Your Burning Questions

How Many Pounds of Turkey (and Potatoes) Per Person?

By • November 21, 2013 • 0 Comments

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There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it every day leading up to Thanksgiving, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to help you host the least stressful Thanksgiving yet. No promises on the crazy relatives.

Today: The definitive once-and-for-all rules for how much turkey and potatoes you need per person. Tomorrow we’re helping you decide how to brine your bird. (Or not.)

How Much Turkey (and Potatoes) Per Person, from Food52

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 Hotline every year, so it’s time to draw your line on the scale:

The Bird

  • Nutcakes' general rule is 1 pound per person, but argues that larger birds yield more, so you could plan for 3/4 pound per person.
  • Darksideofthespoon goes for 1 pound per person too, but then adds a few extra pounds to ensure there's enough turkey for leftovers.
  • Vittoria figures on 1/2 pound per person, but also adds more for the sake of leftovers.


  • Stephanie starts with 1/2 pound of uncooked potato per person, but thinks as long as you have space for leftovers, there is no harm in going over.
  • Amanda uses 1/3 pound potatoes per person. (Want to know her proportions for perfect mashed potatoes? 2 pounds potatoes : 1 cup milk : 4 tablespoons butter : 1/3 cup heavy cream : 1 1/2 teaspoons salt -- serves 6.)
  • For holidays, boulangere usually counts 1 1/2 potatoes per person: "Everyone gets as much as they want, and you have those heavenly leftovers. At a more sane time, I go with 1 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, 1/2 to 1 each would probably be fine, with no leftovers. I usually err on the side of too much because they do seem to go quickly."

What guidelines do you follow when deciding how much you'll need per person? Tell us in the comments!

Photo by James Ransom

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Tags: hotline, holiday, best question, turkey, thanksgiving, potatoes, pounds per person

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