August 31, 2020

You’ve invited your friends and family to your barbecue cookout on the long weekend, but you’re dreading the planning. The worst thing that can happen is to fall short of food during the barbecue, but you don’t want to buy too much food that may go to waste. 

Here are some expert tips for planning how much meat per person you’re going to need for your barbeque. 

Planning Your Menu

The first step to ensuring you have a sufficient stock of meat per person is to decide the menu for the barbecue. Meat is the ideal choice for the main course, while beverages and other food can be served as side dishes and appetizers. 

The menu is important because if you intend to have lots of side dishes, you can sometimes portion out less meat per person. If you’re planning to serve large portions for the main course, it is better to stick to light appetizers.  

three cooked dishes on gray bowls

The budget is also one crucial factor for your event to determine what meat you want to serve. You have to calculate the amount of meat in ounces or pounds based on the number of guests you’re inviting. 

Planning the entire menu while keeping your budget in mind will help you accurately plan the amount of meat you require for the barbecue. 

Role of the Meat

It is essential to understand the meat’s role before you decide how much meat per person you need. 

Meat is often the main entree at a barbecue, and you often need large portions of it to serve at your cookout. However, if you intend to serve vegetables, pasta, or curry alongside the meat, you can often cut down on the portions.

It’s essential to serve a variety of meats and you should avoid only serving one or two types of meat. Cooking pork, turkey, chicken, and steak for your guests will make sure that your cookout will be a success. But of course, you don't have to buy all types for the main entree.

People often have to wait for you to cook the meats, and providing a variety ensures they don’t get bored and continue to look forward to what you have to serve.

Average Meat Portion Sizes

It is not very difficult to decide the right amount of meat you need to purchase for your barbecue. Chefs generally recommend 8 ounces (½ pound) of meat per person. You need about 5-5 ½ pounds to serve around 10 to 12 people.

If you’re serving more than one dish in your entree, you can set aside ¼ pound per meat type. You’ll need 2½ pounds of each meat for 10 to 12 people. 

two women dining in a restaurant

For pork, you can keep ⅓ to ¼ pound of pork per person if your main course is primarily meat-based. However, for stew or curry, you might want around 2 to 3 pounds of meat. 

If you're serving turkey, it should be an 8-ounce portion of turkey per person. Chicken is a little tricky, but for bone-in chicken pieces, serve 1/4 of a chicken per person.

Moreover, people are of different ages and have varied appetites. You can allow for 12 to 15 ounces (1 pound) of meat per adult. Kids generally do not have large appetites, so you can have smaller portions for them.

Know the Yield of Meat

Meat-Cuts

While you’ve decided how many pounds of meat per person you’re going to buy, you also need to factor in inedible portions like the bones. 

You can choose to have boneless meat. Boneless meat cuts produce a greater yield. However, in some meat types like chicken or grilled pork, bones enhance the flavor and season the meat better. Bones also help preserve moisture within the meat while cooking.

You can allow ¾ pound of meat per person if you’re going for a bone-in cut. Smaller portions are recommended for boneless preparations. 

Meat Weight-Loss 

Raw meat has a varied yield compared to cooked meat. Cooking meat makes it lose moisture and fat with the increase in heat. Two pounds of raw meat will weigh differently from 2 pounds of cooked meat. 

The amount of meat you serve to your guests comprises the real meat weight after boning, trimming, and cooking. Ground meat produces a yield of about 70% and loses 30% of the raw weight in the preparation process.

raw meat on top of chunks of ice

It is quite a task to determine how much the meat you buy will yield. Remember that every cut of meat produces a different yield. For instance, if you’re making classic burgers, you need more raw meat (25 to 30%). On the other hand, you will need 50 to 60% more raw meat for brisket.

Don’t spend too much time trying to be precise in your calculations. You just need to be aware of meat-weight loss so that you factor in some extra raw meat to have enough to serve everyone.

How Much Meat Per Person

Chicken

Chicken is one of the most popular meats for a barbecue, especially chicken wings, and they may run out quickly. So how much chicken do you need per person at your barbecue? 

You can usually count the chicken pieces instead of calculating the per portion weight as this is easier to do. Whole birds yield around 60% to 70% of its meat, while boneless pieces yield close to 80%. 

It is recommended to serve ¼ portion of a whole bird per person. Doing this will allow each guest to consume 2 pieces. However, if you serve small cuts, you should aim for 3 to 4 pieces per person. 

Bone-in cuts yield close to 6 to 7 ounces of meat, sufficient for a single person. You can keep 1-2 pieces per person (⅓ pound) for boneless meat cuts. Finally, if you’re serving chicken wings, set aside a larger portion per person since wings have very little meat. 

Turkey

Turkey is the star of the event at a Thanksgiving celebration. However, cooking turkey needs some prior planning [1]. The right size or weight of the turkey in ounces depends on the number of guests.

Chefs recommend 1 to 2 pounds (8 ounces) per guest when the turkey is your main entree. 

A party of 10-12 people will need at least 16 to 18 pounds (approximately 250 ounces) of turkey. You should allow for some extra weight of meat to be on the safer side. 

Boneless cuts do not require large portions per person. 2 pounds (32 ounces per person) is sufficient for most cut-types. 

Pulled Pork

This meat has a much lower yield, and you will lose about half the meat’s aw weight after cooking. It is served best in a hamburger or sandwich. 

If you’re cooking pulled pork, how much per person do you need to buy? In this case, you can portion about ¼ pound (4 ounces) per person. 

cooked meat on a black plate with potatoes and greens

When you cook and shred the meat, pork will lose more than 40-50% of the weight. For instance, if you have ¼ pounds (12 ounces) of pork, you will yield just 6 ounces of cooked pork. It is better to buy some extra ounces of meat when serving many guests while you’re estimating how much pulled pork per person.

Beef Brisket 

Smoked brisket is a popular meat for a barbecue. If you want to prepare a brisket, how much per person should you factor in? 

Brisket yields close to 50% of the actual weight. You can expect 7 to 8 ounces of cooked meat from 14 ounces of brisket. 1 whole pound of brisket is close to 14 ounces, but it is less than half a pound after cooking. 

Eight ounces per person of brisket is sufficient for a barbecue. When you’re estimating how much brisket per person, consider if you have brisket-lovers in the house as 8 ounces might not suffice. In this case, you can increase the portion size by 2 to 4 ounces per person for the right amount. 

Brisket is served best in plated forms like sandwiches while chopped and seasoned, or even thinly-sliced. 

Beef Tenderloin

Beef tenderloin is heavy and yields 25% less than its raw weight. This is because it loses weight due to fat loss, moisture evaporation, and Fourtightened muscles. Beef tenderloin served with heavy side dishes should be limited to a portion size of 2 to 4 ounces per person. 

4 ounces is ideal if you have mainly adults at your gathering. However, festivals and long-weekends tend to increase people’s appetites. You can serve 4 to 6 ounces of beef per person if you don’t have other entrees to accompany the beef tenderloin. 

Wondering how much meat you need for an intimate gathering? You may need at least 12 ounces of beef to feed everyone. You can increase the amount of beef if you’re not serving many appetizers. Remember to go easy on the sides if you’re aiming for 5 to 6 ounces for each person.

Steak

Steak is also a popular meat choice. A well-grilled steak is always mouth-watering for people who professes to be a carnivore. 

Confused about how much steak you need per person? This decision depends on the type of steak you are going to serve. Bone-in cuts yield less cooked meat because they lose fat and muscle while cooking.

cooked food on ceramic plate besides utensils

The portion size is not very difficult to decide when it comes to steak. Chefs usually recommend buying the same number of steaks as guests. Smaller steaks have less meat, so you can buy 2 per person. 

Twelve ounces of steak will give you close to ¾ pounds of mass. ½ pound of steak is sufficient for dishes like kebabs, tacos, and sandwiches. 

Ribs

Grill-masters love grilling ribs since they’re easy to cook as well as very juicy and flavorful. It is very easy to determine how much ribs per person is needed. Ribs don’t take much time to grill and taste good with most sides. You can buy 8 ounces (3 to 4 ribs) per person.

Every ounce of your ribs needs to be seasoned well to enhance the flavor. You can even serve dishes like pasta or rice to cut down on the number of rib portions per person. 

Fish

Wondering how much fish to serve per person? You can use standard portions of 5 to 8 ounces for each guest. For pan-seared fish, make sure to buy 8 to 12 ounces of fish per person.

Fish yields close to 30% of its weight. To be on the safer side, you can portion out two fillets or close to 12 ounces of fish per person.

Lamb

It is safe to portion out ⅓ pound of lamb per person. You can set aside ½ pound of lamb for people with larger appetites and ¼ pound with sides. There is no set rule to prepare lamb meat, but the flavor is the best with proper seasoning and pre-heating the grill.

Using the Palm to Estimate Portion Size

Using the palm is going to help you estimate portion sizes for yourself to avoid overeating. However, if you’re cooking for other people, the portion sizes or how much meat per person may vary widely depending on their appetite and the dishes they like.

You may want to stick with measuring out weights unless you already know that everyone else at the barbecue eats about the same amount of meat. In that case, you can use your palm to estimate the portion size.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much meat do I need for 25 adults?

For 25 adults, you need 13 to 15 pounds of meat if you’re serving chicken, turkey, beef, or duck. You can increase the portions slightly if your focus is on bone-in cuts.

How much meat should a person eat a day?

A person should eat 5½ ounces of meat a day as recommended by health experts.

How many people will 10 lbs of meat feed?

10 lbs of meat will feed around 18 to 20 people.

Conclusion

Several factors decide how much meat per person that you need to buy for a barbecue. Nevertheless, you should primarily focus on the number of guests, the type of meats, and the cuts you are getting. If you are very familiar with your guests and their appetites, you can often make your judgment about adjustments to the portion sizes.


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