How Many Pounds Of Shrimp Per Person?

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When you’re feeding multiple people or entertaining dinner guests, you always want to make sure that you have plenty of food for whole the group.

Some things are much harder to gauge than others. When it comes to BBQ, it’s easy to make plenty or even more than enough. 

But when you get into seafood, it’s much more challenging to figure out just how much you need.

Shrimp can come in many different sizes and cooked many different ways, so understanding serving sizes and planning for your crowd becomes a little bit more challenging to get it right. 

So, how many pounds of shrimp per person? Typically, a serving size of shrimp is measured at approximately 1/4 of a pound per person. However, it will depend on the serving sizes that people take and how much they eat.

In this guide, we will dig into the details of how many pounds of shrimp you need per person.

We will discuss small groups and large groups and even talk about different sizes of shrimp and how you can plan for those details in the mix. We’ve got you covered for all things shrimp, so keep reading!

Considering Shrimp Size And Variety

Shrimp comes in a lot of different sizes and varieties. You can find colossal, jumbo, large, medium, small, and even extra-small shrimp when you go to the grocery store.

If that doesn’t make it complicated enough, you can also buy shrimp with or without tails and possibly even with or without skins. 

Each of these details is going to make a difference when it comes to figuring out just how much shrimp you really need.

The tails actually do affect the weight and serving sizes, especially when you are cooking or serving in bulk. You will need to plan for these details when you are planning how many pounds of shrimp to purchase. 

With that in mind, let’s talk about the different sizes and how that might make a difference. 

As a little bit of help, when a shrimp is sized and categorized into something like jumbo, small, or any other size, the category is based on the weight.

This means that any shrimp in that size falls into a specific weight range. This helps with your portion and serving planning here. 

Here’s the thing. If you’ve got jumbo shrimp in your hand, you might only have about 10 shrimp in a pound.

This might only be enough for 1-2 people. For jumbo shrimp, you potentially need to plan for 1/2 to a full pound per person you are serving. 

Of course, then you have the other end of the spectrum.

Small or extra-small shrimp might have more like 60+ shrimp in a single pound and that is probably going to serve more like 4 or possibly even more people when you break it down.

Here’s a quick table for reference of approximately how many shrimp you might see per pound based on size. 

Size of ShrimpAmount of Shrimp Per Pound
Extra Small61-70
Extra Large26-30
Colossal (rare)10-20

This is not an exact science but it simply gives you a general idea of how many shrimp you can expect to find for each pound of shrimp that you purchase.

Technically, shrimp sizes do go up to even an extra colossal size, but this is actually a rare size that you are not as likely to find. Shrimp that are considered to be extra colossal will have 10 or fewer per pound in most cases. 

We also want to point out that some shrimp is actually even smaller than the extra-small we listed here and those sometimes have more than 150 shrimp per pound. It is rare to find them that small, just as it is rare to find extra colossal. 

Look For The “U”

A good way to determine about how many shrimp you might be getting is to look for a “U” on the packaging.

The U is typically accompanied by a number of some sort. That U and the number means that you have under that number of shrimp in your package, but it should be close to the number as well. 

So if that number gets smaller, you have larger shrimp, and if it’s larger, you have smaller shrimp.

Not every packaging is labeled just like this, but all packaging will most likely have a count or something similar that tells you approximately how many pieces of shrimp you will be getting in your package. 

Heads And Tails

When it comes to the shrimp size, you also have to think about heads and tails in the mix.

In the table we shared earlier, this is relative to shrimp that has been de-veined and peeled as well. In this particular instance, that means that the shrimp no longer has skin, a head, or a tail attached for the purpose of these measurements. 

Of course, when you buy shrimp, most larger shrimp actually do still have the tail and most smaller shrimp do not, but you can purchase it just about any way, so just be aware of what you are buying if that makes a difference to you. 

Shrimp Serving Sizes

Now, we get to the heart of the matter. How do you know what a proper serving is for people? Understanding what constitutes a serving will help you to better plan and know just how many pounds of shrimp you need to buy when you’re ready. 

The guidelines are general recommendations and not necessarily set in stone. You have to remember that not everyone will eat exactly a serving size.

Some people may eat more and some people may eat less. You will also find that the size of the shrimp varies, even though you have a general idea of servings. 

In general, the recommendation is that 1 pound of shrimp will feed up to 4 people when served as an entrée. We’re not sure that these same measurements will apply when you use jumbo shrimp, but this is the recommended serving size. 

The serving size also depends on whether or not it is cooked. For example, if the shrimp is raw when you purchase it, you should plan on around 1 pound per person.

However, if it is cooked, you can plan more like 1/3 of a pound per person to plan conservatively. 

Medium Shrimp

When you buy medium shrimp, you get approximately 30-35 shrimp per pound in most cases. If you assume that your package of medium shrimp is going to have 32 shrimp in it, this would measure out to about 8 shrimp per person. 

This is the basic recommendation, but we would plan for more like 10 shrimp per serving to be sure you have enough. 

Jumbo Shrimp

So when you put the same theory to work with jumbo shrimp, you adjust the number of shrimp needed to feed each person. Your pound measurements will probably be similar, with about 6-8 ounces per person. 

In this case, jumbo shrimp will measure out to somewhere around 5-7 shrimp per person. When you purchase a pound of jumbo shrimp, you get somewhere between 21-25 shrimp typically, so this again evens out. 

Small Shrimp

Small shrimp can be pretty small. This is the type of shrimp you see in things like popcorn shrimp usually. A pound might have somewhere around 50-60 shrimp in it and should potentially feed 3-4 people for planning purposes. 

With that thought process, you can most likely plan about 15 shrimp per guest when you use small shrimp. 

How Many Pounds Of Shrimp For Gatherings?

Now that you have the basis for the number of shrimp in a pound and how many people might be served from a pound, let’s plan your gathering. 

When you’re planning, you need to figure out just how many people you are going to have at the gathering and just what kind of shrimp you will be using. 

Remember that if you purchase raw shrimp, you will need more pounds, and if you purchase cooked, deveined, and peeled shrimp, you need fewer pounds. 

So let’s start with a small gathering. 

Party Of 4

According to the guides and serving suggestions we’ve seen up to this point, serving 4 people only requires about a pound of shrimp. This is based on the theory that a single pound is meant to make up about 4 suggested servings. 

In our opinion, we would purchase more than a pound in order to have plenty of food, but the choice is really up to you. 

In this case, a pound is the recommended serving size, but you may decide to purchase more like 1 1/2 pounds to 2 pounds just to be sure you do have plenty of food for everyone.

Remember that some guests may end up eating more than a single serving according to this chart, so it’s better to have more food than not enough.

Party Of 10

Now, let’s look at a larger party. A party of 10 is getting pretty large, but you can calculate based on the same guidelines we’ve used throughout this guide so far. 

Assuming you are purchasing cooked, deveined, and peeled shrimp, you can still assume 4 people per pound and then add some extra to have a little bit of leeway for servings. 

In this case, you have 10 people, so you need approximately 2.5 pounds of shrimp to cover them based on the table. However, if you want to be sure you have plenty of shrimp to go around, we would recommend purchasing 3-3.5 pounds.

Party Of 25 Or More

It gets far more challenging to figure out just how many pounds of shrimp you need as you add more people to the party.

The thing is, you don’t want to over spend or end up with a ton of leftover shrimp, but you also don’t want anyone to leave still hungry. 

The best thing you can do here is figure as close as possible with 4 people per pound of shrimp. From there, we recommend adding an extra 1/2 of a pound for every 4 people to be safe.

For example, 4 people would traditionally need about 1 pound of shrimp, but in this case, go ahead and plan 1.5 pounds for 4 people. 

When you calculate this out, 25 people breaks down into 6 groups of 4, plus another person. So when you plan 1.5 pounds by 6, this means you need 9 pounds of shrimp.

You have an extra person there still to account for also, so you could round up to 9.5 or 10 pounds of shrimp in this instance. Remember, this is assuming you are following the guidelines for cooked, deveined, and peeled shrimp.

If you are purchasing raw shrimp, you actually need to plan 1/2 to 1 full pound per person, as frozen shrimp is heavier than cooked shrimp due to water weight.

So this would be closer to 25 pounds of shrimp in that case. Just know the difference when you buy! 

How Many Pounds Of Shrimp Per Person For A Shrimp Boil? 

Buying shrimp for a shrimp boil is a little bit different than most of what we shared above, although we did still touch on this detail in places. Shrimp for a shrimp boil is generally raw shrimp that still has the shell and the tail on it.

How much shrimp you really need might depend on how much other stuff you are adding to the boil. In this case, the shrimp is probably not the entire meal but it is still likely the main part of the entrée. 

Since this is raw shrimp that still has its peel and its head and tail, we recommend estimating a minimum of 1/2 a pound per person, but it’s probably safer to plan on around a full pound per person at the shrimp boil. 

This can certainly get pricy because with 25 people, you’re planning on around 25 pounds of shrimp so plan ahead for the expense. 

Related Questions

We hope that this guide to purchasing shrimp for each person, whether at a dinner party or shrimp boil, is a helpful resource for you. 

The size of shrimp sometimes makes a slight difference, but understanding how many people 1 pound serves will answer all of your shrimp questions. 

We invite you to review the following question and answer section for some additional information as well! 

What Can You Serve As A Side For A Shrimp Boil?

A lot of things pair really well with a shrimp boil! You might even have things in the boil besides just shrimp. Here are some good options to consider as a side:

  • Coleslaw 
  • Potato salad
  • Pasta salad
  • Macaroni salad
  • Corn
  • Baked beans
  • Mac and cheese
  • Fries
  • Hushpuppies

Any of these will pair nicely but you can make just about anything you want! 

What Is The Best Size Of Shrimp To Boil? 

Shrimp boils typically go with larger shrimp. You can really choose the size you prefer, but we recommend sticking with large or jumbo to really stand out in the boil. We certainly would recommend no smaller than medium. 

How Many People Will 2 Pounds of Shrimp Feed? 

If you are using raw shrimp, this will feed 2-3 people. However, if you are using cooked shrimp, you will feed more like 4-6 people with 2 pounds of shrimp. 

Up Next: 21 Easy Frozen Shrimp Recipes

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