Figuring Out What Size Turkey to Buy

At Thanksgiving, you usually want a big-enough turkey to provide leftovers - but not to go to waste. Here are some guidelines. These weights are for uncooked turkeys.


  • Remember that you can find turkeys as small as a few pounds and as large as nearly 40 pounds - and that the larger the bird, the higher the proportion of meat to bone.
  • If you order a larger bird, you can freeze cooked parts for later.


  1. Count the number of people who will be eating turkey - remember that this number may be different than the total number of guests if the group includes vegetarians.
  2. Figure on 1 pound of unstuffed, whole turkey per person for moderate leftovers. Allow about 1.3 pounds per person for more leftovers.
  3. Figure on about 3/4 pound per person if you're buying just a turkey breast. Allow 1/2 pound per person for boneless turkey breast.
  4. Allow about 1-1/4 pounds per person if you're buying a prestuffed, frozen bird.

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