How Much Beef Brisket Per Person Should You Cook? A Detailed Guide

Beef brisket is a wonderfully flavorful cut of meat that is popular for barbecue and large gatherings. However, determining how much brisket to cook per person can be tricky. You want to make sure you have enough so that everyone gets a hearty serving, but not so much that you have excessive leftovers. This complete guide provides tips on brisket serving sizes, calculating amounts for groups, dealing with shrinkage, and more.

Serving Size Basics

When planning your brisket needs, a good rule of thumb is:

  • 1 pound raw brisket per adult – This results in about 1/2 pound cooked brisket per adult once shrinkage is factored in.

  • 1/2 pound raw brisket per child – This results in about 1/4 pound cooked brisket per child once shrinkage is accounted for.

However, serving sizes can vary based on the occasion. Here are some common brisket serving recommendations:

  • Main event gatherings (like a barbecue) – Plan on serving 1/2 pound cooked brisket per adult. With brisket as the star of the show, you want to ensure generous portions.

  • Multi-dish dinners – Serve 1/4 to 1/3 pound cooked brisket per adult. Less meat is needed since there are other dishes in the mix.

  • Sandwiches – Use 4-5 ounces cooked brisket per sandwich. This gives you a hearty, flavorful sandwich.

Calculating Brisket for Groups

Planning brisket for a large gathering requires some calculations. Here is a simple formula:

  1. Estimate the number of people attending

  2. Multiply by the serving size per person

For example, for a party of 20 with 1/2 pound servings:

  • 20 people x 0.5 pound per person = 10 pounds of raw brisket needed

Be sure to add 1-2 extra pounds to account for trimming and shrinkage during cooking. It’s better to have leftovers than run short!

How Body Size Impacts Serving Sizes

Larger framed adults often need bigger brisket servings than petite adults or children. Use these general guidelines based on body size:

  • Average adults – 3 ounces cooked brisket is a standard starting point

  • Larger adults – Plan for 4-5 ounces cooked brisket

  • Smaller adults/kids – Allow 2-3 ounces cooked brisket

However, appetite and personal preference override body size. Offer a mix of portion sizes to suit all tastes.

Expect 30-40% Shrinkage When Cooking

Raw brisket can shrink dramatically during cooking – sometimes up to 40% of the original size. To minimize shrinkage:

  • Select briskets with good marbling. The fat bastes the meat during cooking.

  • Trim off excess surface fat before cooking. Too much fat leads to greater shrinkage.

  • Use low, slow cooking methods. This tenderizes the meat while retaining moisture.

Even experienced cooks should expect at least 30% shrinkage from a whole brisket. Factor this in when purchasing your meat.

Complementary Side Dishes

Well-chosen sides can perfectly balance out the hearty flavors of brisket. Consider these crowd-pleasing options:

  • Coleslaw – Crisp and tangy, it cuts through the richness.

  • Baked beans – Sweet, smoky beans are a classic brisket partner.

  • Mac and cheese – Comfort food that pairs well with brisket’s heartiness.

  • Cornbread – Buttery, golden cornbread soaks up brisket juices.

  • Roasted veggies – Brussels sprouts, carrots, and other veggies add nutrition.

Don’t forget the barbecue sauce! A good sauce brings all the flavors together.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much brisket for 8 people?

For 8 people allow 4-5 pounds of raw brisket. This provides 1/2 pound cooked brisket per person with some leftovers. With hearty appetites or lots of sides, go up to 6-7 pounds raw.

What are the best side dishes with brisket?

Great brisket accompaniments include mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, coleslaw, mac and cheese, baked beans, sautéed greens, and warm bread.

How should I serve brisket at a party?

For beautiful presentation, carve the brisket and arrange slices on a large cutting board. Provide barbecue sauce on the side for dipping.

What’s the best way to reheat leftover brisket?

Wrap leftover brisket in foil and reheat in a 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes until warmed through. This keeps it moist.

The Takeaway

When planning your next brisket feast, allow 1 pound of raw brisket per adult and 1/2 pound per child. Anticipate up to 40% shrinkage during cooking. And complement the meaty brisket with lighter sides like coleslaw, roasted veggies, and cornbread. With the proper calculations and pairings, you will have happy guests and minimal leftovers. Dig in and enjoy!

How Much Brisket per Person – For a BBQ, Formal Dinner or Just A Big Crowd


How much brisket do I need for 8 adults?

We recommend a final serving of half a pound per person. Choose one pound per person for uncooked brisket and you’ll strike a good average between the big eaters and kids on the guest list.

How much brisket is needed for 20 people?

Brisket per person VooDoo BBQ & Grill advises that 9 pounds of a meat like brisket will feed around 20 people, and 12 pounds will feed 30 to 35.

How much brisket do I need for 100 guests?

If you are doing 2 meats and sides you can figure about 1/4lb per serving on both the meats. So for 100 people. You will need 25lbs of cooked pork butts and 25lbs of cooked brisket. Both have about 50% yield, so 50lbs of raw pork butts and 50lbs of raw brisket is what you would start with.

What size brisket to buy?

Number of People
Size of Raw Whole Brisket
Size of Raw Flat
10 pounds
5 pounds
12 pounds
6 pounds
14 pounds
7 pounds
16 pounds
8 pounds

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