This Is How Much Turkey To Make Per Person For Thanksgiving

No matter how many people are at your Thanksgiving table this year, preparing the right amount of food is easy with this Turkey Day serving size guide.

When feeding a crowd, it is always best to have too much turkey than not enough, don't you think? Otherwise, how would you ever make those delicious leftover turkey sandwiches? But how do you know how much turkey per person to prepare? Here is a quick rule-of-thumb to remember when planning your holiday menu.

Herb-Rubbed Smoked Turkey

How Much Turkey Do You Need Per Person?

In order to have plenty of Thanksgiving turkey for dinner, with enough for leftovers and to-go plates, remember this simple rule: one pound of turkey per person.

You can assume about 40% to 50% of every turkey is bone or parts that won't be eaten. That means for every pound of turkey, guests will get about eight to nine ounces of meat.

If there are a couple of really big eaters on your guest list (those who treat the buffet line as an all-you-can eat event), opt for one and a half pounds per person. But don't estimate above two pounds per person. With all the sides, rolls, and desserts, you'll find guests don't eat nearly the amount of turkey as you might think.

What if I'm feeding a really large group?

Depending on the number of guests you are expecting, you may need to purchase anywhere from two mid-range-sized birds to a large, 20-pound whole turkey. If you are expecting 20 people, for instance, you may choose a 20- to 22-pound turkey or two smaller ones.

How Much Turkey Do You Need Per Person
Southern Living

What About Light Meat Versus Dark Meat Eaters?

If you know the majority of your guests prefer white meat, skip buying the whole bird in favor of purchasing separate breasts and legs, and roast them separately. When buying boneless meat, assume about 8 ounces per guest.

And just in case you don't feel like roasting, frying, brining, or smoking a turkey yourself, you can always buy a pre-cooked bird and focus your attention on all the delicious side dishes. Check out this list of our favorite prepared turkeys to make Thanksgiving a breeze.

Back to the home-cooked bird: keep in mind how long it takes to defrost a turkey, the amount of refrigerator space needed while the turkey defrosts, and how long your oven will be occupied roasting the turkey. (Free up oven space this year and enlist the help of your outdoor smoker to create this succulent Smoked Turkey with Herb Rub.)

Thanksgiving Sides Serving Suggestions Per Person

You can't serve turkey without Cornbread Dressing and all the fixings. The standard serving size for cornbread dressing is ½ cup. Seriously? Can Southerners really be satisfied with just ½ cup of this iconic dish?

The figures below are for the standard, healthy serving size of each of your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes, but feel free to adjust according to the level of your family's love for Grandma's cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, or pumpkin pie.

8 guests

  • Dressing: 4 cups
  • Potatoes: 3 pounds, or 6 large potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes: 3 pounds, or 3 large sweet potatoes
  • Canned cranberry sauce: Two 16-ounce cans
  • Butternut squash: 3 1/2 pounds, or 2 small squash
  • Brussels sprouts: Two 10-ounce containers
  • Green beans: 2 pounds
  • Pie: One or two 9- to 9 1/2-inch pies

16 guests

  • Dressing: 8 cups
  • Potatoes: 6 pounds, or 12 large potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes: 6 pounds, or 6 large sweet potatoes
  • Canned cranberry sauce: Three 16-ounce cans
  • Butternut squash: 6 3/4 pounds, or 3 medium squash
  • Brussels sprouts: Four 10-ounce containers
  • Green beans: 4 pounds
  • Pie: Two or three 9- to 9 1/2-inch pies

24 guests

  • Dressing: 16 cups
  • Potatoes: 9 pounds or 18 large potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes: 9 pounds, or 9 large sweet potatoes
  • Canned cranberry sauce: Four 16-ounce cans
  • Butternut squash: 10 pounds, or 4 large squash
  • Brussels sprouts: Six 10-ounce containers
  • Green beans: 6 pounds
  • Pie: Three or four 9- to 9 1/2-inch pies
How Much Food to Make for Thanksgiving Dinner
Southern Living
Was this page helpful?
Related Articles