How Much Meat Per Person: Portion Sizes For Different Meat Types

Written in 2024
by Adam

    What is the right amount of meat per person? It's a question that has many people scratching their heads. You want enough to feed your guests without having too much leftover, but you don't want to run out either. And when it comes to large gatherings, it can be difficult because there are so many types of meat being served.

    There are a number of considerations to keep in mind when determining your portion, first what's your meal plan like? Will meat be served as a main meal? What time of the day is the meal? Lunch portions tend to be smaller than dinner portions. What is the age of the people you are serving? With kids, you will want to cut back, but with teenagers, you will want to add extra.

    It all seems a bit overwhelming, but we will answer all the questions below.

    What's Your Meal Plan Like?

    Before you can figure out how much meat per person, you have to think about your meal plan. Will the meat be the main dish? If so, what will it be served with? For heavier side dishes, like roasted potatoes or pasta, you will have lesser meat compared to lighter side dishes like let say sautéed greens or roasted veggies.

    The time of they should matter. In most cultures, lunch portions are smaller because people are eating less than they do later on in the evening.

    The meat portions you serve at events will differ. Birthday parties mostly have small servings of different dishes and people are more focused on the cake, the meat portions you will probably use will be very little.

    For holiday dinners, like thanksgiving, and barbecues you will definitely need large portions of meat but the good thing about this is that you don't have to worry about different kinds of meat, 1 or 2 types is enough.

    How Much Meat Per Person?

    There are standard protein portions for meat and other animal meats, such as fish and poultry. We'll use them to get our meat calculations started when we go shopping.

    For any protein, the healthy portion size is for an adult is 227 grams (half a pound or 8 ounces) of raw meat. If you know your guest better, you can know if they have a high appetite, add a little more to about 340 grams - 450 grams (¾- 1 pound or 12 ounces).

    For meals with bigger side dishes use about 113-151grams (1/4- 1/3 pounds) as they will need less meat.

    The above sizes reference adults only. For other age groups, the amount may go up or down:

    • With kids, they will eat about half of what an adult eats, so adjust accordingly and make sure there is enough other food on their plate like veggies or fruit.
    • For seniors who typically only take small bites - cut back even further since this method takes longer and might lead them not finishing their meal (or having too many leftovers)
    • Teenagers can usually go up by about 25% from lunch portions which makes sense because teens tend to have higher metabolisms than adults do.

    Different Yield Estimates After Cooking

    Meat reduces in size after cooking, this from shrinkage that happens when cooking because the meat is losing moisture and melting the fat layers.

    Other things that will influence the reduction in size are trimmings and bones. Depending on your preferences, you may want to trim some fat or remove bones.

    The yields show the percentage of what is left afterwards. Let's break down the numbers:

    Whole chicken - 70% (for the whole bird minus skin and bones)

    Full turkey- 60% (same as above but for a turkey, which has bigger bones than any other type of meat)

    Full beef chuck steak – 74%

    Flank steaks - 80-85 %

    Cubed roast beef – 85%

    Filet mignon, top sirloin and boneless pork chops have the lowest yields which make sense since they are leaner cuts. The average is around 75%. These types of meat are also more expensive.

    Beef roast/chuck eye steak or beef ribs – 70-75%

    Whole beef tenderloin - 85%

    Sirloin steak or T-bone steaks – 75%

    Brisket (both point and flat) – 43%

    Brisket (only flat) – 52%

    Beef (ground) – 85%

    Lamb chops/roast leg of lamb - 55 to 60 %

    Pork ribs (baby back ribs) – 50%

    Pork Loin – 65%

    Pork Shoulder- 62%

    Fish – 80%

    Fish has the highest yield. This is because it contains bones and trimmings which are removed before cooking, so you get more meat leftovers than with other types of meat.


    For larger portions of meat we recommend using a beef roast or leg of lamb which is great for making leftovers since it can be used in multiple ways: cooked, chopped up and turned into spaghetti sauce, stews, soups etc.

    If you're looking for more variety instead of having different types of meats you can use a beef roast and chicken.

    Chicken is great for leftovers since it can be used in so many ways: curry, salads, sandwiches etc.

    Adding vegetables to your meal will stretch out the amount of meat you serve by filling up on these healthy options. In case, if all of this still doesn't help you solve the problem, maybe it's time to get a bigger oven.

    Written by Adam

    Adam is the creator of the SmokeGuys website, running it since 2016. Hater of coriander, lover of all things meat... Adam currently works in marketing with a dream of being able to make food his full-time 'job' in the longer term.

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