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Sizing Up Shrimp

By Cook's Illustrated Published September 2010

The first step to ensuring perfectly cooked shrimp is buying the right size of shellfish called for in your recipe.

How frustrating, then, that the names for the different shrimp sizes vary from vendor to vendor, so that one company’s large is another company’s extra large. The best way to eliminate ambiguity is to disregard the name and select shrimp based on the actual count per pound, which is clearly labeled on the packaging. The letter U (for “under”) means that there should be fewer than that number of shrimp in a pound; two numbers separated by a slash indicates the range of shrimp per pound in that particular size. Most important: The smaller the number per pound, the bigger the shrimp.

TEST KITCHEN NAMECOUNT PER POUND (U = UNDER)
ColossalU/12 (under 12 per pound)
Extra-JumboU/15
Jumbo16/20 (16 to 20 per pound)
Extra-Large21/25
Large26/30
Medium-Large31/40
Medium41/50
Small51/60
Extra-Small61/70