Are you hosting an outdoor party this weekend? Aside from the usual favorites like grilled hamburgers and tenderloin pork, pulled pork has become a staple in many cookouts and other events.
And why not? Cooked correctly, pulled pork comes out tender, tangy, and melts nicely in your mouth. Whatever way you want to serve it, pulled pork is sure to captivate the hearts (and stomachs!) of your guests.
However, it’s not always easy to estimate how much pulled pork per person is enough. There are many factors to consider, and I’m here to help you go over them one by one.
Pulled Pork Calculator
I used to have a lot of trouble estimating how much pulled pork I needed to prepare for my guests. Luckily, BBQ Nuts has created a pulled pork calculator, or set of guidelines to help anyone determine the amount of raw pork they need for an event.
The guidelines have only two simple rules:
1 pound of cooked pulled pork is enough to feed 3 people. This means that about 1/3 of a pound (or 5 ounces) is good for one serving.
Anticipate a 50% yield when cooking your meat. For example, if you cook a 20-pound raw pork butt, you will have 10 pounds of cooked pulled pork to serve.
Below is a simple formula you can use to calculate the amount of raw pork you need to cook:
no. of guests / no. of servings per pound = pounds of cooked pulled pork
pounds of cooked pulled pork / 0.5 (50% yield) = pounds of raw pork required
Expected guests: 50 persons
50 guests / 3 servings per pound = 16.7 pounds of cooked pulled pork
16.7 pounds of cooked pulled pork / 0.5 = 33.3 pounds of raw pork required
So you need about 34 pounds of raw pork butt to feed 50 guests.
Things to Consider
While this is a good formula to follow, you still need to consider other factors when making your final estimates.
Gender and Age Group
Different age groups generally have different eating capacities. Teenagers tend to eat more than a group of old women, while children eat less than grown-up men.
Men usually eat more than women, but remember to consider your guests’ occupation, too. For example, a group of female athletes may have a bigger appetite than a group of men working a desk job.
Are you holding a children’s party? Or is it a church social? Or maybe you are simply gathering around neighbors and friends for a Sunday afternoon get-together.
Different occasions require different types of dishes, so make sure you know what event you are cooking for. I usually prepare more meat dishes for a post-football or baseball game, and more salads and healthy food for women’s fellowships.
Most people tend to eat more meat during dinner. According to Erica Roth of eHow, you need to allocate about 4 to 5 ounces of pulled pork per person for lunch, and 5 to 7 ounces per person for dinner.
Style of Serving
How will you serve your pulled pork? When I prepare pulled pork sandwiches, I usually allocate 1 to 2 sandwiches per guest, just to make sure.
Buffet-style dinners are trickier because you’re never sure just how much meat each guest will get. To be on the safe side, I normally allow about 7 ounces of pulled pork per person. Better to have leftovers than hungry guests, right?
Other Dishes in the Menu
Are your appetizers filling, or are they just chips and roasted peanuts? The more filling your appetizers are, the less meat you need to serve for the main course.
What other meat dishes are you serving? Hamburgers and sausages are popular in cookouts and are heavy on the stomach, so you can cut back on the pulled pork then. Fish and chicken, on the other hand, are lighter, so it’s okay to serve more pulled pork as your other main.
Sides are an important part of any BBQ party, and not just because they add variety to your menu. You can also use them to supplement the main course.
For BBQ events, standard sides include fresh salads, corn on the cob, and mashed potatoes. I usually add bread rolls to the list when I don’t have enough time to make the sandwiches, so the guests can make their own on the spot.
Plan for Leftovers
Always err on the side of caution, and prepare extra servings of pulled pork, just in case. Leftover pulled pork is easy to store, and can keep for 4 to 6 months.
To store your leftovers, spoon the meat into airtight containers and mix in the sauce. If you used the pork for sandwiches, remove the bread and just store the meat.
Make sure the pulled pork is cool before you seal the lid. Otherwise your meat will spoil. Store your pulled pork in a freezer and keep it frozen until you need it again.
Sample Pulled Pork Recipe
I love this simple pulled pork recipe from Christine Gallary of Chow.com, and I often use it when cooking pulled pork for parties or a simple dinner at home.
- 1 4 ½ to 5-pound pork butt
- 4 medium garlic cloves, sliced thinly
- 2 medium yellow onions, sliced thinly
- 1 cup chicken broth
For the spice rub:
- 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- Slow cooker
- Chopping board
- 2 forks
Make a bed of sliced garlic and onions in the slow cooker and add the chicken broth. This will make the meat more tender and flavorful.
Mix the ingredients of the spice rub in a small bowl. Apply the rub all over your pork butt and make sure all sides are coated evenly.
Place the pork butt on top of your bed of garlic and onions, and turn on your slow cooker.
The meat takes 6 to 8 hours to cook. Do not open the lid until the 6-hour mark, because this will let the heat out and only make your cooking time longer.
After 6 to 8 hours, test your meat by sticking a fork into it. The fork should slide out easily when the meat is done cooking.
Remove the meat from the cooker, place it on a chopping board, and shred it into small pieces using two forks.
Add the cooked garlic and onions back to the meat and mix thoroughly. One option is to add three to five spoonful of the broth to make your pulled pork juicier, or mix in 1 to 2 cups of BBQ sauce.
Hosting a party is a fun and challenging task. You need to make sure that your guests have enough food, and that they will enjoy every bite of it.
When preparing pulled pork, remember our rule of thumb: One pound of pulled pork is good for three people, and always expect a 50% yield. Factor in your other considerations, and you’ll have a good estimate of how much raw meat you need to prepare.
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