How much does pulled pork cost per pound on average? Whether you’re buying the pork or hoping to sell it at a competitive price, the answer can point you in the right direction.
Pulled Pork Price Per Pound
At retail, pulled pork sells for around $4 to $10 per pound, depending on the brand and the location. Restaurants and caterers charge in the $7 to $15 range, though they might charge by the person instead. Those of you who want to sell your homemade pulled pork should charge between $8 to $10 per pound of cooked meat.
What Is Pulled Pork?
The best pulled pork is made from slow-cooked pork butt, though pork shoulder is an acceptable substitute. Both cuts come from the foreleg of the hog and are rich in fat and connective tissue. As the pork cooks slowly, the fat tenderizes the meat and gives it unbelievable flavor.
If you’re making pulled pork for resale purposes, try to use one of these cuts. Some novices will attempt to use a leaner cut like pork loin–I was even guilty of this myself once or twice–but the texture of the meat will be too dry.
In order to be tender enough to shred, the meat needs to cook to a high internal temperature–well past the 145 degrees Fahrenheit that’s considered safe for pork. When you eat pulled pork, the meat was likely cooked to at least 195 degrees.
Average Pulled Pork Price Per Pound At Retail
Prepared pulled pork usually sells for between $4 to $9 per pound.
As you might expect, brand names can affect the pricing. Walmart sells 16-ounce packages of pulled pork smothered in Jack Daniel’s barbecue sauce, usually for about $7. The same size package using a generic sauce might go for as low as $4.
When the meat is sold in bulk, the prices drop. This is true of most meat products, whether they’re sold prepared or raw. Depending on where you shop, you might be able to score deals of $1 to $2 per pound if you buy a lot of pork at once.
Average Pulled Pork Price Per Pound From Restaurants and Caterers
Expect to pay more if the meat is prepared fresh from a restaurant. Most barbecue joints and caterers will charge between $7 to $15 per pound for their pulled pork. Again, if you buy in bulk, you might be able to get a small discount.
If that seems high, remember that the meat requires a long time on the smoker. Many people are willing to pay these prices to avoid dealing with the prolonged cooking process. The quality of the product will also be higher than what you could expect from a budget retailer.
Also, know that a pound of pulled pork can feed 3 to 4 people (see How Much Pulled Pork Should You Serve Per Person?, below). So while you might balk at the cost, you’re actually getting a decent bang for your buck.
Know that some places will charge by the person, and not by the pound. That makes a big difference. If it’s any consolation, though, the price usually includes sides. Be sure you read the menu carefully so you can be sure what you’re getting.
We would urge those of you on the receiving end of these prices to consider making your own pulled pork. You should be able to find pork butt for $1.79 to $2.29 per pound, sometimes cheaper. Even when you factor in the long cooking time and the cost of charcoal or wood pellets, you’ll save money if you do it yourself.
What To Charge For Pulled Pork
What if you’re the one selling the product? Obviously, you’ll want to recoup your expenses, and turn as much of a profit as you can.
If you want to stay competitive, you should buy your pork butt in bulk and smoke as much as your unit will hold. This will allow you to save on costs while still providing a large quantity of smoked meat.
We would suggest charging $10 per pound for homemade smoked pork. This isn’t out of line with what restaurants would charge, and your customers will know they’re getting a quality product.
Consider dropping the price to $8 or even $7 per pound if the customer orders more than 10 pounds at once. Remember, though, that your smoker will need to accommodate at least 20 pounds of meat (see How To Calculate Serving Sizes, below) if you’re going to offer that much product.
How Much Pulled Pork Should You Serve Per Person?
1/3 pound per person is the rule of thumb to follow when serving pulled pork to a hungry crowd. This should give you enough to feed everybody, and there may even be some meat left over.
As always, you should take other factors into consideration when you’re making out your shopping list. Before you decide how much pork you’ll need per person, ask yourself these questions:
- Will there be a lot of children and/or picky eaters at this party, or will it be mostly pork-loving adults?
- Is the party during the day or in the evening? People tend to eat more when they gather around the dinner hour.
- What will you be serving with the pulled pork? Will there be a ton of sides, or just bread and a tossed salad?
- Are you planning on smoking brisket, whole chickens, or ribs along with the pork?
- Will this be a sit-down affair, or a less formal gathering where folks are invited to mingle? Sit-down dinners call for bigger serving sizes.
- Will you be serving the pork on sandwiches, or by itself?
Once you’ve thought out your answers, it should be easier to decide how much pork you’ll need per person.
How To Calculate Serving Sizes
If you’ve opted to make your own pulled pork, here’s an easy way to figure out how much raw pork you should buy.
The first thing you need to remember is that pork butt shrinks as it cooks. All meat does, because it’s made up mostly of water that evaporates when it’s exposed to heat.
When you’re dealing with cuts such as pork shoulder and pork butt, though, you also have a lot of fat to contend with. Most of it should render out, but you might be left with a chunk of the fat cap afterward. This will subtract from your total yield.
The pork will probably lose 30 to 40 percent of its original weight during cooking. To make things simpler–and to ensure that you won’t run out of meat–plan on a shrinkage factor of about 50 percent.
The average pork butt weighs about 6-8 pounds. If you’ve purchased an 8-pounder, you’ll end up with around 4 pounds of pulled pork. This will give you enough for 12 to 16 people, depending on the serving size you’ve settled on.
Since pork butt weights vary–and because you may need to purchase more than one, especially if you’re planning on selling the product–use this formula as a guide:
Divide the number of expected guests by 3, then multiply the result by 2. This will tell you how many pounds of raw pork you should buy to yield the results you’re looking for.
The Bottom Line
When you buy pulled pork from a restaurant or retailer, you can skip the hassle of preparing it yourself. That can be a nice perk if you’re in a hurry, or if you’re not confident in your skills just yet.
If you’re selling your homemade pulled pork, choose a price that’s in line with the current market value. You deserve credit for all your hard work. With any luck, the customer will be so impressed with your abilities, they’ll keep coming back for more.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!