How many lbs of bbq per person

by | Feb 2, 2023 | Barbecue, Smoker | 0 comments

I remember the first time I threw a BBQ party, and ended up with well, less quantity than what I had anticipated. So now, the question arises – exactly how much meat is needed to serve a whole party? 

The answer will differ according to the type of meat you’re serving and whether there will be any sides. 

The general rule of meat planning guidelines is that every pound of BBQ meat with side dishes will serve around 3 to 4 people.

An adult would consume about ¼ to  ⅓   pound of BBQ if there are other sides to accompany and in the case of pulled pork, ⅓ pound per person would be a better-suited amount. 

As for brisket, ½ pound of cooked brisket or 1 lb of raw one would be enough for an adult. Many other factors will come into play when you do your BBQ planning. Read on to know more!

How Much Meat Per Person For BBQ?

Meat is the main specialty of any good BBQ party –  everyone flocks around to get a piece for themselves, so it is very important to have to know how much meat to serve per person.

Despite knowing the exact amount of meat you need to buy in pounds, not always will you get the cut of meat you were planning to grill

Hence, you will have to adjust accordingly and need to know how much raw meat to buy in different forms. 

Keep in mind that when you cook meat, the weight of raw meat changes and it shrinks in size. This difference in weight between cooked and raw meat is called ‘yield’ which depends according to the portions of meat you are grilling. 

Three types of meat are usually used for BBQ – ribs, brisket, and pulled pork, but I’ll discuss all cuts of meat that you can grill. 

  1.  Ribs

Ribs are large in size and you can easily get 8 – 13 ribs in a rack, which by standard rules, is enough to feed at least two people. 

You are better off calculating the amount needed by pieces per person instead of in pounds. With that in mind, around 2 to 3 short ribs or about 5 – 6 baby back ribs per person is a good enough number to buy. 

  1. Brisket

A single brisket is big enough to equal many pounds of meat, as it usually comes from beef and pork butt or shoulder. 

When calculating how much meat you need to buy, you will have to remember that the brisket will lose about 30 – 50% of its yield during the cooking process. Hence, if you start with 8 pounds you might end with just 5!

So with brisket, ½ to ¾ lb per person is a good way to calculate how much BBQ to order for your event. 

  1. Pulled Pork 

Pulled pork, or pork butt, loses a lot of yields (around 65%) in the process of smoking, so it is best to go with the standard amount (around ½ – ⅓ pound) when making pulled pork. 

How Much Meat Per Person For Secondary Meats?

A BBQ party is not complete with all kinds of grilled meat – especially since some guests might be getting children that are picky with grilled meat. 

Following is a list of other meat dishes on the side and how much you need to buy per person. 

BurgerIn case you are making burger patties by yourself, ⅓ – ½ pounds of meat per patty is to serve one person.
ChickenChicken is comparatively smaller than other BBQ meats, so the estimated quantity is 1 large breast/thigh or 2 drumsticks per person. 
If you are serving chicken wings, then about 6 – 8 as an appetizer and 12 – 16 wings per person would be a good enough amount. 
Fish Fish is not a common BBQ menu item, but if you are planning to serve it, then 6 to 8 ounces per person would be enough. 
HamHam is standard-sized meat, so as per the general rule, ½ pound of ham per person is pretty good. 
Hot DogsAs per a universal law, there is no correct amount of how much hot dogs to serve your guests. 
Though I suggest that you start with the standard 2 pieces per person, hot dog parties are best enjoyed when guests can take as much as they wish to eat. 
SteakSince this meat also loses a lot of yield during the process of cooking, how much steak is required can also be calculated as ½ to ¾ pound per person. 

How Much Pulled Pork Per Person?

One issue people frequently run into with pulled pork is not knowing how much food to make. 

You don’t want to run out of food before everyone can eat as much meat as they want, nor do you want to have any leftovers when everyone has left.

Meat like beef and pork shrink somewhere between 40-50 percent during the process of cooking, losing around half of its weight in moisture and fat. This weight also differs according to whether there are any bones in the pork shoulder. Ideally, around ⅓ to ½ pounds of cooked pulled pork is a suitable serving size for an adult. 

So, as the main dish with more people, about 14 pounds of smoked pulled pork per person is typically a sufficient amount of meat.

Keep in mind that this amount is not the uncooked meat weight, but the cooked one, so you will need to estimate how much raw meat you need to buy accordingly. 

To give it a number, about ⅔ pound of raw pork per adult and ½ pound of meat per child is a good amount to serve your pulled pork. 

There will always be a matter of preference – some people will want more but this is the standard portion size per person for a BBQ.

How Much Brisket Per Person?

Brisket is the classic grilling meat to go for when you are planning your BBQ menu and want to serve a lot of meat. 

The standard serving size for brisket is typically ½  pound of beef per person. As there is a shrinkage of the meat after cooking, you should budget for buying 1 pound of raw brisket for each person you’re feeding. 

Compared to the same amount of chopped, shredded, or ground beef, brisket tends to disappear more quickly when it is cut into neat slices. 

Even if you’re cooking brisket sandwiches, the amount of cooked meat you will need will be more than one piece per sandwich and will take a complete slice at a time. 

With pulled beef, it’s simpler to adjust how much goes into the bun. In other words, if you want to serve the meat sliced, buy more brisket than you think you’ll need. 

This creates a lovely appearance that is suitable for a dinner gathering. In this situation, we advise solely purchasing flats of brisket. It’s much easier to slice since the flat is leaner than the pointed end and the grain is more apparent.

How Much BBQ Per Person For A Large Gathering?

The first step in preparing your next BBQ party is choosing your menu or plan. The main entrée at a barbecue is typically meat, along with a few side dishes. Once you know what you are serving, it is simple to calculate the proper amount size for each person.

A normal serving of meat for a dinner party with three to four courses is 6 to 8 ounces of cooked, finished protein per guest. If you serve the meat with bones in the serving, increase the amount of raw meat per person.

If there are 10 people, and the meat is the main dish, you will need to serve ½ pound for one adult and around 5 pounds of meat per person for 10 people. 

You can get away with serving ¼ lb of BBQ meat per person if you are offering a variety of meats and side dishes, but 2.5 lbs of BBQ meat will serve 10 people.

For 50 people, you will need 25 pounds of raw meat if it is the main protein dish. You should serve ½ lb of BBQ meat per person. Only ¼ lb of meat is required per person if you are serving a garden salad before a buffet-style BBQ with a variety of meats and side dishes, then you will need 12.5 lbs of BBQ meat to feed 50 people.

Related Questions

  1. How Much BBQ Do I Need For 10 Adults? 

By the general rule of thumb for buying meat, which is about ¼ pound per person, 10 adults would require around 2½ pounds of cooked meat.

  1. How Many Pounds Of BBQ Do I Need For 50 People? 

If you are planning a BBQ party with over 50 guests attending, it is better to be on the safe side and get ½ pound of cooked meat per person. With that reference, around 25 pounds of meat shall be enough to serve that many people. 

  1.  How Much Grilling Space Per Person?

The standard grilling space required for a single adult space is about 72 square inches. 

Final Thoughts

Some people like to go all out on a BBQ event, but it is much better to plan how much meat to serve so that no food is wasted. Remember to also take into note the number of people coming and whether you will be serving side dishes to determine if you need to buy more meat or less meat. 

When in a fix, note that you can always fall back on the general rule of thumb of serving ⅓ to ¼ pound per person and that it is more important that your brisket tastes good. Happy grilling!




Colin has been grilling, smoking, and barbecuing in his yard for as long as he remembers.  His favorite dish is pork belly smoked on his favorite offset smoker. Read more about Colin here.


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