How much brisket for 400 people

Discussion in 'Beef' started by txsmoker76, May 31, 2016.

  1. txsmoker76

    txsmoker76 Newbie

    Hello all! So I was asked if I could make brisket for 400 people and I'm trying to get an idea if I am even able to do that. I recently finished my 120 gallon horizontal and not sure if I can fit that much brisket on there for that many people. But if I can do it on that size smoker, how much raw meat should I buy? I would be serving beans, slaw, and bread as well. Any help is much appreciated.
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I see this was posted yesterday and no one has answered yet.  I'm not a caterer but I have cooked for large groups of people.  If you are going to be the sole provider of food and sides, common guidance is 1/2 lb of meat per person, pre-cooked.  When I'm part of a group of folks providing food, like a pot luck, I check for other folks providing main dishes.  If there are just one or two other main dishes, depending how many are meat, I use 1/4 to 1/3 lb per person.  If there are a lot of main dishes, I'll halve that again.  

    Now, if the 400 folks you are cooking for are football players, swimmers, or athletes of any type, 1 lb per person.  Running out of food for the Red Hat ladies will get you a lot of "Oh Honey, that's okay.  I got a bite and it was delicious."  Running out of food for swimmers is a near death experience.   
  3. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    I get about a 40% loss from raw meat to a finished smoked product like butts and briskets.  

    I'd figure on about 1/4 # per person, so you need about 100 #s.

    With a 40% loss, I'd start with about 180 #s.

    If you slice, go a little heavy.  If you do pulled/chopped brisket, you may not need as much.  I think people take more SLICES than the pulled/chopped brisket.
  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Here is the Math for a single protein buffet...

    400 portions X 8oz portions Plated = 3200oz / 16 oz per lb = 200 Lbs cooked / .6 %yield = 333 Lbs Raw Needed.

    I don't know the make up of the guests. Men, Women, Children? But Men will look at anything less than 8oz as a Childs portion. If it is self serve men and teenage boys will take closer to 16oz Meat and skip the sides. I have catered many events and never seen anything other than a Ladies Luncheon go under 8oz portions. With a single plated protein, 8oz is common as women and children will go light leaving extra for big eating men and teens. Think going to a Restaurant, the PETITE Prime Rib is 8oz cooked with the 16oz and 20-24oz King Cut being the standard size, and thats with generous scoop of Veg and a Baked Potato the size of your Fist on a separate plate!...Good Luck with the new smoker...JJ
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2016
  5. txsmoker76

    txsmoker76 Newbie

    Thanks a lot for the responses. You've all helped me out a bunch. I'm hoping I can fit 200#-300# worth of brisket on my smoker.I'm going with starchy sides so that should help with portion control. And I believe I've been voluntold to serve as well.
  6. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    I like Chef JimmyJ's reply.  I've done some graduation open houses this year and it's worked out to about 1/4 lb per person...BUT...I think they had quite a few no-shows.  I did a little looking online and most say from 1/3 to 1/2 lb per person.  I think this is what I need to go by, too.  Thanks, Chef JJ.

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