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Help! How much shrimp for an engagement party for 75-80 people?

I have zero idea how much shrimp to order for an engagement party I'm throwing this weekend. There will be around 80 people there. We're also serving ham biscuits, beef tenderloin sandwiches, deviled eggs, tomato tarts, pimento cheese toasts and a couple of other little things like crudite and cheese straws. The theme is Southern if you can't tell. :)

Anyway, I'm having the shrimp boiled and peeled at a local restaurant but I need to go order them today and have no clue how much to get!

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  1. Will the shrimp be served chilled with a dipping sauce or as part of a recipe that includes other ingredients? The size of the shrimp will make a difference. If they're chilled with dipping sauce I'd figure five per person. But shrimp with a dipping sauce doesn't, IMO, fit a southern menu. Tossed in a spicy sauce (Louisiana style) perhaps.
    Most recipes that I've experienced recommend 1/4 pound per person but that's generally based on the shrimp being the main course. Your shrimp, as I understand it, is just one more element accompanying a number of other dishes so 1/4 pound per person might be overkill.
    Remember that size does matter when selecting the amount of shrimp you order. For example, salad shrimp is about the size of a nickle, jumbo shrimp is about the size of a dollar bill. Extra Large Shrimp, which are about 3/4 to one ounce each and are delivered in amounts of 16 - 20 shrimp per pound are what I believe you have in mind for your party. Assuming bit everyone would be eating the shrimp and that 3 - 5 shrimp per person should be sufficient for this type of event (and I'd figure five just to be safe) you'll need twenty pounds (as FrankJBN pointed out)

    1. 1/4 pouind per person or 20 pounds

      1. The size we use for Apps. are21-25's. Count on 2 per person with all the other items you have.
        That would give you about 7 pounds. I always do a little over so I would order 8 pounds.

        4 Replies
        1. re: chefj

          Even serving jumbos, which I rarely see at parties, 2 shrimp per person? I don't believe I have ever eaten only two shrimp. Two shrimp come as garnish on a drink.

          I figure 6-8 large-extra large per person, around 1/4 pound.

          1. re: FrankJBN

            For the last 11 years that is what we send out on Jobs and we have no problems. This is just one 8th of the items that were mentioned. So if you put out a quarter pound of each item that is 2 pounds of food per person.

          2. re: chefj

            I concur with chefj.
            I love serving shrimp apps for large parties, and they always get devoured no matter how many #'s are prepared. I serve 2 per skewer, 21-25's. And they all get devoured.

            1. re: escargot3

              As a long-time caterer, IME, you can NEVER have enough shrimp. 3-5 per person if using large 21-25's would be nice if your budget can afford it... However, no matter if you order 1/4 lb., 8 per person, etc. you are likely to run out of shrimp before the party is over, unless you serve them with something like tossed in a cilantro pesto that not everyone will like. Obviously, you wouldn't do that for a southern theme, but point made:)

              Just sayin', from 20+ years experience 'you can never have enough shrimp"

          3. It does depend on the size but generally 3 per person with all the other food. Some won't eat any.

            1. All good replies, but I'm wondering if the chef at the restaurant could give you a tip also.....

              1. The last thing you want is to run out. Size doesn't matter. Order by weight, not quantity.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Scoutmaster

                  I respectively disagree. Size does matter, depending on how the shrimp is used.
                  http://www.certi-fresh.com/sizing_cha...

                  1. re: todao

                    How does the size change the amount someone would eat? A 1/4 lb is a 1/4 lb regardless.

                    1. re: Scoutmaster

                      Biting into a really large poached shrimp that takes several bites to eat is much more satisfying than eating a tiny 35/40 shrimp.

                      Plus, if you count weight with shell and tail on, larger shrimp give more meat ration per lb. than smaller sizes. 1/4 is not a 1/4 being equal at all shrimp sizes. Of course, you certainly pay for the larger sizes accordingly.

                2. if you can use tablesspoons or shot glassed instesd of "displaying" or 'staionary, try shrimp cocktail "shooters" and or "butler" or pass the shrimp a little at a time. best size ....
                  10-15 PINKS. browns or whites do not have a nice color for cocktail

                  1. As much as you can afford, & 15-20 lbs. sounds like a good starting point- that should hold them for a couple of hours...I have never seen leftover shrimp...