How many lbs pork shoulder per person

I’m not saying that cooking meat outdoors is stressful. But between prepping the meat, getting your cooker to temperature, and keeping an eye on the entire production, there is more than enough to keep you busy. Continue reading as I share with you the tips to having enough pulled pork for everyone so you don’t have to worry about whether you cooked enough meat.

This article will explain how much raw pork to purchase and cook so that everyone has enough pulled pork at your upcoming cookout using a straightforward formula and a few general guidelines.

Of course you like to share your cooking with appreciative diners — we don’t cook just for ourselves!

Being such generous people, we always want to ensure that our visitors have enough to eat. even if it means having to do with a little less. (Excluding the pieces we accidentally knock off the platter and onto the counter, which we wouldn’t dream of serving to anyone but shouldn’t be wasted, and the bits we cut off to “test”) ).

Pork shoulder, also known as Boston butt, is a flavorful and inexpensive cut of meat perfect for feeding a crowd. Pulled pork made from pork shoulder is a crowd-pleasing dish for any gathering. But how much pork shoulder do you need per person?

The general rule of thumb is 1/3 to 1/2 pound of cooked pulled pork per person. However, the exact amount depends on several factors. Keep reading to learn how to calculate portions, account for bone-in vs boneless, and other serving considerations.

Calculating Pork Shoulder Portions

When calculating how much raw pork shoulder you need, there are two important factors:

  • Pork shoulder shrinks during cooking
  • Bone-in cuts need more meat

Shrinkage During Cooking

Raw pork shoulder can shrink 40-50% during cooking. This shrinkage applies whether you smoke, roast, grill, or cook the pork shoulder in a slow cooker or instant pot.

For example, if you start with a 10 lb raw pork shoulder, you’ll end up with approximately 5 lbs of cooked, pulled pork.

To account for this shrinkage, you need to double the final desired serving amount when purchasing your raw pork shoulder.

Bone-In vs Boneless

  • For boneless pork shoulder, estimate 1/3 lb cooked meat per person.
  • For bone-in pork shoulder, estimate 1/2 lb cooked meat per person.

The bone-in shoulder needs more meat per serving because bones and connective tissue add weight without adding edible meat.

Calculating Pork Shoulder for a Group

To determine how much raw pork shoulder to buy:

  1. Estimate desired cooked pork per person (1/3 lb boneless or 1/2 lb bone-in)
  2. Multiply by number of servings needed
  3. Double the weight to account for shrinkage

Boneless Pork Shoulder Formula

(Guests x 1/3 lb) x 2 = Lbs of raw boneless pork needed


  • 24 guests
  • 1/3 lb cooked pork per person
  • 24 x 1/3 lb = 8 lbs cooked pork needed
  • 8 lbs x 2 = 16 lbs raw pork to purchase

Bone-In Pork Shoulder Formula

Guests x 1/2 lb = Lbs of raw bone-in pork needed


  • 24 guests
  • 1/2 lb cooked pork per person
  • 24 x 1/2 lb = 12 lbs raw pork needed

Pork Shoulder Per Person Guide

As a general guide, use the following amounts of raw pork shoulder:

Raw Boneless Shoulder Raw Bone-In Shoulder Cooked Pulled Pork Servings
8 lbs 12 lbs 4 lbs 12
16 lbs 24 lbs 8 lbs 24
24 lbs 36 lbs 12 lbs 36
32 lbs 48 lbs 16 lbs 48

Serving Considerations

The 1/3 to 1/2 lb per person guideline is a starting point. You may need to adjust portions based on your menu, guests, and other factors.

Type of Event

Guests tend to eat more at a sit-down dinner than a casual backyard cookout. Plan for larger portions for formal events.


Is pulled pork the main dish or part of a larger buffet? More sides and other proteins allow smaller pork portions.


Consider your guests’ demographics. Teen boys will likely eat more than seniors.


It’s better to have extra than run short. Leftovers freeze well for future meals.

Serving Style

Sandwiches require smaller portions than served on a plate. Sliders trick you into feeling fuller faster.

Storing and Freezing Leftovers

Properly stored, leftover pulled pork keeps for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. To freeze:

  • Let pulled pork cool completely
  • Portion into freezer bags or containers
  • Remove as much air as possible
  • Freeze for up to 3 months

Thaw frozen pork overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. Add barbecue sauce or braising liquid to moisten.

Ideas for Leftover Pulled Pork

Leftover pulled pork is versatile for all kinds of delicious meals:

  • BBQ sandwiches
  • Tacos, burritos, quesadillas
  • Rice bowls
  • Nachos
  • Omelets or breakfast hash
  • Stir fry with vegetables
  • Soup – chili, potato, minestrone
  • Casserole bakes
  • Pulled pork poutine

Finding Quality Pork Shoulder

Choose pork shoulder with ample marbling for flavor and moisture. Heritage breed pork like Berkshire offer superior taste and tenderness. Farmer’s markets, butchers, and specialty stores provide more options than the grocery store.

Pasture-raised and humanely raised pork provide better texture and flavor. Look for terms like:

  • Certified Humane
  • Animal Welfare Approved
  • No antibiotics or added hormones
  • USDA Organic
  • Heritage breed

Buying quality pork from farmers you trust is worth the investment for the best pulled pork.

Choosing a Cooking Method

You can’t go wrong with classic low and slow smoking or roasting for pulled pork. Other options include:

  • Smoker: Ideal for infusing pork shoulder with wood smoke flavor. Allow 1-1.5 hours per pound at 225-275°F.
  • Oven: Roast seasoned pork at 325°F until fork tender and shreds easily, about 1-1.5 hours per pound.
  • Slow cooker: Cook on low 8-10 hours. Quicker than oven roasting but less opportunity to develop flavor.
  • Pressure cooker: Cook for 45-60 minutes with natural or quick release. Fast but textures may be less shredded.
  • Grill: Indirect heat with a smoked wood packet. Rotate every 30 minutes until 205°F internal temp.

Mastering the Perfect Pulled Pork

With quality pork shoulder and the right cooking technique, you can mastermouthwatering pulled pork. For flavorful, fall-off-the-bone tender shredded pork, remember:

  • Choose well-marbled pork shoulder with ample fat
  • Allow 1-1.5 hours per pound cooking time
  • Cook to an internal temperature of 200-205°F
  • Rest at least 30 minutes before pulling/shredding
  • Moisten with defatted cooking liquid

how many lbs pork shoulder per person

Here’s the basic formula:

Number of pounds of raw pork required: [Guests x 1/3] x 2

Take roasting a pork shoulder for 24 people as an example. There are 8 people left after you divide the total number of guests in thirds. That is the quantity of pork you should serve your guests. That figure, multiplied by 2, represents the quantity of raw pork you will need to buy.

There are [24 x 1/3] pounds of meat to be served, and [8 x 2] pounds of raw pork are required.

It takes [24 x 1/3] x 2 to equal 16 pounds of raw pork.

According to this calculation, you need to buy 16 pounds of raw, boneless pork shoulder to serve 24 people.

Due to the weight of the bone and the additional fat that comes with these cuts, the formula for bone-in cuts needs to be slightly adjusted.

Estimate one-half pound of meat per person as opposed to 1/3 of a pound of cooked meat. The math is much easier for this version. To account for shrinkage, the weight of the bone, and additional fat, simply purchase one pound of raw pork shoulder per person.

Here is how the formula works using the same example as above:

Number of Pounds of Raw Pork Needed = [Guests x 1/2] x 2

You might be able to serve less meat depending on the type of gathering, the menu, and who will be there.

The main attraction will undoubtedly be the pulled pork, but what other dishes will be served? Will the pulled pork serve as the main course?

In the event that you are hosting a potluck, you probably have enough food to prepare your entire menu. Therefore, there will be no need to worry about the amount of meat. But if you’re keeping it simple with just one or two more sides, think about upping the portion size.

If there are a lot of kids on the guest list, using the one-third of a pound per person rule, you might have plenty of leftovers.

You could reduce the portions in this situation to 1/4 pound per child. However, that makes the calculations a little bit too difficult for me. I much prefer having leftover food than not having enough pork.

On the other hand, you could easily increase the portion size if the majority of your guests have larger appetites.

Think about how you are serving the pulled pork. Pork sandwiches will fill your guests up more quickly, decreasing the likelihood that they will ask for more.

how many lbs pork shoulder per person

Hamburger buns hold about 5 ounces (one serving) of meat. But pork sliders, which hold about 2 servings, are great for smaller portions. 5 ounces per bun. Additionally, they can fool the stomach and the eyes a little to make people feel fuller more quickly.

People typically consume more food at formal sit-down events than at informal ones.

If there is a set “dinner” time, your guests will probably eat more than if the food is served continuously throughout the event. There is less emphasis on food when people are interacting and socializing.

The chart below demonstrates how much meat is required to serve between 1/3 pound and 1/2 pound of cooked pulled pork if you need quick answers. Consider this your BBQ per person calculator!.

Pounds of Pork Butt (Raw Weight) Number of Servings (1/3 pound serving) Number of Servings (1/2 pound serving)
8 12 8
16 24 16
24 36 24
32 48 32

How to Store Leftover Pulled Pork

Place any leftover pork in an airtight container and refrigerate for approximately 3 days.

To keep the meat as moist as possible, don’t forget to add the juices to the leftovers.

Ideas for Leftover Pulled Pork

You can always provide leftovers for guests to take home. Alternatively, you can freeze leftover pork shoulder.

Use the leftovers within a few days. Use them on loaded nachos, BBQ sandwiches, or in a pot of vegetable soup.

What Temperature Should I Cook My Pork Butt At

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