What size shrimp are 16 to 20 per pound?

Shrimp are sold by count per pound, meaning the number listed, such as 16/20, refers to how many individual shrimp make up a pound. So a 16/20 shrimp means there will be 16 to 20 shrimp in one pound. The lower the count number, the larger the shrimp size, since fewer are needed to make a pound. Here’s a quick overview of common shrimp sizes based on count per pound:

Quick Guide to Shrimp Sizes

  • 16/20 count – Extra jumbo, about 1 oz per shrimp
  • 21/25 count – Jumbo, about 0.8 oz per shrimp
  • 26/30 count – Extra large, about 0.7 oz per shrimp
  • 31/35 count – Large, about 0.6 oz per shrimp
  • 36/40 count – Medium large, about 0.5 oz per shrimp
  • 41/50 count – Medium, about 0.4 oz per shrimp
  • 51/60 count – Small, about 0.3 oz per shrimp

As you can see, a lower count size like 16/20 indicates bigger shrimp since fewer are needed to make a pound. Let’s look more in depth at what the 16/20 shrimp size means.

What is a 16/20 Shrimp Size?

A 16/20 count shrimp means there will be 16 to 20 shrimp per pound. This is considered an extra jumbo or colossal shrimp size. Specifically:

  • There will be a minimum of 16 shrimp in one pound
  • There will be a maximum of 20 shrimp in one pound
  • The average is about 18 shrimp in one pound

Since there are fewer shrimp needed to make up one pound, the individual shrimp are quite large. A 16/20 shrimp averages about 1 ounce each in weight. That equals about 4 or 5 per quarter pound.

Typical Dimensions of a 16/20 Shrimp

In terms of dimensions, a 16/20 count shrimp is typically:

  • 3.5 to 4 inches long
  • About 0.75 inches in diameter

This makes them one of the largest shrimp categories available. Only U12 or “under 12” per pound shrimp are larger, and those colossal shrimp can have less than 12 shrimp per pound.

Other Names for 16/20 Count Shrimp

You may also see 16/20 count shrimp referred to by these names:

  • Colossal
  • Extra jumbo
  • Monster
  • Sea monster
  • Jumbo lump

So if you see any of those names, it refers to the largest commonly available shrimp at around 16 to 20 shrimp per pound. Jumbo, extra large, and large shrimp are progressively smaller than the colossal 16/20 size.

Comparing 16/20 Count to Other Popular Shrimp Sizes

Here’s how the 16/20 size compares to other common shrimp counts per pound:

16/20 vs. 21/25 (Jumbo)

21/25 count shrimp are also considered jumbo size. There will be 21 to 25 shrimp per pound. So they are just slightly smaller and more per pound compared to 16/20. Jumbo 21/25 shrimp average:

  • 0.8 ounces each
  • About 3 to 3.5 inches long

16/20 vs 26/30 (Extra Large)

The 26/30 size is categorized as extra large shrimp. There will be 26 to 30 shrimp per pound. So again, moderately smaller than 16/20 shrimp. Extra large 26/30 shrimp average:

  • 0.7 ounces each
  • 3 to 3.25 inches long

16/20 vs. 36/40 (Medium Large)

With 36 to 40 shrimp making up one pound, these are considered medium large shrimp, noticeably smaller than 16/20. You’ll get more per serving with 36/40 count. They average:

  • 0.5 ounces each
  • 2.5 to 3 inches long

16/20 vs. 51/60 (Small)

Once you get up to the 51/60 range, you’re looking at smaller shrimp. There will be 51 to 60 shrimp in a pound. These are great for shrimp cocktails and appetizers where you want to maximize the number. At this size, they average:

  • 0.3 ounces each
  • 2 to 2.5 inches long

As you can see, the 16/20 size is substantially larger than these smaller shrimp which can have up to 60 per pound compared to a maximum of 20 for 16/20.

Popular Uses for 16/20 Size Shrimp

The extra large size and mild flavor of 16/20 shrimp make them adaptable to many cooking methods and recipes. Here are some of the most popular uses:


These jumbo shrimp are perfect for grilling, broiling, or barbecuing. Their size allows them to hold up well on skewers or the grill without overcooking. A little olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs or spices and they make an impressive and fast entree.

Stir fries and sautes

Cook the shrimp briefly in a hot pan or wok to use in stir fries, sautes, pasta dishes, and more. Their size enables them to be cut into large, uniform pieces if desired.


Chilled grilled or boiled shrimp stand out in fresh garden salads. Their size and texture complements leafy greens, vegetables, and lighter vinaigrettes.


A classic shrimp cocktail really benefits from the visual impact of jumbo shrimp. Their meaty bite makes for a satisfying starter. Serve chilled with cocktail sauce.

Seafood platters

A mixed platter with oysters, clams, crab legs, and a few extra large shrimp makes an impressive presentation. The varieties in textures and flavors come together beautifully.

Buying 16/20 Count Shrimp

You can find fresh and frozen 16/20 count shrimp at many grocery stores, specialty seafood markets, warehouse clubs, and online seafood retailers. Here are some tips for buying:

  • Look for plump, firm shrimp with a mild sea aroma. Avoid mushy or sour smells.
  • Opt for wild caught shrimp over farm-raised if possible for better texture and flavor.
  • frozen shrimp should be frozen solid with no freezer burn or ice crystals which indicates improper freezing.
  • Buy raw, shell on shrimp for the most versatility in recipes.
  • Peeled and cooked shrimp are quicker to use but lose flavor and texture quality.

The 16/20 extra jumbo size does mean these shrimp cost a bit more per pound than smaller sizes. But the visual impact and enjoyment they provide is worth the splurge for a special meal.

How Many 16/20 Shrimp Per Person?

Since these jumbo shrimp are quite large, you’ll need fewer per serving compared to smaller shrimp sizes. Here are some guidelines for portion sizes:

  • Appetizer: 3-5 shrimp
  • Side dish: 5-7 shrimp
  • Entree: 7-10 shrimp

The rich, sweet flavor of these big shrimp means a little goes a long way. Keep in mind they will cook faster than smaller shrimp. Adjust cooking times down slightly for stir fries, broiling, grilling, or boiling.

Storing 16/20 Shrimp

Raw, shell-on shrimp have the best flavor and texture when very fresh. Follow these storage tips:

  • Use raw shrimp within two days of purchase for peak quality.
  • Store in a colander over a bowl or plate to drain moisture.
  • Place in the coldest part of the refrigerator, ideally under 40°F.
  • Don’t crowd shrimp together which can cause crushing.
  • Precooked or frozen shrimp can be stored longer but lose premium quality. Use frozen shrimp within 3-6 months.

Cooking 16/20 Shrimp

These plump jumbo shrimp cook up fast and tender. Follow these tips for the best results:

  • Defrost – Thaw frozen shrimp overnight in the fridge or place the bag under cold running water for 30 minutes.
  • Peel/Devein – Use kitchen shears or a paring knife to remove the shell. Cut along the back to devein if desired.
  • Season – Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, herbs, spices, garlic, or citrus zest before cooking.
  • Cook – Pan fry 2-3 minutes per side, broil or grill for 2-3 mins per side, or boil 1-2 minutes until opaque.
  • Don’t overcook – The large size means they cook faster than smaller shrimp. Check often to avoid rubbery texture.

Popular Recipes Using 16/20 Shrimp

Here are some top-rated recipes that are perfect for showing off these extra jumbo beauties:

Garlic Butter Baked Shrimp

Jumbo shrimp baked in herbed garlic butter make a quick and easy weeknight dinner. Serve over pasta, rice, or with crusty bread to soak up the juices.

Grilled Shrimp Skewers

Alternate shrimp and colorful vegetables like bell peppers and onions on skewers for a fun and tasty backyard barbecue meal.

Shrimp Cocktail

Served over ice with a spicy cocktail sauce and lemon wedges, these tail-on shrimp are the ultimate party starter.

Seared Sesame Shrimp Salad

Toss crispy sesame-crusted shrimp on a bed of fresh greens, vegetables, and oranges for a light yet satisfying lunch or dinner.

Shrimp Fajitas

Saute shrimp with onions and bell peppers, wrap in warm tortillas, and top with all your favorite fajita toppings for a Mexican fiesta.

Shrimp Facts

Here are some more facts to round out your knowledge about these popular crustaceans:

  • Over 300 species of shrimp exist around the world.
  • The most commonly eaten species include:
    • Whiteleg shrimp
    • Giant tiger prawn
    • Akiami paste shrimp
  • Shrimp are decapod crustaceans related to crabs and lobsters.
  • They have ten legs for swimming and sensitive antennae for sensing food.
  • Shrimp feed on plankton and detritus on the ocean floor.
  • Popular cooking methods include boiling, grilling, sauteing, and baking.
  • The small muscle that runs the length of the back is the edible shrimp “tail.”
  • Most shrimp are caught wild by net fishing or trawling. Some are farm-raised in man-made ponds.
  • The United States imports over 90% of shrimp consumed, with most coming from Southeast Asia and Latin America.
  • Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida lead U.S. shrimping production.

Nutrition Facts for Shrimp

Shrimp provide a number of nutritional benefits, making them a healthy choice as well as a tasty one. Here are some of the nutrition facts for shrimp:

  • Protein – 20-24g protein per 3 ounce serving. Provides over half the recommended daily value.
  • Selenium – 28-34mcg per serving. An antioxidant that supports immune function.
  • Vitamin B12 – 1-2mcg per serving. Key for red blood cell formation.
  • Zinc – 1-2mg per serving. For immune support and wound healing.
  • Iodine – 35-55mcg per serving. Essential for thyroid function.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – 250-350mg per serving. For heart and brain health.
  • Low calorie – 100 calories and 1-2g fat per 3 ounce serving.


In summary, 16/20 count shrimp refer to extra jumbo shrimp that average 16 to 20 individual shrimp per pound. Their large size, mild sweet flavor, and nutritional benefits make them a go-to choice for many shrimp lovers and recipes. Look for plump, fresh-smelling raw shrimp and avoid overcooking these juicy giants to enjoy their premium quality and presentation.

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