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There are many ways of describing shrimp sizes such as jumbo, large or medium as well as with counts such as 21-25 or 26-30. Here we explain the differences and how to choose the right shrimp for your recipe.

Shrimp Sizes

Shrimp Sizes

We often hear shrimp called “jumbo”, “large”, “medium” or “small”. However, since shrimp sizes aren’t standardized, a “jumbo” sized shrimp might have different sizes at different stores. This creates some challenges when following recipes since larger shrimp require more cooking time.

To solve this problem, shrimp are sized according to the weight in the U.S., and a count is used to indicate how many shrimp are in one pound. Shrimp counts are a more accurate way to calculate how many shrimp you need for your recipe.

How Many Shrimp in a Pound

The other confusing thing is that the larger the count, the smaller the shrimp! Huge shrimp may count 10 per pound, while very small shrimp count 60 per pound.

When reading shrimp package labels, you’ll see numbers like 16/20 or 16-20 count. That means there are between 16 and 20 shrimp per pound. Since bigger shrimp are more expensive, it’s important to know you’re getting the actual size you’re paying for!

Medium-size, peeled, tail-on shrimp in a bowl after boiling with a beautiful orange-pink color

Different kinds of shrimp such as white shrimp, pink shrimp and rock shrimp are usually available in multiple sizes. However, mantis shrimp harvested from the southeast tends to be colossal only.

Shrimp Size Chart

The table below shows the counts per pound for each shrimp size. For most sizes, a count range is used. For the largest colossal sizes, a “U” refers to “under” or “fewer than” a certain number in a pound:

Shrimp Size Shrimp Per Pound
Extra Small 61-70
Small 51-60
Medium 41-50
Medium Large 36-40
Large 31-35
Extra Large 26-30
Jumbo 21-25
Extra Jumbo 16-20
Colossal Under 15 (U15)
Super Colossal Under 12 (U12)
Extra Colossal Under 10 (U10)

Note: These numbers are for fresh or frozen shrimp without heads, shell-on or shell-off. Shrimp with heads weigh in one category higher.

Baked Coconut Shrimp made with large pink shrimp

What’s the biggest shrimp size? Extra colossal shrimp is the largest size available in seafood markets with counts as large as 5 shrimp per pound. However, there are Asian tiger shrimp that weigh 7-11 ounces each with a count of just 1-2 per pound!

What’s the smallest shrimp? There are extremely small shrimp with counts like 150 per pound or occasionally even 250-350 per pound, usually labeled incorrectly as extra small shrimp!

Shrimp Sizes in Recipes

Each recipe calls for specific shrimp sizes and there’s an element of personal preference. For example, with Coconut Shrimp you may prefer making them as one-bite appetizers with medium shrimp or as two-bite appetizers with jumbo shrimp.

Just bear in mind to adjust the cooking time to the different size shrimp, i.e. larger shrimp will need extra cooking time, whereas smaller shrimp will require less cooking time.

More about shrimp:

Jumbo honey garlic shrimp served on brown rice with broccoli and garnished with sliced green onions

Shrimp Serving Size

For menu planning, it’s sometimes helpful to know how many shrimp you get per serving. Here’s what to expect for a 4-oz (113 gram) serving:

  • Colossal shrimp: 1-4 per serving
  • Jumbo shrimp: 5-6 per serving
  • Large shrimp: 7-9 per serving
  • Medium shrimp: 10-12 per serving
  • Small shrimp: 13-18 per serving

How many calories in a pound of shrimp?

Shrimp is considered to be a low-calorie food according to Healthline with 449 calories in one pound of cooked shrimp, or 112 calories per 4-oz serving (before other ingredients are added).

Shrimp recipes:

View all shrimp recipes

Editor note: Originally published Jan 26, 2018 and updated Nov 12, 2019