reviewers shared how they made it their own by doctoring the sweet potatoes with cinnamon and sugar or even butter. But perhaps because the meal was designed with calorie counts in mind, some reviewers complained the portion size was a bit small (9 ounces in contrast to the 14 ounces for the Marie Callender's dinner or the 16 ounces for the Hungry-Man meal). This is probably why some of the positive reviews mentioned enjoying this meal as quick desk lunch at work rather than as a full dinner. 

1. Jennie-O Oven Ready Boneless Turkey Breast

Sports and business coaches both emphasize the value of mastering the basics, whether it's cardiovascular endurance for athletes or customer service for a retail outlet. Our top-reviewed meal exemplifies this principle: It's the most bare-bones turkey meal of all (just turkey and gravy) but reviewers gave it solidly high marks. And notably, it's made by Jennie-O, a manufacturer whose entire reason for being is getting turkey into our tummies, so it's not surprising that they know how to cook a turkey breast properly.

Unlike the other meals reviewed here, it's not a self-contained turkey dinner, but the key component of a turkey feast for a small family. (According to the label, it serves three to four people.)  The turkey breast comes pre-seasoned with a packet of gravy. Reviewers appreciated both the convenience of not having to thaw it before cooking as well as its consistently good flavor. "Instead of a whole turkey, I buy this for Thanksgiving. Very easy to make. You put it frozen in the oven. With it being small and boneless it doesn't take that long to cook," one reviewer said. 

Another pointed out, "This product consistently delivers great results every time we get it. It's great for major holidays or just an easy cook dinner. Everyone I've ever told about this product loves it, too." And should you end up with any leftovers, several reviewers reported they make great sandwiches.