How Much Brisket Per Person: Tips to Stretch the Pounds!

Smoke Ring on Brisket

When people ask me how much brisket they need per person the standard answer I give is that you want one pound of uncooked packer brisket per guest

I like that answer because it is easy for folks to remember and results in a generous portion size for your guests.
Keep reading and we will cover:

  • Why You Want This Much Brisket
  • Ways to Get Away With Less Brisket


Brisket Smoke Ring

Why You Want One Pound of Uncooked Brisket Per Guest

Let’s take a look at where that number comes from so you can adjust it for your event if you desire.

A whole packer brisket (grade Choice or Prime) is going to have a lot of fat that needs trimming. Between trimming the fat and general shrinkage, a brisket can loose up to 50% of its weight by the time it is ready to serve.

I want folks to have a half pound of brisket as a serving.  To get a half pound of finished brisket then I need to start with one pound of raw brisket assuming the 50% loss.

So let’s check some assumptions here.  A packer brisket losing 50% of its weight is a bit extreme.  The more likely scenario is 35-40%.  My serving size of a half pound per person can also be adjusted.  For example, most catering outfits assume 1/3 of of pound of meat per person while my both me and teenage son can polish off a pound of brisket.

I am also assuming that you are working with a packer brisket and not a trimmed flat.  If you are dealing with a trimmed flat then the loss will be less (15-25%) and you won’t need as much per person.

Enough Brisket for One Person

How to Serve Less Brisket

Brisket is expensive and can be a pain in the neck to cook.  It takes a long time to cook a brisket even if you take the shortcut and wrap it in foil. 

You can still have a great barbecue and not go broke paying for brisket.  Three ways to get away with serving less brisket include:

  • Serving Filling Sides
  • Adding Small Meats
  • Strategic Layouts

Serving Filling Sides

The quality of your side dishes will also effect how much brisket folks will want.  Some very filling classic sides that you could consider are:

  • Pinto Beans
  • Baked Beans
  • Potato Salad
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Stuffed Jalapenos
  • Cole Slaw

Add Small Meats to the Menu

A trick I use to stretch how much brisket folks eat is to supplement the menu with irresistible small pieces of other meats. 

I like to cook a pound or two of nice sausage (smoked brats, Italian, etc), slice them along a diagonal and place them on the same serving platter as the brisket.  Folks will often skip taking a whole sausage but they can’t help but grab some when it is sliced up.

Another way I stretch things out is to make a separate tray of quick and easy fake burnt ends.  You can make these by smoking a chuck roast or boneless beef ribs.  Using the smaller cuts lets you get these ready in just a few hours.  You could also make a platter of pork belly burnt ends and watch people really go nuts.

Finished Burnt Ends

Strategic Use of Plates and Layouts

A final tip to moderate brisket consumption is how things are laid out. 

Let’s start with the design of the plates you are using. 

People are going to fill their plates out of instinct/habit but you can influence their decisions.  Most paper plates have a 10 inch diameter but you can choose to buy some 9 inch or 8.5 inch plates instead. People will still get the satisfaction of filling their plates but will not be taking as much food.

You can be even more influential on serving sizes by purchasing three compartment 8.5 inch disposable plates.  The shape of the plate is telling people to get at least two side dishes and a moderate serving size of meat.

Another trick is to place the plates on one side of the buffet and have the brisket on the other.  In between will be all of your side dishes.  This will encourage people to fill up more room on their plates with the side dishes before they even get to the brisket.

I promise these tips will stretch your brisket farther than if you gave everyone standard 10 inch plates and let them fill it up with as much brisket as they wanted!

1 Comment

  1. Kurt

    Great advise, I appreciate it smoking 2 corned beef briskets and a 10 lb pork belly for burnt ends this super bowl for 11 people. Happy to hear about layout and side dish options that will fill them up.

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