How Much to Cook When You Cook for a Crowd

Part of the Cooking For Crowds For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When you're cooking for a crowd, knowing how much to cook is your biggest concern. The following tables help you determine how much food you need to prepare — everything from appetizers through desserts — for your big gatherings:

Appetizers
Type of Appetizer Number of Different Appetizer Types Per Person Crowd of 25 Crowd of 50
Appetizers preceding a full meal At least 4 6 to 8 pieces 150 to 200 total appetizers 300 to 400 total appetizers
Appetizers without a meal At least 6 12 to 15 pieces 300 to 375 total appetizers 600 to 750 total appetizers
Drinks
Type of Drink Per Person
Soft drinks 1 to 2 eight-ounce servings per hour
Punch 1 to 2 four-ounce servings per hour
Tea 1 to 2 eight-ounce servings per hour
Coffee 1 to 2 four-ounce servings per hour
Soups and Stews
Soup or Stew Per Person Crowd of 25 Crowd of 50
Served as a first course 1 cup 5 quarts 2 1/2 gallons
Served as an entree 1 1/2 to 2 cups 2 to 2 1/2 gallons 4 gallons
Main Courses
Entree Per Person Crowd of 25 Crowd of 50
Baby-back ribs, pork spareribs, beef short ribs 1 pound 25 pounds 50 pounds
Casserole N/A 2 to 3 13-x-9-inch casseroles 4 to 5 13-x-9-inch casseroles
Chicken, turkey, or duck (boneless) 1/2 pound 13 pounds 25 pounds
Chicken or turkey (with bones) 3/4 to 1 pound 19 pounds 38 pounds
Chili, stew, stroganoff, and other chopped meats 5 to 6 ounces 8 pounds 15 pounds
Ground beef 1/2 pound 13 pounds 25 pounds
Maine lobster (about 2 pounds each) 1 25 50
Oysters, clams, and mussels (medium to large) 6 to 10 pieces 100 to 160 pieces 200 to 260 pieces
Pasta 4 to 5 ounces 7 pounds 16 pounds
Pork 14 ounces 22 pounds 44 pounds
Roast (with bone) 14 to 16 ounces 22 to 25 pounds 47 to 50 pounds
Roast cuts (boneless) 1/2 pound 13 pounds 25 pounds
Shrimp (large — 16 to 20 per pound) 5 to 7 shrimp 7 pounds 14 pounds
Steak cuts (T-bone, porterhouse, rib-eye) 16 to 24 ounces 16 to 24 ounces per person 16 to 24 ounces per person
Turkey (whole) 1 pound 25 pounds 50 pounds
Side Dishes
Side Dish Per Person Crowd of 25 Crowd of 50
Asparagus, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, corn kernels, peas, black-eyed peas, and so on 3 to 4 ounces 4 pounds 8 pounds
Corn on the cob (broken in halves when serving buffet-style) 1 ear 20 ears 45 ears
Pasta (cooked) 2 to 3 ounces 3 1/2 pounds 7 pounds
Potatoes and yams 1 (medium) 6 pounds 12 pounds
Rice and grains (cooked) 1 1/2 ounces 2 1/2 pounds 5 pounds
Desserts
Dessert Per Person Crowd of 25 Crowd of 50
Brownies or bars 1 to 2 per person 2 1/2 to 3 dozen 5 1/2 to 6 dozen
Cheesecake 2-inch wedge 2 9-inch cheesecakes 4 9-inch cheesecakes
Cobbler 1 cup 2 9-x-9-x-2-inch pans 4 9-x-9-x-2-inch pans
Cookies 2 to 3 3 to 4 dozen 6 to 8 dozen
Ice cream or sorbet 8 ounces 1 gallon 2 gallons
Layered cake or angel food cake 1 slice 2 8-inch cakes 4 8-inch cakes
Pie 3-inch wedge 2 to 3 9-inch pies 4 to 5 9-inch pies
Pudding, trifles, and the like 1 cup 1 gallon 2 gallons
Sheet cake 2-x-2-inch piece 1/4 sheet cake 1/2 sheet cake
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Cooking For Crowds For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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