Holiday Meal Planning: How Much Turkey Do You Need & More

Holiday Meal Planning: How Much Turkey Do You Need & More Mobile - Holiday Meal Planning: How Much Turkey Do You Need & More

turkey drumsticks on a plateWhether you are inviting two people or twenty to your holiday dinner, it’s always a challenge to make sure you have enough food for everyone. How much turkey do you really need? We have the answers. For the below calculations, we counted on guests being light eaters but with enough for leftovers. You can adjust accordingly depending on your guest list.

Once you’ve bought the right sized turkey, there’s still a lot of work to be done. How long should the turkey thaw? What do you do when you’re out of oven space? We’ve got five tips below from the Hamilton Beach Test Kitchen that will help you pull off a flawless Turkey Day meal.


Turkey Reference Chart

 Number of People  For 2-4 For 4-6  For 6-8  For 8-10  For 10+
 Amount of Turkey*  3-6 pounds, less if you go for boneless  6-9 pounds  9-12 pounds  12-15 pounds  15 or more pounds**
Recommended Appliance Countertop Convection Oven, Sous Vide-enabled Slow Cooker, Slow Cooker Countertop Convection Oven, Sous Vide-enabled Slow Cooker, Slow Cooker Roaster Oven, Countertop Convection Oven, Sous Vide-enabled slow cooker, Slow Cooker Roaster Oven Roaster Oven
Example Recipes Sous Vide Turkey Breast with Orange-Rosemary Butter Slow Cooker Herb Turkey Breast (serves 6-8) Herb-Roasted Garlic Turkey Breast (serves 8) Dry-Brined Thanksgiving Turkey (serves 10-12) Apple Herb Roasted Turkey and Turkey Breast (serves 16-18)

*Source: Butterball Turkey Talk-Line
**Have more than 10 guests? Figure 1 pound per person, and increase by ½ pound each for leftovers. Add another ½ pound per person if they are big eaters.

turkey ready to be roasted on a sheet panOf course, there’s more to your meal than the main course. Your holiday menu will likely consist of a range of dishes from appetizers to desserts. When you are cooking multiple courses, planning is key. Here are some strategies straight from our Test Kitchen for hosting a successful holiday meal.

Incorporate make-ahead dishes into the menu
There are so many festive side dishes that can be made ahead of time and either assembled quickly or heated up on the day of your event. By strategically planning, for example, Baked Brie and Cranberry Bites for an appetizer, you can make the Cranberry and Orange Relish several days beforehand to save some time. For dessert, this Pumpkin Cheesecake does well in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.

Make two main courses
Consider having a second main dish, like ham, beef or a vegetarian option, for people who may have food allergies or dietary restrictions. Choose recipes for both main courses that use different appliances so you can prepare them simultaneously.

Stagger your kitchen appliancesturkey drumsticks on a platter
Once the menu for your holiday meal has been planned, take some time to schedule out when the cooking will be done and what appliance you need for it. This will prevent double-booking your slow cooker when you need to make a couple sides the night before or having to overstuff the oven, which can affect the temperature and lead to over- or undercooked foods.

Allow enough time for the turkey to thaw
One of the most unfortunate ways to ruin your turkey dinner is to not give it sufficient time to thaw beforehand. For a whole turkey, allow 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds. For a turkey breast, allow 1-2 days. Don’t leave it out at room temperature; it’s important to keep the turkey cold while it’s thawing. Refrigerating it is easiest.

Serve buffet-style
When dinner is ready, set up a table and serve buffet-style. You can keep dishes warm in both slow cookers and roaster ovens; ask friends and relatives who aren’t hosting meals if you can borrow extras for the big day.

Additional Tips & Techniques

How to Truss a Turkey
Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar
6 Surprising Ways to Use Your Roaster Oven
Sample Product Label
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