Say ‘pulled pork’ to any BBQ meat fan and you’ll be met with a drooling crowd. While it’s fun to make, it’s easy to go overboard and have too much excess. Here’s how to reduce waste while keeping everyone happy.
Burgers and hot dogs are great, but they can be a bit… dull. Sometimes you want to be more adventurous, and pulled pork is a great opportunity to show off your BBQ skills.
It’s long been a crowd pleaser at my barbecue parties, and for good reason.
When done right, smoked pulled pork comes out as a beautiful melt-in-your-mouth pile of tender and succulent meat. For meat-eaters, it’s up there as one of the best dishes you can have. And when you offer it up to guests, it doesn’t stay around for long. Trust me.
A common problem people face with pulled pork is not knowing how much to make. You don’t want to run out before everyone has had their fill, and nor do you want to be left with mountains of the stuff after everyone has left.
How Much Pulled Pork Per Person?
Aim to serve about ⅓ of pound of pulled pork per person. Be aware that once cooked, shredded pork loses about half its original weight, so you’ll need to calculate accordingly. For example, an 8lb pork shoulder will yield about 4 pounds of pulled pork once cooked, which will comfortably serve 12 people.
Pulled Pork Calculator
Knowing the perfect amount of pork boils down to two simple rules:
RULE #1: One pound of cooked pulled pork is enough to feed three people. So try to work by serving one-third of a pound per head.
RULE #2: Raw pork usually results in half of its weight in cooked pulled pork. So for every one pound of raw pork, expect about half a pound of resulting pulled pork.
So how do we work this out as a formula?
The two rules above mean that the calculation breaks down to first multiplying your anticipated number of guests by 0.3lbs of pork.
After this you then multiply it by 50% yield. This essentially means doubling it, as cooked pull pork tends to reduce by half.
For example, if you are expecting 10 guests
10 guests x ⅓ pounds of meat = 3.33lbs meat
3.33lbs/50% (or 0.5) yield = 6 ⅔ pounds of uncooked pork needed
While it’s great to have a simple formula to follow, there are a few extra factors you need to keep in mind when working out how much you need.
Kids: Despite what they say, children are unlikely to be able to eat as much as adult guests. As a rule, I try to make between ½ and ⅔ of what I normally would per head for any children. For simplicity, I try to change the formula to about multiplying the number of guests by 0.25 to work out how much cooked pork I need.
The Event: I tend to find that sit down meals need more food than stand-up socials or parties.
Time of day: People tend to eat more at dinner than they do for lunch.
Style of dish: The amount you need shouldn’t be as much for sandwiches as it would be if the pork is served on the side of, say, a salad. If you’re making a buffet then I always say to be a bit more liberal with servings. As a rough guide, sandwiches or buns tend to hold about 5 ounces of pork, so be sure to adjust your calculations in line with what you’re serving it in.
The menu: If you’re serving up a feast of burgers and hot dogs, then also creating a massive mountain of pulled pork doesn’t really make sense. Try to pull back a bit if the pulled pork is part of a larger feast. If you are serving other main dishes in addition to the pulled pork you can reduce your amount to cook by one-third.
How to Store Pulled Pork Leftovers
Despite the most thorough of calculations, you might find that you have leftovers to deal with. But hey, there are worse things to have to deal with than a big mountain of delicious pulled pork!
Here’s how to take care of it safely and in a way that ensures that you are retaining as much of its quality as possible.
Serve the pulled pork mix into an airtight container (you might need more than one). Be sure to also pour in any excess sauce to help it retain its flavor.
Store in the refrigerator if you’re planning on having it within the next two days. If you want to keep it long term then transfer it to the freezer. Pulled pork can keep frozen for about 4 months.
Meat can lose a lot of quality when reheated from frozen, but sometimes circumstances dictate a longer term solution! Luckily there are easy ways to reheat pulled pork.
Smoking your pulled pork? Check out our guide to the best wood for pulled pork