By Jennifer Dorsett

Since COVID-19 cases are back on the rise, many have made the difficult decision to celebrate with just immediate family in lieu of the traditional extended family gatherings we know and love.

But a smaller crowd means you may need to reconsider the size of turkey you buy this year.

As the saying goes, everything’s bigger in Texas. We don’t really know how to shop small. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Meat and Poultry Hotline is here to help.

“We generally recommend following about a 1-pound-per-person rule and about a pound-and-a-half if you would like to have leftovers,” Meredith Carothers, USDA technical information specialist, said.

So, if you plan to host a gathering of 10 people, you’d want to aim for a 10-pound turkey for that one meal, or a 15-pound turkey if you want leftover meat.

During Thanksgiving celebrations, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) urges everyone to be safe and practice social distancing with those who don’t live in the same household.

Encourage everyone to wash their hands and sanitize surfaces and serving utensils frequently.

Disposable tableware and single-use packets of dressings or condiments can cut down exposure to pathogens, too.

And Thanksgiving safety starts with food safety—namely, the turkey.

“If you have a big grocery store trip planned to get everything for your Thanksgiving meal at once, grab the turkey toward the end of your shopping trip, so it’s not taking a ride in the cart for many minutes or hours in the store,” she said. “It’s going straight from the refrigerator case to checkout to the car to your home refrigerator, where it can thaw safely.”

For more information on thawing turkey safely, check out this Texas Table Top article.

It’s safe to keep turkey in the refrigerator one to two days after it’s fully thawed, Carothers said.

For other questions about food safety and to talk turkey, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHOTLINE or visit online at

From our Texas Table Top family to yours, stay well and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!