How Much Turkey Per Person

How Much Turkey Per Person for Thanksgiving

The holiday season is upon us, and it’s time to start planning what we are going to eat. For most people, turkey is one of the main dishes served during this time of year. But how many pounds or ounces of turkey per person do you really need?

According to the Economist, the average American eats about 7 pounds of turkey over the course of a year, way up from 1970 and they also eat twice as much as people in Europe.

So how much turkey should you eat at a dinner for a big group- Well, experts recommend serving  1/2 pound of turkey per person at a sit down meal. This is an average amount of turkey per person.

See our online turkey calculator, where you can email the results to yourself.

You want to make sure you don’t run out, and also allow for second helpings, so in fact you may end up buying and cooking a little more. Do not forget your pie- see an exact table of how much pumpkin pie per person.

Table of Contents

How Many Pounds of Turkey Do I Need per Person for Thanksgiving

When the holiday season comes round starting to plan is important, be it Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas Dinner, or just a large family gathering.

When it actually comes to serving turkey meat to guests then budgeting on 1/2 pound of turkey meat per person at a thanksgiving dinner.

Below we discuss if you should buy a large turkey or a small one. The next thing to consider is what cut of meat to serve.  based on what you plan to cook with the turkey.

Turkey Sizes Chart
Turkey Sizes Chart

Next, we’ll go through the various pieces of meat you may utilize for your next Turkey Day dinner feast. To begin, the breast has white flesh and the thighs include dark meat. The white flesh comprises of the breasts and wings, whereas the darker meat comes from the thighs and drumsticks. 

Finally, don’t forget to double-check the label before placing your purchase. Some companies provide free-range turkeys that are devoid of antibiotics and hormones. While we do not encourage eating turkey that has not been reared in a humane manner, this is wonderful news for people who have dietary limitations.

For 10 People How Much Cooked Turkey To Serve Per Person

  • How Many Turkey Pounds per Person for 10

For 10 guests, serve 5 lbs of turkey (white or dark meat) with at least 3 sides. If there are less than 3 sides, you will need to serve 6 lbs of turkey.

For 15 People How Much Cooked Turkey To Serve Per Person

  • How Many Lbs Turkey per Person

 For 15 people serve 7.5 lbs of turkey (white or dark meat) with at least 3 sides. If less than 3 sides you will need to serve 9 lbs of turkey.

For 20 People How Much Cooked Turkey To Serve Per Person

 For 20 people serve 10 lbs of turkey (white or dark meat) with at least 3 sides. If less than 3 sides you will need to serve 12 lbs of turkey. 

For 50 People How Much Cooked Turkey To Serve Per Person

For 50 people serve 25 lbs of turkey (white or dark meat) with at least 3 sides. If less than 3 sides you will need to serve 32 lbs of turkey.  

For 100 People How Much Cooked Turkey To Serve Per Person

For 100 people serve 50 lbs of turkey (white or dark meat) with at least 3 sides. If less than 3 sides you will need to serve 64 lbs of turkey.  

Turkey Creative Servings For The Holidays
Turkey Creative Servings For The Holidays

How Big a Turkey for 12

For 12 people buy a 20 lb turkey if you want leftovers and seconds, or a 16 lb turkey for just feeding 12.

How Big a Turkey for 8 Adults

For 8 people buy a 16 lb turkey if you want leftovers and seconds, or a 12 lb turkey for just feeding 12.

How Much Turkey Should I Buy For a Big Crowd?

A turkey dinner is one of those holidays where you want to make it special. But how much turkey should you buy?  

You also need to understand that all meat loose weight when cooked, and turkey is no exception, so you are going to have to know how much to buy uncooked as well.

Here are some tips to help you figure out what size bird to purchase.

Rule to Follow when Buying Whole Turkey for A Crowd

The most important thing to remember is that turkeys come in different sizes. You’ll find turkeys ranging from 8 pounds to 20 pounds. If you’re cooking for just yourself, go with a smaller bird. If you’re planning on feeding a crowd, go with something bigger.

Follow the general rule of buying 2lbs per person for an uncooked whole turkey.

How To Plan A Turkey Roast
How To Plan A Turkey Roast

With this 2lb guide, you will be able to serve seconds.

As an example for 8 people, you should buy and prepare a 16 lb turkey.

Most people like white meat and typically a whole turkey will yield around 40 percent white meat and the balance around 35% dark turkey meat. The other 25% is lost weight due to cooking, due to the meat shrinking and losing moisture.

Here Is a Chart of How Big a Turkey Do I Need?

How Many GuestsWhat Size Turkey To Buy – Large Enough For Seconds
6 peopleBuy a 12 lb turkey
8 folksBuy a16 lb turkey
10 guestsBuy a 20 lb turkey
12 peopleBuy 2 x 12 lb turkey
14 guestsBuy 2 x 12 lb turkey
20 family membersBuy 2 x 18lb turkey
30 peopleBuy 3 x 18 lb turkey
50 event attendeesBuy 3 x 18 lb turkey
What Size Turkey To Buy For Guests in 2024

When shopping for a turkey, look for signs of quality.

Also, check for bulges under the skin. These are called “giblets.” They contain fat and connective tissue, making them tough to digest. When purchasing a whole turkey, ask the butcher whether or not he removes the giblets.

Another way to tell if a turkey is fresh is to smell it. Smell the neck area; if it smells like chicken, it’s probably been sitting around too long.

Once you’ve picked out your turkey, head over to the grocery store and pick up some extra ingredients. You’ll need things like gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes.

Next, take everything home and start prepping your turkey. Remove the innards and rinse off the cavity. Then, place the turkey into a roasting pan. Use a sharp knife to cut along the breastbone and open up the chest cavity. Stuff the turkey with your favorite stuffing recipe. See how much stuffing per person you need when making a Turkey Roast.

Review Of Turkey Buying Rules

Depending on the style of the turkey dinner and if you are planning of serving leftovers later in the holiday season to feed folks. You can of course, make turkey cheese sandwiches with leftovers.

The rule of thumb for buying turkey: 1 pound per person

If you’re looking to make Thanksgiving dinner easier and cheaper, there are some things you might consider doing differently. For starters, it’s probably best to buy a whole bird rather than prepping individual pieces. You’ll save money and avoid waste.

How many Roast Potatoes Do You Need Per Person for Thanksgiving?

If you buy a precut turkey, you won’t have to worry about cutting up the bird yourself.

How Do You Make a Turkey Dinner Cheaper.?

You don’t necessarily need to go out and spend $40 on a single turkey either. If you’ve got friends and family coming over, you could always ask them to bring a side dish or dessert to round out the meal. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that you can use ground turkey with some breadcrumbs blended in. Kind of Turkey Kofta for a budget thanksgiving.

Finally, don’t forget to add extra spices like garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, etc., if you want to make sure your guests enjoy the taste of Thanksgiving.

The Leftovers Turkey Buying Rule: 1 1/2 Pounds per Person

A pound and a half per person should feed people and still leave lots left for leftovers (or second helpings).

 Don’t throw out those leftover turkey parts! They’re perfect for making delicious homemade turkey stock. Here are some tips about how to use turkey neck and giblet soup:

• Make gravy with the drippings from the roasting pan.

• Add herbs like thyme and sage to make a flavorful broth.

• For extra flavor, add onions and celery to the pot.

• Pour off excess fat from the stock.

• Freeze the stock in small containers for later use.

• If you don’t want to freeze the stock, use it immediately to make gravy.

Choosing the Right Size

Turkey’s breasts are generally smaller than legs and thighs.  This price includes the skin and sometimes premade stuffing. If you buy a whole bird, it will probably cost less than buying parts individually.

If you plan to roast the entire bird, choose one that weighs no more than 15 pounds. You’ll get better oven browning without having to worry about overcooking the meat.

Thanksgiving Turkey FAQ

  • Experts recommend planning for approximately 1.5 pounds of turkey for each person. This will permit some seconds
  • Turkey takes between 2.5 hours and 5.5 hours to cook, depending on its size and weight
  • Remember Turkey is not safe for eating until it reaches 165 F. You should also make sure the middle section of the stuffing is at this temperature or above also.

Turkey is a great choice for Thanksgiving because of its mild flavor and versatility. Turkey is a leaner cut of meat than other poultry, making it a healthier option.

You will need to plan ahead if you are planning to cook a large turkey.

Thawing the bird properly is essential to prevent bacteria growth. Make sure to remove all the giblets and rinse the turkey thoroughly before placing it in the refrigerator.

Once the turkey is defrosted, you can start prepping it. Remove any excess fat and pat dry. Place the turkey breast side down in a pan with enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.

Cover the pan and let the turkey cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven and allow

Cooking a turkey is not as hard as you might think. If you follow our tips, you will get a succulent bird every single time.

We recommend using a fresh turkey breast because it is easier to cook and tastes better. You should also choose a large turkey breast because it will give you enough meat to feed a family of four. If you buy a frozen turkey breast, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.

How Should I Thaw Turkey?

It is recommended to freeze your turkey if you buy it more than 3 days prior to your plan to serve it.

To thaw your thanksgiving You’ll need to transfer it from the freezer to your refrigerator on at least the Monday prior to Thanksgiving. (3 days before). Put it in a container that catches any leaking juices as it slowly defrosts.

Some experts also recommend planning for 24 hours of defrosting per 5 pounds of meat, because the size of the turkey will affect how long it takes to thaw. A 20-pound turkey would take about four full days for it to defrost in your refrigerator.

Also, before you start cooking let your turkey sit out at room temperature for about an hour to 90 minutes before cooking.

Other Turkey Ideas are Turkey Bacon goes well in the holiday season.

Always Rest Your Cooked Turkey Before Carving.

If you’re planning to roast your bird, he suggests placing it in a roasting pan and covering it with foil.

How Often Should I Check My Turkeys Temperature

You’ll need to check on your turkey every 30 to 40 minutes as you come to the end of the cooking time.

How Long Can a Frozen Turkey Stay in The Freezer?

Experts say that a turkey may be kept in the freezer for up to six months.

Do I Need to Wash a Turkey?

According to The USDA, There is no need to wash a turkey before cooking it. Washing the turkey could carry bacteria from the environment into the meat, increasing the risk of illness. Cooking the turkey is the way to kill any bacteria present.

You should take out the giblet sack from the chicken before cooking. You can either pull it out with your hand or cut it free with scissors. Once you’ve removed the giblet sack, you’ll need to remove the giblets from the cavity. If you’re going to cook the bird whole, you can simply reach in and grab them by hand or use a pair of tongs. If you plan to break down the bird, you’ll need to carefully pry the giblets out of the cavity. You can also use a knife to cut through the skin and then use your fingers to gently pull the giblets out.

Do I Need to Salt a Turkey?

Experts say that bringing is not really necessary,  but they do say there are some benefits when doing so.

“Brining” the bird will help it taste better, keep it moist and tender, and give it a nice color

If you’re planning to brine the turkey, the main downside is that you will need an enough room in your refrigerator to store the big pot.

How Do I Stuff a Turkey Safely?

The USDA, says the best method to ensure the stuffing is fully cooked is to roast it separately.

Although many people fill their turkeys with a special stuffing, the USDA does not encourage it for safety reasons. To avoid cross-contamination, prepare stuffing outside of the bird cavity. This will also help your turkey to cook faster.

After cooking, place the stuffing in a separate baking dish, and check the temperature with a food thermometer. If it doesn’t reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit, put it back and continue to cook it.

Another safe choice is to stuff your turkey breast with a vegetarian mix including cornbread, fennel, mushroom, sage, and onion.

What Temperature Should I Cook the Turkey At?

Before you start cooking the turkey, make an approximate estimate of how long it will take to cook the whole turkey. Most folks  normally suggest to allow 15 minutes each pound of bird meat. It can be slightly less, especially if you have left the turkey out for an hour before starting the roasting.

The oven shape and specifications of your particular oven. So, create a reasonable estimate for the whole cooking time, and then check on how the turkey is ok before it’s meant to be done!

Preheat the oven to 400°F and bake the turkey uncovered. Start the cooking time for the 15-pound turkey at 400°F for the first twenty minutes to brown it. Reduce the heat to 325°F for 1 to 2 hours, or until the core temperature of the turkey breast hits 140°F to 145°F. Then decrease the heat to 225°F until done, which might take anywhere between a 30 minutes to an hour or more.

  Lowering the oven temperature might help to lengthen the cooking time if the turkey is cooking faster than expected. If the turkey isn’t cooking fast enough and you’re ready to serve, don’t decrease the temperature to 225°F; instead, raise it to 325°F.

How Long Should I Bake the Turkey?

The Chart Below Shows the Usda’s Recommended Cooking Times for Turkeys Based on Their Weights.

Do I Need to Brush My Turkey?

Basting the pan juice over the turkey while it cooks helps keep the meat juicy, moist plus it adds flavor, color, and even helps it roast more evenly.

I find the best way to cook a turkey is to baste it approximately each 30 minutes. You should also keep the oven door shut so that the temperature doesn’t drop too much,

When Cooking a Turkey, What Temperature Should It Be at When It’s Done?

When your turkey has an internal temperature of at least 165 – I like 170 F, it’s done. This includes the stuffing.

How Do I Use an Instant Read Thermometer to Probe for Internal Temperature?

I suggest checking the temperature by placing a food thermometer inside multiple parts of the bird to ensure that they’re cooking evenly. Inserting the probe thermometer to the thick part in the thigh, breast, wing joint, and the center of the turkey stuffing.

If you cooked your bird with stuffing inside, remember that you’ll need to check the temperature of the stuffing too. the temperature should be at least 165 degrees fahrenheit at every insert point.

How Long Is Leftover Turkey Good For?

It’s important to keep the leftover turkey inside the refrigerator because bacteria and pathogens thrive in food that’s stored at room temperature.

The USDA suggests cutting up your thanksgiving dinner into small portions and putting them in the refrigerator immediately after serving, certainly within two hours. You’ll need to throw away any meat that hasn’t cooled down within two hours.

Experts say you can store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

Can I Freeze Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey?

Leftover Thanksgiving turkey can be easily frozen in plastic ziplock bags for up to 3 months. Removing any bones from the turkey meat will help keep the meat from drying out during storage.

If you’re planning to freeze your turkey, make sure you wrap it well in plastic wrap first. Then place it in a resealable bag and put it in the freezer. You can also freeze the stuffing separately.

How To Handle A Turkey Safely For A Crowd

Turkey meat has been on sale all year round, but Thanksgiving is coming soon. This means that people will be buying turkey meat at the grocery store. However, this type of meat should never be consumed raw. Raw turkey meat contains bacteria that can make you sick.

– Wash your hands before handling any turkey meat.

– Make sure that you cook turkey meat thoroughly. Cook turkey until its internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

– Store cooked turkey meat in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

– Don’t use frozen turkey meat. Frozen turkey meat doesn’t retain heat very well and may spoil faster than fresh turkey meat.

– Avoid using turkey meat if there is visible blood.

– Never serve uncooked turkey meat or less than 165F.

– Always check the expiration date on your turkey meat before consuming it.

– If you do not have a thermometer – If you’re unsure about whether or not your turkey meat was properly cooked,  cut it into the meat. If the juices run clear, the meat is safe to consume. I would also suggest using a thermometer.

Is cooking Turkey Breast Easier For Thanksgiving

Reasons Why You Should Simplify Your Holiday Dinner with A Roast Turkey Breast.

A roast turkey breast is a great alternative to a whole roasted turkey. Roasting a turkey breast takes less time and effort than roasting a whole bird, and it is also healthier because there is less fat and therefore calories. You can even freeze the leftovers!

Roast turkey breasts are great for smaller gatherings. You can easily cook them in the oven, and they will taste delicious. If you want to serve a larger number of guests, you can always cut them into slices and serve them as an appetizer.

Cooking is a lot easier than it seems.

There are many similarities between cooking a turkey breast and cooking a whole turkey. Topics such as seasonings, what is safe internal temperatures, and even brining are often almost the same.

A Roast Turkey Breast Is a Large, Boneless, Skinless Turkey Breast

A roast turkey breast is just that – a separate piece of meat that you roast on its’ own. There are different cuts of turkey available, and we’ll talk about them later. Roasting a turkey breast is easy, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

Why not just a Turkey breast?

Compared to a whole chicken breast, a turkey breast:

  • is smaller than a chicken. A whole turkey is usually way to much for a small family.
  • defrosts more quickly.
  • is easier to prepare.
  • is easier than cooking a whole turkey. You don’t have to worry about getting the right meat type like you do when you cook a whole turkey.
  • cooks faster.
  • is easier to carve.
  • takes up less space than traditional baking pans, so you can fit more sides into the oven at once.

Easily, quickly, efficiently, effectively. What’s wrong with that?

Choosing a turkey breast

Apart from size, there are several factors to consider when choosing which type of turkey breast to purchase – skin, and bones.

Bone-in cuts take longer to defrost, but most authors agreed they were more flavourful. If you wanted to make gravy out of the drippings, bone-ins were definitely the way to go!

Skin is an important part of meat. It helps keep the meat moist and tender, and it adds flavor. 

How many people can it feed?

It depends on how big your breasts are, how much meat you’d like your guests to eat, how many sides you’re making, and how many sweets or dessert you’re serving after dinner.

For most people, the recommended weight range for bone-in turkey breasts is between 1 pound (450g) to 1½ pounds (680g).

You don’t need as much for a boneless breast because it’s all meat. A half pound (225g) per person should suffice for a bone-in turkey breast.

The breasts in these recipes range from 4 oz up to several pounds.  Depending on your preference, you can feed between two and twelve guests.

It’s always best to go big or go home. If you’re going to cook for a crowd, then you might as well cook for a lot of people. You’ll never get sick of leftovers if you make enough of them.

Thawing Your Turkey Breast

If you want to prepare your turkey breast before cooking it, you first need to defrost it first.

You can either place the turkey breast in the refrigerator overnight.

You should let the turkey breast sit at room temperature for an hour before cooking.

  • Allow it in the fridge for 24 hours. This is the safest option because the meat will stay at safe temperatures, but it will take a long time to cook. 

Pre-brined turkey breasts

It‘s worth noting that the Frozen foods from the likes of Inham and Butterball do offer instructions for roasting straight from the freezer.

But the fact you can does not mean you should. You can’t really add your own flavors to a frozen breast –you can’t lift the skin, and anything you add to the surface is likely to slide right off before the skin defrosts.

Keeping Turkey Breast Meat Moist

Turkey breast is a lean meat, so it dries out easily. To prevent this, you need to cook it at a low temperature and keep it covered. You should also add a bit of fat to the pan to help keep the meat moist.

Turkey breast roasts are already ahead in this regard, since they don’t need to wait for the legs to cook all the way through like with a whole bird. However, it’s important to take some extra steps to ensure your meat stays moist and juicy. One of the best ways to do this is to cover the roast with foil while it’s resting after you remove it from the oven. This will help keep the heat inside the pan and prevent the juices from escaping. You can also add a few tablespoons of water to the pan before you put the roast back in the oven. This will create steam that will help keep the meat moist.

Getting a Nice Crispy Skin on The Turkey Breast

If you’ve chosen a turkey breast cut with the skin, making sure it’s lovely and brown and crispy will be another important goal.

The first thing you need to do is make sure your chicken is dry. You can do this by patting it down with paper towels or a clean cloth. If you don’t do this, then you will end up with soggy chicken.

After it’s dried, the most popular addition is fat. Ten authors applied butter to the skin, while another four used olive oil. All of them added seasoning to the butter, usually either herbs, spices, and/or both.


The most common way to flavor a turkey breast is by rubbing it with herbs, spices, and other ingredients mixed with butter or olive oil before cooking. This mix is then spread under or on the skin, or sometimes both.

Whether you’re using butter or oil, there are some delicious flavor options among these recipes.

Which herbs should you choose for Turkey Breast?

Herbs are used in many dishes, including soups, stews, salads, and sauces. Herbs are also used in cooking because they add flavor and aroma. Some herbs are added to dishes at the beginning of cooking, while others are added toward the end. For example, basil is often added to tomato sauce at the end of cooking, while rosemary is added

Thanksgiving Turkey Facts For 2024

Turkey Facts

• The average American eats 2 lbs of turkey during Thanksgiving Holiday.

• A pound of raw whole turkey contains approximately 7 oz of breast meat, 3 oz of dark meat, and 4 oz of skin.

• The average turkey weighs 11 lb and measures 16″ long x 12″ wide x 9″ deep.

• The largest wild turkey ever recorded weighed over 30 lbs.

• Wild turkeys are omnivores and eat insects, small mammals, fruits, seeds, berries, nuts, roots, tubers, and carrion.