This Is Exactly How Much Turkey to Make Per Person

No need to guess how much turkey per person—this handy rule will make your Thanksgiving easier and oh-so-tasty!

No matter how often you host Thanksgiving, one big question remains the same: Exactly how much turkey do I need to make? Turkey size is important since it will determine how big of a helping each guest gets—not to mention how much will be left for leftovers. To make things simple, we’ve created a guide to help you pick the perfect-sized turkey for your holiday feast.

How to Figure Out How Much Turkey Per Person

Number of Guests
Turkey Weight

Download Chart

First, finalize your guest list. Once you know the exact number of attendees, use this formula: Number of guests x 1.25.

You’ll want to plan on about 1.25 pounds of turkey per person attending. That means that if you are expecting 12 guests, plan for a 15-pound bird. If you have a large number of kids coming, simply round down when calculating your turkey. The kids usually go for the rolls and side dishes anyway.

Editor’s Tip: If you have a large family, try dividing your turkey number by two and buying smaller birds. This will allow them to cook faster and more evenly.

Next, Choose a Great Turkey Recipe

Next, it’s time to think about turkey prep:

Once you’ve chosen the perfect turkey recipe, make sure you know how to prepare it! This handy guide tells you exactly how long to cook a turkey.

More Thanksgiving Dinner Tips:

How much stuffing do I need for Thanksgiving?

Plan to serve about 3/4 cup of stuffing per guest. That amounts to roughly 4 cups of prepared stuffing for 5 guests and 7 1/2 cups for 10 guests. However, if you have grand plans for using leftovers in Stuffin’ Muffins or Stuffing Crust Turkey Potpie, feel free to make a little bit more. For more info, check out our guide to Thanksgiving portions.

How many side dishes should I have for Thanksgiving?

Well, that depends! You’ll need to consider your guest list and oven space, plus any family traditions. (One writer always has her Grammy’s famous Walnut, Sausage & Apple Stuffing on the menu). We suggest making 2-4 of your family’s favorite sides, then encouraging guests to bring any other must-haves. Rolls and cranberry sauce are easy to outsource, as is your niece’s favorite Vegan Green Bean Casserole.

How long does it take to thaw a turkey?

It depends on the method, but thawing a turkey typically takes anywhere from several hours to a few days. Once you’ve bought the perfect bird, decide whether you’ll thaw the turkey in the fridge or in cold water. The refrigerator method requires 24 hours of thaw time for every 4 pounds of bird, but you can wait a day or two after thawing to cook it. The cold water method requires less time but a little more math. Thawing takes as little as 30 minutes per pound, but you’ll need to change the water frequently and cook the turkey immediately after thawing.

Psst! Now that you know how much turkey to make, put those coveted Thanksgiving leftovers to work! Here are a few leftover turkey recipes to get you started.

More Thanksgiving Menu Ideas
1 / 42

Popular Videos

Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.
Katie Bandurski
Katie is an Associate Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in writing and email newsletters. When she’s out of the office, you’ll find her exploring Wisconsin, trying out new vegetarian recipes and combing through antique shops.