How Much Meat Per Person? - BBQ Guide

How much meat per person

One of the best ways to socialize with your family and friends is to arrange barbecues and parties. A party is not about eating food but to enjoy the company of your beloved ones. However, managing delicious foods to make the atmosphere more joyful is equally important. Have you ever witnessed a party when the food ran out? It can seriously affect the event atmosphere. That’s why t is important to know how much meat per person you need to avoid such inconvenience. Let’s dive in and explore the meat quantity you need for different persons and events.

• Meat Yield

The most important thing to understand before starting to plan an even menu is meat yield. For instance, when you order a ¼ lb burger, it doesn’t look like the same quantity of meat when it is presented in the bun. The prime reason for this is the meat shrinkage during cooking. Do you know a burger can shrink by 31% due to fat loss and moisture during cooking?

This is an essential aspect to consider when planning a party because 30% shrinkage is an average for every fatty meat. This yield number of meat is important so you can easily calculate how much raw meat you will need to purchase. While there is a handy USDA help sheet with vital details that yields different meats after cooking, but here are some examples.

  • Whole Turkey- 50%
  • Baby Back Ribs- 50%
  • NY Strip Steak-84%
  • Brisket-50%

However, it doesn’t mean we will focus on such calculations while exploring different meats but we will try our best to provide guidelines to help you plan the menu for barbecue, group events, and dinner parties.

How much Meat per Person should be considered?

There are different types of meat with different yields. It can vary to a great deal. Take a look at how much meat per person you need for barbecue, roast, or party to perfectly execute the party.

• Chicken

If you want to serve chicken, it is very easy to plan out how much chicken per person you need by counting the pieces and parts rather than the whole chicken weight.

A boneless chicken breast ranges in size from four to eight ounces. But when it comes to bulk meat such as boneless thighs, it is convenient to calculate by the pound.

If you want to consider how much meat for barbecue, where you also want to serve other meats and dishes along with the chicken, make sure to manage at least 1.5 pieces of boneless chicken breast per person. If you are buying bone in a chicken, make sure to buy two pieces of at least ¼ chickens per person. It breaks down like a wing, breast, thigh, or drumstick.

• Fish

There are lots of different types of fishes but salmon and bass are commonly utilized for such parties. These fishes have a typical serving size of an 8-ounce portion. As you will lose about 30% during cooking, so you should aim for about 11.4 ounces of raw fish for every person for steaks or fillets.

If you want to calculate how much crab meat per person you need, work on a serving size of ½ lbs per person. You need to buy 1 ½ to two lbs for each person.

• Turkey

Although this meat is rarely eaten by itself, if you are looking to make a plan for holiday dinner, make sure to work based on an 8-ounce portion per person. When you are done with discarding bones and skin, you may find it hard to get 50% yield if you pull off an entire scrap of meat.

That’s why it is the best idea to plan for about one pound of raw turkey per person. Most people may not be good with the scraps from the legs or wings and want a slice of meat, it is better to purchase an extra pound or two.

If you are looking to feed 12 people, make sure to buy at least 15 or 16 pounds of turkey. It will help to provide good enough quantity for guests.

• Steak

It is essential to consider the type of steak before calculating how much steak per person you need for the party. A steak including bones like porterhouse or t-bone or the one with the high-fat amount, you need more for each person.

For instance, if you want to buy pre-cut, individual trimmed steak, you need to consider the following yields.

  • NY strip 89%
  • Porterhouse 77%
  • T-Bone 77%

However, if you want to make the calculations further easier, utilize 70% for average yield and you will need about 12 ounces per portion. In case you want to buy boneless steak, go for 13 or 14 ounces per person. For the bone-in steaks, you need 17 ounces per person.

• Ribs

Are you one of those people who count ribs rather than measuring their weight? However, it is essential to recognize the difference between the spare ribs and baby back ribs.

A baby’s back rib contains 11 to 13 ribs whereas the ribs are only three to six inches long. It usually weighs up to two lbs and can only serve two people.

On the other hand, spare ribs have bigger bones and therefore, they are fattier and larger than baby back ribs. These ribs usually weigh 1 ½ lb and can easily feed three to four people.

If you are looking to plan a large buffet and serve other meats and sides, it is always good to estimate three ribs per person.

• Brisket

Brisket comes with fat on the inside and outside layers. It means you should expect about 50% yield from an untrimmed brisket after you trim and cook the meat. In simple words, you need about 12 pounds of brisket to serve six pounds of meat.

However, if you are planning to serve a sandwich, you need to manage four ounces per person. However, if you are looking for a big dinner, you need a full pound per person.

• Tenderloin

This type of meat has little fat and that’s why it will not shrink too much during preparation. You may lose only 10% of tenderloin. You need to buy 13-ounce steaks if you want to sever twelve-ounce portions.

• Ground Meat

Before calculating how much ground meat per person you need, just imagine how you are going to use it. Remember, the calculation for how much taco meat per person you need is quite different from how much hamburger per person is required.

Typically, most guests prefer two or three tacos that need a serving size of four ounces of cooked meat. In simple words, it works out at five to six ounces of raw meat per person.

In case, if you are planning to serve meatloaf, you should consider about eight ounces per person. Although how much you need to buy meat depends on the recipe you are cooking but commonly, eight ounces of raw ground beef provides this yield once it is factored in the eggs, breadcrumbs, etc.

• Lamb

You can easily consider 1/3 lbs of lamb meat per person. It is safe to set aside ½ lbs of lamb for people with a larger appetite and about ¼ lbs with sides.

Meat Math Chart

Meat Per Person 4 People 12 People 40 People
1 lbs
4 lbs
12 lbs
40 lbs
Steak T-bone
6 oz
1-1/2 lbs
4-1/2 lbs
15 lbs
Lean or Extra Lean Ground Meat
1/4 lbs
1 lbs
3 lbs
10 lbs
Steak - boneless tenderloin, rib-eye, sirloin
1/4 lbs
1 to 1-1/2 lbs
3 lbs
10 lbs
Chicken bone-in
1 to 2 pieces
2 lbs
6 lbs
20 lbs
Chicken boneless
4 oz
1-1/2 lbs
4-1/2 lbs
10 lbs

• Final Words

It is very important to know how much meat per person you need to buy. However, to avoid any inconvenience, just be a little generous and make sure to add a bit more to your preferred quantity. Many factors will help you to execute a perfect event. Focus on the number of your guests, the type of meat you are buying and the cuts too. The last thing, if you are familiar with your guests and their appetite level, you can easily make the judgment about adjustment to the meat portion sizes.  

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