Turkey math: How much turkey per person and roasting guide

Tips for deciding what size turkey to buy for your holiday gathering, and about how much turkey each guest will eat.

How much turkey per person?
Roast Turkey With Hazelnut Gremolata
Photography by Joe Kim/TC Media
Believe it or not, each of your adult guests will consume between one half and one full pound of turkey meat each. And if you're like most home cooks who slaved over a full turkey dinner, you'll want to enjoy the fruits of your labour with enough leftover turkey for sandwiches, soups, pot pies and stews.

Here are some figures to keep in mind when you're thinking of how large a turkey to buy for your guests:

Uncooked whole unstuffed turkey: Think of about two pounds of the entire turkey per person for a small gathering (4 to 8 people), and about 1.5 pounds of the entire, larger turkey per person for a larger group (10 to 16).
Remember: The larger the bird, the higher the meat-to-bone ratio.

Uncooked turkey breast (bone-in): Think of about 1.25 (one and 1/4 pounds) per person.

Uncooked turkey breast (boneless): Think of about 0.75 pounds (3/4 of a pound) per person.

Turkey roasting chart:
- these are guidelines only. Always use a meat thermometre to ensure your turkey is cooked through.

Servings Weight Stuffed Unstuffed
4 to 6 10 - 12 lb
(4.5 - 5.5 kg)
3-1/2 to 3-3/4 hours 3 to 3-1/4 hours
8 to 10 12 - 16 lb
(5.5 - 7 kg)
3-3/4 to 4 hours 3-1/4 to 3-1/2 hours
12 to 16 16 - 22 lb
(7 - 10 kg)
4 to 4-1/2 3-1/2 to 4 hours

Want more roasting guides? Print our handy chart for roasting ham, beef and goose.

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This article is featured on Beginner's guide to Thanksgiving dinner, Beginner's guide to turkey dinner, Best tips and tricks for holiday cooking and The ultimate Thanksgiving dinner guide