The cost of an American Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people is $42.26, according to the American Farm Bureau. This is up $4.16 from last year, when the cost was $38.10.

In 1986, the Farm Bureau invented a “survey menu” based on what the typical American eats for Thanksgiving, and then every year they send out volunteer shoppers to purchase these items to get the average.

While the cost of the Thanksgiving dinner has increased in real dollars, it has actually gone down from 1986 when factoring in inflation.

The AFB menu breakdown of costs is as follows:

16-pound turkey ……….. $17.63
Cube stuffing, 14 oz. ……….. $2.40
Pumpkin pie mix, 30 oz. ………… $2.13
Pie shells (2) ……….. $2.08
Sweet potatoes, 3 lbs. ……….. $3.08
Rolls, 12 ……….. $1.89
Green peas, 1 lb. ……….. $1.46
1 pound relish tray ……….. $.66
Milk, 1 gallon ……….. $3.88
Fresh cranberries, 12 oz. ……….. $2.20
Cream, 1/2 pint ……….. $1.56
Misc ingredients ……….. $3.29

For more information, read the American Farm Bureau press release.

Photo from stock. Used with permission.

The Cost of the Average American Thanksgiving 14 November,2010Jennifer Maiser

  • Mrs. L

    Average cost is $42.26??? On what planet? Seriously, with the cost I know of my Thanksgiving, someone somewhere is having this meal for two dollars cuz mine costs twice as much (where are the mashed taters and green bean caserole???)

  • graham

    Interesting stuff. By the way, I think your economic terminology is a bit off:

    “While the cost of the Thanksgiving dinner has increased in real dollars, it has actually gone down from 1986 when factoring in inflation.”

    Real dollars ARE inflation adjusted. The nominal dollar cost has gone up, but the real dollar cost (or inflation adjusted cost) has gone down.

  • Kelli

    Whoa. Where are the potatoes? And fruit pie? You have to serve fruit pie! It’s the law.

    I just did a post on eating out or eating in on my own blog at ….. A friend of mine claims they are “saving” money by eating out to the tune of 20/person. There are 4 adults in their group. I thought her math was suspect and this post proves my theory. It is cheaper to eat at home.

  • Roni

    Where are the onions, celery, and butter for the stuffing; coffee, tea, milk and wine to drink; oranges and sugar for the cranberries; the lettuce, radishes, cukes, dressing for the salad? Sorry – What you have listed is not yet a meal. It depends too much on what I have in the pantry already. You have to count the cost of that.


Jennifer Maiser

“My passion for food began young.”

I am the editor of the influential website which encourages readers to support local farmers and producers.

I began my personal website, Life Begins at 30, in 2003.

I have been published in Edible San Francisco and Fine Cooking, write regularly for Bay Area Bites, Serious Eats, and have been quoted in many nationwide publications. Photography is a passion, and I have had photos printed in National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure.

I contributed to a Williams-Sonoma cookbook: Cooking from the Farmers’ Market, which was released in February 2010.

I live in San Francisco, California and can often be found at local farmers markets seeking out the best of what’s in season and chatting with farmers.

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