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Once you’ve prepared a stellar, succulent turkey, the last thing you want is to not have enough for all of your guests. This post breaks down How Much Turkey Per Person you’ll need, saving you from having guests engage in a turkey tug-of-war.

roast turkey on a pan

Calculating how much turkey you’ll need is fairly simple.

Once you know how many people will be attending your Thanksgiving feast, you can determine how big of a turkey you’ll need to purchase.

To ensure you have the perfect amount, it’s important to factor in the other parts of the Thanksgiving menu.

Everything from appetizers to side dishes to dessert matters.

serving of turkey on a plate with sides

As delicious as your turkey will be, side dishes (like gravy, Cornbread Stuffing, Crockpot Mashed Potatoes, cranberry sauce, and Healthy Green Bean Casserole) tend to steal the spotlight. And, appetizers (like Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms) will have your guests arriving at the table with a slightly diminished appetite.

Plus, everyone will certainly be saving some room for a slice of Vegan Pumpkin Pie.

If you know you’ll be serving a plethora of scrumptious Thanksgiving Side Dishes, then you can likely lean toward the lower end of the recommended amount.

If, however, you’re a major leftover turkey fan, then feel free to purchase a slightly bigger bird and enjoy some tasty Leftover Turkey Recipes.

Use the Table of Contents below to skip to the section you prefer, or simply scroll down to view it all.

Table of Contents
  1. How Much Turkey Per Person (No Leftovers)
  2. How Much Turkey Per Person (With Leftovers)
  3. Recommended Tools for Serving Turkey
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
a chart with how much turkey per person to buy

How Much Turkey Per Person (No Leftovers)

Generally, you’ll want to plan on about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per guest.

Yes, that amount may seem a little higher than you’d expect, but there’s a reason behind this calculation. Since the total weight of the turkey includes inedible parts (like bones), we need to build a buffer into the recommended amount per person.

close up of sliced turkey for serving

This simple equation will help you figure out the best turkey size:

  • Number of guests x recommended pounds of turkey per person = weight of the turkey you should purchase
  • Here are a couple of examples:
    • Lower end of recommended amount: 8 guests x 1 pound of turkey = 8-pound turkey
    • Higher end of recommended amount: 8 guests x 1.5 pounds of turkey = 12-pound turkey


How much turkey breast you’ll need per person is different. If you’re only purchasing a boneless turkey breast instead of a whole turkey, you’ll then you can drop down to about 8 ounces of meat per person.

serving of turkey on a plate with sides

How Much Turkey Per Person (With Leftovers)

If you’re a fan of leftovers (me too!), then you’ll want to increase the amount of turkey per person to about 2 pounds.

While this sounds like a lot, the goal is to end up with too much food so you can have plenty of leftovers.

You can use the same equation listed above to calculate the size you’ll need.

  • Number of guests x recommended pounds of turkey per person = weight of the turkey you should purchase
  • So, to serve 8 guests and have leftovers, you’d want to purchase a 16-pound turkey.

Leftover Turkey Ideas

Here are some of my favorite ways to repurpose turkey leftovers:

whole roast turkey for serving adults
  • Platter. Both this classic, white platter and this festive platter would work great for a Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Serving Fork. A serving fork makes it simple for guests to grab pieces of turkey.
  • Electric Knife. Makes it easy to slice through the meat after roasting.
slices of roasted turkey breast

Here’s to your turkey triumph!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Should I Serve with Turkey for Thanksgiving?

Classic sides like green beans, Brussels sprouts, roasted vegetables, sweet potato casserole, salad, and rolls are all delicious side dishes. Check out all my favorite Thanksgiving Side Dishes for inspiration.

What if Some of My Guests Are Vegan?

If you will have vegan guests at your Thanksgiving meal, do not include them in your turkey size calculation. Instead, prepare them some of the delicious options from my list of Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes.

More Turkey Tips and Tricks

carved turkey for serving on a platter

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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