How Much Pulled Pork Do You Really Need?

If you’re wondering how much pulled pork you should cook per person, I’ve got you covered. Let’s dive into the calculations and formulas to help you determine the perfect amount of pork for your next cookout. Say goodbye to guesswork and hello to stress-free hosting!

Pulled pork is an easy, delicious, and budget-friendly option to feed a crowd at your cookout. Not only is it simple to make, but you can also stretch the meat to serve even more people. While it may not be as straightforward as counting hot dogs and hamburgers, with a little calculation, you’ll be able to host successful gatherings every time.

Estimating Portions

A good rule of thumb is to estimate about 1/3 pound of cooked pulled pork (or boston butt) per person. This recommendation comes from BBQ experts who know their stuff and ensures that you won’t run out of food. Keep in mind that during the cooking process, the meat will shrink by about 40-50% as it loses moisture and fat. This applies to all cooking methods, whether you’re smoking, grilling, roasting, or using a slow cooker.

Now, let’s explore the different estimates for boneless and bone-in pork shoulders.


For boneless cuts of pork shoulder, estimate 1/3 pound of cooked pulled pork per guest. Remember, the cooked pork will weigh about half as much as the raw pork after cooking. To calculate the amount of raw pork needed, use the following formula:

[ Guests x 1/3 ] x 2 = Pounds of Raw Pork Needed

For example, if you’re roasting a pork shoulder for 24 people, divide the number of guests by three to get eight. That’s the amount of pork you’ll want to serve. Multiply that number by two, and you’ll know how much raw pork to purchase.

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Using this formula, you should purchase 16 pounds of raw boneless pork shoulder to feed 24 guests.


The formula for bone-in cuts requires a slight adjustment due to the weight of the bone and extra fat. Instead of 1/3 of a pound of cooked meat, estimate one-half pound of meat per person. The math is simpler here—just purchase one pound of raw pork shoulder per person to account for shrinking, the weight of the bone, and extra fat.

Using the same example as above, here is the formula in action:

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

Factors to Consider

Depending on the type of gathering, the menu, and the attendees, you may be able to serve less meat. Let’s explore a few considerations you should keep in mind.

The Menu

While pulled pork may be the star of the show, take into account what else is on the menu. If you’re hosting a potluck, you’ll likely have a variety of dishes to complement the pork, so you won’t need to stress over portion sizes. However, if you’re keeping it simple with just a couple of sides, consider increasing the portion size.


If there are many children on your guest list, you may have plenty of leftovers using the one-third of a pound per-person estimation. In this case, you could scale the portions back to 1/4 pound per child. But personally, I’d rather have more food leftover than not enough pork.

On the other hand, if your guests have bigger appetites, feel free to increase the portion size accordingly.

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Sliders or Buns?

Consider how you’re serving the pulled pork. Serving it on hamburger buns will fill your guests up faster, making them less likely to go for seconds. If you opt for pork sliders, they allow for smaller portions and create the illusion of a fuller plate, satisfying guests faster.

Type of Event

Formal, sit-down events tend to have higher food consumption compared to more casual gatherings. If there’s a specific “dinner” time, guests are likely to eat more. On the other hand, if the food is available throughout the event, people will be more focused on mingling and socializing.

Pulled Pork Calculator

If you want quick answers without doing the math yourself, here’s a handy chart that shows how much meat you need to serve 1/3 pound and 1/2 pound of cooked pulled pork per person. Consider this your BBQ per person calculator!

Pulled Pork Calculator

Leftover Pulled Pork

For any leftover pork, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about three days. Don’t forget to add the juices to the leftovers to keep the meat moist.

Creative Ways to Use Leftover Pulled Pork

If you have some pulled pork left, you have several options for using it. You can offer to send guests home with leftovers or freeze them for later use. Within a few days, you can enjoy pulled pork on BBQ sandwiches, loaded nachos, or even stirred into a pot of vegetable soup.

So, the next time you’re hosting a cookout and need to calculate how much pulled pork to cook, you’ll have all the tools and knowledge you need. Enjoy your delicious feast with confidence, knowing you won’t run out of the star of the show. And if you’re in need of more inspiration or expertly cooked pulled pork, check out Hook’d Up Bar and Grill. Happy cooking!

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