In order to predict the distribution of shrinkage porosity in steel ingot efficiently and accurately, a criterion R√L and a method to obtain its threshold value were proposed. The criterion R√L was derived based on the solidification characteristics of steel ingot and pressure gradient in the mushy zone, in which the physical properties, the thermal parameters, the structure of the mushy zone and the secondary dendrite arm spacing were all taken into consideration. The threshold value of the criterion R√L was obtained with combination of numerical simulation of ingot solidification and total solidification shrinkage rate. Prediction of the shrinkage porosity in a 5.5 ton ingot of 2Cr13 steel with criterion R√L>0.21 m･℃1/2･s -3/2 agreed well with the results of experimental sectioning. Based on this criterion, optimization of the ingot was carried out by decreasing the height-to-diameter ratio and increasing the taper, which successfully eliminated the centreline porosity and further proved the applicability of this criterion.