Shrimp Sizes and Counts per Pound
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Shrimp Sizes and Counts per Pound ♡ an easy guide to shrimp size and counts & how different sizes are used in cooking, including a handy shrimp sizes chart!
In this article:
Shrimp Size Basics | How to Read Shrimp Sizes | Common Sizes and Counts | Shrimp Size Chart | Best Cooking Uses Per Size | FAQs
Cooking with shrimp is one of the quickest, most delicious (and healthy!) ways to add protein to any meal. But before you grab just any shrimp, there’s something important to note: shrimp size matters! Shrimp come in a variety of sizes, and each size works best for different types of dishes.
Whether you’re looking to create an amazing shrimp cocktail or add some texture to your tacos, choosing the right-sized shrimp is key + knowing how to read shrimp labels will help save you time and frustration while shopping at the grocery store.
Shrimp Size Basics
Having a good understanding of standard sizing and count per pound makes meal planning and grocery shopping much easier. Here are the basics you’ll want to know.
How to Read Shrimp Sizes
So how do you read shrimp sizing? In the seafood industry, shrimp are labeled by the number of pieces in a pound. You can find this number on 1) the bag of frozen shrimp or 2) labels at the seafood counter.
This bag of frozen shrimp is labeled “16-20,” which means 16 to 20 shrimp in one pound.
Note: some brands may call 16/20 “Jumbo,” while others refer to the same count as “Extra Jumbo.” For this reason, we recommend buying shrimp based on counts vs. their general size names.
A label with “51/60 count” means there are 51 to 60 pieces of shrimp per pound, which is often called “Small” shrimp. Whereas “U/10 count” refers to 10 or fewer pieces in a pound or “Extra Colossal” shrimp. The smaller the number, the larger the shrimp.
The smaller the number, the larger the shrimp.
E.G., Extra Colossal 10 and under, Tiny shrimp 71+
Common Shrimp Sizes and Counts per Pound
Here is a breakdown of common shrimp sizes and what they mean:
Extra colossal – 10 or under pieces of shrimp in a pound. (U/10 count)
Super colossal – 12 or fewer pieces of shrimp in a pound. (U/12 count)
Colossal – 15 or under pieces of shrimp in a pound. (U/15 count)
Extra jumbo – 16 to 20 pieces of shrimp in a pound. (16/20 count)
Jumbo – 21 to 25 pieces of shrimp in a pound. (21/25 count)
Extra large – 26 to 30 pieces of shrimp in a pound. (26/30 count)
Large – 31 to 40 pieces of shrimp in a pound. (31/40 count)
Medium-large – 36 to 40 pieces of shrimp in a pound. (36/40 count)
Medium – 41 to 50 pieces of shrimp in a pound. (41/50 count)
Small – 51 to 60 pieces of shrimp in a pound. (51/60 count)
Extra small – 61 to 70 pieces of shrimp in a pound. (61/70 count)
Tiny or salad style – 71+ pieces of shrimp in a pound. (71+ count)
Note: while these numbers will give you an estimated size range and count per pound for each type of shrimp, there will always be some variation.
In non-coastal or rural areas, it might be harder to find the “Colossal” and larger shrimp without special ordering or visiting a specialty seafood market. For example, here in Montana, we can usually find sizes ranging from “Extra Small” to “Extra Jumbo” at our local grocery stores. (Frozen or thawed-from-frozen in the fresh seafood case.)
Shrimp Size Chart
If all this feels overwhelming, don’t worry—here is a handy chart that provides a quick and easy reference for shrimp sizing, including counts, serving sizes, and approximate actual size in inches.
|Size of Shrimp||Count per Pound (uncooked)||Serving Size (3 ounces, cooked)||Approx. Size in Inches (raw)|
|Extra colossal||U/10*||2 – 3 shrimp||4+ inches|
|Super colossal||U/12*||2 – 3 shrimp||4+ inches|
|Colossal||U/15*||3 – 4 shrimp||3.5+ inches|
|Extra jumbo||16/20||4 – 5 shrimp||3 – 3.5 inches|
|Jumbo||21/25||5 – 6 shrimp||3 – 3.5 inches|
|Extra large||26/30||6 – 8 shrimp||2.5 – 3.5 inches|
|Large||31/40||8 – 10 shrimp||2.5 – 3 inches|
|Medium-large||36/40||9 – 10 shrimp||2 – 2.5 inches|
|Medium||41/50||10 – 13 shrimp||1.5 – 2 inches|
|Small||51/60||12 – 15 shrimp||1.5 inches & under|
|Extra small||61/70||15 – 18 shrimp||1 inch & under|
|Tiny or salad||71+||17+ shrimp||.5 inch & under|
*U means under. For example, U/10 means a count of 10 and under.
*Approximate inches are an estimate based on average shrimp size and will vary.
What is the average size of a shrimp?
The smallest shrimp are well under 1/2 inch (as small as 2mm or .07 inches), while the largest shrimp can be as big as 8 inches. The average size is 1.5 to 3 inches, according to Britannica.
What is the serving size of shrimp?
Let’s look at shrimp serving sizes in terms of both ounces and shrimp counts.
According to the FDA, the serving size for seafood, including shrimp, is 3 ounces, cooked. However, shrimp count is the number of pieces in a pound of raw, uncooked shrimp. Because shrimp can lose up to 25% of their weight after cooking, a serving size is 3 ounces cooked, and approximately 4 ounces raw.
4 ounces raw × (1 – .25) = 3 ounces cooked
*shrimp can lose about 25% of their weight after cooking
The number of shrimp per serving depends on the size of the shrimp. A serving of tiny salad shrimp (71+ per pound) is close to 17+ shrimp, while a serving of Colossal (U/15) shrimp is 3 to 4 shrimp. See the serving size column in the chart above for the approximate serving size for each shrimp size (in terms of cooked shrimp).
Count per lb ÷ 16 oz = count per ounce
Count per ounce × 4 oz = # of shrimp per serving
*71+ count/lb ÷ 16 oz x 4 oz/serving = 17+ tiny shrimp per serving
How much shrimp per person?
If shrimp is the main entrée, plan to use at least 4 ounces per person, raw (approximately 3 ounces cooked). Some people plan for 6 to 8 ounces per person to have plenty and be on the safe side. If your meal is similar to a shrimp boil where many other ingredients will be added, you can use safely use 4 ounces per person.
Best Cooking Uses per Size
Now that we have size and counts covered, what are the best sizes to use for different shrimp dishes like shrimp cocktail, shrimp boils, and tacos? Here is a quick reference—although it’s not an all-inclusive list—it will give you a general idea of how different sizes can be used in various main courses and appetizers.
|Size of Shrimp/Count||Best Used for||Common Dishes|
|Extra colossal (U/10)|
Super colossal (U/12)
|Main entreés, stuffed, peel & eat||Stuffed shrimp, baked shrimp, shrimp cocktail|
|Extra jumbo (16/20)|
Extra large (26/30)
|Peel & eat, stand-alone entreés||Shrimp cocktail, fried shrimp, coconut shrimp|
|The main attraction in pasta, stir-fries, tacos, boils, soups||Shrimp cocktail, boils,|
tacos, shrimp scampi, coconut shrimp, pasta
Extra small (61/70)
Tiny or salad (71+)
|Integrated into dishes like salads, pastes, fillings||Shrimp tacos, salads, shrimp rolls, popcorn shrimp|
*We’ve grouped some sizes together in this chart as they are very similar and often used for the same purpose.
Most cooking methods are suitable for all sizes of shrimp, but here are a few important things to note:
Baking – for baked shrimp, stick to larger sizes like Extra Large to Colossal. Smaller sizes are easy to overcook in the oven.
Barbecue/Grilling – plan to use Large to Colossal sizes, and skewer when possible.
Deep Frying – all sizes can be easily fried, but consider butterflying anything Jumbo or larger to help them cook properly.
Pan Frying/Sautéing, Steaming, Boiling, and Broiling – will work great for all sizes, just be careful not to overcook the smaller sizes.
What size shrimp is best for shrimp cocktail?
When it comes to the perfect shrimp cocktail, you’ll want to choose Extra Large (26 to 30 count), Jumbo (21 to 25 count), or Extra Jumbo (16 to 20 count) shrimp with the tail on. These are sizes are perfect for dipping and make for easy hanging around the rim of bowls and cocktail glasses.
What shrimp size is best for a shrimp boil?
For a delicious shrimp boil, choose Large (31 to 40 count) or Extra-Large (26 to 30 count) shrimp. Not too large, not too small. This size will mix well with other ingredients like red potatoes, andouille sausage, and halved or quartered ears of corn.
What size shrimp is best for tacos?
The best shrimp size for tacos is a personal preference, in our opinion. However, it is common to use small (51 to 60 count) or medium (41 to 50 count) shrimp. But you can use larger shrimp and cut them into pieces.
What shrimp size is best for popcorn shrimp?
If you’re looking for the perfect size for popcorn shrimp, opt for Small (51 to 60 count), Extra Small (61 to 70 count), and Tiny (71+ count). Medium (41 to 50 count) shrimp can also work great, depending on how large you’d like your pieces of popcorn shrimp.
What size shrimp for baked stuffed shrimp?
For best baked stuffed shrimp, you’ll want to use Extra Jumbo (16 to 20 count) to Colossal-sized (U/10 to U/15 count) shrimp. These large shellfish sizes are perfect for stuffing and standing up to heat and longer cook times.
Frequently Asked Questions
Extra Colasssal (U/10) and Super Colossal (U/12) shrimp are the largest shrimp sizes for cooking. But, when buying shrimp, be sure to look at the counts per pound. Colossal shrimp can be labeled as such, but have a count per pound of 16 to 20, actually making it Extra Jumbo shrimp.
When someone refers to “16 20 shrimp” this means 16 to 20 shrimp per pound or Extra Jumbo shrimp.
A label of “21 25 shrimp” means 21 to 25 shrimp per pound or Jumbo shrimp.
When someone refers to “26 30 shrimp” this means 26 to 30 shrimp per pound or Extra Large shrimp.
A label of “41 50 shrimp” means 41 to 50 shrimp per pound or Medium shrimp.
When referencing shrimp size, “31 40 shrimp” is Large shrimp, meaning 31 to 40 shrimp in a pound.
Now you know the basics of shrimp size and counts per pound. Don’t forget to save this page to quickly reference the shrimp size chart when meal planning or preparing your grocery order or shopping list.
Shrimp Cooking Tips & Recipes
- How to cook shrimp
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- Bacon-wrapped water chestnuts
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- Easy shrimp fondue
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