Alright, no more games. It’s up to you, and you alone to cook for these people. The fate of their stomach rests in your pulled pork.
There’s no worse feeling than not serving enough food for your guests!
This is the only guide you’ll ever need to prepare enough pulled pork for a crowd of any size. Between 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 people or more the ratio doesn’t change. Here’s how much pulled pork you’ll need per person, and everything you’ll need to consider to make sure you’re serving enough food.
The most important rule when it comes to preparing pulled pork for a crowd is knowing how much raw pork to buy.
This is because during the cook raw pork shoulder loses around 30-40% of its weight, varying slightly if you’re getting bone-in or boneless. This is due to the melting of the fat and the evaporation and dehydration of the meat as it cooks. Noting that you often add some liquid back at the pulling stage, such as apple juice and BBQ sauce.
If pulled pork is the main course, and you’re only serving 1-3 sides, then you want to have half a pound of COOKED pulled pork per person.
To be on the safe side, allowing for second-serves and leftovers, you’ll want to go with 1 pound of raw pork per person to end up with at least half a pound of cooked pulled pork.
If you are having pulled pork with 3+ sides then you should have one third of a pound of cooked pulled pork per person. So, you’ll want roughly 0.66 pounds of raw pork per person to get one third of a pound of cooked pulled pork.
To make it easy, we’ve put it plain and simple below.
How Much Pulled Pork For 5 People?
If you’re cooking for your family or a small gathering of 5 people or so you will need:
- With 1-3 Sides: 5 Pounds Of Raw Pork to serve at least 2.5 Pounds of Cooked Pulled Pork for 5 people.
- With 3+ Sides: 3.33 Pounds Of Raw Pork to serve at least 1.66 Pounds of Cooked Pulled Pork for 5 people.
How Much Pulled Pork For 10 People?
If you’re cooking for a gathering or get-together of 10 people make sure you have:
- With 1-3 Sides: 10 Pounds Of Raw Pork to serve at least 5 Pounds of Cooked Pulled Pork for 10 people.
- With 3+ Sides: 6.66 Pounds Of Raw Pork to serve at least 3.33 Pounds of Cooked Pulled Pork for 10 people.
How Much Pulled Pork For 25 People?
To make sure you have enough pulled pork to serve all 25 of your guests, prepare:
- With 1-3 Sides: 25 Pounds Of Raw Pork to serve at least 12.5 Pounds of Cooked Pulled Pork for 25 people.
- With 3+ Sides: 16.66 Pounds Of Raw Pork to serve at least 8.33 Pounds of Cooked Pulled Pork for 25 people.
How Much Pulled Pork For 50 People?
If you’re preparing pulled pork for feeding 50 people you will need:
- With 1-3 Sides: 50 Pounds Of Raw Pork to serve at least 25 Pounds of Cooked Pulled Pork for 50 people.
- With 3+ Sides: 33.33 Pounds Of Raw Pork to serve at least 16.66 Pounds of Cooked Pulled Pork for 50 people.
How Much Pulled Pork For 100 People?
If you’re cooking for an event, a party, or for the whole neighbourhood you’ll want to be sure you’re getting the portions right!
- With 1-3 Sides: 100 Pounds Of Raw Pork to serve at least 50 Pounds of Cooked Pulled Pork for 100 people.
- With 3+ Sides: 66.6 Pounds Of Raw Pork to serve at least 33.33 Pounds of Cooked Pulled Pork for 100 people.
How Much Pulled Pork Per Person For Sliders?
Nobody likes a slider that’s skimping on the meat. If pulled pork sliders are on the menu, don’t be stingy with the hero of the dish. As a rule of thumb, you should still prepare ⅓ of a pound of cooked pulled pork per person but split depending on how many sliders each guest will be having.
For Small Pulled Pork Sliders:
For those bite-sized pull flavor bombs, you’ll want to pack them with 0.1 pounds of pulled pork each. Be prepared, because guests will usually have 2-3 of these sliders each, depending on what else is on the menu! Be sure to prep 0.66 pounds of raw pork to make 0.33 pounds of pulled pork, enough for 3 sliders per person.
For Medium Pulled Pork Sliders:
For your standard run-of-the-mile-sized slider you want to pack it with at least 0.15-0.2 pounds of pulled pork. For this size slider, you would expect guests to have 2 each, depending on how many other sides and foods are available. To be on the safe side you’ll need 0.66 pounds of raw pork to make 0.33 pounds of cooked pulled pork assuming you are serving 2 medium sliders per person.
For Large Pulled Pork Sliders:
You’ll want 0.33 pounds of cooked pulled pork for each large pulled pork sandwich. If you’re making your slider the center of the dish, you’ll generally only need one larger slider per person. This means you will need 0.66 pounds of raw pork to make 0.33 pounds of cooked pulled pork for each guest.
Which Cut Of Pork To Use For Pulled Pork
Although you can fashion pulled pork from cuts like pork leg or pork neck, the traditional, and more popular cuts come from the pork shoulder.
The pork shoulder is a large cut of pork and includes both the upper blade shoulder and the lower arm shoulder. If you find the right butcher, you might be able to buy the entire pork shoulder for your cookout. However, most butchers sell the top and bottom of the shoulder separately.
The top of the pork shoulder, known as pork butt, or Boston butt, is tender, savory, and marbled with fat–perfect for pulled pork.
The bottom half of the pork shoulder, picnic shoulder ham or picnic ham, has less fat marbling, but still creates masterful pulled pork. Both sections of the shoulder produce a generous amount of pulled pork, only decreasing in weight by 30-40% over the cook. Both equally viable for providing the goods for your feast.
Just be sure to use the same cut if your cooking multiple, otherwise some may come out tender, others may leave you with tough pulled pork.
Serving Pulled Pork For A Crowd: Considerations
What Else You Will Be Serving
The rest of the menu has a huge influence on the amount of pork that you need. You might want to scale back if you’re serving a lot of sides or scale up if your centerpiece is the pulled pork.
Based on what else you’re serving, be sure to consider:
- Starchy, Filling Sides: Fries, garlic bread, and other filling sides will make your guests less likely to come back for seconds.
- Are You Serving Other Meats: Giving your guests other meat options such as hot dogs, burgers, brisket will mean that not everyone will have a serving of pulled pork.
- Skipping The Sides Altogether: If you’re just serving pulled pork as the star by itself, maximize your pork production so everyone gets enough to eat.
- Serving Dessert: Even if you don’t have a lot of sides, you might want to cut back or control your pulled pork servings so your guests have room for dessert.
Time Of Day
Your guests won’t be up for a big meal if you’re serving pulled pork in the morning. They may be a little hungrier for lunch, and your guests will be up for a hearty dinner if you serve pulled pork in the evening. Use this information when you consider how much pulled pork for a crowd.
What’s The Occasion?
When you’re hosting a casual barbecue, your guests won’t eat as much as they would at a sit-down dinner, or if there’s a big game on. They’ll be busy walking around, talking to guests and focusing on whatever else you have planned.
When you host a sit-down dinner, people come specifically to eat–and you’ll need more pulled pork and sides to keep everyone happy. Your guests might talk or socialize, but they’re more focused on the food. As a result, you might want to place a big order at the butcher shop so you have plenty of meat for your guests.
Who Are Your Guests?
Some guests have bigger appetites than others. If you’re hosting your barbecue for your grandmother’s book group you may need to reconsider portion sizes. However, if it’s food for a sports team then they’ll all be hungry after working out and spending all day in the sun. Keep in mind that you’ll need less meat if you’re serving children instead of adults.
Allow for Second Servings
Consider the amount of pork that you need for each guest and how many other sides you are serving. Now, add a little wiggle room to account for your guests coming back for seconds!
Not everyone goes back for seconds, but some people take more than others, so it evens itself out in the end. Others will take a plate “for the road” or load up on leftovers for the next day. Make sure you have plenty of meat so people can get two or three meals out of your barbecue, it will make it much more memorable!
If you’re firing up the smoker, check out the best woods to pair with pork shoulder.
How To Keep Pulled Pork Warm When Cooking For Crowds
If you don’t keep your pulled pork warm, it could turn dry and chewy–or worse, go bad.
The easiest and most reliable method to keeping your pulled pork warm when cooking for crowds is to load your pulled pork in a crockpot and turn it on low. You can either portion the pulled pork from there, or guests can come get it straight from the crockpot. Storing the pulled pork at a safe temperature prevents bacterial growth and keeps the meat hot, tender and juicy. Just make sure you have access to electricity so you can keep the crockpot plugged in.
Another intuitive option is to place your pork in a cooler, wrapped in foil, then wrapped in a towel. This method could keep your meat warm for literally hours. For extra protection and insulation, be sure to cover the tinfoil-wrapped meat with clean towels. This is a common method to rest the meat when cooking pork roast or smoked pulled pork. This can be used for almost all other pork or beef cuts, including serving beef tri-tip to crowds.
How To Store Pulled Pork Leftovers
Depending on how long you want to store your pulled pork leftovers, I would recommend one of the following three options.
To store pulled pork at room temperature, wrap it in tinfoil and place it in a cooler, then cover it with blankets. This method won’t keep your meat warm indefinitely, so don’t keep it in the cooler for more than a few hours. Use a meat thermometer to make sure it maintains a safe temperature.
Short-term Storage (Fridge):
If you have leftovers, seal the meat in a plastic zip-lock bag or airtight container and store it in the fridge. This method will keep your meat fresh for a few days. Make sure you eat it as quickly as possible–it might be cooked, but it can still go bad.
Stored this way, roasted or smoked pulled pork meat lasts you up to 3-4 days.
Long-term Storage (Freezer):
For long-term storage, wrap the meat in aluminum foil and place it in a freezer bag. If possible, vacuum seal the bag to prevent bacterial growth and freezer burn. Store the pulled pork in the freezer, then defrost it whenever you’re ready to eat. You can keep pulled pork from the freezer for up to six months (or longer) but it will certainly start losing it’s quality over time and I recommend eating it within 3 months.