How Much Brisket Per Person

How much brisket per person: Fail-proof Tips for a Hassle-Free BBQ Party (Plus Discover Ways to Cook Brisket)

So you finally decided it is time to cook some brisket for your next get-together. Knowing how much brisket should be enough to everyone satisfied is not an easy task.

We have put together a complete guide to making your brisket BBQ Party planning hassle-free and coming up with the right amount of brisket.

Summary (In a Hurry?)

●   In general, you can plan for ½ pound of cooked brisket or 1 pound of raw brisket per person.

●  Adjust the portion size depending on the age groups and number of your guests, type and time of day, type of cut and cooking method for the brisker, and the other items in the menu.

● It always pays to buy more brisket than your expected consumption because it is easier to address leftover brisket than run out of food to serve in the middle of the party.

What is a brisket?

A brisket is a cut of beef or veal that is from the breast or lower chest.

It can be intimidating to tackle this cut for home cooks because cooking requires a great deal of effort and technique.

Be it the more fatty or lean part, both contain a lot of connective tissues that make the cut tough and require low-temperature slow cooking to become tender.

In the US, it can be traced to the southern Texas indigenous Indians and is now inseparable from the Texan culture.

You can also probably very quickly associate the beef brisket to Jewish cooking because they serve this on several holidays.

Different cultures around the world have already established their own methods of tackling this meat cut.

  • Who and how many will be your guests?

The first step is always to take a look at your guest list. Take note of the number of people and place them under certain age groups.

  • Are your guests going to be mostly kids, teenagers, or adults?

Different age groups tend to have very different appetites.

Kids will eat significantly less meat compared to adults while sporty teenagers can be big eaters and consume more than average adults.

What if you have a mix of kids, adults, and teens as guests? You can choose to halve the headcount for kids because they eat light compared to the average adult.

You may have to put in extra servings as an allowance for the sporty teens.

The eating habits and personal differences in appetites of the adult guests also matter.

You have to take into account if any of them are vegetarian and decrease the pounds of raw brisket you need to buy.

As a good rule of thumb, allow at least 1 pound of raw brisket for every person.

Every pound of uncooked brisket usually has an average yield of a half-pound brisket after cooking because of moisture evaporation and the need to trim some of the fat before cooking.

From this, you can adjust this estimate of how many pounds of meat you need depending on the other factors discussed below.

What cut or type of meat will you be serving?

Your brisket feed can come in various sizes and types of meat. The largest of which is the whole packer brisket cut which weighs about 20- 30 pounds on average.

This size is ideal for large crowd gatherings and you can also get more tender flat portions from this because the fat from the point portion will baste the leaner portion.

For smaller parties or typical home cooking, you can choose any of the following smaller cuts:

  • The flat cut brisket or first cut. This is the leaner piece and is traditionally used by the Jews for their cooking, for corned beef, or pho by other cultures.

It has a smooth grain, rectangular in shape, and weighs about 6-10 pounds. It also takes a longer time to become tender.

Allot around ¼ to ½ pound of raw brisket for this cut. Since the fat content of this portion is less, it yields much meat because there will be less shrinkage after cooking. If you want to maximize the number of people that can partake in the brisket per lb brisket, go for this cut.

  • The brisket point or second cut. This is the piece with more fat or marbling and the classic choice for barbeques.

The end result is not only a slice of more tender meat but also juicier and more flavorful from the richness imparted by the fat.

Uncooked, this weighs around 4-6 pounds and is from the triangular end of the cut.

  • The deckle. Like the brisket point, it has a lot of marbling but this cut is of the artisanal kind and might not be that easy to find in a grocery store.

It is the fatty end layer or fat cap on top of the brisket cut close to the bone. The best way you can have this is to put it on a special cut request from your favorite butcher shop.

For the more fatty cuts, point and deckle, you can use ½ to ¾ pound of raw brisket for every person.

The fat will be rendered or drip out after cooking so there will be more shrinkage and weight loss.

Whole packer brisket can also be cut into steaks but definitely should not be cooked in high heat like normal steaks.

The way to go is via slow cooking with the cooking time adjusted based on how much steak from brisket cuts there are.

Whichever cut you choose, always choose the best quality of the meat that you can afford.

Paying for premium meats will save you a lot of cooking time and catapult the end brisket quality to its best potential.

How will you cook the brisket?

Although there is a general rule of thumb, you also need to adjust the portioning per cooking method.

This includes knowing how much raw meat you need and how much bbq you end up with your buy will be affected by how much fat will be rendered from the meat during the cooking process.

4 Ways to Cook the Brisket

  • Smoking. You need to add more brisket compared to the original per person portion.

The fat slowly oozes out of the meat so there will be greater weight loss after it is cooked. Use ¾ pound of cooked brisket for every person if you plan to smoke your brisket.

You can smoke pork butt together with beef brisket to make the most of the space in the smoker.

Place the beef brisket at the bottom while the pork butt is on top with the flat side facing down.

The fat from the pork butt will drip onto the beef, keeping it moist and tender.

  • Grilling. For this cooking method, you need to use a similar ratio as with smoked briskets.
  • Oven-roasting. When cooking in the oven, you can go for ½ pound of cooked brisket per person.

You can use a Dutch oven, a stockpot, or a braiser as a cooking vessel depending on the size of the meat.

More likely, you will use the leaner cut for this method and therefore yield more cooked meat.

  • Slow-cooking. Using a slow cooker is an easy way to prepare beef brisket.

It can cut down the cooking time by half or to 6-8 hours. You just need to make sure that you add the meat on top of the vegetables to prevent overcooking.

You can try classic brisket recipes for starters and adjust according to your liking and available cooking equipment.

Always wait until the internal temperature reaches 210 degrees Fahrenheit before taking out the brisket.

Rest the cooked meat for 2-4 hours while wrapped in double foil before serving so that it will remain crispy on the outside but tender and juicy inside.

Will you be slicing, chopping, or shredding the brisket when you serve it?

Although the weight of the brisket is the same, the presentation matters in sizing portions for each guest.

A smaller piece of meat will be easier to eat and will run out faster than chopped or shredded cuts.

Making pulled beef is also a great option because it will give you more room to change the amount of brisket to be placed in the bun while using slices for brisket sandwiches will likely need more than a slice.

Using the flat cut of brisket is also better for sliced presentations because it is easier to slice.

To err on the side of caution, it is always a good thing to buy more meat if you plan to serve them in slices.

It is easier to have extra brisket since you cannot whip up another batch instantly when you run out due to its long cooking time.

Putting the brisket plates next to each other is a bad thing. If your main dish will be in multiple plates, distribute them evenly across the table/s and make sure they are evenly surrounded by your side dishes.

This will encourage your guests to get more side dishes on their plates instead of piling up slices upon slices of brisket.

What else is up on the menu?

Although the brisket as the main course will be the star of the party, the side dishes you serve can stretch the meat servings further.

Some of the classic companies of barbeques are corn pieces of bread, coleslaw, mac and cheese, potato salad, or deviled eggs.

With this, you can then scale back to ¼ to 1/3 of cooked meat per person.

If there will be other meat entrées, it is safe to assume that most of the guests will partake in equal portions of each entrée.

You can serve chicken wings and burnt pork ends or spare ribs

Also of Interest: How to Choose the Best Wood for Smoking Ribs: Top Secrets Revealed!

Also of Interest: How to Choose the Best Wood for Smoking Ribs: Top Secrets Revealed!.

By using the same estimate of every pound of uncooked meat yields half a pound after cooking, you can factor in how much chicken and pork you need.

You can also estimate the portions by using your palm, every palm-sized uncooked serving is 4 ounces of meat or a quarter of a pound.

When and until when will be the gathering?

Generally, the earlier in the day you hold the gathering, the lesser will be the amount of food that people eat.

A lot of people consider their dinner or supper as their primary feast so you need to have more food for evening events than lunches.

Scale up your planned portions as you go later in the day. The time of the year can also change the appetite and food intake of people.

In the winter, you may need to plan as much as 3 pounds of uncooked brisket per person while 2 pounds of uncooked brisket per person should be more than enough during the summer.

Also, consider the length of the event, if the event is meant to drag on from lunch to dinner, you definitely need to increase the portions per person.

What type of event will you be holding?

In formal sit-down meals, it will be easy to control the portions and serving per person.

For informal events, where people can serve themselves, you will need to scale up your portions.

Serving alcohol at the party should also be factored in because this can make food disappear faster.

For formal affairs, the number of guests is more likely fixed than casual ones.

In casual affairs, unexpected arrivals are more likely from guests inviting some plus-ones or on the spot inviting neighbors who have been bewitched by the smell of that brisket.

What is your working budget for the whole event?

Brisket, very tough meat, used to be one of the cheaper cuts of meat. But as the popularity of the cut for smoking grew, the brisket price became more pricy.

It is now one of the more coveted cuts and thus also one of the more expensive ones.

You can make your total weight of brisket less by adding more sides or adding more entrées from the cheaper cuts of beef or other types of meat like chicken or pork.

This way you will end up with fewer pounds of brisket, offer more variety, and more importantly, keep their tummies satisfied.


  • How much brisket do I need for 8 adults?

You will need 16 pounds of uncooked brisket or 8 pounds of cooked brisket for a gathering of 8 adults.

Use the general rule of 1 pound uncooked meat or half-pound cooked meat for every adult with an average appetite.

  • How many people will 1lb of brisket serve?

A pound of uncooked brisket or half a pound cooked brisket will serve only one average adult or around two kids under the age of 10.

This could also be not enough for one adult with a big appetite so it is best to have extra servings allotted for each person.

  • How much brisket do I need for 20 adults?

For 20 adults, you need at least 20 pounds of uncooked brisket or 10 pounds of cooked brisket.

Always have extra brisket and extra side dishes in case some guests that have big appetites. It is easier to deal with leftovers than food running out in the middle of the gathering.

  • What is the average size of a beef brisket?

The average size for briskets is 10-20 pounds, depending on the cut of choice. There will be definitely smaller and larger portions.

When you trim and cook the meat, there will loss of weight-reducing it to half of the uncooked weight.

  • How many hours per pound does it take to smoke a brisket?

The smoking time of brisket depends on its weight. As a rule, for every pound of brisket, you need 30-60 minutes of smoking.

As an illustration, cooking a brisket that weighs 16 pounds at 275 degrees Fahrenheit will require around 10-12 hours.

  • How many people does a whole brisket serve?

A whole packer brisket will serve around 10-16 people.

Considering that an average weighs 10 to 16 pounds to 16 pounds of brisket in the uncooked state, and using our general rule earlier, it will produce only 5-8 pounds cooked brisket.

  • How many people does a half brisket serve?

A half brisket cut will serve around 5-8 people. The uncooked half brisket will weigh around 5 to 8 pounds and yield 2.5 to 4 pounds cooked brisket.

If we serve half a pound per person, we can serve 5-8 people.

  • How much beef is in a pound of beef brisket?

There is about 1/2 pound of beef in a pound of beef brisket.

Depending on the thickness and size of the beef brisket, there is roughly 1/2 pound of beef that will be cooked for every pound of raw beef brisket.


Planning the perfect brisket bbq party can be tricky but with the tips that we shared, we hope you can now come up with the right amount of meat and estimate how much food you need.

Enjoy and hopefully, we have helped you to plan on enough meat and brisket for your upcoming bbq party!

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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