How much turkey per person? It’s the age-old Thanksgiving dilemma. But it doesn’t have to be such an ordeal. Just account for about 1 pound per person—unless you want leftovers, in which case you should account for about 1 1/2 pounds per person. For more intel on the subject, read on below.
It’s inevitable. Every Thanksgiving you question how you’re supposed to choose the size of your bird. Was it one pound per person? Or two? And what about the mashed potatoes? There has to be a better method than just dumping bagfuls in a pot and hoping there’s enough to go around. The pounds-per-person questions get asked on the Food52 Hotline every year, so it’s time to draw your line on the scale. As a general guide, take note of how much food you have left over (or what you needed more of) so that you can make the proper amount of turkey, potatoes, and pie for Thanksgiving dinner next year
So how much Thanksgiving turkey should you cook based on the number of guests that you’ll be serving? Food52 user Nutcakes’ general rule is one pound of turkey per person, but argues that larger birds tend to yield more meat, so you could plan for three-fourths pound per person. Another user, Darksideofthespoon, goes for one pound per person too, but then adds a few extra pounds to ensure there’s enough turkey for leftovers sandwiches, soups, or pot pies to make on Black friday. Vittoria is more conservative and figures on a half pound per person, but also adds more for the sake of leftovers.
If you’re making simple mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and other holiday dinners, Food52 user boulangere usually counts one and a half potatoes per person: “Everyone gets as much as they want, and you have those heavenly leftovers. At a more sane time, I go with one per person.” Keep in mind that the type of potato can determine how many you need. For example, you’ll certainly need more than one or two roasted fingerling potatoes per person. According to Reiney, “It really depends on how large the potatoes are, and how much mash you want to serve—if you’re talking the large russets, half to one each would probably be fine, with no leftovers. I usually err on the side of too much because they do seem to go quickly.” And who would ever say no to leftover mashed potatoes?
In regards to potatoes, my general rule of thumb is one and a half medium Yukon gold potatoes per person, or since I am a big sweet potato fan, I estimate one sweet potato per person.
Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser uses one-third pound potatoes per person. (Want to know her proportions for perfect mashed potatoes? To serve six people, she cooks two pounds of potatoes then mashes in one cup of milk, four tablespoons of butter, 1/3 cup of heavy cream, and one and a half teaspoons of salt.