How Many Shrimp Per Person?

From extra small to jumbo and colossal, shrimp come in many different sizes. Serving shrimp to a crowd can be intimidating if you’re unsure of portion sizes. None of us want our guests stopping by McDonald’s on their way home from a rumbling, half-empty belly, nor do we want to be wasteful and overspend. So, how many shrimp should you bargain on per person?

The recommended serving size is a four-to-one-ounce ratio of shrimp per person. Serve about 6-8 jumbo, 8-10 large, 10-12 medium, and 15-20 small shrimp. However, quantities will vary depending on whether you’re serving shrimp as an appetizer or entrée and pairing it with other foods. 

This straightforward guide will help silence your buzzing head when you’re at the fish market choosing the right size and quantity of shrimp for your upcoming dinner. Continue reading for all things shrimp.

How Many Shrimp Per Person?

The recommended amount of shrimp per person differs based on the size and variety and whether you’re making an appetizer or entrée.

We recommend following the golden four-to-one-ounce ratio of shrimp per person. The exact quantity of shrimp will differ based on size and weight.

Shrimp is available in several sizes and varieties, including:

  • Extra-Colossal
  • Colossal
  • Jumbo
  • Extra-Large
  • Large
  • Medium-Large
  • Medium
  • Small
  • Extra-small

Although the size varies based on weight, the sizing terms for shrimp aren’t regulated. They can also be marked as tiny, small, medium-large, and extra-large. So, one store’s extra-large shrimp may be smaller than another outlet’s jumbo or colossal shrimp.

Then, they are available with and without tails and even with or without their shells. Each detail influences precisely how many shrimp you’ll need per person.

Do Shrimp Sizes Include Heads & Tails?

Whether the shrimp’s designated size and weight, including the head and tail, will vary based on each manufacturer.

For example, suppose you purchase head-on extra-large shrimp. In that case, the edible part ranges closer to medium once you peel and devein the shrimp.

We recommend purchasing peeled and deveined shrimp for straightforward and accurate sizing – it also simplifies cooking!

Allow The “U” To Guide You

Cut through all the jargon and look for the “U” accompanied by several numbers on the packaging as a quick guide. Here’s what they mean:

The “U” stands for “under,” indicating the amount of shrimp per pound—the higher number, the small the shrimp, and vice versa for a lower number.

For example, on the top end of the scale, colossal shrimp are around U/20, indicating that every pound contains around 20 shrimp per pound but may be less if the shrimp are larger. Extra colossal many have ten or fewer shrimp per pound.

Then, jumbo U-21/25 indicates that there are between 21 and 25 shrimp in the package per pound.

On the opposite side of the scale, extra-small shrimp can indicate U-65/75+, meaning there are approximately 65 to 75 shrimp per pound in the package. Still, they may be more if the shrimp are smaller.

In the middle, medium shrimp are U-41/50, ranging between 41 and 50 shrimp per pound.

Once again, each outlet store’s size guides and labeling can vary as the terms aren’t regulated. In addition, although shrimp are mostly sold peeled and deveined, the per-pound counts can refer to shrimps with their heads, tails, and shells or peeled shrimp based on the store. So, remember to consider these factors before grabbing a pack for dinner.

How Many Shrimp Per Pound?

Here’s a general reference of shrimp size designations and count per pound, where the “U” indicates “under” or “less than.”

Shrimp Size DesignationAmount of Shrimp (per pound)
Extra-ColossalU/10
Colossal (rare)U/20
JumboU-21/25
Extra-LargeU-26/30
LargeU-31/35
Medium-LargeU-36/40
MediumU-41/50
SmallU-51/60
Extra-smallU-61/70+

Shrimp Serving Suggestions

Finally, we can get to the heart of the article – how many shrimp you’ll need per person. 

First, remember these guidelines are only recommendations. Some people may enjoy a little extra while others may eat less. So, there’s no need to set the guidelines in stone.

 The general recommendation is a four-to-one-ounce ratio of shrimp per person. So, you’ll need to provide around four ounces of shrimp per person.

For a more detailed overview, here are the general recommended serving sizes of shrimp based on their variety. 

How Many Colossal Shrimp Per Person?

Colossal shrimp are a pure delicacy! These ultra-juicy shrimps are generally only served at high-end seafood restaurants. While most people (myself included) may be tempted to double the serving, the recommendation is as follow:

  • Appetizer: 2 colossal shrimp
  • Entrée: 4 colossal shrimp

How Many Jumbo Shrimp Per Person?

Scaling down slightly on the impressive size of colossal shrimp, jumbo shrimp are the perfect two-bite size shrimp for shrimp cocktails and seafood recipes. Here are the average jumbo shrimp serving suggestions per person:

  • Appetizer: 4 to 5 jumbo shrimp
  • Entrée: 6 to 8 jumbo shrimp

How Many Large Shrimp Per Person?

Large shrimp is substantial enough for savory snacks and sides by oven-roasting, grilling, or lightly deep-frying. Of course, you’ll need a couple more large shrimp per person to satisfy all your seafood lover friends.

  • Appetizer: 4 to 7 large shrimp
  • Entrée: 8 to 10 large shrimp

How Many Medium Shrimp Per Person?

Medium shrimp side on the smaller end of the scale. They are ideal for fast cooking and popping into pasta, curries, stir-fries, and paellas. You’ll need a hefty pile of medium shrimp to send your guests home with a full belly.

  • Appetizer: 6 to 8 medium shrimp
  • Entrée: 10 to 12 medium shrimp

How Many Small Shrimp Per Person?

Small or extra-small shrimp are mini, bite-size shrimp with a subtle flavor. They are not ideal for serving alone, but small shrimp are delicious in fillings, soups, or popcorn shrimp.

  • Appetizer: 12 to 15 small shrimp
  • Entrée: 15 to 20 small shrimp

What Size Shrimp Is The Best?

The best shrimp size ultimately depends on the dish you’re making and your taste preferences.

Most recipes call for extra-large to colossal shrimp for their firm texture and sweet, juicy flavor. Consider using extra-large, jumbo, or colossal shrimp for appetizers or special meals where the shrimp is the star ingredient.

Medium to large shrimp is ideal for recipe fillers. You can use them in portions of pasta, stir-fries, paellas, and soups. At the same time, small shrimp fit best into fillings, sauces, purées, and popcorn shrimp toppings.

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Conclusion

You can always rely on the golden shrimp ratio of four-to-one ounces of shrimp per person. However, no one will judge if you up the scale slightly for your shrimp-loving friends.

Consider serving more shrimp if you aren’t serving other appetizers.

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