How Many Pounds of Brisket Per Person? It’s difficult to top a backyard get-together with friends and family that includes wonderful, smokey, perfectly cooked brisket being passed around hot off the grill – but how do you know how much brisket to acquire (and smoke) to ensure that everyone gets enough?
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And, while we firmly think that it’s nearly impossible to have too much brisket, unless you have an infinite budget to spend on high-quality beef, you’ll want to dial things back a notch.
How much brisket do you need per person? Some believe you can get away with 14 pounds of brisket per person, while others suggest you should boost that to 12 pounds — if not more!
How much brisket do you need per person?
While brisket may appear to be a simple and uncomplicated piece of meat (as does any other type of barbecue), everyone who has actually smoked brisket knows that nothing could be farther from the truth.
There isn’t much you can “wing” with brisket. You must have a strategy or you will be really dissatisfied with the ultimate outcome.
You must know how much beef you are working with, the grade and caliber of that cut, and the precise amount of salt and spice you will use.
And it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of how you’ll smoke the brisket, the temperature you’ll aim to retain for hours and hours on end, and how you’ll keep that temperature zone low and slow until your brisket is perfect.
All of this is quite significant. Everything.
But, before you can do anything with brisket, you need to get your hands on a decent-sized piece of beef – which is always going to be determined by the number of people you’re planning to feed.
How Many Pounds of Brisket Per Person
- When it comes to getting your hands on brisket cuts, you have a few of alternatives.
- On the one hand, there’s the Packer’s Cut, which is a complete brisket. This is a massive side of beef, weighing somewhere between 10 and 16 pounds (and sometimes even bigger than that).
- That’s normally enough steak for between 20 and 40 people. It’s also the most common technique to prepare brisket, ensuring that there’s enough for everyone.
- You’ll get a lot of meat from this cut, but you’ll also get a lot of fat, which you’ll have to remove. A little fat helps generate a lot of taste, but too much fat turns virtually everyone off of otherwise wonderful brisket.
- But we’ll get into that a little further in a minute.
- Of course, if a packer is simply too much brisket for the type of party you’re holding, a flat or a point cut is the way to go.
- If you had to select between the two, 99 percent of the time you’ll want to go with the point, if only because the flat will be much leaner and more suited to something like a braise.
- You can undoubtedly smoke a flat cut (and produce something truly unique), but it will demand a little more attention than a point.
- Flat cuts are considerably larger than point cuts, and you should anticipate them to weigh between 5 and 8 pounds on average. Points will be a little lighter, maybe between 4 and 7 pounds (though you can find some real monsters from big beef cows, too).
Know Your Audience
You’ll also want to consider the audience you’re preparing for and how brisket-crazy they are.
Anyone who likes beef will want to get their hands on some brisket as soon as it comes off the smoker, but other people – even major beef aficionados – may not be enthusiastic about authentic barbecue that’s been smoked the way brisket has.
If you have a lot of brisket aficionados, aim for 12 pounds of beef (minimum) for each and every visitor — adult or youngster. Usually, there will be a little amount left over, but not much.
You may even increase it to three-quarters of a pound (though pushing it to a pound of beef per person is usually overkill).
If the brisket isn’t going to be the star of the show, you may easily reduce the serving size to 14 pound per person. Just make sure the sides and whatever else you’re grilling is top-notch!
Brisket Cooking Guidelines
Making superb brisket is all about two things above everything else:
The grade of the meat with which you are dealing
Your capacity to maintain uniform and steady temperatures throughout the course of a lengthy smoke
As long as you dial in these two elements (and, of course, have enough meat for everyone), you should be able to keep your barbeque from going south.
Meat of High Quality Is Important
The vast majority of very good brisket isn’t too seasoned, generally with just a pinch of salt and pepper – allowing the meat to show through.
That will only be achievable if the meat you’re working with is of the highest quality.
Brisket has traditionally been a reasonably affordable cut (though costs have risen in recent years as consumers have turned down good grade brisket), but you’ll still want to spend a little more to obtain something truly exceptional.
Grass-fed, well-marbled, high-quality beef will always have a greater influence on brisket taste than any spice rub you can concoct.
Always keep it low and slow.
Some people will try to convince you that it is possible to “hack” the beef brisket smoking process and shorten it by a few hours, but it is critical that you ignore them completely.
Brisket is usually cooked low and slow. We’re talking about temps as near to 165°F as feasible over a 10-plus hour period to cook brisket that people will scream and rave over.
Pellet smokers make it much simpler to maintain those temperatures, but with a little attention and additional effort, you can get any smoker to keep temps around 165°F for 10 to 12 hours and produce something very remarkable.
Trim the Fat Strategically
- Every brisket (whether packer, flat, or point) will have some excess fat that has to be cut off and removed before you salt, season, and place it on the barbecue.
- Finding the perfect spot between deliberately cutting fat and leaving it entirely bare is a difficult balancing act.
- If you leave too much fat on your brisket, the ultimate result will be extremely rubbery and chewy.
- But if you remove too much fat, you’ll wind up with something that tastes like dry beef jerky – with no moisture, no true flavor, and an unpleasant experience for everyone involved.
- Trim everything down till there’s about an inch of fat left on the fat cap, and you should be OK.
Should I Crutch or Should I Not Crutch?
- It’s up to you whether or not you crutch your brisket, but it’s definitely a method worth investigating.
- Some swear by the Texas crutch of forgetting brisket through the “stall” that any piece of meat of this size will have to struggle through at some time. Some even claim that it locks in a lot more moisture and juice.
- Others don’t like it when the top of a nice brisket becomes mushy and “sweaty” when you crutch, so they spritz and spray their brisket during the cook to provide more moisture.
- At the end of the day, it’s not a terrible idea to play about with the crutch to see whether it works for you.
Overall, when it comes down to it, it’s virtually always difficult to prepare more brisket than people are willing to consume.
People will certainly, unequivocally fill themselves on this BBQ — and for good cause!
If you’ve ever tasted good brisket (truly amazing brisket), you’ll know that most people have an insatiable thirst for it.
At the same time, if you’re buying on a budget, it’s a good idea to keep to 14 to 12 pounds of brisket per person. Maybe a bit more just to make sure there’s enough for you to enjoy as well!
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