How much do I cook for a crowd?

06 Jul
How much do I cook for a crowd?

So your pulled pork has become somewhat legendary at work. That’s a good thing, you’ve worked hard to develop your recipes and techniques. The problem is, now the boss wants you to cook for the company picnic. Or maybe Aunt Sally wants you to cook for Jr’s graduation. Whatever it is, your facing feeding a lot of people a lot of meat. It’s a great opportunity to make a lot of people happy. The only problem is how much meat do you buy? Too much and you’re over budget, to little and people go home hungry. So the need to get it at least close is critical. Getting it close is really more science than art. My first big cooks I spent DAYS scouring the internet. My goal here is to give you a one stop resource to answer those questions.

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Pulled Pork 

Here’s the basic math I use for pulled pork.

1/4lb per person X .3 (the amount of weight the meat will lose during cooking)

Ex: For 100 people it will take 25lbs of COOKED pork to feed them.

100 X .25 = 25lbs

25lbs X .3 = 7.5

25 + 7.5 = 32.5lbs of RAW pork will yeild you about 25lbs of cooked pork to feed 100 people.

Pulled Chicken Breast

I only give you chicken breast because that’s primarily what we work with seeing as everybody likes white meat and a lot of people don’t care for dark.

Bone in breast

1/4lb per person X .25

Ex: For 100 people you will need 25lbs of COOKED chicken to feed everybody.

100 people X .25 = 25lbs of raw chicken

25lbs X .25 (the amount of weight it will lose when you remove the bones and skin)

25lbs + 6.25 = 32.25 of RAW bone in chicken will yeild you about 25lbs to feed 100 people.

Boneless breast

Not enough loss in cooking to make a difference here. Simply figure 1/4 per person.

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Hot dogs

Simply figure 2 dogs per person and add 5%.

100 people X 2 dogs = 200 dogs

200 dogs X 5% (.05) = 210 hot dogs.

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Be a good person and figure 1/3lb per burger and about 1.25 per person (no one will eat 1/4 a burger but some will eat 2 while others will eat only 1)


100 people X 1.25 = 125 burgers

125 burgers X .333 = 42lbs raw 80/20 ground beef.


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If there are plenty of sides figure 1/4 rack per person, if it’s going to be ribs and a lite side figure 1/2 a rack per person. This is the reason most people serve baked potatoes with ribs.

BBQ Sauce (as a side, the ONLY way we serve it)

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How much sauce does on need to feed a crowd?

Figure about 2 Tlbs per serving.

100 servings = 200Tlbs of sauce

16Tlbs = 1 cup

200Tlbs/16 = 12.5 cups of BBQ sauce.

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Beans and Sides

You can figure about 1/2 a cup per person for most sides.

Corn on the cob should be 11/4 per person.

Miscelanious notes

1) It’s better to have it and not need it, than to not have it and need it. So err on the side of having too much.

2) The entire guest list NEVER shows up. If 100 people have been invited, you’ll probably get 75-80 at best, but cook for the whole 100. (see above)

3) Always round UP. Again see #1.

4) Consider your crowd. Kids as a rule don’t eat nearly as much as adults. Teen don’t quit eating. Truckers much more than ballerinas. In other words a 5 yr old is good for 1 hot dog, a trucker 4, and a teen…. well nobody has found out yet.

5) If you do run out blame it on the guy that filled his entire plate with nothing but pulled pork. There’s just no way to account for these things. Everybody else knows where it all went, so you’re in the clear.

6) Consider empty trays and bottles a compliment. (if everybody got served at least once)

7) I’ve been doing this for years and have never came up short. Sweated out a few but never short.

Remember what you cook isn’t nearly as important as who you cook it with. Have fun.


Posted by on July 6, 2014 in Uncategorized


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19 responses to “How much do I cook for a crowd?

  1. Patrons of the Pit

    July 6, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    That was good stuff! Really good advice, old chap. I concur with your not only your math, but likewise the fact that no one has ever seen the eating limit of a growing teenager. It’s hard to plan for those dudes.

    Informative, well-crafted, and at times a good chuckle – an all around excellent piece. Well done Mr Dodd!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mrdodd

    July 6, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Thanks, those are big words coming from the top of the mountain.


  3. Dennis

    July 6, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Sounds like planning our wedding all over again… I remember having to find all these tables from various catering and wedding/ event planners. Or rather, my wife did, to give credit where credit is due.
    – Dennis, Life Fermented Blog

    Liked by 1 person

    • mrdodd

      July 6, 2014 at 7:52 pm

      LoL, yea when our wedding was taking shape, I learned quick to always smile and say yes.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. griffinsgrub

    July 14, 2014 at 10:41 am

    “Truckers much more than ballerinas. In other words a 5 yr old is good for 1 hot dog, a trucker 4, and a teen…. well nobody has found out yet.” Love the comment about teens. This is a great post. Very well thought out and great for planning a party.


  5. L Rakes

    July 11, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    BIG help!!! Thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mrdodd

      July 11, 2016 at 11:03 pm

      I’m glad that you find it useful.


  6. MJ DeMatteis Catering

    August 5, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    You’re outstanding! Great info site with humor. Will watch out for truckers coming down Rte 50 to Maryland’s Eastern Shore.


  7. Chris

    August 22, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Love your reference to truck drivers


  8. Betsy Moschella

    November 9, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    You saved my life next week w/ your measurements!!! I am providing pulled pork sandwiches for 35 teens at the highschool (It is tech week before the school play!) I have made this for my family but never a really large crowd! THANK YOU!!!! These kids can eat and now I feel less intimidated!


    • mrdodd

      November 9, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      Thank you Betsy. Sounds like there’s going to be 35 very happy teens. Just remember to round up.


  9. Christine

    January 13, 2018 at 8:32 am

    Thank you so much for your work!!!
    It helped a lot.
    I´m from Germany and I´ll suprise my guests (around 40) with pulled pork (and some other Things) 😉

    THX again

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Chris Trigg

    June 26, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    This is really helpful and very generous of you to take your time and write for others.
    Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mrdodd

      June 26, 2018 at 4:53 pm

      Thank you, I love doing it.


  11. kenton falana

    January 8, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    Your figures really helps out I was close in math it helps to know someone else is thinking the same thing. Thanks!


    • mrdodd

      January 8, 2019 at 5:47 pm

      Thank you. I’m so glad that you found this useful.


  12. Jennifer

    December 6, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    Hi! Do you have calculations for brisket? Is it similar to the calculation for pulled pork?


    • mrdodd

      December 6, 2019 at 12:37 pm

      I’m sorry but I haven’t worked enough with brisket to give you an answer that I’m confident in. My apologies.



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