Shrimp Sizes & Counts per Pound: Your Simplified Guide

Shrimp Sizes & Counts per Pound: Your Simplified Guide

We all want to serve up a delicious entrée or appetizer to impress our guests. But, when it comes to choosing shrimp, the process can get a tad overwhelming. How do I know which size is best? Should I go for frozen or fresh shrimp? Do I need 50 or 500 shrimp for my cocktail party?

Don't panic—we've got you covered. This handy guide contains all the information you need to pick out your prawns for any occasion confidently. So get ready for fearless shopping and delicious shrimpy treats.

Shrimp Sizes From Extra Small to Super Colossal

Are shrimp sizes like a math problem? Don't worry; it's actually much easier than that.

When it comes to buying shrimp, the numbers 26/30 mean the number of shrimp in a pound. The more shrimps per pound, the smaller they are. So 26/30 means you'll get 26-30 small shrimp per pound.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recommends eating 3 ounces of seafood - including shrimp - per serving. Knowing different shrimp sizes helps ensure a successful and delicious seafood experience.

So here is your guide to buying the perfect size of shrimp for any occasion:

Extra Small Shrimp 

Extra small shrimp is the second smallest shrimp size. You get 61/70 shrimp per pound, while an ounce contains 15-17 shrimp. These shrimp are often used for shrimp salads. They may be labeled as "mini" or "baby shrimp" at your local grocery store.

Small Shrimp

Small shrimps contain more pieces than extra small shrimp, clocking in at 51/60 per pound. As a result, small shrimp serve your guests perfectly if you integrate it into delicacies such as shrimp pasta salad or pork dumpling soup. You can also add them as a source of protein to pasta dishes with sauce, like shrimp Alfredo

Medium Shrimp

If you like versatility in your seafood, then medium shrimps are your go-to. These tiny powerhouses come in 26/30 to 31/40 per pound, so it's easy to find the perfect size for whatever dish you have in mind. With just two minutes of cook time when boiling, sautéing or pan-searing, they're ideal for: 

  • Shrimp cocktails
  • Lemon-y pasta dishes
  • Extra-crispy coconut shrimp
  • Stir fries and more

Medium shrimp with 31/40 pieces per pound is a great option for any recipe, as they offer the perfect balance between size and convenience.  These versatile beauties can be served in sauce dishes, placed over vegetables or grains, and make for the perfect shrimp cocktail.

The mouthwatering lemon pepper shrimp below falls into the medium-sized category. 

medium sized shrimp on rice

Large Shrimp

Large shrimp contain between 16 and 20 shrimp per pound. The shrimp make an excellent centerpiece for entrées, such as cilantro rice and broiled shrimp with black beans. You can also add it as a source of protein to pasta dishes with sauce, like shrimp Alfredo. Cooking large shrimp takes about three minutes. 

Jumbo Shrimp 

Jumbo shrimp range between 10 and 12 shrimp per pound. Use jumbo shrimp for appetizers like bacon-wrapped shrimp. Jumbo works perfectly with entrees, such as grilled shrimp skewers with chimichurri. Cooking defrosted jumbo shrimp in hot, boiling water or a skillet takes approximately three minutes. 

Colossal and Super Colossal shrimp 

Colossal and Super Colossal shrimp are a surefire way to make any meal stand out. With counts ranging between 8-12 shrimp per pound, these succulent seafood treats will be the star of any show. Whether you serve them chilled as a decadent appetizer, butterflied and stuffed, or BBQ'd, colossal shrimp bring an unbeatable flavor that can't be matched. Plus, with cooking times faster than red meat proteins, these delightful delights won't keep your guests waiting all night.

Helpful Shrimp Sizing Chart

Shrimp Type (Varies)

 

Shrimp Per Pound

 

Super Colossal

U/12

Colossal

U/15

Extra Jumbo

16/20

Jumbo

21/25

Extra Large

26/30

Large

31/35

Medium Large

36/40

Medium

41/50

Small

51/60

Extra Small

61/70

 

How Does Shrimp Sizing Work? 

Let's begin by cutting through the jargon. The bigger the shrimp size, the lower the count per pound. For instance, the 61/70 label on the extra-small shrimp package means a pound contains 61 to 70 fresh shrimp.

What does "U" mean in shrimp packaging? The letter stands for "under" and is used on the biggest-sized shrimp. U15 indicates that one pound of shrimp contains 15 pieces or less.

How do Head and Tail Affect Shrimp Sizes

The Louisiana Direct Seafood's Handbook reveals an interesting fact about shrimp sizing: when you buy them with their heads and shells still intact, they become two counts bigger than the size label implies. So, for instance, if you buy 'colossal large' shrimp with heads and shells on, they become extra-large after peeling.

But don't worry - when it comes to counting how many peeled and deveined shrimp come in a pound, the head and tail don't matter since they have already been removed. So no matter what category of shrimp size you choose, you can rest assured that the weight is as advertised.

Choosing Shrimp Size Based on Cooking Method 

There are several methods of cooking shrimp depending on how you want it and the shrimp size. Let's look into some of these cooking methods:

For Grilling Shrimp

Preheat the grills to around 375-450 degrees. Put the shrimp in a bowl before adding olive oil, salt, garlic, and onion powder. Mix using your hands and place it on the grill and let each side cook for two minutes. Grilling is suitable for cooking shrimp ranging from super colossal to large, because of the intense heat that makes the big-sized shrimp cook faster.

For Baking Shrimp

Cooking shrimp is a breeze with baking. It's the quickest, most convenient, and surefire way to prepare a batch in less than 10 minutes. If baking shrimp, go for something super colossal (U10) to medium height (36/40). You can't go wrong with this speedy, delicious cooking method.

For Sous Vide Shrimp

Sous vide is the key to perfectly cooked shrimp every time. Don't get stuck with overcooked, rubbery shrimp ever again - sous vide will let you achieve textures that just aren't possible with traditional cooking methods. For an optimum outcome, choose small and medium shrimp sizes for your sous vide dish to avoid any risk of overcooking. 

For Shrimp Cocktails 

Cook the shrimp for three to four minutes (depending on the size) before removing the shells or deveining them. You can opt for boiling or steaming your shrimp or pan-fry it. However, steaming is the perfect method of cooking shrimp for cocktails to prevent overcooking. Medium shrimp are the best shrimp for cocktails. 

For Frying Shrimp

Deep-fry the shrimp for two-three minutes, depending on the size of your shrimp, until they have a golden-brown color on the outside and are opaque at the center. Sauté or stir-fry over medium heat and add butter, olive, or margarine. 

Deep fry colossal to extra-large shrimp when butterflying and large to extra small if you choose to fry the whole shrimp. 

Shrimp Count FAQs

The following are some of the frequently asked questions about shrimp count.

What is the average shrimp serving size? 

The recommended shrimp serving per an average person is three ounces. This translates to 11-12 "medium" shrimp, 8-9 "large" shrimp, or just 3 "colossal" shrimp.

How many people will one pound of shrimp feed?

If you’re buying unpeeled raw shrimp, account for the weight lost once the head and shells are removed and purchase about 1/2 lb to 1lb of shrimp per person.

If buying peeled and deveined, tail-off shrimp, you can buy 1/3 lb per person to ensure a 3oz serving after the product is cooked. No matter the size of the shrimp themselves, one pound is one pound. 

How many grams of shrimp is too much?

Consuming 300 grams of shrimp or less per day is an excellent way to add flavor and nutrition to your diet. Shrimp is also a great low-calorie protein source that keeps you feeling full and energetic all day. 

Is it healthy to eat shrimp daily?

There's no harm in eating shrimp daily as long as you don't exceed 300 grams. Shrimp contains the antioxidant astaxanthin that protects your skin from wrinkling and sunburns. 

Cook Shrimp with Confidence Using Prime Shrimp

There you have it. We've covered the types and sizes of shrimp so you can easily determine the size and count of shrimp per pound. To make things simple, Prime Shrimp offers delectable ready-to-cook shrimp in mouthwatering flavors. Show off your shrimp savvy and whip up a delightful meal today!

Shop Gourmet Shrimp Meals Here

Bon Appétit.