Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and if you’re planning on serving turkey, you may be wondering how much to buy. One of the most common questions is how many people a 15 lb turkey can feed.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: A 15 lb turkey can feed approximately 10-12 people.

But if you want to know more about how to choose the right size turkey and how to prepare it, keep reading. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to make sure your Thanksgiving feast is a success.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Turkey

If you’re planning a Thanksgiving feast, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the right turkey. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Number of guests: The first thing to consider is how many people you’ll be feeding. A general rule of thumb is to plan for about 1 pound of turkey per person. So, a 15 lb turkey should feed approximately 15 people.
  • Leftovers: Do you want to have leftovers? If so, you may want to choose a larger turkey to ensure there’s enough for everyone to take home. On the other hand, if you don’t want leftovers, a smaller turkey may be a better choice.
  • Cooking method: How you plan to cook your turkey can also impact how many people it will feed. For example, a deep-fried turkey will shrink more than a roasted turkey, so you may need to choose a larger one if you’re deep-frying.
  • Appetites: Consider the appetites of your guests. If you have a group of big eaters, you may want to choose a larger turkey to ensure everyone is satisfied.
  • Other dishes: Finally, consider the other dishes you’ll be serving. If you have a lot of side dishes, a smaller turkey may be sufficient since guests will likely fill up on other foods as well.

It’s important to keep in mind that these are just general guidelines, and the number of people a turkey will feed can vary depending on a variety of factors. If you’re unsure, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and choose a slightly larger turkey to ensure everyone is well-fed.

For more information on choosing the right turkey for your Thanksgiving feast, check out the Butterball website. They offer a variety of resources, including a turkey calculator that can help you determine how much turkey you need based on the number of guests you’ll be serving.

How to Calculate the Size of Turkey You Need

If you are planning a Thanksgiving dinner or any other festive occasion, one of the most important things to consider is how big a turkey you will need. Here are some tips to help you estimate the right size:

  • Estimate the amount of meat per person: A good rule of thumb is to plan for about 1 pound of turkey per person. So, for example, a 15-pound turkey would feed around 15 people. However, keep in mind that this is just an estimate and your actual needs may vary depending on factors such as appetites, other dishes being served, and the number of children in attendance.
  • Factor in bones and waste: Remember that not all of the weight of the turkey is edible meat. Bones, skin, and other inedible parts can account for up to 40% of the weight of the bird. To account for this, you may want to add an extra pound or two to your estimate, especially if you are feeding a large crowd.
  • Consider leftovers: Finally, don’t forget that leftovers can be a great part of any festive meal. If you want to have plenty of turkey for sandwiches, soups, and other dishes in the days following your event, you may want to plan for a bigger bird. As a general guideline, a 15-pound turkey should yield around 7-8 pounds of meat, which is enough for several meals.

By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that you have enough turkey to feed everyone at your event and still have plenty of leftovers to enjoy in the days to come. Happy feasting!

Tips for Preparing a Perfect Turkey

Preparing a turkey can be a daunting task, but with the right tips and tricks, you can make a delicious and juicy bird that will feed a crowd. Here are some tips for preparing a perfect turkey:


Thawing your turkey properly is essential to ensure that it cooks evenly and safely. The best way to thaw a turkey is to place it in the refrigerator for 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of turkey. If you’re short on time, you can also thaw it in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes. Avoid thawing your turkey at room temperature, as this can lead to bacterial growth.


Brining your turkey can add flavor and moisture to the meat. To brine a turkey, you’ll need to submerge it in a mixture of salt, sugar, and water for several hours before cooking. You can also add herbs and spices to the brine for extra flavor. Be sure to rinse the turkey thoroughly after brining to remove any excess salt.


Seasoning your turkey is another important step for adding flavor. You can use a dry rub or a wet seasoning mixture to coat the turkey before cooking. Some classic seasonings for a Thanksgiving turkey include sage, thyme, and rosemary. Be sure to season the turkey both inside and out for the best flavor.


Roasting is the most common method for cooking a turkey. To roast a turkey, preheat your oven to 325°F and place the turkey in a roasting pan. Cover the turkey with foil and cook for about 15 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Be sure to baste the turkey every hour or so to keep it moist.


Once your turkey is cooked, it’s time to carve it. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before carving to allow the juices to redistribute. Start by removing the legs and wings, then slice the breast meat against the grain. Don’t forget to save the turkey carcass for making turkey stock!

By following these tips, you can prepare a perfect turkey that will feed a crowd. Happy cooking!

Alternative Turkey Options

If you’re not a fan of cooking a whole turkey, or if you’re feeding a smaller group, there are plenty of alternative turkey options to consider. Here are a few:

  • Turkey breast: If you’re looking for a leaner, quicker-cooking option, consider a turkey breast. One turkey breast can typically feed 4-6 people, depending on the size. This is a great option if you want turkey without the leftovers.
  • Turducken: For a truly unique option, consider a turducken. This is a dish made from a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, which is then stuffed into a deboned turkey. It’s a bit more labor-intensive, but can feed a large group of people and is sure to impress.
  • Vegetarian options: If you have vegetarian guests, or if you’re looking for a meatless option yourself, there are plenty of delicious vegetarian options to consider. Try a vegetarian lasagna, a stuffed acorn squash, or a lentil shepherd’s pie. You can find plenty of recipes online or in vegetarian cookbooks.

No matter what option you choose, be sure to consider the size of your group and how much food you’ll need. And don’t forget to factor in leftovers!


Choosing the right size turkey can be tricky, but by considering factors such as the number of guests and appetites, cooking method, and desired leftovers, you can ensure that everyone is well-fed. And with the right preparation, your turkey can be the star of your Thanksgiving feast.

Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a first-timer, we hope this article has provided you with the information you need to make your Thanksgiving meal a success. Happy cooking!

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