If you need to know how much pulled pork per person to cook, I’ve got an easy solution. Learn how to calculate how much pork you need to buy for your next cookout. Charts, formulas, and a calculator for boneless and bone-in pork shoulders are below.
Hot dogs and hamburgers are always a quick and easy option for hosting afternoon cookouts. But, pulled pork is easy, delicious, and an inexpensive way to feed a crowd. Plus, you can easily stretch the meat to serve more people.
While calculating the portions isn’t as easy as counting hot dogs and hamburgers, it’s a pretty simple formula that takes the guesswork out of hosting large gatherings.
For a great pulled pork recipe that’s easy and hands-off, I recommend an oven-roasted pork shoulder!
How Much Pulled Pork Per Person
A good rule of thumb is to estimate about 1/3 pound of cooked pulled pork (or boston butt) per person. It’s what most BBQ experts recommend and is a sure-fire way to make sure you don’t run out of food.
During the cooking process, the meat will shrink about 40-50%, losing about half of its weight in moisture and fat as it cooks. This applies to all cooking methods, including smoking, grilling, roasting the meat, and even in a slow cooker.
Of course, weights differ from boneless and bone-in pork shoulders.
For boneless cuts of pork shoulder, estimate 1/3 pound of cooked pulled pork per guest. Remember, the cooked pork will only weigh about half as much as the raw pork after cooking.
Here’s the basic formula:
[ Guests x 1/3 ] x 2 = Pounds of Raw Pork Needed
Example: Let’s say you’re roasting a pork shoulder for 24 people. When you divide the number of guests into thirds, you are left with 8. That is the amount of pork you will want to serve to your guests. When you multiply that number by 2, you get the amount of raw pork you will need to purchase.
[ 24 x 1/3 ] = 8 pounds of meat to serve; 8 x 2 = 16 pounds of raw pork needed
[ 24 x 1/3 ] x 2 = 16 pounds of raw pork needed
Using this formula, you should purchase 16 pounds of raw boneless pork shoulder to feed 24 guests.
The formula for bone-in cuts requires a small adjustment to the formula due to the weight of the bone and the extra fat that comes on these cuts.
Instead of 1/3 of a pound of cooked meat, estimate one-half pound of meat per person. The math is much easier for this version. Simply purchase one pound of raw pork shoulder per person to account for shrinking and the weight of the bone and extra fat.
Using the same example above, here is the formula in action:
[ Guests x 1/2 ] x 2 = Pounds of Raw Pork Needed
Things to Consider
Depending on the type of gathering, the menu, and who is attending, you may be able to serve less meat.
The pulled pork is likely the star of the show, but what else is on the menu? Will pulled pork be the main dish? What about side dishes?
If you are hosting a potluck, you will likely have enough food to fill out your menu. So, there won’t be any need to stress over the meat’s portion sizes. However, if you’re keeping it simple with only another side or two, consider increasing the portion size.
If the guest list includes a lot of children, you may have plenty of leftovers using the one-third of a pound per-person formula.
In this case, you could scale the portions back to 1/4 pound per child. But, that complicates the calculations a little too much for me. I’d much rather have too much food leftover than not enough pork.
On the other hand, if most of your guests have bigger appetites, you could easily increase the portion size.
Sliders or Buns?
Think about how you are serving the pulled pork. Serving pork sandwiches will fill your guests up faster so they will be less likely to return for seconds.
Hamburger buns hold about 5 ounces (one serving) of meat. But, pork sliders are great for smaller portions, holding about 2.5 ounces per bun. Plus, they can play a little trick on the stomach and the eyes, helping guests feel fuller faster.
Type of Event
Usually, people eat more at a formal, sit-down even than at a more casual event.
Your guests will likely eat more if there’s a specific “dinner” time than if the food is available throughout the event’s duration. When people are mingling and socializing, the focus is less on food.
Pulled Pork Calculator
If you want quick answers, the chart below shows how much meat you need to serve 1/3 pound and 1/2 pound of cooked pulled pork. Consider this your BBQ per person calculator!
|Pounds of Pork Butt |
|Number of Servings|
(1/3 pound serving)
|Number of Servings|
(1/2 pound serving)
How to Store Leftover Pulled Pork
For any leftover pork, place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for about 3 days.
Don’t forget to add the juices to the leftovers to keep the meat as moist as possible.
Ideas for Leftover Pulled Pork
You can always offer to send guests home with some leftovers. Alternatively, you can freeze leftover pork shoulder.
Use the leftovers within a few days. Use them on BBQ sandwiches, loaded nachos, or stir into a pot of vegetable soup.
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