Catering a small event tomorrow for twenty people. Serving beef brisket, pulled pork, and veggie lasagna. Question is how much brisket & pork should allow for each person? also serving three sides, rolls, etc.

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    Have you given a price quote yet? Are you serving buffet style? Are people going to be loading their own plates or will your staff be doing it? – Catija Jul 20 '15 at 21:16

A good rule of thumb is to allow 1lb of meat (before cooking) per person, not counting small children who will obviously eat less. It's better to have too much than not enough - you can always use leftovers.

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    I've no experience with this at all, so you might well be right, and don't take this the wrong way, but: Seriously? half a kilo of meat a person? – Willem van Rumpt Jul 20 '15 at 15:27
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    I think 1 lb. per person before cooking is a good guideline, you will lose some weight to moisture loss, trimming fat and bones, etc. but 1 lb. of cooked meat per person sounds like too much unless you're not serving anything else or the event is mainly about the meat (like a barbecue). – Dan C Jul 20 '15 at 15:29
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    For a luncheon, I agree with the 8oz reply. Even though the lasagna is for non-meat eaters, everyone might view it as a desirable side dish. Curious, if you are in the business of catering, don't you already have a rule of thumb for this? – JoeTaxpayer Jul 20 '15 at 18:43
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    Update: Thanks to everyone on the board! We only had about 1 1/2 pound of meat left when all was said and done. You folks are awesome! – Johnny Wayne Mitchell Jul 22 '15 at 14:52
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    @JohnnyWayneMitchell how much did you go for pp in the end? – ElendilTheTall Jul 22 '15 at 14:54

About 8oz or 225g/person is probably a good place to start.

Think about when you have a standard steak or a piece of chicken in a restaurant. The pre-cooked weight will usually be in the region of 8-10oz.


It depends in part who you are serving--hungry college students (or those with that mindset) eat considerably more free food than do wealthy health-conscious professionals. You also need to keep in mind that while you don't want to overshoot massively, it also looks bad to run out of food. You may also need to keep in mind that a significant number of people do not eat pork for personal/religious reasons, so you want to not run too short of other options.

That said, the best way to estimate is to see what people who do this all the time provide. For instance, CityBBQ provides 8 lbs of meat for 20-24 people. Famous Dave's seems to offer about 8 lbs also, if you can count their 60 chicken wings as equivalent to your lasagna. (This is likely cooked weight, though neither site says.)

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    BBQ is almost always sold in cooked weight, yes... I'm a Texan. Most of the barbecue places here sell by the pound and you get to watch them weigh it. – Catija Jul 20 '15 at 21:14

For entertaining purposes the rule of thumb I've most commonly seen in your case, where the meat is the primary food being served, is about 8-10 ounces per person. That's size per portion after cooking. You are making pulled pork and brisket, and each of those will lose just over 40% of their weight during cooking. So if you assume 5 ounces of brisket and 5 ounces of pork per person, that's about 8.3 ounces of each meat pre-cooked per person.

So you'd probably want (number of meat eaters times 8.3) divided by 16 pounds of each meat type, plus or minus any fudge factor you wish to include.

  • I would go with the 10 oz. per adult. Children less. Cooked weight. As if extra some will take some home with them. This saves some from staying overnight on your floor to finish it for breakfast. So a good meal but not to much all are happy about. Were I live it is a insult to leave before all meat is gone. To your home. But all like to be well fed & happy. – J Bergen Jan 8 '18 at 19:14

In the past, when I host a party at home and I serve Buffet style with sides, Rice, Potatoes, Mc & Cheese, Salad and veggies, I end up with about 2oz of beef, whether is flank, tenderloin, etc per person. Remember, you have appetizers as well before the main and I serve, Garlic Shrimp, plus an assortment of dips & chips.


Depending on where you live, your local government food or health departments will publish a food guide or food pyramid

In many western countries that eat red meats, you will find this showing about 120 g (4 oz) of red meat, about the size of a pack of cards or a typical hamburger patie

At many functions and restaurants the host will serve more than this, this is marketing, not love

In the case of pulled pork, a generous tong load into an open roll is about 50 to 60 g (2 oz). I did a 50+ person event recently, and there was only about 1.2 pulled pork rolls per person consumed. Pulled pork loses nearly half it's weight from raw to cooked. See https://cooking.stackexchange.com/a/57059/3203

For brisket, the loss is less (depending on beef type). And again about 50 to 60 g is a roll full, especially by the time you add some coleslaw, sauerkraut etc.

So even with if everyone has a brisket and a pork roll, you are still at 120 g cooked, or 240 g (8 oz) raw. Always over cater, as you never know who is going to turn up, and pulled pork makes great left overs

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    There's a huge difference between the "recommended" amount and the amount people actually eat... Telling a caterer to go by the 4 oz recommendation is like an attempt to put them out of business. – Catija Jul 20 '15 at 21:13
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    @Catija Most people in the world eat about 120 g or less, red meat per day (averaged). What's up your way? – TFD Jul 20 '15 at 23:43
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    Doesn't really matter. What someone eats on average and what they eat at a free barbecue buffet lunch aren't the same thing. – Catija Jul 21 '15 at 0:45
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    In a comment, the OP said that it is a luncheon for a corporate event. Assuming that the corporation is paying as they're the one who contacted the OP, is quite natural. – Catija Jul 21 '15 at 1:56
  • @Catija can't see comment? have remove my comment anyway – TFD Jul 21 '15 at 2:08

I have grilled, barbecued, smoked brisket whole my life. I would say you´ll actually need about 2 pounds/person. This is because as this homepage also tells, http://goodporkbadpork.com/how-much-brisket-per-person/ the brisket will lose about 40% if you plan on trimming it!

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    Over a pound of cooked meat per person seems excessive to me, unless you want leftovers ;) – Debbie M. May 24 '16 at 16:33

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