Every year, we hear "the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner for a family or 4 (or 10) is ____" . So, what is this number for 2023, and how is it calculated?
We believe our calculation of the total cost of the average Thanksgiving dinner is - by far - the most accurate. You'll see why as we include things that are necessary, but the average newspaper journalist seems to forget.
See these pages for the
or for Christmas:
There are definitely regional differences (no, Southerner's don't serve grits... but cheese and grits, maybe, cornbread stuffing, for sure). But, we can assume a basic holiday dinner includes the following:
We found the prices at a Kroger store on November 13, 2023. They are documented in the accompanying photos.
Excluding alcohol. I cannot even guess how much some of you can drink...
|Item and percentage of Americans who serve it||Price each||16 lb for 4 to 6 people||24 lbs -for 10 people|
|Turkey - Roast or smoked, or fried (fried requires peanut oil, an additional cost)||$1.68/lb||$26.88||$40.32|
|Cranberry sauce - at least 1 can per 4 people. Of course, you can make your own cranberry sauce or jellied cranberry sauce very easily with fresh cranberries and sugar (or stevia)||$1.50||$3.00||$4.50|
|Stuffing (a.k.a, dressing) This assumes you use a box or bag mix. If you make it yourself it costs more - but is considerably better.||$3.00||$3.00||$6.00|
|Gravy packet, ($1.79) with drippings from the turkey, and you'll need chicken broth. Again, it is easy to make from scratch yourself.||$1.79||$1.79||$3.58|
|Chicken broth ($3.00)for the gravy||$3.00||$3.00||$6.00|
- 5-pound bag of russet potatoes, plus some milk, sometimes butter.
Or in the South, Sweet potato casserole. Sweet potatoes can be baked, mashed or made into a casserole. They cost slightly more, and for the casserole need milk, eggs, brown sugar, even marshmallows.
|Dinner rolls, 12 bread or buns $4 to $8, depending how many and which brand||$4.00||$4.00||$8.00|
|Green bean casserole - Green beans (per can) at least 2 cans for a casserole for 4 - 6 people||$.89||$1.78||$3.56|
|Cream of mushroom soup for the bean casserole||$1.25||$2.50||$5.00|
|Fried onions (6 ounces): a topping for the the green bean casserole||$4.29||$4.29||$4.29|
|Pies: Apple, pumpkin, pecan or sweet potato pie; a 9 inch pie yield 8 small slices, so most people get 2
pies, frequently one pumpkin, the other, either apple or pecan.
Pecan pie is the most expensive. $10 for a small one,
Pumpkin pie is the cheapest $6 for a small one $10 for a large one
Apple pie is always popular, $10 at Costco for a huge one
Most families like to have 2, both a pumpkin pie AND something else (pecan, apple, red velvet cake, etc.)
|Miscellaneous - there are always a few things you realize you're out of, like butter, milk for the mashed
potatoes, sour cream, whipped cream, a spice or you have to get something special for Aunt Karen because she is lactose, gluten - nut-intolerant)
So add in $10 for those things
|Extras and alternatives (NOT included in the cost estimate below)|
|Ham - Some people like both turkey AND ham. Assume 1/2 to 3/4 lb per person (we did not include the cost of ham in the total, but you can add it to your meal's calculation in our Thanksgiving dinner calculator Some people like both turkey AND ham. Assume 1/2 to 3/4 lb per person||$4.56 per pound|
Total for 4 - 6 people: $76.53 plus tax ($4.59 at 6%, total = $81.12)
Total for 10 - 12 people: $119.83 plus tax ($7.14 at 6%, total = $127.02)
You can edit the ingredients, quantity and costs with our Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Calculator!
Give it a try! and then print the results as a shopping list!
Remember, while the inflation rate may have slowed, that only means that the rate of increase of food prices has slowed; it does not mean food prices have come down a single penny.
You can also save money and make a MUCH better tasting dish without processed chemical, by making it yourself. And it is so easy with our recipes. These are by far the best and easiest:
Can you do it for less. Sure. Here's how
In 2023, it's costing from $0.99 per pound for frozen store brand to $1.68 for frozen butterball to $3/lb for organic, fresh or just the breast.
In general, per pound, frozen turkey is the best value:
Costco and Sam's usually have the best prices, in 2023, around $1.00 per pound for whole turkeys.
Many grocery stores have special low prices on turkey if you buy more than a specified amount of groceries (like $50 or $75) when you buy the turkey.
Get your guests to each bring one!
Same, here, have a guest bring one.
According to Yahoo, from a 2020 survey by YouGov, the top 20 most popular dishes for a Christmas dinner are shown in the table at right. See the Yahoo page for the full list! :
The American Farm Bureau (AFB) produces an annual estimate of the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner which is then quoted by most (if not all) newspaper and other mass media). Their dinner for 10 people includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, Here are their past estimates (their estimate is released Nov 15 each year)
Frankly, I think their estimate is absurdly low. Have you ever been able to do Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people for these costs?
|Source and year||2017||2018||2019||2020||2021||2022||2023|
|Yahoo Finance, for 11 people||$152|
|Fox News San Antonio||$60.29|
|MoneyGeek||$125 to $150|
This is based on the American Farm Bureau's data, for 10 people. I believe this underestimates to true actual cost of the average Thanksgiving dinner by 25% - 50%. However, the trends should be accurate.
most recent version of
the Ball Blue Book
most recent version of
the Ball Blue Book