What Size Turkey

WHAT SIZE TURKEY Chart & Guide for 2-20 People

This chart will help guide you to decide what size turkey you need for the best turkey dinner meal. Keep reading to see our chart based on portion sizes, count of guests, and other surprising considerations. Also, this is in our Food Guides & Resources category.

Introduction To What Size Turkey Do I Need

If your holiday dinner meal is including turkey, your first question is what size turkey do I need? So, if you’re feeding a group anywhere between 4 to 20 people, check our “What Size Turkey Chart” to decide what turkey size to buy. Most important, choosing the right turkey size will make your holiday dinner far less stressful. We’ll cover all the factors to consider getting the perfect size of turkey.

Overall, you’ll need to think through these factors to help you decide.

  • Calculate portions per person. We compare cooked vs purchased weight to have.
  • Also, consider anyone’s dietary or nutritional desires.
  • Then, figure out white vs dark meat amounts for everyone. We make it easy.
  • Finally, decide how you’ll be cooking the turkey. Do you have the right tools and equipment?

Determine Turkey Size Per Person

Firstly, consider the perfect turkey size based on portions per person. There are a few surprising things to take into consideration. And it’s more than just counting how many people are being served. It’s also about how they eat turkey. Will everyone eat white and dark meat both? Are there any heavy eaters? Do you want to ensure there are leftovers? If you follow the typical charts, you’ll have a big problem. So, keep reading to get a good understanding of them so you don’t run out. And look forward to arriving at our own real world chart of what size turkey to buy.

What size turkey to buy per person involves a lot of factors, including how it’s to be cooked.

What Size Turkey to Buy for a Roasting Pan

Know The Number of People You’re Serving

The number of guests is the very first start to determine what size turkey to buy. Most turkey portion serving sizing charts are based using a bone-in turkey. A chart might say 1 to 1.5 pounds of purchased turkey per person, so an 8-pound turkey is allegedly perfect for 6-8 people. I say NO! Initially, the bone removes some of that weight. Secondly, the weight becomes further reduced during cooking. Thirdly, charts assume everyone will eat both dark & white meat. Finally, the charts ensure there would be no leftovers. So, keep reading to see our reality chart.

Determine Amount of White and Dark Meat Needed

Be sure you have enough white meat. Although they vary a bit, turkeys are generally about 70% white meat and 30% dark meat. It’s a higher percentage of people who prefer white meat over dark meat. And some people will not eat dark meat at all. So, consider a bone-in turkey of about 2 pounds per person. You’ll generally have a good balance for everyone.

Decide on Ideas for Leftover Turkey

Be sure to have some turkey left over. Usually, there will be a lot of side dishes left over, right? So, make sure you have extra turkey to go along with them. Also, you can use that leftover turkey for several good alternate meals like turkey salad, turkey sandwiches, and turkey subs. I’ve even used turkey cutup and grilled in a skillet with some BBQ sauce mixed in it.

Dietary or Nutritional Considerations

Consider choosing the perfect turkey size to accommodate dietary restrictions. If any of your guests have those, such as being vegetarian or gluten-free, adjust the turkey size down or up.

For example, if you have any vegetarian guests, consider choosing a smaller turkey size. But ensure you’ve increased the vegetarian side dishes overall. However, if you have some big eaters who are not vegetarian, get a larger turkey size to ensure there’s plenty to go around.

What Size Turkey To Buy Chart

Here is our chart of best recommendations for what size turkey to buy. It should serve you well and reduce stress. Keep in mind it’s a guide and is good for you to adjust up or down to better fit your own situation.

This chart will guide you to what turkey size to get. It has a lower and higher number of servings. The lower servings number allows for individual preferences and leftovers. And the higher servings number is the absolute maximum where you’ll run out of white meat and have no leftovers

What Size Turkey to Buy and Remove Wrapping

TURKEY SIZING CHART of What Size Turkey To Buy

MIN ServingsMAX ServingsBone-InBreasts Bone-InBoneless
typically leftovers
& extra white meat
no leftovers
468/3.66.5/34 /1.8
MIN ServingsMAX ServingsBone-InBreasts Bone-InBoneless
What Size Turkey To Buy CHART

Butterball uses a fairly good turkey calculator, and its values reflect similar to ours if you choose to have leftovers and have heavy eaters. However, use caution when selecting a child’s portion, as most calculators say that children eat half of what an adult eats. That might be true except for grown teenagers.

Cooking Methods and Equipment

Finally, we talk about getting the correct turkey size for your cooking methods and equipment. The size of your turkey will depend your cooking method and what equipment you need to have.

What Size Turkey Has Impact in the Oven

For example, if baking in the oven, you’ll need a roaster pan and an oven large enough for it. You might also want to use a rack that goes inside your roasting pan. Also, many might plan on baking some casseroles on the top shelf over the turkey. But, you’ll need to prepare to plan around that in just in case. Some large turkeys will force the upper shelf to be too high to fit your casserole dishes with their lids.

Turkey in the oven needs a roasting pan, baster, and meat thermometer.

What Size Turkey in the Oven

A baster is a good tool to have for basting your turkey to keep it moist. Also desired is a meat thermometer or other food temperature gauge for inserting into the turkey for doneness.

Outdoor Cooking Turkey

Or, if deep frying, will it fit in your fryer? Here’s another option, if you’re thinking of grilling on a rotisserie. There’s a weight limit to electric rotisseries. Many will have a limit of 12 to 15 pounds, although the better ones can handle around 20 pounds. Smoking or grilling on indirect heat are a couple of other options for outdoor cooking. Be sure you have plenty of extra charcoal or fuel.

Related Articles To Turkey

Here are some related articles involving turkey as the main course.

Conclusion to What Size Turkey is Needed

So, there are a lot of things to think about for choosing the perfect what size turkey for your guests. You’ve just seen issues with charts that give too low of a suggested size to buy. Also, by using our “What Size Turkey Chart“, you’re considering preferences of white & dark meat, leftover amount, and light or heavy turkey eaters. Reading over all the things to think about makes more sense to follow our turkey sizing chart. Also, you’ll have less stress and a far better chance of success following our recommendation of what turkey size to buy.

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