How Much Brisket Do You Need to Feed 50 People? (Hint: You’re Probably Overdoing It)

If you’re like me, you love a good brisket, especially on football Sundays.

There’s something about the smoky flavor and tender meat that reminds me of sitting around with family and friends as we cheer on our favorite team.

Brisket is also very versatile, you can easily turn this cut of meat into tacos, sandwiches, or alone as a filling entree.

The challenge I consistently come across is cooking multiple trays of briskets without running out.

Brisket is a great choice for a large family get-together, especially while you’re cheering for your favorite football team!

It feeds so many people, and it tastes so good. But if you run out of brisket for your guests, that’s surely a bad thing!

Here’s how to figure out how much pound brisket you need to feed 50 guests for your next party!

The general rule of thumb is one pound of raw brisket per person—assuming that the people on your guests’ list are going to eat a reasonable amount of bread or salad as well.

A 50-pound of uncooked brisket will feed around 200 people if everyone gets about 2oz each.

In a Hurry?

Before you buy brisket for your next BBQ, here are a few things you need to know:

  • What is the size of your pit or smoker box?
  • How many pounds of meat do you have before it’s cooked and sliced?
  • And lastly, the number of people are coming?

What is the size of your pit or smoker box?

This question could be difficult to answer but it will determine what kind of cut of meat you should go with.  

  • If you have a small smoker, say 22″x22″, and want to feed around 50 people then stay around 2-3lbs. per person sounds good for this amount of people.
  • But if your smoker is larger like a full-size offset smoker or smokers that are 48″x24″, then you would probably want to go with 5-6lbs per person.

How many pounds of meat do you have before it’s cooked and sliced?

When it comes to determining how much beef brisket you have before cooking, this can be done in several ways:

  • You can use a weight loss formula for the brisket cooking process which is usually around 10% of its original raw weight when finished.        
  • Since one pound of raw brisket average yields around four ounces of cooked meat, we can say that this is a pretty accurate estimate.
  • 50 pounds of brisket using 10% weight loss through the smoking process is 2-3lbs *10%= 0.4lbs lost weight per pound so 50 lbs * .4 = 20 pounds of cooked brisket needed or half a packer.

This means you need half a brisket which weighs roughly 12-15lbs before cooking.

  • Remember to pull it apart slightly cause well-rested leaner briskets tend to fall apart when sliced.

How many people are actually coming?

This will determine your end goal.

  • If you are serving 50 people then obviously, you want to buy half a brisket, not a whole packer.
  • So if your calculations are about 1-2lbs per person, it should be around 25-50 pounds of meat.
  • If you have more than that coming, let’s say 100 people, then buying one whole-packer brisket would be favorable because it’s roughly 2lbs per person and will feed 50+ easy at this party.

Remember to consider things like other proteins that will be served like pork shoulder, pork butt or chicken wings, or even spare ribs. Also, consider side dishes such as potato salad.

For an entrée consisting of meat, salad, and bread, use 200 pieces per person.

It also depends on how many side dishes are being served. If there are bigger appetites in the group,

As you can see, we’ve come up with a good rule of thumb to help you determine the right amount of meat needs.

You just need to make sure that you have enough meat for everyone at your party. If you’re having a sit-down meal, you can expect to give each person about two ounces of brisket on average.

But don’t forget that the numbers listed here are really just a rough estimate; your party sizes and preferences may vary widely from these figures. So double-check with someone who has experience if needed!

The total amount of how much food at the event should be thought out beforehand no matter how simple or extravagant it is, so you can determine how much meat to purchase for large events.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry—so you might want to add a little bit more in the case of big eater’s guests.

So how can you cook brisket so that it is not dry or tough when cooking for a lot of people?

Traditionally, brisket is slow-cooked for a long time to keep it juicy and tender, during which time the meat will self-baste, keeping it moist and delicious.

Often the problem with large-scale cooking is that the heat varies in different portions of your cooker.

The solution is to wrap your brisket with aluminum foil which seals moisture inside the meat.

If you have an immersion cooker you can cook your meat for up to 18 hours at a low temperature and achieve uniformly cooked, succulent brisket.

Either way, make sure you calculate how much bbq to cook based on the number of people who will be eating.

And don’t forget the sauce! A good bbq sauce will really bring out the flavor of your brisket.


Q: What is the best way to cook brisket fat side up or down?

A: It would be best to smoke the brisket fat side up so that the juices will stay within the muscle of the meat.

This will keep it from being dry and tough, which is a common problem with brisket.

Q: When is the best time of day to wrap a brisket?

A: The best time to wrap a brisket is once it reaches about 165 degrees so that it will have time to cook without drying out.

Q: What is the ideal temperature to take brisket off the smoker?

A: The temperature you should pull the brisket off of the smoker should be 200-205 degrees.

It should have a dark crust and a very tender texture as well as be moist as long as it is not overcooked.

You will know that your brisket has been cooked properly if you can tear the meat with just a fork, but the slices do not fall apart easily.


Now that you know how much brisket to serve 50 guests, you can be confident you won’t run out.

We hope that this brief guide has been helpful to you. Have questions about cooking for a crowd?

Let us know in the comments below, we’ll be happy to help.

D. Hahn

DIY guru, dad, husband, blogger. When I'm not creating life hacks I'm teaching my kids how to fix stuff after their dad breaks it.

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