How Much Shrimp For a Crowd?


Serving meals to large crowds can be incredibly intimidating, especially if you’re hosting an event that you are catering for and you’re in charge of determining how much of everything you need for each guest. Well, you’re in luck because there are a few different tips and pieces of information that help to lessen the burden on the caterer.

One serving of shrimp is about four ounces a person once cooked. However, it is not unlikely for adults to eat more than four ounces of shrimp if it is served alone as an entree. When buying shrimp that is not yet cooked, one should aim for about 3/4 to 1 pound of shrimp per person.

Fresh steamed shrimp creole with lime on a plank background
Fresh steamed shrimp creole with lime on a plank background

The golden four-to-one ratio of ounces of shrimp to a number of people is very helpful as a caterer, but there’s much more that goes into preparing, presenting, and serving dishes such as shrimp. Shrimp is one type of seafood (meat) that is considered more luxurious or fancy. If one knows how to properly serve shrimp to a crowd, the result can be wonderful.

How many ounces (or pounds) of shrimp do I need per person?

When catering events with crowds, it is essential that there is enough food for every guest, but you also want to avoid being wasteful and spending way more than you need to. Gathering as much information and detail as possible beforehand is the key to avoiding disaster on the day of your event.

How much shrimp will one person eat?

The basic standard serving size for one person is about four ounces. However, if the shrimp is not being served with any other food and as a lone entree, you may want to plan for six ounces per person. Whatever you decide based on your circumstances, do not exceed eight ounces of shrimp per person, or there will be too much wasted. [source]Opens in a new tab.

The table below gives the minimum amount of shrimp needed in relation to how many people there are, all the way up to two hundred people.

Number of PeopleAmount of Shrimp
1040 oz. (2.5 lbs.)
25100 oz. (6.25 lbs.)
50200 oz. (12.5 lbs.)
100400 oz. (25 lbs.)
200800 oz. (50 lbs.)
The table above gives proportions of the amount of shrimp (in ounces) needed in relation to the crowd size (in people).

Factors that may change the amount of shrimp you need per person

Is the amount of shrimp per person the same if the shrimp is bought raw or unpeeled?

If the shrimp you purchase to serve at an event is purchased raw or unpeeled, there will be a different proportion of shrimp to people.

The reason you’ll need to purchase a different (larger) amount of shrimp is that when you handle and peel shrimp it loses about 26% of its initial weight, and when you cook shrimp, it loses almost another 46% of its initial weight.

This means that when you’re doing preparing the shrimp and it’s ready to be served, the weight of the shrimp being served is only equivalent to about 38% of the weight of the raw, unpeeled shrimp that you purchased, to begin with.

Should I purchase more shrimp than I actually need?

You most definitely need to purchase more shrimp than you actually need, whether you’re buying the shrimp unpeeled, peeled, raw, or cooked.

Uncooked and unpeeled shrimp:

Woman peeling raw shrimp on a white table
Woman peeling raw shrimp on a white table

If the shrimp you’re buying is uncooked and unpeeled, you’ll need to multiply the amount of shrimp each guest will eat once it’s properly prepared by at least two and a half.

For example, assume you’re looking at hosting an event that is estimated to have somewhere around one hundred guests. Once cooked and peeled, the guests will eat at least four hundred pounds of shrimp.

You’ll then multiply four hundred by two and a half, which is one thousand ounces of shrimp, or sixty-two and a half pounds of raw, unpeeled shrimp that you’ll need to purchase initially.

Uncooked shrimp (already peeled):

If you are purchasing shrimp pre-peeled but not pre-cooked, you’ll need to multiply the amount of shrimp each guest will eat once it’s properly prepared by at least one and a half.

Sticking with the same example, if you’re preparing shrimp for one hundred guests, they would altogether eat at least four hundred pounds of cooked and peeled shrimp. You’ll then multiply four hundred by one and a half, which is six hundred ounces of shrimp, or at least thirty-seven and a half pounds of raw, peeled shrimp that you’ll purchase initially.

Fully prepared shrimp (already cooked and peeled):

Last, if the shrimp you’re buying for a crowd is already cooked and peeled when you purchase it, as we discussed at the beginning of this section, you should assume your guests will eat more than four ounces of shrimp, just to be safe.

Although it ultimately is up to your own personal discretion how much more shrimp to purchase than you think you’ll need, fifteen to twenty percent more shrimp (multiply the original amount by either 1.15 or 1.2, respectively) should give you enough leeway without wasting an unnecessary quantity of money.

How do I make sure I’m serving the right amount of shrimp?

It’s great to know how many ounces or pounds of shrimp you need per guest at an event with a crowd, but that’s practically pointless if you don’t know how to measure out that pre-decided amount for each guest. [source]Opens in a new tab.

There are two possible types of shrimp that you will have to measure out:

  1. medium shrimp
  2. large shrimp

Medium shrimp: If you’re serving medium-size shrimp and want to shoot for at least four ounces a person, give each guest at least eight pieces of medium shrimp.

Large shrimp: If you’re serving large size shrimp and want to shoot for at least four ounces of shrimp a person, give each guest at least six pieces.

How to present shrimp- shrimp platters

Since shrimp is more of a culinary delicacy, it is incredibly important that it be presented as such.

Of course, there is always the option of single portions on individual plates, but if you are catering or organizing an event that is not intended to be a full course meal, it will likely be much better to consider alternative and more practical presentation options. [source]Opens in a new tab.

Why should I serve shrimp on a platter?

Shrimp cocktail platter with cocktail sauce and lemon
Shrimp cocktail platter with cocktail sauce and lemon

Shrimp on a platter is an iconic culinary setup. Platters are generally seen as fancy and upscale, and anything presented on one automatically looks nicer and more refined. You’ve likely seen shrimp on a platter before and just haven’t thought much of it.

The practical benefit to serving shrimp on a platter is that there is less food wasted. For example, if you give one hundred guests six pieces of shrimp each, and half of them only eat four, there have been one hundred pieces of shrimp waste.

Alternately, if shrimp is served on a platter, most people will take shrimp as they eat, and will end up wasting less because most will only take what they will eat.

What sizes do shrimp platters come in?

There are three main sizes for shrimp platters to come in. They are twelve inches, sixteen inches, and eighteen inches. Each size has a different appeal, depending on how many people are going to be at a table with however many platters.

12 in. platters – Hold somewhere between 8-14 servings.

16 in. platters – Hold somewhere between 14-18 servings.

18 in. platters – Hold around20-30 servings.

How much does a shrimp platter cost?

Shrimp platters can be very cheap. If you want a good-quality one that doesn’t look like it’s as cheap as it really is, you’ll want to shoot for somewhere in the $20-30 range. Really nice shrimp and serving platters can be sometimes up to about fifty or sixty dollars.

For the three sizes of serving platters listed above (12, 16, & 18 in.), the respective prices would be about $25 for a 12-inch platter, $45 for a 16-inch platter, or $55 for an 18-inch shrimp serving platter.

What are some different ways to serve shrimp?

What are the different edible types of shrimp?

There are six main types of shrimp that are generally used as seafood, or for culinary purposes. They are pink shrimp, brown shrimp, white shrimp, rock shrimp, tiger shrimp, and spot shrimp. [source]

Why are shrimp cocktails so popular?

Shrimp cocktail in a martini glass with cocktail sauce inside
Shrimp cocktail in a martini glass with cocktail sauce inside

Shrimp cocktails have been incredibly popular from somewhere around the 1960s to the 1980s. Shrimp cocktails are served in a glass, so they are already viewed as more of a luxurious drink.

Shrimp cocktails incorporate the same conceptual appeal as a lemon on the size of a cold glass of ice water, which is the combination of a drink and an appetizer into one. [source]Opens in a new tab.

What should I pair with shrimp for an event?

Best sides to serve with shrimp

Noodles are one of the most popular side dishes to go with shrimp. This could be in the form of gourmet macaroni, zoodles (zucchini noodles), traditional pasta or Alfredo, etc. [source]Opens in a new tab.

Spinach and kale salad with tomatoes and cucumber
Spinach and kale salad with tomatoes and cucumber

Another popular side dish that goes with shrimp is a salad. [source]Opens in a new tab. A few of the most popular side dish salads are:

  • Mandarin broccoli salad
  • kale salad
  • spinach apple salad
  • strawberry salad with poppy seed dressing
  • roasted sweet potato salad
  • caesar salad
  • & blueberry chicken salad

Best desserts to serve with shrimp

Any dessert that incorporates fruit will go amazingly with any type of seafood, including shrimp. Strawberry, raspberry, and cherry flavors are particularly popular in fruit-based desserts popularly paired with seafood. [source]Opens in a new tab. A few popular ideas to draw from are:

  • strawberry or lemon cheesecake
  • cherry pie
  • cinnamon and banana combinations
  • lemon pudding
  • fruit kebabs
  • chocolate covered strawberries
  • frozen, chocolate-covered bananas
  • orange upside-down cake
  • & strawberry shortcake

Serving shrimp as a main dish

People at a party with a buffet of various food and appetizers
People at a party with a buffet of various food and appetizers

What kinds of events usually serve shrimp as the main dinner entree?

A few events that commonly serve shrimp as a dinner dish are weddings and wedding receptions, banquets or work parties, birthday gatherings, family funeral gatherings, and other large celebratory or appreciatory events.

Why is shrimp so popular?

Shrimp originally became popular because it was available all throughout the year instead of during just one season, and because it wasn’t incredibly expensive. The popularity remained, as shrimp is now a very popular dinner food, sometimes even as most of the meal. [source]Opens in a new tab.

Other than just pure popularity, shrimp does also offer some health benefits, due to its richness in selenium and vitamin B12. [source]Opens in a new tab.

Is shrimp considered a fancy dish?

Shrimp has come to be considered a delicacy, or a generally pretty fancy thing to eat, along with most other seafood.

Seafood became considered such around the 7th century, so the popularity of shrimp with the public is not a new concept. [source]Opens in a new tab.

A shrine for shrimp

Shrimp is one of the most popular meats, or seafood dishes, in the world.

Shrimp is particularly popular in many traditional Chinese dishes and is subsequently popular for consumption in the United States as a bit more of a delicacy than in other parts of the world.

Fresh shrimp with lemon and cocktail sauce
Fresh shrimp with lemon and cocktail sauce

Whatever event intends for the crowd to be served shrimp will be a hit. Since shrimp is so beloved, there are a few specific tactics that will ensure the event is a success, just make sure you remember the main points we have discussed in this article:

  1. Decide if you want your shrimp pre-peeled or pre-cooked.
  2. Get more shrimp than you need.
  3. Present shrimp like the delicacy it is.
  4. Pair the right things with shrimp.

If your catering services incorporate the above reminders, the crowd is sure to be more than pleased. Shrimp is popular for a reason, and if you allow it to do its job, you will be successful.

Anna Silver

Anna Silver is the principal creator of CookForFolks.com, a website dedicated to new go-to original recipes. Inspired by her grandmother’s love of cooking, Anna has a passion for treating the people in her life to delicious homemade food and loves to share her family recipes with the rest of the world.

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