The Hamburger Calculator will help you get an estimate of how much raw ground beef you will need based on the number of guests you enter. It will provide the raw, uncooked meat weight you will need to buy, broken down into the appropriate portion sizes depending on how the ground beef is prepared.
Portion sizes depend on how the ground beef recipe is prepared and whether it will be combined with other ingredients. The portion size for amount of hamburger meat used as a main entree is different than the amount you will need for sloppy joes, spaghetti sauce, or meatballs. Preparing your hamburger meat with breading or serving it in a heavy sauce or cream reduces the portion size needed to almost half of a main entree.
If you are making hamburger patties, you should allow for 4 ounces per hamburger and (based on catering guidelines) two hamburgers per guest (totaling 8 ounces per guest). You don’t have to worry about factoring in light eaters and heavy eaters, because they tend to balance each other out. If a small child eats only 1 hamburger but a hungry adult eats 3 hamburgers, it will still equal 4 hamburgers between 2 guests. If you are having a backyard hamburger BBQ, be sure to check out our Backyard BBQ Calculator for a full list of suggestions of all the foods you may need for your guests.
Raw ground beef will yield between 70%-75% cooked beef. This will change depending on the fat content of the ground beef as well as the cooking method.
According to the USDA, a grilled hamburger patty could yield as little as 55% cooked hamburger if the ground beef had a fat content of over 22%. That means a 6 ounce patty could end up being 3.3 ounces after grilling. In comparison, a grilled 6 ounce raw hamburger patty made of lean ground beef (12% fat) could yield as much as 75%, or 4.5 ounces of cooked burger patty.
To simplify things, the calculator is based on the amount of raw ground hamburger needed when using 80/20 beef with a 75% yield after cooking, and recommendations are categorized by how the meat is used.
Basic Cooked Ground Beef Hamburger Meat Serving Size Amounts
- Main feature (standalone entree item such as salisbury steak patties or stuffed peppers served in a light sauce) – plan for 6-8 ounces per serving.
- Ground beef prepared with additional filler ingredients or breading (nachos, lasagna, chili, casseroles, tacos, meatballs, classic meatloaf) – plan for 4 ounces per serving.
- Ground hamburger served in a light sauce or gravy base (beef stroganoff, sloppy joes, spaghetti sauce) – plan for 5 ounces per serving.
- When serving hamburgers, allow for 2 burgers per person (at 4 ounces per burger) so plan for a total of 8 ounces per person.
- Portion sizes will also vary depending on what time the meal is served. Meat portions are generally 25% smaller at lunch time than dinner time.