Curious How Much Meat to Prepare Per Person For a BBQ? We've Got Your Answers For 12 Common Cookout Entrées

Because little is more stressful as a host than potentially running out of food, study up on how much meat per person for BBQ gatherings and family meals. From poultry and fish to burgers and steaks, our guide for how much meat per person for BBQ will make it easy to shop and prepare wisely before your next grilling or smoking session.

One of the most challenging details of hosting a meal or cocktail party is estimating how much to buy and prepare. You don't want to overbuy and run the risk of a bunch of food waste, but there's no quicker way to kill a vibe at the party than to run out of food or drinks, right?

For this reason, we created our ultimate party appetizer calculator, and now, we're here with your guide for how much meat per person for BBQ gatherings. Read on for all of the details to keep in mind as you dial in your meat or fish purchase plans, round up these best BBQ wine pairings for summer cookouts, and prepare to accept the award for hosting MVP.

tangy molasses barbecue ribs
Blaine Moats

Important Factors to Consider to Determine How Much Meat to Buy Per Person for BBQs

As a general rule, we recommend allocating 8 to 12 ounces of raw meat per adult at BBQ, and about 4 to 6 ounces per child. This can be adjusted either up or down depending on many factors, so ask yourself the questions below to determine whether to serve more or less.

Serve more than 8 ounces for adults (or 4 ounces for kids) if you answer yes to any of these questions:

  • I am planning to serve 2 or fewer side dishes.
  • Meat is going to basically make up the entire meal (meaning there are few, if any, appetizers or desserts).
  • The side dishes are mainly light, such as fruit salads or green salads.
  • I love leftovers or plan to share them with guests.
  • Most guests didn't eat a large meal earlier in the day.
  • I am serving alcohol. (This tends to crank up guests' appetites.)
  • My guests enjoy very generous portions.
  • Most cuts of meat I'm cooking will not be served in a bun.

How Much Meat to Prepare Per Person For BBQ Meals

Keep in mind that most meats lose between 15 and 45 percent of their weight when they are cooked. (A half-pound ground beef burger, for example, will likely weigh just shy of 7 ounces after you grill or smoke it.) That's because cooking causes animal protein to lose some moisture and fat. The difference between the weight of cooked food and the weight of raw meat is called a "yield."

The meat estimates below are designed to act as a guide for how much meat to buy in its raw state, since that's the detail you'll be looking for at the supermarket.

Protein Estimated Quantity Per Person
Ribs 2 to 3 short ribs or 6 baby back ribs
Steak ½ to ¾ pound
Brisket ½ to ¾ pound
Whole turkey 1 pound
Prime rib ½ pound
Ham ½ pound
Pulled pork or chicken ⅓ to ½ pound
Chicken 1 large breast, 1 chicken thigh, or 2 drumsticks
Chicken wings 6 to 8 (as an appetizer) or 12 to 16 (as a meal)
Fish 6 to 8 ounces
Burgers ⅓- to ½-pound patty
Hot dogs 2

The quantities above for how much meat per person for BBQ are designed for hungry adults; trim them in half for kids. And it's always wise to offer a vegetarian or vegan option, so check out our tips for how to make delicious BBQ without meat, too.

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