When serving a crowd, it can be a struggle to determine how much food to make. You may be putting together your shopping list and not know how many pounds of ground beef to buy to serve 25 or 30 mouths. Let us help you the next time you need to serve sloppy joes or burgers to a big group.

By Sheena Chihak
Updated June 09, 2020
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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 much 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.

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.

Get Our Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes Recipe
  • 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
Jason Donnelly

Burgers

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.

Get the Whiskey Barrel Burgers Recipe
  • 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
Andy Lyons Cameraworks, LTD

Meatballs

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 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.

Get Our Basic Meatballs Recipe
  • 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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