How much should I cook?

23 April, 2014

As your BBQ Skills increase, so will the number of neighbors asking you to cook for their event. Figuring out how much to make for 6 or 8 is an easy proposition, but knowing quantities for 40 or 50 can be a different task. Below are some notes to help ensure you don’t finish an event with a room full of people hungry.



Brisket/Pulled Pork

As you know, the cooking process reduces the meat's total weight. Ten pounds of raw meat does not produce ten pounds of editable meat. The reduction factor, or YIELD, is especially important when cooking brisket and pulled pork. These two cuts yield between 55% and 60% of their raw weights. However, to simplify the math, and to be conservative, I use a 50% factor. 

For example, 10 lbs of raw brisket will produce 5 lbs of cooked meat.  (10 lbs x .5 = 5 lbs)

Now that we know the yield, how much of these meats should we serve? 

Amounts per person will range depending on the crew.  A team of football players will eat more than a crowd full of kids. Here are some basic metrics.

1/2 lb per person – Football team

1/3 lb per person - Adults and teens

1/4 lb per person - Kids

I generally prepare 1/2 lb of cooked meat per person, regardless of the crowd. As I stated above, I like to play it conservative. I’d much rather send folks home with leftovers than run out of food.

Chicken, Sausage and Ribs

Chicken, Sausage and Ribs have a yield factor as well. However, the quantity is easily identifiable with these meats so I typically use a “piece per person” approach.

Chicken Breast – 1 per person

Chicken Thighs – 2 per person

Chicken Legs - 2 per person

Sausage Links – 1 per person

St. Louis Style Ribs - 1/3 rack per person

Baby Back Ribs – 1/2 rack per person

Two Meats

When serving 2 meats, it’s important that your guests get to try each option. While you can reduce the servings per meat, you will ultimately end up cooking more than with a single meat serving. For example, in a one meat setting, I would factor 1/2 pounds per person. In a two meat scenario, I’m actually preparing 2/3 pounds per person.

Here are some examples:

1/3 lb of brisket and 1/3 lb pulled pork

1/3 lb of brisket and 1/2 sausage link

1 chicken thigh and 1/3 lb of pulled pork

1/4 rack of St. Louis style ribs and 1/2 chicken breast


1 lb of raw PINTO BEANS per every 10 people

            Click here for RTR’s Shiner Bock Bean recipe

1/3 lb of raw potatoes per person when making POTATO SALAD

            Click here for RTR’s Jalapeno Ranch Potato Salad recipe

4 ounces of CREAM CORN per person

5 ounce of COLD SLAW per person

1/2 cob of WHOLE CORN per person

1 gallon of BBQ SAUCE per 50 people

1.2 ROLLS per person

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