How Much Turkey Do You Need to Buy Per Person?

Published 11-14-2019

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When hosting Thanksgiving dinner, there are a lot of questions regarding the menu that may come up. Should I make green bean casserole with canned or fresh beans? Should I bake pumpkin or apple pie? How can I make vegetarian-friendly sides? But one question is the most pressing of them all: How much turkey should I buy per person?

How to Choose and Cook the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

First, you have to think about the situation at hand. According to Butterball, 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per guest is the standard amount you should aim for. This means it's important to know exactly how many people will you be feeding in order to choose the right bird. Of course, not everyone will eat a pound and a half of meat, but that number also takes into consideration the weight of the bones and giblets, as well as leftovers. So if you're expecting eight guests, look for a 12-pound turkey.

If you know you've invited some big eaters to your dinner table, you might want to prepare at least 2 pounds of turkey per guest. Even if all of the turkey doesn't get devoured in one sitting, this will allow you and your guests to enjoy some leftovers over the next few days.

Conversely, if there are a lot more kids on your guest list than adults this year, consider leaning toward a smaller turkey. A smaller turkey also has the benefit of cooking quicker and more evenly.

You should also consider whether guests favor certain parts of the poultry over the other. If you know most of your guests prefer white meat over dark, you might be able to skip out on buying an entire bird and settle for buying separate parts, such as breasts and wings.

The turkey may be the crown jewel to your perfect Thanksgiving dinner, but the main course is nothing without those delicious side dishes.

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