How Many Pounds of Shrimp per Person? A Detailed Guide

When planning a summer barbecue, shrimp boil, or seafood feast, one of the most common questions is “how many pounds of shrimp per person” do I need? With shrimp coming in a variety of sizes like jumbo, large, medium or small, it can be tricky to figure out accurate serving sizes if you don’t know how many shrimp are in each pound.

In this complete guide, I’ll cover all the key details around shrimp sizes, the number of shrimp per pound, common serving sizes, and exactly how many pounds of shrimp to buy per person whether you’re having an intimate dinner or hosting a crowd. You’ll also learn some great shrimp boil side dishes and tips to make your next shrimp-centric meal delicious and successful.

Considering Shrimp Size and Variety

The first step to finding the answer to “how many pounds of shrimp per person” is understanding that shrimp come in a range of sizes, counts per pound, and options like shells-on or peeled. Let’s break down the common classifications:

Shrimp comes in different sizes based on weight

  • Extra small shrimp have 61-70 shrimp per pound
  • Small shrimp have 51-60 per pound
  • Medium shrimp have 41-50 per pound
  • Large shrimp have 31-40 per pound
  • Extra large shrimp have 26-30 per pound
  • Jumbo shrimp have 21-25 per pound

So if you buy a pound of jumbo shrimp, you’ll get approximately 21-25 large plump shrimp, compared to 60 smaller shrimp per pound of small shrimp.

Shrimp can have tails and skins or be peeled and deveined

  • Shrimp that still have their shells and tails on will weigh more than shrimp that’s been peeled and deveined by your fish market or grocery store.
  • When buying shrimp, look closely at the packaging description to see if it’s shells-on or has already been prepped.

Larger shrimp like jumbo shrimp have fewer per pound while smaller shrimp have more

  • Those jumbo shrimp clocks in at about 10-15 shrimp per pound since each one is so large.
  • Whereas you might find 50-60 small shrimp crammed into a single pound.

So if Aunt Sally wants jumbo shrimp for her retirement party, you’ll need fewer total shrimp than Cousin Jimmy who wants small shrimp for his backyard barbecue.

Shrimp Serving Sizes

Now that you know how sizes and counts vary, let’s get into the all-important question – “how many pounds of shrimp per person” should you plan when shopping and prepping?

General recommendation is 1/4 pound per person as a serving

  • As a general rule of thumb when buying shrimp, fishermen recommend about 1/4 pound of shrimp per person as a single serving.
  • But this serving size guideline can shift up or down depending on the size of shrimp you choose.

Depends on if shrimp is cooked or raw

  • Remember that if you’re buying raw shrimp to cook yourself, it will weigh more per pound since the shells and water weight are still included.
  • Once cooked, shells are removed and moisture cooks out, decreasing the total weight.
  • So always account for extra raw shrimp weight compared to cooked and peeled shrimp weight.

Medium shrimp is about 8-10 shrimp per person

  • If using a medium shrimp size that has 41-50 shrimp per pound, then each person would get about 8-10 shrimp for a 1/4 pound serving size.
  • Since there’s approximately 32 medium shrimp per pound, a quarter-pound would shake out to 8 medium shrimp each.

Jumbo shrimp is about 5-7 shrimp per person

  • Serving up jumbo shrimp with 21-25 shrimp per pound? Then every guest would receive around 5-7 large shrimp for their quarter-pound serving.

Small shrimp is about 15 shrimp per person

  • Buying smaller 50-60 shrimp per pound means each person gets upwards of 15 petite shrimp for their personal serving size.

How Many Pounds Of Shrimp For Gatherings?

Now we know about serving sizes based on shrimp size and count per pound. But what about buying shrimp for a larger dinner party or backyard boil with friends and family? How many pounds of shrimp should you buy total?

Here are some party sizing guidelines:

Party of 4 needs about 1 pound of shrimp

  • If serving 4 people, plan for about 1 full pound of shrimp.
  • But it’s always smart to purchase 1.5-2 pounds to ensure you have extra.

Party of 10 needs about 2.5-3 pounds of shrimp

  • When serving 10 people, increase shrimp to 2.5-3 total pounds.
  • For a bigger buffer, get 3-3.5 pounds to prevent any shortages.

Party of 25 or more needs about 9.5-10 pounds of shrimp

  • Hosting a large party of 25? You’ll want 9.5-10 pounds of shrimp to sufficiently feed the crowd.
  • And consider adding an extra 0.5 pounds for every 4 additional guests over 25 people.

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

A Southern shrimp boil with shell-on shrimp, spicy sausage, corn, and potatoes is a favorite summer tradition. But it does require more shrimp than a typical dinner since the shells are left on.

So “how many pounds of shrimp per person” do you need for boils?

For a shrimp boil, plan 1/2 to 1 pound of raw shrimp per person

  • For an all-out shrimp boil feast, plan for 1/2 pound to 1 full pound of raw, shell-on shrimp per every guest.
  • That may sound like a lot, but remember – the weight includes shells and tails that you won’t actually eat, but impart lots of flavor.

2 pounds of shrimp will feed about 4-6 people if cooked

If serving already-cooked, peeled shrimp as a standalone dish, 2 pounds would comfortably feed 4-6 guests. Buy less if also making shrimp pasta, shrimp cocktail, etc.

And that wraps up my complete guide on “how many pounds of shrimp per person”! By understanding sizing, counts per pound, and typical serving recommendations, you can confidently shop for and prepare the perfect amount of shrimp whether cooking for 2 or 20.

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