Smoking meat for people

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Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
OTBS Member
Sep 21, 2006
Western Kansas
Some people have asked friends/family of mine if I would smoke them a brisket. Why they don't call me, I don't know. How do you charge people for this? My costs would be the brisket @ $2/#, rub, pellets for traeger, alum. foil, slicing, and my time. I thought about 4 times the $2/# brisket cost, which would be $8/#. Then I realized that a 14# brisket would cost them $112! I don't think my briskets are that good, but I don't want to do it for nothing either.

What do you guys do?

Thanks for the help.
I have had offers like that , the only way you can offer to do something like that for a reasonable price is if you have alot of offers at the same time so as to defray the costs, for example if you are smoking anyways, you can always throw in an extra brisket for someone else, maybe a case of briskets you bought in bulk (charge them what a single brisket would have cost them, thats what they will compare it to) bulk spices, to get your costs down. You canâ€[emoji]8482[/emoji]t just do 1 piece of meat in your smoker and do it for a reasonable price…my 2¢! :roll:

p.s. You could spread the word around that you will be smoking on a particular Saturday or Sunday!
Tell them to buy the meat, the pellets and come over with plenty of beer or your favorite beverage and you will teach them how its done. :D

If they aren't willing to spend their time and money, they shouldn't expect you to.

By the way, sliced smoked brisket in my home town is $9.00# at the cheapest place and mine tastes much better.
BigAl I'd look at it this way, if you want to start making meats for others, give them a reasonable price of say $6 lb. It may get others asking, and you could let them know to pass the word around. If you are viewing this as more of a pain, jack it up to where it will be well worth your while. They may just get the hint if you give a $9-10 lb price.

I also like cajunsmoker's idea of having them buy the meat. You could make the cost seem more bearable by just charging them for supplies and time spent.
8 bucks per pound for prepared food? That's cheap by any one's standards. Think about it. T-Bones or KC strips are 7 bucks per pound or more, RAW. If you go to a Q-joint and order brisket, it's going to cost more than that with sides and you won't get nowhere near a pound of meat. 8 bucks is more than reasonable.
Big Al -

Making them pay for the meat is a good idea - that's one bit of money they won't be able to question. Figure out how much the supplies are and tack on an hourly rate.

i agree with most on here. for starters you would have to do it when your planning on smoking anyway, or plan on smoking when you go the gig. then figure 6 bucks a lb or more, that would cover pretty much your whole smoke. once the word got out you could start charging more. dont get me wrong 8 bucks sound cheep to me too. you could always quote that and see what the reaction is, if they dont like it work from there. if it is a business that is wanting the work done you will be the cheepest by far, they have no idea what it costs nor do they care. if its for personal use, i say take care of them if they can help you in some way in the future.

These are all good advise. Most pro's that cater, get around $8 to $12 a plate. Of course this includes at least 2 sides, but on average, they only serve 1/4 pound of meat with it. When catering for a benefit, the price is usually knocked down to around $6.00.

Very rarely is Brisket served, unless requested - mainly pulled pork or chicken. Considering the cost of Brisket, I would say $8 to $10 per pound is more than resonable for an out the door price.

Given the size of a whole brisket you could possibly charge by the pound for less than a whole brisket and come away with the cost of the supplies, your time paid for and the remainder of the brisket free. That is if you're just selling enough for one family for dinner. Maybe throw in some of Dutch's amazing beans to sweeten the pot so to speak. That'll get you more food for the amount of wood burned. The cost per pound of food drops when you've added the beans to the deal. That's how combo deals at fast food joints work. By packaging a few items in one deal they are able to mitigate the cost per unit of food. French fries and soda syrup cost next to nothing.
Generally, smoking by order isn't going to be worth your time unless you are going to be cooking anyway. Figure 12 hours minimum, plus fuel/wood/charcoal. Even at minimum wage you'd be up around $70. I can burn a bag of coal in 4 hours, so that's 3 bags, minimum. There's $85. Maybe two bags of wood chunks, if I go light, so $95. Spices, foil, aluminum pans, juice, a shot of whisky, finishing sauces; maybe $5. So there's $100 without any food cost. $30 if you are willing to work 12 hours for free.

You know what I would do? I'd tell him to bring me two briskets and I'll smoke one for both of us. Then I feel like I'm smoking one for me and its not so bad :)
Sorry it has taken so long to reply. Tried 4 times and then had to go quick. Nothing will stop me now!

Thank you for all the help, I really do appreciate it. Many things I haven't thought about, some I have but wife wont let me drink tequila anymore.

The people who have asked my parents don't want any responsibility. They want to pay for a smoked brisket. I find it, kill it, smoke it, deliver it. I plan on charging $10/#, $20/# for inlaws ;^). I don't like to smoke for money. It's a hobby, don't want to ruin it.

As far as a barter, I'm still looking for a little old lady with a shelby in the barn with 3,000 miles that she would trade for a smoked brisket. I think I'd have better luck w/lottery.

Thanks again.
If you get lucky and find that little ole lady. see if she has two and send me a pm LOL I am in the same boat as you. I need to buy a second fridge for this "Hobby" Wife is on my azz about all the pork bellies in the fridge curing, canadians, butts, chickens, roasts, etc... LOL

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