A 15- to 23-pound turkey is needed to feed 15 people. If the cook wants to have plenty of leftovers, he should look for a 30-pound turkey or consider preparing two 15-pound turkeys.
While USA Today recommends 1 pound of turkey per person, Martha Stewart suggests 1 ½ pounds per person. The cook can estimate about ½ pound of turkey per child, because children typically eat less than adults. Turkeys that weigh 12 pounds or less have a smaller meat-to-bone ratio; larger birds offer more meat per pound.
Larger turkeys take longer to thaw and longer to cook. A frozen turkey can thaw on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator for 24 hours for every 4 pounds that it weighs. A defrosted turkey roasts in a 350 F oven at 20 minutes per pound; a fresh turkey takes 10 to 15 minutes per pound.