How Many Pounds of Corned Beef Should You Cook for 8 People?

Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional Irish-American dish that is hugely popular to serve around St. Patrick’s Day. If you are hosting a gathering for 8 people, you may be wondering exactly how much corned beef you need to buy and cook.

The general rule of thumb is 3⁄4 to 1 pound of uncooked corned beef per person. However, corned beef shrinks substantially during cooking. So when catering, it’s smart to err on the side of caution.

For a party of 8, here is a guide to how many pounds of corned beef you should purchase and prepare:

Buy 6 Pounds of Raw Corned Beef

When raw, plan on purchasing about 3⁄4 pound of corned beef per person. For 8 people, that equals:

  • 8 people x 0.75 lbs per person = 6 lbs of raw corned beef

Getting 6 pounds of uncured brisket provides a good buffer. It ensures you’ll have enough cooked meat even with shrinkage.

Having extra is better than not having enough food for your guests. Leftover corned beef also makes excellent sandwiches!

Expect Around 4.5 Pounds Cooked

On average, corned beef shrinks 25-35% during cooking and braising.

So from 6 pounds raw, you can expect around 4-4.5 pounds of cooked corned beef. Here’s a visual:

  • 6 lbs raw corned beef
  • Minus 25% shrinkage = 4.5 lbs cooked
  • Minus 35% shrinkage = 3.9 lbs cooked

Shoot for at least 4.5 pounds cooked to be safe. This will provide each person with a generous 5-6 ounces of meat.

Cook in a Large Pot with Tight Lid

To cook the 6 pounds of corned beef, choose a large Dutch oven or soup pot with a tight fitting lid.

  • Pot should be big enough to fit meat plus water to cover
  • Tight lid prevents too much evaporation so meat stays tender

Add Aromatics

Most packaged corned beef comes with a spice packet. Sprinkle contents over meat before cooking for extra flavor.

You can also add:

  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Allow 3-4 Hours Cooking Time

Plan for a slow braise time of 3-4 hours in a 300°F oven. This extended cooking ensures the corned beef becomes fall-apart tender.

  • Place corned beef in pot fat side up
  • Add enough water to cover about 2 inches
  • Bring to a simmer on stovetop
  • Cover and transfer to oven
  • Check for doneness after 3 hours

Serve with Cabbage and Potatoes

Of course you’ll want traditional sides like cabbage, potatoes, and carrots. Adjust the vegetable quantities as needed to serve 8.

With 6 pounds of corned beef before cooking and 4-5 pounds after, you’ll have the perfect amount for a festive St. Patrick’s Day meal. Sláinte!

Easy Corned Beef and Cabbage (Stovetop or Slow Cooker)


How many people does a 4 lb corned beef feed?

How much Corned Beef do I need? Around 1/2lb per person. A 2-3lb corned beef should serve 4-6 people. Today’s corned beef, cooked properly, should not shrink a significant amount.

How much corned beef for 6 adults?

Keep in mind that depending on the cut, corned beef will shrink by as much as one-third during cooking. A 3-pound brisket should feed four to six people if served with vegetables.

How long does it take to cook a 3-pound corned beef?

For a two to three-pound corned beef brisket, cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. For a three to five-pound corned beef brisket, cook for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. STOVE: Place brisket fat-side up in a large pot and cover it with water. Bring the water to a boil; then reduce the heat and simmer, allowing about 1 hour per pound.

How much weight does corned beef lose when cooked?

When you buy corned beef, keep in mind the brisket can shrink by as much as one-third when cooked. So you will need to plan accordingly for the number of servings. For example, I bought a 3-pound package, which is weighed by the entire package. After the brisket is cooked, I had just about 1½ pounds of cooked meat.

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