BBQs are popular with many people around the world, and can be a fun activity when the weather warms up or a way to keep warm when it cools down. They’re a great way to entertain and feed many people at once, without having a lot to clean up.
Whether you’re planning for five or 50 guests, knowing how much meat is needed per person at the BBQ is really important. You want to ensure that you have enough to feed all in attendance, but not too much that food ends up going to waste.
While the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) recommends that an adult eats about five ounces of meat per day, we all know at a gathering many are likely to eat a bit more than what is recommended by the USFDA. In general, each adult attending the BBQ will eat about eight ounces of meat. But, in actuality, that can be hard to calculate for.
So, how much meat per person should you plan on?
How Many Pounds of Different Types of Meat Do I Need?
Depending on what you are cooking at your BBQ, plan on getting enough of each kind of meat so each person can enjoy all that you’re cooking. But, also keeping the options to 1-3 meats will make it a bit easier to plan.
We will break down some of the most popular BBQ meat choices so you know exactly what you should buy and how much of it.
When purchasing meat, remember that meat loses weight when cooked, so that could impact how much you buy versus how much the meat weighs once it is cooked.
The type of hot dogs you buy for your cookout will determine how much you need. This is because the average hot dog weighs about 1.6 ounces, but hot dogs come in all different shapes and sizes. Knowing that the average adult eats about eight ounces of meat—and that it’s is unlikely that a guest at your cookout will eat five hotdogs—it is best to plan that each person will eat two or three hot dogs.
The average hamburger weighs anywhere from four to eight ounces. It is likely that your BBQ guests who opt for the hamburger will only eat one (especially if they’re eating the other meats). The average container of ground beef at the grocery store is about one pound. A pound of ground beef could make about four to eight burgers. You can always ask your butcher to prepare the exact poundage of meat that is needed, assuming each person orders one (or, just a little extra).
If you are planning on cooking chicken, first you will need to decide what type and cut of chicken to buy. The most popular chicken for a BBQ would be:
- Whole chicken
- Chicken thighs
- Chicken breasts
A whole chicken weighs about two to five pounds. With the average whole chicken being about three and a half pounds. An average size whole chicken would feed about four people.
There are approximately four boneless chicken thighs per pound. Typically, an adult would eat two chicken thighs. You would want to plan on having about one pound of chicken thighs for two adults who are choosing this option.
An average chicken breast weighs about six ounces. A single adult would eat just a little more than one chicken breast, so you might want to consider cutting the chicken breast into chunks to make it easier to serve to your party guests.
There are a few different cuts that you could choose for your next BBQ. The most popular types that you might want to pick up would be:
- New York Strip
The average t-bone steak weighs about 12 to 18 ounces or 340 to 510 grams (we did this conversion with our recipe convertor). If we stick to the standard eight ounces of meat per guest, one or two adults may be able to share one t-bone.
New York Strip
A New York strip steak is on the heavier side weighing 16 to 20 ounces per loin. Meaning that close to three adults could split a New York strip steak.
Flank steak—also known as a London broil—is a great option for a BBQ due to its relatively easy grilling. Flank steaks can be quite large, weighing upwards of two pounds per cut. That means up to four adults can get their fill from one steak.
The typical rack of pork ribs weighs abouts three to four pounds. While there are different varieties of pork ribs, spare ribs, St. Louis, and back ribs are the most popular and all weigh about the same. You will want to plan on any rack of pork ribs feeding six to eight party-goers.
Non-Meat BBQ Options
To cater to all guests at your BBQ, you may want to consider having meatless options for your guests. Even if your guests don’t have any dietary preferences or restrictions, it is always great to have meatless options for everyone.
Vegetarian and Vegan BBQ Options
- Veggie skewers
- Grilled corn
- BBQ eggplant
- Bean and quinoa burger
- Cauliflower steaks
Planning Something Other Than a BBQ?
If grilling and having a BBQ isn’t your style, there are other party and food options that you can serve. For instance, maybe you are wanting to have a Mexican-style feast with tacos and fajitas. But just how much taco meat do you need per person? And how many pounds of fajita meat per person?
How Many Pounds of Fajita Meat Per Person?
Fajitas are a Tex-Mex food made with grilled strips of meat and veggies—typically peppers and onions served with tortillas. Usually fajitas are made with chicken or steak. A general rule is to have about half a pound of meat per person when making and serving fajitas.
How Many Pounds of Taco Meat per Person?
Tacos are a traditional Mexican style dish made with meat and served on a corn tortilla. There is usually about one quarter of a cup of meat or 60 grams per taco. Use our cups to grams converter to see how many grams of meat you will need.
How Many Pounds of Meat per Person Do I Need?
Whether you are throwing a BBQ or a Tex-Mex party night, the general rule of thumb is to plan on each guest eating about one quarter to one half of a pound of meat. When you are planning your bash, keep in mind that you will not just be serving meat—there will most likely be other appetizers, sides, and desserts that will be filling your plate as well.
Emily is a freelance writer and teacher. Originally from New York, Emily now lives and works in Europe.