# How much does a 12 to 14 pound turkey feed?

A 12 to 14 pound turkey will feed approximately 8 to 10 people. This estimate is based on calculating around 1 pound of turkey per person.

## How Many People Will a 12 Pound Turkey Feed?

A 12 pound turkey will provide enough meat for approximately 8 to 10 people. Here is a breakdown of how the estimation is calculated:

• Plan for around 1 pound of turkey meat per person.
• The typical yield for a whole turkey is about 75%, meaning only about 75% of the weight is edible meat. The rest is bones and fat that is discarded.
• So on a 12 pound turkey, only about 9 pounds will be edible meat (12 lbs * 0.75 = 9 lbs).
• Dividing 9 pounds of edible meat by 1 pound per serving means a 12 pound turkey will provide about 9 servings.

This estimate accounts for meat only and does not include any side dishes or appetizers. The actual number of people served may be slightly less if you want generous portions of turkey, or slightly more if you serve smaller portions along with plenty of sides. But in general, plan on a 12 pound whole turkey feeding 8 to 10 adults as a main course.

## How Many People Will a 14 Pound Turkey Feed?

Using the same guidelines, a 14 pound whole turkey will provide approximately 10 to 12 servings.

Here is the math:

• A 14 pound turkey * 0.75 yield = 10.5 pounds of edible meat
• 10.5 pounds of meat / 1 pound per serving = about 10 to 12 servings

Again, this estimate is for turkey meat only and does not account for side dishes. You may get slightly less or more servings depending on your portion sizes. But a good rule of thumb is plan for 10 to 12 main course servings from a 14 pound whole roasted turkey.

## Factors That Affect Turkey Portion Size

Here are some factors that can affect how many servings you get from a turkey:

• Weight with or without giblets: Whole turkeys are often sold with the neck and giblets still inside the cavities. This extra weight needs to be accounted for if the turkey has not been cleaned and had these removed before weighing. Be sure to check if the weight on the packaging includes giblets or not.
• Children vs adults: Younger children will likely eat smaller portions than adults. So the number of servings may go up slightly if children are being served.
• Men vs women: Studies show adult men often eat more at a single meal than women. If serving mostly adult men, you may want to drop the estimate slightly.
• Leftovers: If you want ample leftovers, buy a slightly larger bird. Getting a 14-16 pound turkey instead of 12 pounds will ensure more generous portions and leftovers.
• Other dishes: If serving lots of appetizers, side dishes, desserts, etc, people will likely eat less turkey. Pad the estimate if plenty of other dishes are being served.
• Turkey meat only: The estimate is for meat from a whole roasted turkey only. If making turkey sandwiches with deli meat, or using boneless breasts, the yield will be different.

Taking these factors into account when shopping and portioning will help ensure you get the right turkey size for your gathering.

Use these simple guidelines when purchasing a whole turkey to ensure you buy the right size:

• Plan for 1 pound of turkey meat per person.
• Add 1-2 extra pounds if you want ample leftovers.
• Make sure the weight on the label is just the turkey and does not include giblets.
• Opt for a 14-16 pound bird for 10-12 people. Go larger if serving extra sides and appetizers.
• Smaller birds like 12 pounds are good for 8-10 people or smaller gatherings.
• Frozen turkeys are fine. Just thaw in fridge 2-3 days before cooking.
• Buy turkey only 1-2 days before for optimal freshness and food safety.

Stick within the guideline of 1 pound per person, adjust up or down for your specific needs, and you’ll be all set to purchase the perfect turkey.

## Estimating Leftovers from Turkey

Leftover turkey is one of the best parts of making a big holiday bird! Here is how to estimate how many leftovers you’ll have:

• For a 12 pound turkey this is around 9 pounds of meat, giving about 12 adult servings.
• If feeding 8 adults, this leaves about 4 pounds of meat leftover.
• For a 14 pound turkey (around 10.5 pounds of meat), serving 8 adults would leave 5.5 pounds of leftovers.

The actual amount of leftovers you end up with will depend on your diners’ appetites. But in general you can expect about 25-30% or more of the original turkey weight to be usable meat leftovers with a 12-14 pound bird. Keep this in mind if you are buying a turkey mainly for leftovers. Go slightly bigger than your initial serving estimate to ensure ample extra turkey.

## Leftover Turkey Storage

Proper storage is key for keeping leftover turkey safe and delicious. Here are some tips:

• Remove all meat from the bones. Discard skin and bones.
• Refrigerate meat in shallow containers within 2 hours of cooking.
• Use leftover turkey within 3-4 days. Freeze additional meat for longer storage.
• Divide meat into meal-size portions before freezing for easier thawing and use.
• Freeze turkey in air-tight containers or freezer bags up to 2-3 months.
• Reheat turkey to 165°F until hot and steaming before eating.

Following safe food handling guidelines will keep leftover turkey safe from bacteria and maintain quality.

## Creating Meals with Leftover Turkey

Leftover turkey is endlessly versatile for creating quick and delicious meals. Here are some ideas:

• Turkey sandwiches – Use leftovers for sandwiches with mayo, cheese, lettuce, etc. Try both cold and hot.
• Turkey tacos or burritos – Warm turkey mixed with beans, salsa, veggies, etc. makes great Mexican meals.
• Turkey salad – Chop turkey and mix with mayo, celery, cranberries, nuts, etc. For sandwich or salad.
• Turkey casserole – Combine turkey with vegetables, broth, rice or pasta, cheese, etc. for an easy casserole.
• Turkey soup – Simmer turkey in chicken broth with veggies and noodles for a hearty soup.
• Turkey tetrazzini – Turkey tossed with spaghetti, mushrooms, cheese sauce, etc. makes a flavorful pasta dish.
• Turkey pot pie – Make a creamy turkey pie with veggies topped with biscuits or pie crust.

Get creative with leftovers. Turkey mixes well with endless ingredients for quick, budget-friendly meals.

## How Long Does Cooked Turkey Last?

Here are the approximate time limits for keeping cooked turkey stored in the refrigerator or freezer:

Storage Method Fresh Turkey Meat
Refrigerator 3-4 days
Freezer 2-3 months

Proper storage is essential for preserving your turkey safely for several meals after the initial dinner. Be sure to divide meat into shallow containers for refrigeration and meal-size portions for the freezer to optimize quality and safety. Cooked turkey that is handled and stored carefully should retain its moistness and flavor for excellent leftovers.

## Making Broth from Turkey Bones

Don’t throw those turkey bones and carcass into the trash after carving your bird! They can be used to make delicious and nourishing turkey broth:

• Place bones, carcass, scraps of meat, skin, etc into a pot.
• Add enough water to cover everything by a few inches.
• Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 2-4 hours.
• Strain out solids. Pick off any bits of meat to chop and add back to broth.
• Refrigerate broth up to 3-4 days or freeze for several months.

This easy turkey broth is great for making soup, gravy, or braising vegetables. It captures extra flavor and nutrition from the turkey carcass instead of letting it go to waste.

## Tips for Cooking the Perfect Turkey

Here are some essential tips for roasting a moist, delicious turkey:

• Thaw frozen turkey in the fridge 2-3 days before cooking.
• Remove giblets and neck from cavities. Wash turkey inside and out.
• Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Rub skin with oil or butter and seasonings.
• Place turkey breast up on a V-rack in a roasting pan. Tent with foil.
• Roast at 325°F, allowing 15-18 minutes per pound. Check temp with a meat thermometer.
• Let turkey rest 20 minutes before carving for juicy meat.

Key things to keep in mind are a low roasting temp of 325°F and resting time before carving. This prevents the turkey meat from drying out. Letting it rest allows juices to redistribute through the meat. Carve carefully along the grain for tender, sliceable meat.

## Alternatives to Whole Roasted Turkey

While a roasted whole bird is traditional, turkey parts provide some excellent alternatives:

• Turkey breast – Roast a 2-3 pound bone-in turkey breast for a smaller meal. Cooks faster than a whole turkey.
• Boneless turkey breast – Even quicker and easier, boneless breasts work well for weekday meals.
• Turkey drumsticks – Baste and roast drumsticks for a lower fat option with crispy skin.
• Turkey wings – Braise seasoned wings low and slow on the stovetop or in the oven.
• Ground turkey – Make burgers, meatballs, or turkey sausage for easy cooking.

Carved deli turkey and sausage links offer even more convenient options for meals and sandwiches.

## Health Benefits of Turkey

Turkey provides lots of nutrition in relatively few calories. Here are some of the health benefits of turkey:

• High protein – 4 ounces of turkey contains around 25 grams of protein for strong muscles.
• Lower fat than red meat – Turkey is lower in saturated fat than beef or pork.
• Vitamins and minerals – Turkey provides B vitamins, zinc, selenium, potassium and phosphorus.
• Anti-inflammatory – Compounds may reduce inflammation in the body.
• Tryptophan for serotonin – Tryptophan in turkey may boost mood and sleep.

So enjoy some turkey this holiday season along with vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based foods for a well-rounded meal.

### Buying Guide for Selecting a Turkey

When shopping for your holiday turkey, keep these tips in mind:

• Allow 1 pound of turkey per person for a main course serving.
• Buy 1-2 extra pounds if you want ample leftovers.
• Make sure the weight is just for the turkey and does not include giblets.
• Fresh turkeys are best but frozen works well too if thawed properly.
• Inspect turkey for ice crystals if frozen. Avoid if present as they indicate refreezing.
• Check expiration or sell-by date and pick the latest date available.
• Allow time to thaw – 1-2 days in the fridge for a 12-14 lb turkey.
• For optimal safety and freshness, buy turkey 1-2 days before cooking.

Choosing the right size bird and understanding proper thawing and handling will help ensure your holiday turkey dinner goes smoothly.

### Thawing a Frozen Turkey

Allow plenty of time for your frozen turkey to thaw gradually and safely:

• Keep turkey in original airtight packaging during thawing.
• Thaw in the refrigerator allowing 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds.
• Place turkey on a rimmed baking sheet to catch drips.
• Do not rinse turkey until fully thawed and ready to cook.
• Cook within 1-2 days of refrigerator thawing.
• Can quick thaw in cold water 30 minutes per pound changing water every 30 minutes.
• Cook immediately if quick thawed in cold water.
• Never thaw at room temperature or in hot water.

Proper thawing in the fridge or cold water prevents bacterial growth. Monitor thawed turkey for off-odors indicating spoilage. Cook thoroughly to 165°F internal temperature.

### Handling Leftover Turkey Safely

To keep leftover turkey safe from harmful bacteria, follow these guidelines:

• Refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking.
• Carve turkey off the bone. Discard bones and skin.
• Store meat in shallow containers at 40°F or below.
• Use refrigerated leftovers within 3-4 days.
• Divide into meal-size portions and freeze extras up to 2-3 months.
• When reheating, heat thoroughly to 165°F.
• Bring soups and gravies to a full rolling boil before eating.
• Discard any turkey that smells or looks spoiled.

Following proper food safety methods prevents foodborne illness. Handle and reheat leftovers carefully and throw away any turkey that seems off.

## Conclusion

A 12 to 14 pound turkey will provide 8 to 12 servings generally. Plan for about 1 pound per person, add extra weight if you want leftovers, and use a meat thermometer to cook the turkey fully to 165°F. Properly stored leftovers can feed your family delicious bonus meals for several days after the holiday. With some simple planning and safe handling, your holiday turkey can become the gift that keeps on giving.