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How Much Pulled Pork Per Person? (Use Our Pulled Pork Calculator)

Pulled pork is a wonderful main course whether you’re hosting a party or just feeding your family. It’s easy to make, tastes delicious, and it’s versatile both freshly pulled and as leftovers. However, the last thing you want is to run out of pulled pork before everyone has enjoyed it. …

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By Jeremy Pike

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Pulled pork is a wonderful main course whether you’re hosting a party or just feeding your family. It’s easy to make, tastes delicious, and it’s versatile both freshly pulled and as leftovers. However, the last thing you want is to run out of pulled pork before everyone has enjoyed it. You need to know how much pulled pork per person to make.

The rule of thumb is you want ⅓ of a pound per adult and ¼ of a pound per child of cooked pulled pork. Now this is assuming that you’re piling that pulled pork on a bun (or your preferred sandwich vessel) for pulled pork sandwiches. Top these sandwiches with some of our favorite toppings and you’ll have a hit on your hands. To help you easily determine how much pulled pork you need, we included a calculator that does everything for you.

Pulled Pork Calculator

NEW Pulled Pork Calculator

How Much Pulled Pork Per Person Calculator

Number of Adults

Based on .33lbs per person

5
Number of Kids

Based on .25lbs per person

2

Section

YOU WILL NEED TO PURCHASE

Pounds of Uncooked Pork

Uncooked pork will shrink about 50% during the cooking process

AFTER COOKING YOU WILL HAVE

Pounds of Pulled Pork

However, if you’re planning on giving people pulled pork on a plate to eat with a fork, you’ll want to up the portions a bit. You’ll want to consider planning for about half a pound of pulled pork for adults and around that ⅓ a pound for kids. Remember, leftovers are always good!

Finally, you need to remember that you will be losing weight from a raw pork butt or pork shoulder when you cook it. Speaking of pork butt or pork shoulder, we get into what’s the best cut of pork for pulled pork as well as how much weight you lose going from a raw cut of pork to cooked pulled pork. Also, whether you pick a bone-in or boneless pork cut makes a difference too.

How Much Pulled Pork Per Person?

Pulled Pork Sandwich

If you want to give yourself the best rough estimate how many pounds of pulled pork per person you’ll need to serve, stick with the rule of thumb that you’ll want a third of a pound for each adult and a quarter of a pound for each child in attendance.

The key to this estimate is that these numbers are of cooked pork. Don’t go to the store and tell yourself that you need a third of a pound or a quarter of a pound of raw pork. You’ll end up in trouble real quick. Every cut of meat, not just pork, loses weight as it cooks, so if you purchase a certain amount of meat expecting for a 1-to-1 ratio, you’re going to fall very short of your target.

So when you’re at the store, what kind of pork should you be purchasing and how much weight will you be losing?

How Much Pulled Pork Per Person Calculator

Let our calculator do all the work for you. Simply put in how many people you want to feed, and the calculator will tell you the size of uncooked pork butt or shoulder to purchase. The calculator is basing this on a 1/3 lbs (5.33 ounce) serving.

Keep in mind to buy a little more than you need so no one goes hungry.

How Much Weight Will A Pork Butt Or Shoulder Lose? 

When we talk about losing weight, we mean the difference between the starting weight of the meat and how much pulled pork you have to serve after the entire cooking process. We know that we will lose moisture throughout the cooking process which is the largest amount of weight difference. There’s also anything we trim off during prep work. Any fat or meat that gets trimmed counts as weight loss. Then if you’re smoking a cut with a bone, you’re not going to serve the bone. So that will go towards the total. 

  1. For a pork butt, you can expect to lose somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 to 50 percent of the starting weight. The bone-in pork butt will be towards the higher end of that scale.
  2. A picnic shoulder, especially if you aren’t serving the skin, is right around the 50% mark. 

So when you’re shopping, target 50% weight loss to be safe. So how much raw pork do you need to make sure you’ve got enough pulled pork for a party?

Pulled Pork Math (How Many Pounds Of Pork Butt Per Person)

Pork Butt Rubbed and Ready for Smoking
Seasoned Pork Butts Ready For The Smoker

Sometimes math can feel like pulling teeth, but in this instance, we want to pull pork. So let’s keep it simple then. While we want to serve a third of a pound of pulled pork to adults and a quarter of a pound to children, it’s always better to have some leftovers. You can send some home with friends and family or simply save some for more meals. So rather than trying to nail the exact amount of pork based on those numbers, let’s simply go with a third of a pound of pulled pork for every attendee.

So say you’re serving a group of 10 people. You’ll need roughly three and a third pounds of pulled pork to ensure everyone gets a third of a pound serving. (If you want to get technical, that’s approximately 5.33 ounces of pulled pork.) Based on losing approximately half of the initial starting weight of your pork butt, you’ll need somewhere around a seven-pound pork butt. When doing your calculations, always round up. It’s always better to cook a little too much than not enough. 

So in essence, this is your math. Tally up the size of the party, then multiply that number by ⅓ to get the total amount of cooked pulled pork you’re serving. Then double that number to know how much raw pork you need to purchase. We can even make a nice, simple formula for that with P equaling people. (P x ⅓) x 2 = total amount of raw pork needed. 

What’s The Best Cut For Smoking Pulled Pork?

Pork Butt vs Pork Shoulder

Walk up to the pork section of the coolers at the grocery store and you’ll see a variety of cuts of pork that you can buy. When you’re looking to smoke pulled pork, there are two primary cuts you can purchase: the pork butt and the picnic shoulder. Both of these cuts come from the shoulder of the hog and need to be cooked low and slow to create a moist, tender meal. 

Pork Butt

Pork Butt with Rub in preparation for pulled pork

As stated above, the pork butt comes from the shoulder of the hog, not the rear. You might also see this labeled as a Boston butt. It gets the “butt” moniker from the fact that it was packed in barrels called butts originally, and the name stuck.

Pork butts have plenty of intramuscular fat, or are well marbled, that will render down during the low and slow cooking process. They can come bone-in or boneless. The bone can act as a bit of a heat sink, slowing the cooking process compared to a boneless pork butt which can help keep your pork tender. Plus, who doesn’t love sliding the bone clean out when the pork butt is smoked properly?

Picnic Shoulder

Pork Shoulder which can be used for pulled pork but not as ideal as a pork butt

The picnic shoulder, also sometimes known simply as a pork shoulder, is lower on the shoulder than the pork butt. This area worked harder while the hog was still alive, resulting in a leaner cut of meat. This cut comes bone-in and usually with some of the skin still on. 

The lean muscle means low and slow cooking methods are a necessity to make a pork shoulder turn out tender. However, that skin can end up simply rubbery and terrible if you strictly cook a pork shoulder low and slow. You can finish the shoulder over direct, high heat to make it crispy.

For a full breakdown on these two cuts from the shoulder primal, check out our write-up of pork shoulder vs pork butt. Suffice to say, you absolutely can make pulled pork from either cut, but a pork butt is my personal preference. 

You can also smoke a pork loin for pulled pork, but it’s harder to do that for a larger crowd. It’s also a lot leaner than a pork butt, so you do need to be careful not to dry it out.

How To Make Your Pulled Pork Stretch Further

Now, that ⅓ pound of pulled pork is a basic safe estimate for how much to serve each person. However, not all pulled pork meals are the same. Are you simply giving each person a serving of pulled pork with a side or two? Are you making pulled pork sandwiches? Are you going to have other meats/entrees available like burgers or hot dogs?

You might look at how much pulled pork per person for sandwiches and supplement with heartier buns or filling sides to stretch it further. Heck, you can even make a homemade coleslaw to top that sandwich. You can make pulled pork as an option and not the only main dish or even have pulled pork as an ingredient in a dish.  We understand that you might not have the largest smoker to cook up a lot of pork butts to feed a block party, so don’t be afraid to take steps to stretch your pulled pork further.

Side Dish Ideas

Homemade Mac and Cheese, a perfect side dish for pulled pork

If you’re looking for side dishes beyond the standard baked beans and potato salad, check out some of our favorite side dish recipes: BBQ cheesy smashed potatoes, and smoked mac and cheese. If you’re looking for something a bit on the healthier side, fire up your grill for some marinated veggies.

However, if you can, always plan on cooking up more pulled pork than the equation calls for. Some people (myself included) may be looking quite forward to some home-smoked pulled pork and intentionally come with hearty appetites. Plus who doesn’t love leftovers?

FAQs:

Question: Will Adding Barbecue Sauce Help Pulled Pork Go Further?

Answer: We are big fans of BBQ sauce and pulled pork here at Angry BBQ. However, it’s not going to make a huge difference in the amount of pulled pork you want to prepare. Sure, a thicker and sweeter barbecue sauce may sit a bit more heavily, but if we’re honest, it’s not going to stop up from eating plenty of pork.

Question: Can I Use Other Cuts Of Pork For Pulled Pork?

Answer: By the technical name of pulled pork, yes. Any pork you can cook until tender enough to pull or shred can be turned into pulled pork. You could try your hands at a pork loin, and you wouldn’t be the first to do so. However, pork butts are the best option. They are generally one of the cheapest cuts of pork, they have plenty of meat, the meat itself isn’t worked hard so it’s naturally tender, and it is well-marbled so the fat renders and keeps the meat juicy.

Question: What Do I Do If I Have Leftover Pulled Pork?

Answer: As we said, you always want to err on the side of smoking extra pulled pork rather than too little. You don’t want to leave people without pork, and you never know who is going to show up to the party extra hungry for barbecue. (It’s me, I’m showing up extra hungry.) Also, pulled pork makes for great leftovers. We’ve got an entire list of great ways to use leftover pulled pork. I’m a big fan of pulled pork pizza personally. You can use homemade or storebought dough or even naan bread. Regardless, it’s delicious. How could a combination of barbecue and pizza not be?

Wrapping It Up

When we are preparing to serve pulled pork for a crowd, we always figure on ⅓ pound of pulled pork per person. Children tend to eat a little less, so you can expect to serve ¼ pound of pulled pork for them. Then always estimate that you’ll lose around 50% of the starting weight, so you’ll want to start with ⅔ of a pound of pork butt per person. 

We always recommend estimating more to be on the safe side, that way if anyone shows up starving, you can accommodate them. Pulled pork also makes for excellent leftovers, whether you’re sending guests home with a goodie bag or you’re hoarding all the extras in your refrigerator. Check out our article on how long pulled pork lasts in the fridge so you can make sure you don’t waste the extra meat. Remember, storing any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer is the way to go!

If you’re looking for a new and different way to make pulled pork, check out our Aaron Franklin-inspired smoked pork butt recipe here. If you’re looking for some ideas on what to do with all those leftovers and want a hearty, warm meal in the colder months, check out our recipe for pulled pork shepherd’s pie.

Do you have any tips or tricks for smoking a lot of pork for pulled pork? Let us know in the comments!

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