Hosting an Intimate Thanksgiving? Here's How to Cook a Smaller Turkey

Fewer guests may mean a smaller turkey—but not less flavor.

The holidays may look different if you're celebrating with fewer guests and are accustomed to larger celebrations, but that doesn't mean they can't still be special. Most people look forward to keeping up with old traditions, but if you think about it, there are many benefits of celebrating on a smaller scale. A more intimate gathering means less stress overall—there's not as much preparation, your grocery bill won't be as colossal, and it probably won't take an entire week to clean up the kitchen once guests leave.

Whether you're planning on hosting immediate family or just a few friends—and taking the party outdoors or hosting a digital Thanksgiving dinner—you may want to consider springing for a smaller turkey. Here's what you should know about picking out and preparing a delicious little bird.

Where to Buy a Small Turkey

Since most supermarkets only carry standard 20-pound turkeys, it's a good idea to call your supermarket ahead of time (several weeks is ideal) to ensure they have what you want. Many specialty markets and local grocers supply smaller turkeys; stores like Whole Foods may also have them. You can also find smaller-sized turkeys online at Williams Sonoma and Fossil Farms.

Finding the Right Size for Your Group

Some might think a bigger turkey is tastier, but that's not necessarily true. A smaller turkey is easier to cook because it has less of a chance of getting dried out. While you may be accustomed to seeing a 20-pound turkey in the center of the dining room table, a smaller one ranges from about 5 to 10 pounds.

An 8-pound turkey is a perfect size if you're entertaining up to six people. And if you're hosting a group of eight people, a 10-pound turkey should be perfect. (And leftovers are always, of course, welcome).

Cooking a Smaller Turkey

Preparing a turkey can feel intimidating to some, but the good news is the same rules apply to cooking a smaller bird. You can even use the same size roasting pan, so there's no need for extra tools or gadgets. Cook your small turkey for about 20 minutes per pound until the internal temperature is 165 F.

Once you've cooked your little turkey to perfection, serve it with your favorite Thanksgiving sides. At our house, it wouldn't be the holidays without a delicious sweet potato dish and herby, savory stuffing.

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