Nothing beats turkey for a centerpiece during special celebratory events. And when you have a lot of mouths to feed, meal planning and preparation are crucial bits to getting things right. The lingering question though for a lot of hosts is how much turkey breast per person?
It would be a tragedy to send your guests back home hungry, yet again you don’t want to be stuck with too many leftovers. So how do you balance? Stick around to find out.
Benefits of Choosing Turkey Breast
Apart from the apparent reason that it is such a delectable joy, selecting turkey breast has a ton of other advantageous features.
Turkey is now the fourth most popular protein choice among consumers in the United States, where poultry consumption has increased dramatically over the previous few decades. This proves that it does appeal to the masses, and most definitely for the correct reasons.
First off, white meat is healthier than red meat in general. Regular turkey might be eaten because it is significantly leaner and, as a result, kinder to the heart.
Aside from this, turkey is packed with essential nutrients and minerals that the body needs. Consider vitamin B6, which helps people feel less tired while preserving a healthy level of red blood cells.
Selenium and phosphorus minerals are also present in large quantities. The former is good for keeping nails and hair healthy while phosphorus promotes bone growth and development.
In itself, the bird is a protein source and as you know, we need protein to build muscle.
So as is evident, turkey not only doubles up as a tasty choice of meat but one that your doctor won’t mind on your plate.
How Much Turkey Breast Per Person
Now onto the agenda of the day, how to get the right proportions with a turkey recipe.
You may need to factor in a couple of things here and that includes how many guests you’re serving, the ratio of adults to kids, and whether you’re going bone-in or boneless. These three will help give you a close enough idea of just how much will suffice.
It may be hard to guess how much appetite your visitors will work up but just to be on the safe side, it’s better to have a surplus than not enough.
In that case, with turkey breast, estimate about ½ to a full pound of cooked turkey meat per person. Keep in mind that turkey loses a lot of water during preparation so what you start with may not exactly be the same mass you end up with.
That tells you that you’re going to size up while picking out the raw bird. As a rule of thumb, portion about 1 and ¼ pounds of bone-in turkey breast per adult. And no, this is not going overboard because the bones take up a lot of the weight. When you choose to go boneless, about ¾ pounds of meat per person should be enough.
The numbers change when kids are in the picture. For them, you want to fraction about ¼-1/2 pound of meat since they generally do not eat as much as grownups.
Now no matter how confident you feel in your calculations, it does no harm to add just a bit extra for emergency sake. About 3 extra pounds on top of your rounded-up figure is a good safety net. It gives room for second-round servings, and even if it doesn’t all get cleared at once, who would mind some thanksgiving dinner leftovers to munch on the next day?
Before we can wind up this whole turkey math, here’s a small tip you should know. In case you’re hosting a large number of guests and do not have enough money to buy a whole batch of turkey breasts, stuffing your turkey might just be the hack.
You could get away with smaller portions and still have your guests satisfied. So before you can break the bank on some bird meat, consider what options you have and work out a smart way to get your dinner fitted into your budget.
Types of Cut – Boneless or Bone-in
Just like with beef, pork, and other meats, you have the option of going either boneless or bone-in. There’s no special privilege with either, it all comes down to your preference and perhaps the recipe at hand.
Typically, a whole unstuffed bird comes with bones inside. But if this is not your cup of tea, you could ask your butcher to debone it for you. Alternatively, do it yourself (if you have the time and butchering skills).
With a bone-in cut, at least 1 and ¼ pounds per person is recommended, but if you intend to spare some leftovers better round up this figure to 1 and ½. When bones are out the way, feel free to size down to ¾ pounds per person.
The Best 3 Ways to Prepare Turkey Breast
Preparing a turkey is a low and slow process. You don’t want to drain out all the moisture and have a dry bird that’s hard to chew on. So the best way to steer clear of this disaster is to cook on medium-low heat until ready.
Sometimes with a huge crowd, the temptation is to go with a very big bird. As reasonable as of this sounds, the downside is that it’s hard to cook a large bird to perfection without losing too much water. So if you can, consider getting two smaller-sized birds instead that won’t require extensive cooking periods.
Back to the cooking scene. Before you can line up your tools, it’s always a good idea to brine your turkey or mix in a dry rub seasoning to elevate the flavor. Of course, this is completely optional and you can choose to skip past. But if not, you don’t need to do a lot either because the bird by itself packs a punch.
Let’s have a look at the 3 best ways to cook turkey breast;
In a Slow Cooker
This is more of a braising method and given enough time, the results are impeccable. Again, it’s hard to go wrong with a slow cooker unless you have absolutely no idea how to cook a turkey. Even so, it still is a forgiving method.
The low heat works well to tenderize the meat while also killing any bacteria that could be lingering. Here’s how to go about it. Note that the instructions below are fitting for roughly a 4 pound-bone in turkey breast.
First things first, this method will require a pot large enough to hold the bird and accommodate water at the same time. Because it is majorly a steaming method, the turkey needs to be relatively submerged and not just merely covered.
As mentioned earlier, rub on your favorite spices as desired and coat both sides. Before tossing your meat, an extra touch of vegetables works magic. A combination of onions, carrots, some garlic cloves, and celery is a great combo.
Have them at the bottom closest to the fire so they can cook adequately. Be sure to have your lid closed otherwise it will take longer. The estimated period averages at 6 hours but remember this can be adjusted depending on the bird’s size.
Also, during prep time, resist the urge to keep checking on your cook because each time you open up the lid you lose thermal temperature by 10 degrees.
In the end, check the internal temperature and ensure it’s safe before pulling it out.
On the Grill
The grill is tested and tried when it comes to realizing golden crispy barks and a tender, juicy inside. It’s going to take some skill to work the grill but if you’re no stranger, it shouldn’t be so hard.
After the turkey has soaked overnight in some brine, pull it out and pat dry. In the meantime bring your grill or smoker up to a temperature of 375F. Pellet grills are much easier to work with but in case you’re using charcoal and wood, strive to maintain temperatures within this range.
Proceed to layout your turkey on a baking sheet, the skin side facing up and if you like, add some aromatic vegetable just to ramp up the flavor. Brush the bird with oil that has a high smoke point before placing it onto the grates.
Have it on the zone with indirect heat and close the lid. A meat thermometer would really come in handy at this point to inspect the level of doneness so aim for a rich brown crust and a 165F internal reading.
Let the bird rest for 15 minutes for it to come up to the perfect temperature and serve.
In the Oven
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees while working on your bird behind the scene with some organic spices. Spoon in some unsalted butter into the rub and using your hands, coat all sections generously. Once done, bring along your baking sheet and seal the turkey in aluminum foil.
Start the clock and after the 1st hour, flash the bird with the dripping collected in the baking pan and foil sheet before putting it back for another 30-45 minutes. Once done, allow some resting allowance and slice against the grain.
What about the Side Dishes?
Side dishes work to supplement the centerpiece and are of great variety particularly if you are running low on turkey. Some great inspirations to get you started
Some green beans, butternut squash, or creamy baby spinach cooked in milk are all admirable selections. It also helps to have a healthy veggies collection just in case some guests are intolerant to turkey.
For the smoothest mashed potatoes, use heavy cream and butter. However, you can do a lot with potatoes so don’t just limit yourself to this option. Consider switching up things with wedges, or even fries. You can bet the kids will love it.
For your stuffing, sauté some onions, carrots, and celery then add some broth to the blend. Once everything is nice and mixed up you could add your favorite toppings such as chopped sausages, tomato cherries, apples for some sweetening, the list goes on.
Butcher twines will be useful in helping the meat cook evenly.
To make your own, mix equal amounts of sugar and water and bring to a boil. Mix in some fresh cranberries and stir until the syrup is well combined. Follow to squeeze in some orange zest and mix again. Leave the sauce in the refrigerator to cool before serving.
Bread is another simple, practical side dish that’s easy to come by. For accompaniments, you could create a garlic spread topped with thyme or simply have it fresh from the bakery.
To get the right turkey measurements, refer to your guest list and use the recommended servings per person. If you’re feeding an army and the math gets too hard, you could always ask advice from your turkey butcher and consider what they suggest.