How Much Turkey Breast Per Person: What’s the Magic Number!

August 25, 2022
Written by Kristy J. Norton

You should calculate about 1 1/2 pounds of turkey breast per person for bone in turkey and 3/4 of a pound for boneless.

Not only am I a chef but I tend to entertain quite often as well – Thanksgiving is often held at my house. As such, my friends and even family members often come to me to figure out how much turkey breast per person to serve.

In this post, I show you how to make calculations and what factors to think about when deciding just how much you will need. Let’s begin!

How Much Turkey Breast Per Person

How Much Turkey Breast Will You Need Per Person?

I should start off by saying that you will often find people giving you different recommendations for how much turkey breast per person you should allocate. This is due to numerous factors, including personal choice.

Raw meat on brown wooden board

I will discuss additional factors you should consider later on. For now, however, here is a quick breakdown of portion size…

  • For bone in turkey breast, allocate 1 1/4 pounds of raw turkey per person.
  • For boneless turkey breast, calculate 3/4 of a pound of raw turkey per person.

When it comes to children, you should consider their age. For very young kids, set aside about 1/4 of a pound. Older children, however, may be able to eat a half pound of breast meat.

In case you were looking for a “how much turkey do I need per person” calculator, you can follow the above guidelines.

As you will have noticed, I have used the term “raw” turkey breast. This is for two reasons. First, uncooked turkey breast can shrink by as much as 25 percent once it is cooked. As such, you always need to buy a little extra to compensate for this.

Also, you only need to how much turkey breast you need to buy as a whole. As such, you only need to know the number you need to tell your butcher.

Speaking of which…

Calculating The Total Amount

If you are like me, math wasn’t your favorite subject in school and not much has changed since then. So, let me break things for you so that you have a “calculator” that you can use to figure out just how much turkey breast you will need for any event:

For bone in turkey breast:

  • 1.25lbs x no. of adults = required total amount of turkey breast
  • 0.5lbs x no. of children = required total amount

For boneless turkey breast:

  • 0.75lbs x no. of adults = required total amount
  • 0.25lbs x no. of kids = required total amount

Bone In vs. Boneless Turkey Breast

Apart from how much turkey breast you need to get per person, is there are any other differences that you need to know between boneless and bone in turkey breast?

Well, at the end of the day, it is all down to preference. However, with bone in turkey breast, there is a bit more flavor. The meat tends to be more moist as well – it is harder to dry out. The other variation is that boneless turkey breast can take longer to cook. Thus, this is something that you need to consider when cooking for a crowd.

How Many Will a Whole Turkey Breast Feed?

On average, an entire turkey breast weighs around 4 to 8lbs. Naturally, you can find ones that can be bigger or smaller on this. However, based on the formula provided above, let’s deduce how many a certain amount of turkey meat can feed.

How Many People Will a 3lb Turkey Breast Feed?

A 3lb turkey breast can feed two people and you can expect some leftover turkey as well.

How Many Will a 2kg Turkey Breast Feed?

This amounts to about 4.4lbs. As such, it can feed three adults and one child.

How Many Will a 5 Pound Turkey Breast Feed?

A 5lb turkey breast can feed four people – all adults.

How Closely Should You Follow the Formula?

This is an interesting question – should you follow the guidelines to the letter? How accurate will they be for you?

As you can imagine, this isn’t an exact science. This is because they are plenty of other factors to think about – appetites, side dishes, time of day, etc.

You also have to think about whether or not you want leftovers. Smoked turkey breast – or turkey breast prepared in any way, really – is incredibly versatile. It can be eaten on its own, used in sandwiches, etc.

Therefore, you may want to plan things so that you have leftovers after your cookout. If this is the case, then you should buy more meat than what the math tells you.

Factors That Can Determine How Much Turkey Breast Per Person

As you are well aware, deciding how much to serve larger groups for any event can be tricky. This is because there are so many different things that you need to consider at any given time. Let’s take a look at what factors you need to think about to get a better estimate:

Total Number of People Attending

First things first – narrow down the guest list! When it comes to less formal special occasions, it can be tricky to figure out just how many people are going to turn up. As a result, you end up buying far more turkey breast than you need, just to make sure that each person attending has enough food.

Homemade meat cuisine with potatoes and mushrooms

Well, it is time to bring an end to this tradition. Contact each of your guests and let them know that you need to know how much food to buy and get the RSVP then and there. It can seem a bit straightforward but it will make your life much easier when you go shopping later on.

Method of Cooking

It is also a good idea to think about how you are preparing turkey breast when deciding just how much to make per person. After all, there is more than one cooking process you can opt for – grilling, roasting, and smoking.

One of the main ways that they vary is cooking time. For instance, it is often quicker to roast a turkey breast than it is to smoke or grill it. Thus, if you are choosing the latter methods, then you are going to likely want to cook more pounds of turkey breast as you will not be able to do this once the party is underway.

However, if you are roasting turkey breasts, then you may be able to roast a full pound in about 20 minutes. With smaller breasts – about 2 pounds or 3 pounds each, you should have them ready in a short period of time. As such, you can afford to underestimate how much turkey per person.

Method of Presentation

Interestingly enough, how you present the turkey breast can play a role in how much is eaten. For instance, if the turkey breast is left as is, uncarved, then people will need to make more of an effort.

Those who aren’t familiar with the process may not be able to carve as much turkey as they want. People may not be as willing to take seconds, either.

On the other hand, if the turkey breast is carved up into neat slices, then people will undoubtedly pile more onto their plate.

Other Meats

While turkey is absolutely delicious, it isn’t the top of everyone’s list of favorites. If you have other more popular options such as chicken, beef, pork, or lamb, then you may find that people may not eat as much of the turkey.

This is also true as these options may prove to be more filling than white meat. Thus, if you are serving other meat, then you may be able to get away with serving only about a pound of turkey breast per person.

Types of Sides

The other thing to consider when determining how much turkey breast per person is the kind of sides that you are serving. If you are having a typical Thanksgiving dinner, then some of these dishes may include cranberry sauce and homemade gravy. While these are certainly delicious, they aren’t necessarily filling.

Thus, if you are only sticking with the trimmings, then you are going to have to calculate more uncooked turkey breast per person.

Now, green beans, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and sweet potato can certainly fill up people a great deal more. However, they aren’t exactly the most popular sides, depending on the crowd. This is especially true if you are catering to a lot of kids.

Therefore, you may need to spring for more turkey breast per person.

On the other hand, if you are serving mashed potatoes, bread rolls, or mac and cheese, these are filling and sought after dishes. As such, everyone will be in a hurry to pile them onto their plates, requiring less turkey.

Wrapping Things Up

OK, so there has been a lot of information thrown at you about how much turkey breast per person you need to calculate. In case you are feeling a little overwhelmed, here is a quick recap:

For every adult, plan about 1 1/4lbs of turkey breast with the bone. For boneless turkey breast, you can reduce this to 3/4 of a pound per person.

As for kids, you can set aside half a pound of bone in turkey breast and 1/4 of a bone of the boneless variety.

To ensure that you don’t end up with too little or too much, consider the advice that I have given you above. Now, go ahead and grab that calculator and get to work!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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