How Much Shrimp to Serve Per Person

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If you’re hosting a seafood party, or just planning to serve shrimp for dinner, you might be wondering how much shrimp to serve per person. 

It can be hard to estimate the amount of food you need, especially when it comes to shrimp, but there is a rule of thumb to follow.

The rule of thumb when you are buying shrimp for a feast is to get 3/4 pounds (12 ounces) of raw and unpeeled shrimp per person. If you’re buying cooked and peeled shrimp, then 1/3 pound (5-6 ounces) per person will suffice.

» You might like How to Cook Frozen Crab Legs.

coconut shrimp

One thing to note about all of our estimations below is that we are giving the weight of raw, unpeeled shrimp, which differs greatly from cooked, peeled shrimp. As one of our commenters pointed out, “the yield of actual ‘meat’ is typically about 50% of the unpeeled weight (pretty much regardless of the size of the shrimp).”

So when we say 3/4 pound (12 ounces), this will yield approximately 6 ounces of meat. As for serving sizes, for many people 6 ounces is a large portion and for some it’s not. This is why we use generalizations and help you make more detailed estimates below.

Shrimp by Size

Another general rule to use is shrimp size.

TypeShrimp per poundAppetizer serving sizeEntrée serving size

You can use the serving sizes listed above to determine how many shrimp to serve based on the size of shrimp you’re purchasing.

These are just basic estimates however, and there are a few more considerations you should make before you shop, because shrimp comes in all different sizes and there are many different serving sizes, depending on what you’re making. So let’s break it down.

skewered shrimp

Determining How Much Shrimp Per Person to Serve


First, know the number of guests you’ll be serving. Determining the headcount will give you a good idea of the total amount of shrimp you need. Will it be a small party of 4 or a large party of 20+? 

Age, Gender, and Appetite

Second, consider your guests’ ages, genders, and appetites. Younger guests or those with lighter appetites consume less shrimp. But, older guests or those with larger appetites (men vs women) may need more.

If you have 10 people at the party, but 5 of them are small children, you definitely don’t need 10 pounds of shrimp. For the little ones, 1/2 pound of raw unpeeled shrimp is more than enough, so 7-8 pounds will be enough shrimp.

If you have 10 people at the party and most of them are large men who eat a lot, you might need to increase the basic number to account for their appetite. In this case, 13-14 pounds of raw unpeeled shrimp would be sufficient.

What Will You Serve It With?

You’ll also want to figure out what other foods you will be serving at the party, as this will affect the serving size of the shrimp. 

If you’re planning to serve a charcuterie plate, multiple appetizers, a side salad, and some bread with the shrimp, then you can cut in half the number of shrimp per person.

If you’re serving other seafood like crab legs, oysters, mussels, and clams at the same time, you can also cut the number of shrimp per person down to a quarter pound.

gulf shrimp

The Type of Shrimp

Finally, you’ll want to consider how you’ll be serving the shrimp. 

This might seem minor, but the way the shrimp is served can greatly impact the amount you’ll need per person.

Shrimp Cocktail

shrimp cocktail

Typically, a single serving of shrimp cocktail is 3 shrimp per person, if you are serving other appetizers and sides. If a shrimp cocktail is your only appetizer, then 5-6 shrimps are more appropriate. However, this greatly depends on the size of the shrimp you choose. I usually choose jumbo or large.

Peel and Eat Shrimp Appetizer 

This is an appetizer that is very popular and guests tend to devour it, without really considering how many they’ve eaten. For that reason, you’ll need to increase the number of shrimp offered.

Preparing 1/2 pound (8 ounces) of shrimp per person is ideal for a peel-and-eat shrimp bowl. Remember that peel and eat shrimp are often medium or large shrimp, and this is the weight of the shrimp with the peel and tail still on.

Shrimp Scampi Main Dish

Shrimp scampi is served either by itself or with rice or pasta. If you serve it without a carb, you will want to serve about 1/2 pound (8 ounces) of shrimp per person (raw, unpeeled shrimp weight). With rice or pasta, you can serve 6 ounces of shrimp. See the sizing chart above for how many shrimp that is.

Tips for Buying and Serving Shrimp for a Boil 

Shrimp boil

When buying shrimp, keep in mind that the shrimp used for boiling is typically raw and still has its shell and tail on. 

The amount of shrimp you’ll need per person depends on what other ingredients you add to the boil. While the shrimp might not be the only dish served, it’ll definitely be the meal’s star.

To ensure that everyone gets their fill, we recommend allowing at least half a pound of shrimp of raw shrimp per person. However, it’s always better to plan for 3/4 pound per guest just to be safe.

Remember that if you’re serving 25 people, you’ll need about 18-19 pounds of shrimp, which can add up quickly. 

But no worries, a little bit of planning ahead can help you budget for the expense and make sure everyone has a delicious time.


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3 thoughts on “How Much Shrimp to Serve Per Person

  1. Nortin says:

    I am really thankful for this information. I took shrimp cocktail to a party at my friends house and we had just the right amount.

  2. Howard Riley says:

    Hi Laura.

    Very informative article packed with useful data and pertinent aspects to consider when planning a shrimp-fest! If I can offer a couple of points of – I hope – constructive criticism:

    You say early on 12 oz per person as a ‘rule of thumb’; I’ve found in practice that the yield of actual ‘meat’ is typically about 50% of the unpeeled weight (pretty much regardless of the size of the shrimp) so this corresponds to about 6 oz raw peeled shrimp per person. But later you speak of 3 to 4 oz per person – quite a difference. I get that portion size is highly subjective (and you very properly qualify the guidance by covering aspects like the potential appetites of guests, what the accompaniment will be, plus whether not it’s an appetizer vs entree) but I believe that mentioning two markedly different ‘baseline’ portion sizes is going to confuse people: the exact opposite of what you set out to do.

    Secondly, you might like to take a look at the section headed ‘The Basics of Shrimp’, in which there are some anomalies in the shrimp size counts between the table values and those in the bulleted list below.

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