Consider Serving Turkey Breast Instead Of A Whole Bird At Smaller Holiday Gatherings

According to data from the National Turkey Federation (via Finder), an estimated 293 million Americans gobbled up some turkey during Thanksgiving dinner this year. If you happened to be among them, you might agree that nothing signifies the mark of the holiday season quite like a whole roasted turkey. Indeed, as one agricultural economist recently told ABC, about 84% of the United States' whole fresh turkey sales occur in the month of November, a significant spike leading into the holidays.

While a sense of tradition and nostalgia may dictate serving a whole bird during the festivities, you may want to consider opting just for a turkey breast at your next family gathering. Whether you're hosting Thanksgiving dinner, a Christmas feast, or simply serving a celebratory meal for any other occasion, there are plenty of reasons why this alternative might be a better choice.

First off, you'll want to consider the size of your guest list. Although the sight of an entire golden bird makes quite the grand impression at the center of the dinner table, you're likely to be left with more leftovers than you can make use of if you don't have enough people to feed. The general consensus is to allocate at least 1.5 pounds of meat per guest, so even a small, 10-pound turkey may be too large for a group of fewer than six people. Turkey breasts, however, are available in smaller sizes to provide the right amount for your group.

A turkey breast can save time, money, and food waste

A turkey breast is also a more budget-friendly option than the whole shebang when serving a smaller group, given its size and lower price point. Plus, it can help prevent extra food waste if most party members prefer white meat. After all, if you're consistently bogged down with leftover dark meat from the legs whenever you serve a turkey, why not do away with them altogether? 

Most important, perhaps, is the convenience that comes with serving a turkey breast over a whole bird. Preparation-wise, the breast alone is much easier and quicker to cook than an entire turkey. Again, its size comes into play. A small, bone-in 3-pound turkey breast, which can feed up to four people, requires as little as 50 minutes in the oven, compared to the hours a large bird can take. Better yet, you don't need to fuss over it while cooking. There's no need to baste or flip the breast; simply roasting it is as straightforward as it gets. Sans the bulky legs, the breast is also much simpler to carve when it's serving time.

But that doesn't mean your breast has to be boring. For a flavorful dish idea, look no further than this Autumnal Herby Turkey Breast recipe by developer Michelle McGlinn, who maintains that it makes for a great holiday alternative. It's crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and guaranteed to please a (small) crowd at the dinner table.