A hearty Thanksgiving meal for eight, in New York, Oct. 31, 2015. On the menu: simple roast turkey, whole-roasted stuffed delicata squash, garlic mashed potatoes, two way stuffing with mushrooms and bacon, cranberry sauce with chilies, brussels sprouts with pancetta, make-ahead gravy and Harvey House candied sweet potatoes.

Here’s what it will take to feed all your Thanksgiving guests

Sometimes, it's difficult to figure out just how much turkey, stuffing, potatoes and pies you'll need for your Thanksgiving meal. 

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Will your niece bring her new boyfriend? He's sure to eat enough for two people. Three more side dishes may be needed.

How many offensive jokes will your crazy uncle tell? How many of those jokes will kids overhear? How uncomfortable will the in-laws make situations? Add more bottles of wine to your list accordingly. 

Follow these guidelines to organize the best Thanksgiving with the right amount of food for your guests:


For turkeys that weigh 16 pounds or less, estimate 1 pound per serving.

  • For eight people, buy a 12-pound turkey.
  • For 10 people, buy a 15-pound turkey.
  • For 12 people, buy an 18-pound turkey. 
  • For 14 people, buy a 20-pound turkey.

To thaw a turkey the safest way, keep it in the refrigerator about 24 hours per 4 to 5 pounds of turkey.

Once completely thawed, a standard oven will sufficiently cook a stuffed turkey in a few hours. 

  •  12-pound turkey: 3 to 4 hours at 325 degrees
  •  15-pound turkey: 4 to 4½ hours at 325 degrees
  • 18-pound turkey: 4½ to 5 hours at 325 degrees
  • 20-pound turkey: 5 to 6 hours at 325 degrees


  • A 1-pound bag of carrots makes 4 to 5 servings.
  • A 12-ounce package of fresh cranberries makes about 2¼ cups of sauce. A 16-ounce can makes 6 servings.
  • Prepare 1⁄3 cup of gravy per guest.
  • 1½ pounds of green beans makes 6 to 8 servings.
  • A 5-pound bag of potatoes makes 10 servings of mashed potatoes.
  • A 14-ounce bag of stuffing makes enough for 11 servings.


  • A 9-inch pie can be cut into 8 slices.
  • 1 pint of ice cream per pie is appropriate.


Be sure to refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours of being served. Refrigerated items should be consumed within three to four days and frozen items will last for three to four months.

Find out more on how to prepare for Thanksgiving here.

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