How Do You Know How Big a Turkey You Need?

Updated on November 13, 2012
A.C. asks from Keller, TX
9 answers

I'm furnishing Thanksgiving dinner for a couple families, they both want turkey for the meat, but I have no idea how big it's supposed to be. One family is 2 adults/2 kids and the other is 4 adults/2kids.
For us, we either have a honeybaked ham, or individual cornish hens, or if we have turkey then my mom provides a monster one that everyone eats on for a week, and end up throwing in a gumbo when we're tired of eating it "straight". I'm sure there's a rule about how many pounds per person though, right? Enlighten me?

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I second the suggestion for the Butterball website.
Everything you ever wanted to know about turkeys!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Reno on

Hi. Go to They have an app. where you type in how many adults and how many children and it tells you how big of a turkey to purchase. There are also other great tips on there... :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Personally, I go for the biggest one I can get..... and after we are done eating the turkey on Thanksgiving, I strip the carcass and chop the meat, and bag it in 2-3 c portions to freeze for future meals.

I then fill the big stew pot with the bones and such, throw in some chopped carrots, celery, onions, bay leaf, salt, and pepper and simmer for 10 hours or so... then bag the broth in freezer bags (2 c amounts, usually, one or two 4 cup bags, and a bunch of 1 c bags) for future use as "chicken broth" ..... yum!

However, I do have a big chest freezer, and keep it full.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

2lb per person is the general rule for the meal itself, but half the weight of small turkeys are the bones (less for bigger turkeys), and then for leftovers one wants at LEAST that much per person. So that would be 15-20 & 20-25

Some people only nibble with a puny slice. Then the average teen boy will knock back a whole 5lb leg and be going back for a huge pile of 1" thick slices.

For a 3 person family I generally do a 15lb-20lb turkey.

Lol... I hear you on the monster. My mum orders the biggest her store gets in every year. We've had some 40lb turkeys!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I heard on the Chew that it's better to have 2 smaller turkeys than 1 big one. They will be less dry. They have lots of good info on The Chew's website.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

Lots of people want all the turkey leftovers for all kinds of turkey recipes. We are among them. We get a BIG turkey over 20 pounds. We eat on that turkey and its various recipes for a full week.

Of course, the more people that we have at dinner, the less leftovers, but that's fine. This year we will not be near extended family, so we are inviting singles who are also not near family. We bought the turkey last night - a lovely Butterball. My mouth is already watering!!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from El Paso on

Looks like general estimate is about 2 lb per adult, so for family 1 you're looking at a small (5-8 lb) turkey for family 2 a slightly larger one at about 10-12 lbs.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I find the bigger turkeys have tougher meat.
For the 3 of us, a 15 lb turkey gives us more than enough and the left overs last several days.



answers from Portland on

I just read this in today's paper. It says 3/4-1 lb/person for bone in and 1/2 lb/person for boneless. I'm pretty sure that doesn't allow for much left over.

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