How much cooked brisket do I need per person?

Quick Answer

The recommended amount of cooked brisket per person is around 1/2 pound or 8 ounces. This provides a satisfying 3-4 ounce serving of meat, once you account for leftovers and trimmings. For a larger gathering, plan on having 1/3 to 1/2 pound of cooked brisket per person.

How Much Brisket Per Person?

When serving brisket at a backyard barbecue or dinner party, it’s important to have the right amount of meat so there are leftovers but not too many. Here are some general guidelines for how much brisket to cook per person:

  • For a smaller gathering of 4-6 people, plan on cooking 1/2 pound of brisket per person. This allows for approximately 3-4 ounces of cooked meat per serving, once you account for leftovers and trimmings.
  • For a medium sized gathering of 8-10 people, cook 4-5 pounds of brisket total or around 1/3 pound per person.
  • For a large party of 12 or more guests, cook at least 1/2 pound of brisket per person.

So in summary, 1/2 pound or 8 ounces of cooked brisket per person is a safe amount for most gatherings. It provides a generous serving while also leaving some leftovers behind. Keep reading for more details and factors to consider.

Determining Cooked Brisket Servings

When calculating how much brisket you need, it’s important to base it on the cooked and trimmed weight, not the raw weight. Here’s why:

  • Brisket loses around 40% of its original weight during the smoking/cooking process as moisture evaporates. So 5 lbs of raw brisket will only yield around 3 lbs cooked.
  • Trimming the fat and leftovers after cooking removes another 10-30% of the total weight.

For example, if you start with a 10 lb raw brisket, after cooking and trimming it you’ll likely end up with only 5-6 lbs of cooked meat ready to serve.

To determine the final cooked, trimmed servings, figure about 1/2 pound per person. A 5 lb cooked brisket will serve 10 people, while a 10 lb one will serve 20.

Factors That Affect Amount Needed

When determining how much brisket to cook for your event, keep these factors in mind:

  • Type of meat cut – A whole packer brisket provides more meat than a flat cut.
  • Thickness of the brisket – Thicker cuts weigh more than thinner ones.
  • Number of sides – Include more sides if brisket is the star of the meal.
  • Leftovers wanted – Cook extra if you want leftovers.
  • Other main dishes – Reduce amount if serving other entrées.
  • Appetite of guests – Adjust for extra hungry (or not so hungry) eaters.

For example, if serving a hearty Texas-style meal with just brisket, plan for the higher end of the per person recommendation. Or reduce the amount if also serving ribs or sausage alongside it.

Brisket Leftovers

One advantage of smoking a large brisket is having ample leftovers forfuture meals. Here are some tips:

  • Let the brisket rest in a cooler for 1-2 hours before refrigerating. This allows the juices to be reabsorbed.
  • Store the brisket wrapped and refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking. It will keep for 4-5 days.
  • Slice the leftover brisket and reheat gently in the oven, on the grill, or in broth to serve again.
  • Use leftover meat for sandwiches, nachos, smoked brisket baked beans, and more.

Properly stored, smoked brisket leftovers make for quick and delicious meals all week long.

Sample Brisket Cooking Quantities

To give you a better idea, here are some example quantities for smoking brisket for different gatherings:

Occasion Number of People Raw Brisket Weight Cooked Brisket Weight
Casual Dinner 4 3-4 lbs 2 lbs
Backyard BBQ 8 5-6 lbs 3-4 lbs
Large Party 12 9-10 lbs 5-6 lbs
Family Reunion 20 15-18 lbs 9-12 lbs

So for a reunion with 20 people, smoking a 15-18 lb raw brisket will yield about 9-12 lbs cooked/trimmed and provide around 1/2 lb per guest.

Purchasing Brisket

When shopping for brisket, here are some tips:

  • Select USDA Choice grade brisket with good marbling for tenderness.
  • Buy packer briskets which contain both the flat and point.
  • Figure about 1 lb raw brisket per person when estimating quantity.
  • Allow 12-16 hours for smoking a full packer brisket.
  • Choose briskets around 1-1.5 inches thick for best results.

Buying a quality brisket and cooking low and slow is the key to tender, mouthwatering Texas barbecue.

Serving Smoked Brisket

When serving your smoked brisket, follow these recommendations:

  • Let brisket rest for 30-60 minutes before slicing to allow juices to redistribute.
  • Slice brisket across the grain for tenderness.
  • Aim for approximately 3-4 ounce slices per person.
  • Provide barbecue sauce on the side.
  • Have soft white bread, pickles, and onions available as accompaniments.

And don’t forget the sides! Go all out with smoked barbecue beans, coleslaw, ranch potato salad, collard greens and cornbread. Your guests will leave happy and satisfied.


For most brisket dinners and barbecue events, cooking 1/2 pound of brisket per person is a good target. This allows for 3-4 ounce servings after trimming and leaves some extra meat behind for leftovers. Just adjust this amount based on the size of your gathering and if serving other main dishes. With a quality packer brisket, proper slow smoking, and generous southern-style sides, your brisket dinner will truly be remembered.

Leave a Comment