How Much BBQ Sauce Per Pound Of Pulled Pork? A Tasty Primer

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barbecue sauce and spices

When you’re planning a barbecue, you want to make sure you have enough food to go around. Deciding how much meat to buy is daunting enough, but what about the condiments? How can you be sure you won’t run out? Let’s take a look at how much BBQ sauce per pound of pulled pork you’ll need to get by.

How Much BBQ Sauce Per Pound of Pulled Pork?

If you’re following the guidelines of 3 servings per pound of pulled pork, you should plan on offering 6 tablespoons of barbecue sauce per pound. This number may vary somewhat depending on what type of sauce you use and the preferences of your guests.

How Much Pulled Pork To Serve Per Person

Before you can work out how much sauce you’ll need, you should know how much pork to buy in the first place. Pork butt is the preferred cut for making pulled pork, and it’s a fatty piece of meat that shrinks down a great deal during cooking. Therefore, it’s important to understand the meat-to-guest ratio.

As a rule, plan on serving 1/3 pound of pulled pork per person. Some may consume more, others a bit less, but this is a good yardstick to use. Since the raw pork weighs about twice as much as the cooked pork, 1 pound of pork butt should yield about 1/2 pound once it’s been prepared.

To determine how many pounds of pork to buy, write down the number of guests you’re planning to serve. Then divide that number by 3 to get the yield estimate. Multiply the result by 2, and you’ll know how much raw pork you should purchase.

For example, if you’re expecting 10 people, you should have about 3-1/3 pounds of cooked pork to serve. That means you need to start with roughly 6-2/3 pounds of raw pork. Since we prefer to have too much rather than too little, we would aim for a total weight of 7 pounds when buying the pork butt.

pulled pork sandwich with bbq sauce and fries

Types of BBQ Sauce

Depending on what part of the country you’re from, you might believe that there’s only one type of barbecue sauce worth having. In fact, it comes in many styles and flavors—and the one you choose might end up affecting the quantity you’ll need. Let’s find out more about the regional varieties of this invaluable condiment.

East North Carolina

In the eastern region of North Carolina, they use a thin sauce made from vinegar and red pepper flakes to offset the rich, fatty texture of smoked meats.

West North Carolina

Like its sister to the east, this sauce includes a healthy dose of vinegar, but the recipe adds brown sugar and ketchup to give it a smoother consistency and a sweeter taste.

South Carolina

South Carolina pitmasters rely on tangy mustard sauces to liven up their pulled pork and grilled chicken.

Kansas City

This is arguably the most traditional barbecue sauce on our list. With a tomato base (usually ketchup) and molasses or brown sugar as a sweetener, it has a rich, velvety texture that pairs well with pork.

St. Louis

This sauce is like a cross between the East North Carolina and Kansas City versions, only with a bit less heat. The combination makes it similar to sweet-and-sour sauce, and the relatively low sugar content means that it can be added to the meat earlier in the cooking process.


Many pitmasters in Memphis don’t use a sauce at all, preferring to rely on their dry seasoning rubs to impart flavor. Those who do add sauce use a mixture that resembles the Kansas City-style sauce, only not as sweet.


In Texas, barbecue sauce is more of a marinade or basting liquid than a condiment. Made from hot sauce, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and Worcestershire, it sometimes incorporates meat drippings for an extra dose of hearty flavor.


This mayonnaise-based sauce has more in common with coleslaw dressing than with the other sauces listed here. In fact, while it’s excellent with smoked chicken, it can also be used as a dip for fresh vegetables.

How Much BBQ Sauce for Pulled Pork?

BBQ sauce

When serving barbecue sauce on the side, you should plan on offering about 2 tablespoons per serving. Since we’ve determined that there are 3 servings in a single pound of pulled pork, that amounts to 6 tablespoons per pound.

Let’s go back to our 10-person estimate. According to these calculations, 10 servings calls for 20 tablespoons of barbecue sauce. Since there are 16 tablespoons in a cup, you should have at least 1-1/4 cup of sauce on hand for your event.

Just like the rule about how much pulled pork to serve, this estimate is more of a guideline than anything else. If you or your guests love to slather your meat with a ton of sauce, you should plan on having more available.

On the other hand, some people may prefer not to use a sauce at all. When it’s done right, pulled pork has an intoxicating flavor all on its own, and might not need the embellishment. Still, it’s a good idea to keep a supply on hand for those guests who will be expecting it.

Tip: Should you choose a particularly spicy or vinegar-based sauce, you can probably get away with offering less. Not everyone enjoys that sinus-clearing hit of flavor, and those who do will probably use it sparingly.

Should You Mix The Sauce Into The Pork Before Serving It?

We would suggest serving the pork as is, and allowing the guests to make their own decisions about whether or not to add sauce. As we mentioned, the pork should taste fine by itself, and people should be allowed to customize the dish as they like.

What’s more, adding sauce to the whole batch will put a cap on your opportunities as far as leftovers are concerned. Pulled pork can be used in omelets, as a taco or burrito filling, or as an ingredient in breakfast hash. Once you’ve added the sauce, it will have a distinctive flavor that limits its versatility.

The Bottom Line

As with all condiments, the amount of barbecue sauce you use depends on your taste buds—and a few other factors. The type of sauce, whether it’s store-bought or homemade, the texture and flavor of the pork itself—all of these can affect how much of sauce you want to use. With any luck, our guide has given you a solid set of guidelines for your next cookout.

Happy grilling!

Darren Wayland Avatar


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