How Much Ground Beef to Buy per Person for Your Next Event

Feed a crowd without a care using this foolproof method for determining serving sizes.

When hosting a gathering (or taking food to one) the biggest hangup tends to be how much to make. Should you double a recipe? Triple it? What if you don't know how many people will be there? See, it's already overwhelming. Try this party drinks calculator and appetizer calculator to determine how many of those items to make, but what about recipes with ground beef? Burgers, sloppy joes, and meatballs are go-to dishes to serve a large group. To help figure out how much ground beef per person you'll need, use these guidelines.

All-American Sloppy Joes
Jason Donnelly

Sloppy Joes

In general, we call for 1 pound of ground beef to make 6 sandwiches in our sloppy joes recipes. That works out to 3 ounces of ground beef per sandwich. Depending on the size of your bun and how meaty you like your sandwich, you can increase or decrease that amount an ounce or two either way. Based on the 3-ounce guideline, purchase this much ground beef to serve your crowd. To be safe, go ahead and round up to the nearest full pound, if you like.

  • 10 sandwiches = 30 ounces or just under 2 pounds ground beef
  • 15 sandwiches = 45 ounces or 2¾ pounds ground beef
  • 20 sandwiches = 60 ounces or 3¾ pounds ground beef
  • 25 sandwiches = 75 ounces or 4⅔ pounds ground beef
Whiskey Barrel Burgers
Jason Donnelly


Our Test Kitchen uses a range of 1 to 1½ pounds of ground beef to make 4 burgers. That's 4 to 6 ounces per burger. Check out our best tips for grilled burgers and use these guidelines to know how much ground beef per burger to buy.

  • 10 burgers = 40 to 60 ounces = 2½ to 3¾ pounds ground beef
  • 15 burgers = 60 to 90 ounces = 3¾ to 5⅔ pounds ground beef
  • 20 burgers = 80 to 120 ounces = 5 to 7½ pounds ground beef
  • 25 burgers = 100 to 150 ounces = 6¼ to 9⅓ pounds ground beef
Basic Meatballs on parchment paper
Andy Lyons Cameraworks, LTD


To be frank, this one is tricky to determine. Cooks make their meatballs in quite different sizes and who is going to eat just one meatball?! That makes it hard to know how many meatballs per person to plan. Most of the meatball recipes from our Test Kitchen use between ⅓ and ½ ounce ground meat (we usually use a mix of a couple of different ground meats) per meatball. Certainly we've seen much larger meatballs than that, but sticking to our usual amounts (and assuming you're using all ground beef), here are the numbers.

  • 30 meatballs = 10 to 15 ounces = ⅔ to about 1 pound ground beef
  • 40 meatballs = 13 to 20 ounces = ⅞ to 1¼ pounds ground beef
  • 50 meatballs = 16½ to 25 ounces = 1 to 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 60 meatballs = 20 to 30 ounces = 1¼ to 2 pounds ground beef
  • 70 meatballs = 23 to 35 ounces = 1½ to 2¼ pounds ground beef
  • 80 meatballs = 26 to 40 ounces = 1⅔ to 2½ pounds ground beef

These are just general guidelines to help determine how many pounds of hamburger to feed your crowd. Adjust as needed, but note that the amount required to make sloppy joes, burgers, and meatballs varies quite a bit to serve the same number of people.

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