How Much Turkey Breast Per Person? (Don’t Let Anyone Go Hungry!)

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Decided to serve up some turkey breast at your next cookout, need to work out how much turkey breast you need to allow per person? Many people don’t cook with it often so they aren’t sure how much to serve! So I usually get a few questions like;

  1. How much turkey should each person get?
  2. Will there be too much leftover turkey?
  3. What if you have a really big group of people to feed?
  4. Will there be enough for everyone?

So, how much turkey breast do you need per person? You need need to allocate around 1¼ lbs of raw turkey breast per person

However, they are many variables such as the time of the event, the age of guests, and what you’re serving with it. So if you decide to go with turkey breast, you find out below exactly how much you’ll need.

turkey breast sliced up

How Much Turkey Breast You’ll Need Per Person

With bone-in turkey, you need to allocate around 1¼ lbs of raw turkey per person. It seems a lot, but you are accounting for the bone

An average adult usually consumes approximately half, if not a full, pound of the cooked turkey. Of course, it depends on how hungry they are, and how much they tend to eat.. We recommend preparing a serving of ¼ to ½ pounds of turkey for each child present.

Other important and helpful things to remember include:

  • If you wish to have leftovers that you can enjoy after the event, then it’ll be smart to prep around 1 pound and 12 ounces per guest.
  • For your convenience, we’ve got some examples for you to follow. Let’s say that your guest list consists of four people. Five pounds of turkey (with the bone still in) would be about right. Therefore, if you’ve got to serve eight people, then you would need 10 pounds.
  • If you don’t have time to break down a whole turkey for the breasts, you can smoke a butteball turkey.

It’s always smart to stick with the 1¼ pounds per person rule when you’re trying to figure out how much turkey per person attending your event. Although if you want some leftovers, it’s worth catering for 1.5 pounds per person.

If you do end up with leftovers you might wonder how long does smoked turkey last? Just ensure you eat it within 3-4 days of putting it in the fridge.

If Your Serving Boneless Turkey

If you’ve chosen boneless meat, then the general rule of thumb includes allocating around ¾ pound per person.

We’ve mainly been discussing how you should portion the meat if you’ve decided to go with the bone-in option.

However, we can’t disregard the convenient boneless option. If you’ve chosen boneless meat, then the general rule of thumb includes allocating around ¾ pound per person.

Therefore, if you’ve bought a 3-pound turkey breast, then you’re looking at feeding around 4 people.

Calculations for How Much Turkey Breast You’ll Need For;

8 People

  • 8 x 1¼ = 10 pounds of bone-in turkey breast
  • This means you’ll need 6 pounds of boneless turkey breast

16 People

  • 16 x 1¼ = 20 pounds of bone-in turkey breast
  • This means you’ll need 12 pounds of boneless turkey breast

24 People

  • 24 x 1¼ = 30 pounds of bone-in turkey breast
  • This means you’ll need 18 pounds of boneless turkey breast

How Long Does it Take to Thaw Turkey Breast?

Always leave enough time for your turkey breast to defrost. It takes around 24 hours for a 6lb breast to defrost in the fridge. What if you’re handling frozen turkeys? If you’re handling an entire turkey, then you’ll want to start early.

This is because a full-size turkey can take a couple of days to thaw. (Of course, it’s best to always thaw fresh turkeys and other meats in the fridge. This keeps bacteria growth to a minimum.)

We have found that it takes around a whole day to thaw four pounds of raw turkey. Hence, if you’ve got a 12-pound turkey, then it’ll take around three days to have it fully thawed out in the fridge.

Minimal Internal Temperature for Turkey Breast

The internal temperature of the turkey needs to reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit before it is safe to consume. We highly recommend investing in a good meat thermometer or instant-read thermometer. This will ensure that you’re receiving accurate temperature readings throughout the entire cooking process

Another way to make sure that you are receiving the right temperature is to probe the meat. Always stick the kitchen thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey breast meat. Also, don’t stick the thermometer so far in that it ends up touching the turkey bone.

You want to read the temperature of the meat. Not the temperature of the bone. Now, here are some of our favorite methods for cooking turkey meat:

Our Favorite Methods For Preparing Turkey Breast

On The Grill

Grilling is the way to go if you want your turkey to be crispy and golden on the outside while remaining soft and juicy on the inside.

  • Start by sitting the turkey in a brine solution. (Solution should include 16 fluid ounces of water combined with ⅔ cup of kosher salt. You should also throw in a fistful of black peppercorns. Plus, include some freshly plucked thyme) This solution will tenderize the muscle tissues.
  • Allow the meat to soak in the brine for at least half a day.
  • When that’s done, take the meat out from the solution. You will want to dab the solution away off from the meat’s surface with durable kitchen paper towels.
  • Preheat your gas grill to medium heat. If you’re using a pellet grill, then set it to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place your turkey in a roasting dish, or foil tray, before putting it in to cook.
  • Take it off the heat when the internal meat temperature reaches the 165 ℉ mark. Leave it to rest for around half an hour. Then you can carve it and serve it!

In The Oven

We usually like to use this method if we’re planning to cook a bone-in turkey.

  • Preheat the oven to 350 ℉.
  • Make a marinade that consists of:
    • Garlic powder
    • Kosher salt
    • Paprika
    • Oregano
    • Ground black pepper
    • Basil
    • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Put the bird into a roasting tray. Brush the marinade over the entire surface area of the turkey. Be generous with the application
  • Cover the top with a sheet of aluminum foil, and insert the turkey into the oven.
  • Leave it to cook for around an hour.
  • If you find that all of the tasty liquid is pooling at the bottom of the tray, take the turkey out. Spread all of the wet marinades all over the turkey’s surface again.
  • Place the tray back into the oven. You can remove the turkey from the oven once the internal meat temperature reaches the 165 ℉ mark.
  • Let it rest for half an hour. Then carve and serve!

In The Crock Pot

If you intend to use this method, we recommend only using a piece of turkey breast that weighs no more than 4 pounds.

  • Start by adding a mixture of cut vegetables into the crockpot. No matter what combination you end up using, the basics should include onion and carrots. If you’re big on flavor and aroma, then you can’t forget the garlic and thyme.
  • Season the breast meat with your favorite marinade, then place that amongst the vegetables in the pot.
  • Leave everything to cook for around six hours on low heat.
  • Only remove the meat from the heat when its temperature is at 165 ℉.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Pro tip! Resist the temptation to lift the lid and check on the cooking progress.

Cooking a 20lb Turkey?

If you’re cooking a whole 20lb turkey you might want to know how many people it will feed.

This will make catering for your Thanksgiving meal much easier.

Here are some of our favorite sides that go well with turkey breast!

Why Choose Turkey Breast?

It’s easy to overlook poultry when they are so many yummy things to do with pork and beef. However, smoked turkey has always been a popular choice of meat for special occasions. But why limit it to special occasions? Boneless or bone-in turkey breast is also excellent for casual get-together meals.

There are a lot of advantages to eating turkey. First of all, it’s white meat that’s rich in vitamins, high in protein, and low in fat. Plus it also cooks relatively quickly, even if you’re dealing with bone-in turkey breast.

Don’t Forget The Sides

Here are some of our favorite sides that go well with turkey breast!

We like to include:

  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Stuffing
  • Sweet Potato
  • Yams

There is nothing like having all the family over and serving a beautiful turkey! Just make sure you have your side and cranberry sauce ready to go!

Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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