How Many Green Beans Per Person?


Green beans are a staple vegetable, and therefore a great addition to any event. Luckily, there is an average serving size that people tend to eat, making it easier to do the math on how many green beans is enough for everyone!

On average, about 2/3rds of a cup of green beans per person (8-10 beans) is an appropriate serving size. From there, the math gets easier. One pound of green beans is approximately 3 cups, so if a party of 50 is being served, 11 pounds of green beans should provide at least one serving for everyone.

Green beans with crumbled bacon in a white casserole dish.
Green beans with crumbled bacon in a white casserole dish.

When preparing food for a large group, there are various questions to consider. Before ordering up for any event, think about these questions and how they might apply.

What do Caterers Say?

Knowing how many green beans to provide for a large event is best answered by the people who provide the food: the caterers. BYU Catering in Provo, Utah stated that generally, they provide 4-5 ounces per person—which is about two-thirds of a cup. Landmark Catering, another Utah-based caterer, stated that they would provide about 10-12 beans per person, which is slightly more than the previous option. Essentially, it will come down to what the caterer offers as a standard serving size, which will average out to 2/3rds of a cup.

BYU Catering also stated that when they cater for an event, they have a standard amount that they provide. If the customer wants more of something (in this case, if the customer wanted more green beans than the standard amount), they will provide them at an extra cost. Therefore, if a customer decides that 4-5 ounces of green beans per person won’t be a sufficient portion size, more can always be ordered.

Below is a chart that shows how many pounds of beans should be ordered for an event based on the average portion size, and how many people will be attending.

Group SizeServing SizeTotal
25 people4-5 ounces (2/3 cup)4 lbs.
50 people4-5 ounces (2/3 cup)11 lbs.
75 people4-5 ounces (2/3 cup)17 lbs.
100 people4-5 ounces (2/3 cup)23 lbs.
150 people4-5 ounces (2/3 cup)34 lbs.
200 people4-5 ounces (2/3 cup)45 lbs.
300 people4-5 ounces (2/3 cup)67 lbs.
400 people4-5 ounces (2/3 cup)89 lbs.
500 people4-5 ounces (2/3 cup)111 lbs.
How Many Pounds of Beans To Order By Group Size

Another caterer stated that they always provide 10% extra food for all events that they cater to. If ten pounds of green beans were ordered for an event, they would provide eleven pounds. Providing more than an average serving size ensures that an event accounts for people’s different tastes and eating portions; some people will want to fill their plate, while others will take smaller portions. This way, every guest will have options for everything on the table, no matter what makes it onto their plate.

Do People Want Seconds?

Say that the perfect amount of green beans has been provided for everyone to enjoy the perfect amount on their plate, and now leftovers won’t be an issue: great! But what if people want seconds?

For this particular question, I polled fifty people to see how many green beans they would take at an event if they were offered as a side dish. Eight people said that they would take no green beans, thirty-three said that they would take one serving, and nine people said that they would take two or more servings. From these results, it can be seen that while not everyone wants to have green beans, some will want more than one serving! For a group of fifty, ordering a standard amount of green beans as a side might be exactly enough for everyone to take what they prefer.

Green beans with crispy fried onions in a white casserole dish.
Green beans with crispy fried onions in a white casserole dish.

As was mentioned before, some caterers may provide extra food for their events. However, if that isn’t the case with the particular caterer you’re using, then you may still want to consider ordering extra quantities of food for the people attending. To do this, you’ll need to know how different catering companies take food orders.

Some companies take orders based on every fifty people at an event, while others don’t require a certain number of people, but pricing will change based on the number of attendees. Understanding menus and pricing for any catering company will be key to making sure that the proper amount of green beans are ordered for an event.

Depending on what the menu is at an event, some guests may prefer to take vegetables over the other food options provided. In this case, it would be good to consider that while the green beans being provided may be a side dish for some, they might be the main dish for others, and ordering more than the average is a cautionary good.

Plated vs. Buffet Event

Preparing to order green beans for an event also takes knowing how the proportions will be made available.

At a plated event, everyone receives a standard amount of food. So, imagine that, in a group of fifty, everyone will receive the standard 4-5 ounces of green beans. At this event, only eleven pounds of green beans need to be ordered so that every plate will have some. An easy, one-and-done order!

Green beans with teriyaki sauce in a chafing dish.
Green beans with teriyaki sauce in a chafing dish.

At a buffet event, much more food will need to be provided, because people will certainly be making rounds at the food line. Going back to the poll mentioned in the previous section is a good way to assess how many green beans to provide per person.

In this scenario, more than half of the group of fifty will take at least one portion, while approximately the same amount of people will be taking no beans as will be taking seconds. This leaves the amount to be ordered at the shown average of eleven pounds. However, ordering more green beans provides that the buffet is filled out, and people can continue to grab food without worrying that it will run out.

Who’s Attending?

While 2/3rds of a cup of green beans might be a good average to consider for the adult palate, if any kids are congregating at an event, they probably won’t be eating as much. Not every event is going to be kid-friendly, but some, like weddings or large social gatherings, might be.

Going back to the assumption that fifty people are at an event, let’s say that 30 are adults and 20 are kids, ranging from toddlers to teens. Toddlers will fall under the average of how much food is consumed; 1-2 tablespoons is a basic serving. Teens will be more likely to eat the same proportions as an adult. This doesn’t mean that less food needs to be ordered, although that is an option. In this situation, ordering the average amount of food will likely be enough for everyone to take what they want, and still provide some extras for guests—especially teenagers and adults—who may want larger portions.

What’s the Occasion?

Knowing how many green beans to order per person must also take into consideration the type of event being hosted, what time of day it will be held, and the duration of the event. It might be a little awkward if, during a 3-hour-long event, people end up twiddling their thumbs because they’re unsure of what to do with the empty food table and their still-hungry appetite.

Prime rib meal served with green beans, baked potato, broccolini, mashed potatoes, and gravy.
Prime rib meal served with green beans, baked potato, broccolini, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

If you’re hosting an informal social event, like a reception, neighborly gathering, or informal work event, then more food is better. People will be able to eat and chat while going and grabbing seconds. The average serving size per person doesn’t necessarily change with the difference in the event, but considering how much will be consumed will change how much should be ordered.

Different business events will also call for different considerations when ordering green beans. A formal business meeting where food is provided will likely be a shorter event, and less food will be eaten. In this scenario, ordering the average amount of green beans for the group size will suffice. It may even be an option to order fewer green beans for this event, as accommodating extra food is less of a concern.

Green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and French fried onions.
Green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and French fried onions.

Considering what time of day the event is hosted, it is also necessary when figuring out how many green beans you should order. An event taking place around any mealtime should provide plenty of food for everyone to enjoy a full meal, and more.

A mid-morning, mid-afternoon, or late-night event won’t need to provide as much food. People will eat regular meals throughout the day, and therefore, the number of green beans provided will simply be a light snack for people to enjoy.

Keep in mind, while there are good guides to know how much food you get, and how many green beans you should provide, it will always come down to knowing what sort of event is being held and what the guests are anticipating from you; if you’re hosting a lunch event at 2:00 PM, and intend to provide as many green beans as a noonday event, then the guests should be anticipating this so that they can come ready to eat what is being provided.

Is it a Side or Main Dish?

If the green beans are a side or main dish, it will also impact how many you should prepare to order. If they are the main dish, then they’ll likely be mixed into a larger dish, but the serving size will certainly be more than 2/3rds of a cup. The numbers that have been provided so far assume that the green beans are a side dish at an event, and many caterers provide them as a side option.

Green beans casserole, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and turkey.
Green beans casserole, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and turkey.

Assuming that the main dish is twice the portion size as a side dish, then when ordering green beans as the main part of the meal, the numbers provided in the chart above can be doubled to provide enough for each number of people.

Dietary Accommodations

Dietary accommodations to consider are allergies, diabetic food sugars, and vegetarian and vegan diet requirements. If attendees at an event have restrictions surrounding the preparation of green beans, then the event planner should consider ordering less of the item, or checking whether or not the caterer provides options for dietary accommodations.

Sauteed green beans with lemon and garlic on a white plate.
Sautéed green beans with lemon and garlic on a white plate.

Green beans are in the legume plant family and contain an allergen called a lipid transfer protein (LTP). This allergy is strongly triggered by raw green beans, but people can still react to cooked beans. If any attendees at an event have an LTP allergy, then it will be important to ensure that the green beans provided at the event are cooked and that there is a different side dish for people to include on their plates.

Green beans don’t contain any problematic sugars for diabetic people, but there may be other ingredients involved that require providing a separate option.

Allergy restrictions can also apply to the spices that may be used to prepare the green beans. People may be allergic to salt, black pepper, cilantro, and parsley. Knowing the spices used to prepare the green beans, and if any attendees are allergic, will be important when deciding how many green beans to order and ensuring that alternate food options are available.

Fresh cut green beans on a cutting board.
Fresh cut green beans on a cutting board.

It might seem out of place to consider whether or not green beans will be appropriate for people on a vegetarian or vegan diet, but this vegetable is sometimes prepared with bacon. If the green beans being provided at an event will include bacon, then consider ordering less for anyone who doesn’t eat meat.

When ensuring that everyone at an event is accommodated, it will be important to communicate directly with those working with certain dietary expectations to make sure that their food is properly prepared, and that everyone can enjoy participating in the event.

As can be seen, there are many nuances to consider when ordering green beans as an available dish at an event. With proper preparation, everyone will be able to enjoy what has been provided!

Anna Silver

Anna Silver is the principal creator of CookForFolks.com, a website dedicated to new go-to original recipes. Inspired by her grandmother’s love of cooking, Anna has a passion for treating the people in her life to delicious homemade food and loves to share her family recipes with the rest of the world.

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