An Equal Share: How Much Brisket Per Person

September 12, 2022

You should calculate one pound of raw brisket - 1/2 a pound of cooked brisket - per person.

Since I host so many cookouts, my friends often turn to me to figure out how much brisket per person to cook. Thanks to my experience and mad math skills I can help.

In this post, I will show you how to do calculations for each serving and give you some tips on how to prepare for unexpected surprises. Let's begin!

How Much Brisket per Person

How Much Cooked Brisket Per Person?

On average, you should calculate about half a pound of beef brisket per adult.

As for younger kids, you may want to measure out about one-fourth of a pound of raw brisket. Once they hit double digits, though, I would suggest adult sized servings to ensure that no one goes hungry.

It is important to understand that this is all just an estimate. Later on I will outline some of the considerations that you will need to make when calculating how much brisket to buy for your party or cookout.

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How Much Raw Brisket Per Person?

Now, when trying to decide how much brisket per person to buy, you shouldn't forget that when smoked, brisket shrinks. Thus, you have to first calculate brisket weight loss and then figure out how much uncooked brisket you will need to buy.

slicing bbq brisket

Typically, raw meat will shrink around 30 to 40 percent. To be on the safe side, though, I always presume that when cooking brisket, there will be up to 50 percent shrinkage.

This means that you need to buy one pound of raw brisket per person - it will amount to half a pound of cooked meat.

How Many People Can a Whole Packer Brisket Feed?

Of course, when you go to the butcher or store, you are going to need to know how much brisket you need in total. Here, you have the option of buying a whole brisket, the flat cut, or the point. If you are making beef brisket for a crowd, though, a full packer brisket makes more sense.

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In general, a whole packer brisket can weigh 12 to 18 pounds, although you can find even larger options. Remember, when you buy a large brisket, it can take longer to cook. Thus, if your smoker has the room, you may want to consider buying several smaller hunks of raw brisket.

So, now that you know how much brisket you need for each person total, how much uncooked brisket will you need?

Well, this is the formula that you can follow:

One pound of raw brisket per person x no. of adults

And for kids it will be:

Half a pound of raw brisket x no. of children

Therefore, if you are feeding five adults, then this would amount to five pounds of raw cooked brisket. This leaves you with two and a half pounds of cooked brisket.

Now, before you go out and follow these instructions to perfection, I would like to introduce you to the fat cap on your packer brisket. It can vary in thickness and weight from one cut to another.

Most butchers won't trim this off for you - you have to do it yourself. Thus, once the fat is trimmed, you are going to be left with less meat than you were before.

Of course, you aren't going to want to trim too much as regardless of whether you cook brisket fat side down or up, this fatty layer is going to add moisture and flavor to your meat. Even if you don't do too much trimming beforehand, your guests are most likely to going to cut the fat off the cooked brisket and be left with smaller portions of meat as a result.

This is a roundabout way of saying that you need to buy more raw brisket than the above formula indicates. Don't go crazy, though. Take a close look at the brisket and see how much fat there is on it. Then, make your calculations accordingly.

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How Strictly Should You Follow the Serving Size?

When serving brisket you don't want to cut it too close. The last thing that you want is to have to be stingy with the portions - you want to make sure there is a little extra brisket should anyone want it. How do you make sure you have enough meat for each person?

Well, here are a few more things to consider when deciding whether one pound of cooked brisket per person will be enough:

Appetites of Guests

It is likely that you are going to know the majority of your guests fairly well. And, you will have probably attended other parties with them too. As such, you should have a decent idea of how much they eat.

Some may have larger appetites and thus, require larger portions. Others may not eat quite as much and you may even have a few vegetarians in the group! Due to this, you don't always have to calculate the same amount for each person.

This is especially true if you are inviting a smaller crowd. If you are cooking brisket for a larger crowd, though, the margin for error is greater. So, you may want to err on the side of caution and prepare a bit more cooked brisket.

How Brisket is Being Served

You should also think about how you are serving brisket at your dinner party. Is it going to be served whole? Or will you cut it up into slices? Perhaps, you will be serving it chopped or shredded.

If people have to cut slices for themselves, they may not take as much largely due to the hassle of the process. They may take a bit more with slices but may still pace themselves. When it comes to chopped or shredded brisket, though, this will disappear rather quickly.

Is Your Brisket the Main Dish?

Another thing to consider is whether your brisket is the star of the main course or are you serving other meats as well? If you also have ribs, pork chops, sausages, etc. then it doesn't to make as much brisket as there is plenty of other foods for people to fill up on.

Number of Side Dishes

You also have to think about the side dishes that you are serving alongside your brisket. For instance, if you are also offering potato salad, garlic bread, and macaroni and cheese, then these are pretty heavy foods. They are also fan favorites so you can be sure that people will be piling these on their plates as well.

On the other hand, if your other dishes are salads, coleslaw, etc., these aren't as filling and people may serve more of the brisket.

Getting an Accurate Head Count

The reason that you want to know how much brisket to buy for each person is so that you can ensure that your guests are well fed while avoiding too many leftovers.

This is why I always suggest re-checking how many people will actually be attending your cookout just before buying your brisket. I find that honesty is the best policy - let your guests know that you are doing a head count so that you are aware of how much food to buy.

a large bbq meal with brisket

They will be upfront about whether or not they will be attending or they will make an extra eort to ensure that food doesn't go to waste. Either way, it is a win-win situation.

How Much Extra Brisket Should You Buy?

Now, even after doing your calculations, you are still going to want to buy more brisket than you strictly need. So, how much more will you need to buy?

This has to be an individual choice. I think the biggest factor here should be price - how much are you willing to really spend on brisket? This will give you an idea of how much additional meat you will need to buy.

I would also think about how much space you have in your smoer to cook extra brisket. After all, it does take quite a while - sometimes cooking overnight. You may just have space for one large brisket or two small ones. In this case I would suggest making up the difference with other foods that cook faster.

If space isn't an issue, I would say that for a smaller party, you can buy two to three extra pounds of brisket. When cooked down, this can feed two to three people. For a larger crowd, you may want to do as much as five pounds.

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What to Do With Leftover Brisket

There is a good chance that you will have leftover brisket, but there is no need to fret. There are lots of way to use up your meat. And, remember, you can always send some home with your guests as well.

The easiest way to use up the meat is to use it as a filling for sandwiches - it is truly wonderful. You can als ouse it instead of ground beef in tacos. It is revolutionary and you will probably not go back to the old way of making tacos once you have given this a try.

This is all that you need to know about how much brisket per person is needed. You can now make near exact calculations saving yourself a great deal of stress and hassle!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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