Average Turkey Weight (Super Simple Guide)

Wondering what the average weight of a turkey is? 

Knowing weight averages when planning your cook is key! 

Doing so will you ensure you end up with a juicy and tender turkey! Not overcooked or undercooked! 

Working out the timings and portion sizes will make your day of cooking easier.

Today we will be looking at the average weights.

So get you can get your day planned out for cooking a turkey! 

what-does-the-average-turkey-weigh

What Is the Average Weight of a Whole Turkey?

The weight of a turkey can be anywhere from 7 lbs to the larger turkeys at 30 lbs!

The average of this range is typically around the 18-20lbs mark. However, it is not recommended to smoke a turkey that large, as it will spend too much time in the danger zone.

You are better off cooking two turkeys at once. Below you’ll learn about the different types of turkey and what size turkey you should pick for smoking.

How Much Turkey Do You Need Per Person?

The average portion of cooked turkey per person is 1/2lb – 1lb.

This does depend on whether you want leftover turkey, what sides your serving, and how hungry you are!

Does the Breed of Turkey Make a Difference?

Yes, it does!

Breeds of turkey have different genetics.

This affects the size of the turkey.

There are lots of specific breeds but they all fall under 2 categories.

Heritage Turkeys

Turkeys share DNA with wild indigenous flocks in North and South America.

They are also able to mate naturally without aid.

Heritage turkey breeds will be lean and smaller from roaming free in the wild.

The meat has a deep depth of gamey flavor from the turkey’s natural diet.

Production Turkeys

Production turkeys are breeds that have had artificial insemination and genome splicing.

Fancy words for breeding the animal to factory farming specifications.

Production turkeys are bigger for a higher meat yield and profits.

The meat tends to have a higher fat content due to a strict diet and excessive feeding.

The turkey production on these large-scale farms may have poor conditions.

This all has an impact on the weight.

The Average Weight of Commercial Turkeys

Commercial meat production is on a large scale and for profit by large companies.

The turkeys found in supermarkets fit into this category and are widely available.

These are classed as production turkeys.

The average weight of a commercial turkey flock is 20lbs.

how-much-does-an-average-turkey-weigh

The Average Weight of Domestic Turkeys

Smaller-scale domestic turkeys are produced locally in the United States.

These tend to be a bit smaller than commercially raised turkeys.

This includes types of wild turkey or organically raised on small farm fields.

These fresh turkeys are lean and produced without additives.

These are classed as heritage turkeys.

The average weight of a wild or organic domestic turkey is 15lbs.

average-turkey-weight

Does the Age of Birds Make a Difference?

A turkey’s lifespan can be 10 years if left alone to flourish.

But the turkey’s bread for consumption is slaughtered between 14-18 weeks.

Both heritage and production turkeys are slaughtered around the same time.

So age doesn’t greatly affect the average weight.

Does the Sex of Turkey Make a Difference to the Weight?

Both a female turkey (hens) and a male turkey (toms) are eaten.

On average they are a similar size.

Hens are however slaughtered a few weeks before toms.

So male turkeys tend to be bigger by around 3lbs.

how-much-does-the-average-turkey-weigh

Will a Frozen Turkey Effect the Weight Compared to Fresh?

The frozen water within the turkey meat proteins will increase weight.

But only by a small percentage.

When thawing a turkey it will drop by around 1-2lbs on average.

Check the packaging for the weight before it was frozen.

average-thanksgiving-turkey-weight

What Additives or Ingredients Will Effect the Weight?

We know turkeys are produced on a massive scale.

From pre-brined and seasoned or fresh individual birds with giblets.

Below 2 types of extras with your turkey that can affect the weight.

Sodium Solution

An added brine or sodium solution is popular for cooking turkey.

The salt creates osmosis within the proteins and makes for juicy meat!

A lot of commercial turkeys are sold with added water and salt.

This is injected into the turkey in the manufacturing process.

Check the ingredients for the percentage of water in the meat.

Stuffed or Dressed Turkeys

A turkey that has been dressed or stuffed with other ingredients will affect its weight.

Look at the ingredients for the gross weight of the turkey.

This is presented as well as whatever other ingredients have been stuffed or added.

What Are the Different Types of Turkey Meat?

There are two different types of meat in a turkey.

White from the turkey breast meat and dark from the thigh or legs.

The white meat has a lighter taste and is dense texture.

The darker meat has a gamey taste as it is closer to the bones.

medium-size-turkey-weight

How to Work Out the Cooking Time Based on Weight

Knowing the weight of your turkey and cooking temp is key to estimating the cooking time.

Turkey cooks at a rate of 30-35 minutes per pound at 200°F.

Turkey cooks at a rate of 20-25 minutes per pound at 275°F.

Turkey cooks at a rate of 10-15 minutes per pound at 375°F.

Will a Cooked Turkey Weigh Less Than an Uncooked Turkey?

Yes, it does and this applies to anything you are cooking.

Moisture evaporation from water in the proteins will take place.

You can expect to lose around a quarter of mass after cooking.

medium-size-turkey-weight

Smoke On!

Charlie

Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

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 recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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