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Thanksgiving Menu Calories

Updated on June 5, 2012

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday known for food and getting together with family. Traditional favorites include turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, pumpkin pie and more. For those who hope to lose weight or eat sensibly, this is one day those goals tend to go out the window. Have you ever been curious about how many calories you actually eat on Thanksgiving? It might surprise you.

Roasted turkey
Roasted turkey

Thanksgiving Menu Calories

The number of calories you eat on Thanksgiving will depend on variables like how the food is prepared and serving sizes. Whether you're just curious or are seriously trying to make better choices this Thanksgiving Day, the following list offers a general idea of the number of calories on your Thanksgiving plate:


  • 8 ounces roasted (meat only) – 385 calories
  • 8 ounces roasted with skin – 446 calories
  • 1/16th of a 12 pound turkey fried in peanut oil – 603 calories


Mashed potatoes

  • 1 cup prepared with whole milk and margarine – 237 calories
  • 1 cup prepared with whole milk (but no butter) – 174 calories
  • 1 cup made from granules with whole milk and butter added – 226 calories
  • 1 cup made from flakes with whole milk and margarine – 237 calories

Sweet Potatoes

  • 1 cup sweet potato baked in skin without salt – 180 calories
  • 1 cup sweet potato canned in syrup (drained) – 213 calories
  • 1 cup candied sweet potatoes – 326 calories
  • ½ cup sweet potato casserole prepared with sugar, eggs, flour and pecans - 226 calories

Potato Toppings

Most of us add something more to our mashed potatoes. Here are the calorie counts for the most popular:

  • Turkey Gravy: 1 cup canned ready to serve – 121 calories
  • Butter: 1 pat (one inch square and 1/3" thick) – 35 calories
  • Sour Cream: 1 Tbs. – 23 calories
  • Cheese: Different cheeses vary in calorie counts but a good rule of thumb is to count 100 calories per ounce.

Jellied cranberries 100 calories for average slice.
Jellied cranberries 100 calories for average slice.

Other Sides

  • ½ cup bread stuffing – 177 calories
  • ½ cup cornbread stuffing – 179 calories
  • Green bean casserole: 1 cup green prepared with cream of mushroom soup and French fried onions – 146 calories
  • Cranberries: jellied canned cranberries are about 100 calories for an average slice.
  • Dinner rolls: Calories will vary depending on type, but an average brown-and-serve roll is about 86 calories (without butter).


Desserts really pile the calories on as they usually contain both fat and sugar. The list of possible desserts is endless, but here are a few traditional favorites:

  • Pumpkin pie: 1 slice commercially prepared – 323 calories (without topping)
  • Dutch apple pie: 397 calories (without topping)
  • Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting: One serving is approximately 430 calories.

Average Thanksgiving Meal Calories

The American Council of Exercise suggests that, on average, people consume 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat in their Thanksgiving meal . This doesn't count extras like chips and dip before dinner or the turkey sandwich eaten in the evening.

To put this in perspective, let's look at how many calories you need in a day. An active 45 year old man needs 2600 calories a day. Caloric need differ from person to person, because caloric needs change depending age, weight, height, and activity level. You can find out how many calories is right for you by using an adult BMI calorie calculator. In my case, if I played full court basketball for half an hour, I'd burn 323 calories. If I did that for 10 days straight, I could burn off the average Thanksgiving dinner!


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    • Donna Sundblad profile image

      Donna Sundblad 6 years ago from Georgia

      It is handy to have an idea of how much you're eating, and it also makes for some good conversation. Thanks for your comment Veronica.

    • VeronicaFarkas profile image

      Veronica Roberts 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Great hub! I may print this and take it with me to the family get-together! Very useful. Thank you! Good thing I'm not a huge fan of carrot cake! =]

    • Donna Sundblad profile image

      Donna Sundblad 6 years ago from Georgia

      Sometimes I'm still learning, but I don't fall into that trap as much as I use to.

    • Brian Burton profile image

      Brian Burton 6 years ago

      Great point Donna. There will always be another meal right? Yep, took me a long to realize that there is no need to eat it all at once!

    • Donna Sundblad profile image

      Donna Sundblad 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks Brian, it's a reminder to myself, too! We can always eat leftovers the day after.

    • Brian Burton profile image

      Brian Burton 6 years ago

      Donna, thank you. You just saved me from stuffing myself :) Perfect timing on this hub.