This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. You’ve been asked to cook brisket for an event.
Being no easy task, there are a few main things that are critical to cooking brisket for any size crowd. Aside from cooking it well and nailing the flavor, the most important rule is knowing how much brisket to cook per person!
Let’s look at everything you need to consider when preparing and cooking brisket for a crowd, whether it’s for 5, 10, 50, or even 100+ people.
When it comes to preparing brisket for your lucky guests, you need to know how much raw brisket you’ll need per person.
Once trimmed and then cooked the brisket can lose up to 50% of its initially uncooked weight. This is caused by the gradual melting of the fat and dehydration of the brisket as it cooks, and by trimming the fat before cooking.
Although most recipes will say you need ½ a pound of uncooked brisket to serve your guests ¼ of a pound of cooked brisket per person, this really is a small serving size. This is great if your brisket is a part of a BBQ platter or you are serving other foods too. Although brisket should never be a side dish!
If brisket is the centerpiece of your dish or the main course the guests will be eating then you’ll want to offer a much more handsome, large serving size. For this larger serving size, you’ll want 1 pound of raw brisket, which yields ½ a pound of cooked brisket per person.
When cooking brisket the worst mistake you can make is to cook too little!
Following the large serving size allows for larger servings, second servings, and leftovers — all of which are an absolute must! This is true whether you’re cooking it in a slow cooker, dutch oven, or smoker.
How Much Brisket For 5 People
If you’re cooking for a gathering of 5 people you will need:
Small serving: 2.5 pounds of raw brisket to yield 1.25 pounds of cooked brisket.
Large serving: 5 pounds of raw brisket to yield 2.5 pounds of cooked brisket.
How Much Brisket For 10 People
If you’re preparing brisket to feed 10 people you will need:
Small serving: 5 pounds of raw brisket to yield 2.5 pounds of cooked brisket.
Large serving: 10 pounds of raw brisket to yield 5 pounds of cooked brisket.
How Much Brisket For 25 People
If you’re cooking for a get-together of 25 people you will need:
Small serving: 12.5 pounds of raw brisket to yield 6.25 pounds of cooked brisket.
Large serving: 25 pounds of raw brisket to yield 12.5 pounds of cooked brisket.
How Much Brisket For 50 People
If you’re cooking brisket for an event of 50 people you will need:
Small serving: 25 pounds of raw brisket to yield 12.5 pounds of cooked brisket.
Large serving: 50 pounds of raw brisket to yield 25 pounds of cooked brisket.
How Much Brisket For 100 People
To make sure you’ve got enough brisket for a large gathering of 100 people you will need:
Small serving: 50 pounds of raw brisket to yield 25 pounds of cooked brisket.
Large serving: 100 pounds of raw brisket to yield 50 pounds of cooked brisket.
How Many Pounds Of Brisket For 200, 300, Or 400+ People
Things are really getting serious if you’re preparing brisket for 200, 300, or even more people. However, the same principles apply, and you’ll need:
Small serving: half a pound of raw brisket to yield ¼ of a pound of cooked brisket per person
Large serving: 1 pound of raw brisket to yield ½ a pound of cooked brisket per person.
This same principle rule can be applied to many other meats, including serving prime rib to a crowd too.
How Much Brisket Is Needed Per Child?
Everybody loves brisket. Even kids.
But children don’t have as big of stomachs as grown adults, although sometimes it doesn’t exactly seem that way!
So if you are cooking brisket for any number of children, it’s absolutely necessary to tone down the serving sizes.
You only need to serve approximately 1/4 of a pound of cooked brisket per child.
So when you’re buying your briskets, factor in 1/2 a pound of raw weight per child, knowing that it loses up to half it’s weight during the prep and cook.
How Much Brisket Needed Per Sandwich/Burger
If you’re serving a brisket sandwich or pulled brisket burger you’ll want to make sure you’ve got enough meat to fill each one!
Here you can go with a slightly smaller serving per person, but use it all in the burger to hero the beef brisket in the dish. You’ll need to pack about ¼ of a pound of cooked brisket in each burger, which means you’ll need ½ a pound of raw brisket per sandwich or burger you are planning to assemble.
By cooking ½ a pound of brisket per sandwich, it will also leave you with a little extra, which can be used for second servings or leftovers, or the pieces that you end up eating as you make the sandwiches.
If you’re making smoked brisket sandwich’s, check out the best woods for smoking brisket to get the flavors on point.
Is Brisket The Main Dish?
Depending on what else is on the menu, you may want to change the amount of brisket you’re serving. If you’re also serving other meats, filling sides, or some amazing appetizers for smoked brisket, then you don’t want to be filling everyone up with ½ pound of cooked brisket. Believe me, they will eat it all!
Think about what else you’re serving and visualize a plate full of your food. If you think about how much of each type of food there is then you can more easily decide if you want to cook a small, medium, or large serving of brisket.
It’s also important to get your portions right and not cook too much of your sides too! If you’re also cooking pulled pork for a crowd, skirt steak for your party, or garlic bread for a large group be sure to serve the right portions!
Don’t Get Lazy With The Trimming
Trimming all the hard, excess fat makes a big difference to the texture of the crust or bark of the meat, and ultimately the flavor. This goes for all cuts of beef, like when trimming up a nice beef tenderloin too.
Just because you might have a few briskets to do, doesn’t mean you take any less care with the trimming process!
For more details check out the full guide to the best knife for trimming brisket and how to do it.
Lunch Or Dinner (Or Breakfast)
The time of day plays a huge part in how much someone is going to eat. Generally, people will be hungrier later in the day peaking at dinner time. They can still eat a full portion at lunch, but any earlier, and people won’t be as willing to stuff their faces with all the delicious food!
What’s The Event?
You’re not likely to serve the same amount of food for a book group meeting as you would on Superbowl Sunday.
Although this is an extreme comparison, there is a big difference in how much people will eat depending on the occasion.
If it’s a sit-down dinner and people are expecting food, then they will tend to eat a full portion, but if it’s for a baby shower or other event where food isn’t on everyone’s mind then you may want to dial back your serving sizes per person.
Who Are You Serving?
This one seems obvious but it’s too true to not consider. Take a look at your guests. You know they don’t all have the same appetite. If you’re serving a football team you would expect them to have a bigger appetite than when serving brisket to your grandmother’s knitting group!
One misconception to be aware of is that some think that teenagers will eat less than an adult. That’s totally not true, and a lot of teenagers will actually eat more than an adult twice their age. At least, I did when I was growing up!
Allow Second Servings
Have you ever been not quite satisfied with your first serving of food? Imagine going up to grab some more mouth-watering brisket only to realize there was none left for second servings.
Luckily, if you are following the large serving size of 1 pound of raw brisket to yield half a pound of cooked brisket per person, this will naturally allow for seconds (as well as leftover brisket) and you won’t need to think about cooking extra.
Keeping Brisket Warm & Juicy While Serving
There are a few key things you can do to keep your brisket warm and moist when catering for groups:
- Only cut the brisket when you’re ready to serve.
- Try going for ¼ inch thick slices, against the grain of both the point and the flat.
- Keep your briskets wrapped in butcher paper bundled in a towel until you are ready to serve guests and only open one at a time.
As soon as you cut the brisket, it will have a hard time holding all its juices in and will cool down a lot faster. This goes for other beef dishes too. Like when serving tri-tip to a crowd too.
One of the most common traps people fall into when preparing brisket for a crowd is assuming the cooked weight of the brisket will be the same as the raw weight.
Remember: Brisket can lose up to 50% of its weight after trimming and cooking.
For example, buying a 12-pound raw brisket may only yield 6 pounds of cooked meat!
So, what you want to prepare is one pound of raw brisket per person. This leaves about half a pound of cooked brisket for each person.
Of course, if you not serving brisket as the main meal or you are serving children you can tone this down to about half!
Happy feasting ahead!