How to Cook Shrimp

Shrimp have a delicate seafood flavor that pairs well with various spices and sauces. They cook quickly, making them an excellent choice for weeknight dinners or other meals you have to make in a hurry. Shrimp are delicious boiled, sautéd on the stove, or grilled in the backyard.

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time (boil): 6-12 minutes
  • Total time: 30-40 minutes


  • Shrimp
  • Water
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. 1
    Choose fresh or frozen shrimp. Most markets carry both fresh and frozen shrimp.
    • If you choose fresh shrimp, the flesh should be translucent white and the shell should be light grey. Be sure the shrimp is not leaking liquid.
    • Frozen shrimp comes either precooked or uncooked. These cooking methods are for uncooked shrimp.
  2. 2
    Choose shrimp with or without shells. Fresh shrimp are often sold pre-peeled. If you buy shrimp with shells, you will have to peel them yourself.
    • Shrimp can be peeled either before or after cooking. Many find it easier to peel cooked shrimp. Cooking with the shells on also helps preserve the flavor.
    • To peel shrimp, grasp the legs and tear them off. Open the shell along the inner curve of the body and remove it.
    • Shrimp shells can be used to make shrimp stock.
  3. 3
    Devein the shrimp. Devein the shrimp after they have been peeled. It's easier to devein shrimp before they are cooked.
    • Use a sharp paring knife to cut a slit along the outer curve of the shrimp's body. The cut will reveal a dark brown or black vein, the shrimp's digestive tract. Use your fingers, a fork or the paring knife to lift it out of the shrimp and discard it.
    • The vein is not unhealthy to eat, but many people prefer not to.

Method One of Three:
Boil Shrimp

  1. 1
    Prepare the shrimp. Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you plan to cook them. Rinse them with cool water and allow them to sit at room temperature.
    • Shrimp can be boiled with their peels on or after they have been peeled.
  2. 2
    Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the shrimp completely.
  3. 3
    Bring the water to a full, rolling boil on high heat.
  4. 4
    Add the shrimp to the pot. Make sure they are completely submerged.
  5. 5
    Allow the shrimp to cook for 1 to 2 minutes. As the water begins to heat again, watch for small bubbles to break the surface of the water. This will occur after about 1 to 2 minutes, depending on how much water is in the pot. When you see the bubbles, remove the pot from the heat.
  6. 6
    Cover the pot and steep the shrimp. Allow them to continue cooking in the hot water for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp. They will turn pink when they are finished cooking.
  7. 7
    Drain the shrimp. Pour the shrimp into a strainer or colander to drain them. Serve warm.
    • If you didn't peel your shrimp before cooking them, you can either serve them with the peel on and allow people to peel their own shrimp, or peel the shrimp yourself when they're finished cooking and serve them that way.

Method Two of Three:
Sauté Shrimp

  1. 1
    Prepare the shrimp. Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator and rinse them under cool water. Shake the excess water from the shrimp.
    • Peel the shrimp if you would like to cook them without the shells.
    • Leave the shells on if you prefer to peel them after they are cooked.
  2. 2
    Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and swirl it around the pan.
  3. 3
    Place the shrimp in the skillet. Arrange them in a single layer, making sure they don't overlap.
  4. 4
    Cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes. The side touching the pan will begin to turn pink.
  5. 5
    Flip the shrimp and cook the other side. Make sure each shrimp gets flipped. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the second side is pink. The shrimp are finished when they have turned bright pink and the flesh is opaque white, rather than translucent.
  6. 6
    Remove the shrimp from heat. Serve warm.

Method Three of Three:
Grill Shrimp

  1. 1
    Prepare the grill. Light a coal or gas grill to medium high heat.
  2. 2
    Prepare the shrimp. Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator and rinse them in cool water. Shake the excess water from the shrimp.
  3. 3
    Thread the shrimp onto skewers. Pierce the skewers through both the tail and the thickest part of the shrimp toward the head.
    • Metal or wooden skewers are both fine to use. If you use wooden skewers, soak them in water for 10 minutes before threading the shrimp onto them. This will prevent the skewers from burning.
    • Consider threading the skewers with onion slices, green and red pepper slices, and other vegetables with the shrimp.
  4. 4
    Brush the shrimp with oil. Lightly cover the shrimp with olive oil on both sides. Season it with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. 5
    Lay the shrimp skewers on the grill. Cook them on one side for 3 - 4 minutes. Turn them and cook on the other side for another 3-4 minutes. The shrimp are done when they're bright pink and the flesh is opaque.
  6. 6
    Remove the shrimp from heat. Take the shrimp off the skewers and serve hot.
  7. 7

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • Do I need to de-vein the shrimp?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • You don't have to (eating veined shrimp is not unhealthy), but most people prefer de-veined shrimp.
    Thanks! 24 5
  • What can I use to cook shrimp with spices?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Salt and pepper, as usual, then lemon, orange or lime peelings (dried or fresh and without white part) and garlic. You can also try with ginger, coconut milk or curry for an exotic taste.
    Thanks! 25 7
  • Can I reheat frozen shrimp that have already been cooked before serving them?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes, but try to thaw them first in a bowl of cold water. This way, you won't have to worry about overcooking them. If you overcook the shrimp, they will become tough and chewy.
    Thanks! 24 7
  • If shrimp is half white and half flesh color after being thawed, is it good or bad?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • These shrimp are cooked. But they could still be bad if expired. The color does not determine if they are fresh or expired.
    Thanks! 23 7
  • Can you bread or batter shrimp?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes. There are different batters in the seafood aisle at your local grocery store.
    Thanks! 26 9
  • Do you have to cook raw shrimp, or can you eat it raw?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Some people eat it raw, but it is risky, as it can contain bacteria and other microorganisms that are killed by cooking. If you want to eat it raw, it's best to know where your shrimp comes from and make sure that it is from a relatively clean area.
    Thanks! 5 1
  • How long would I boil very large shrimp (6 in a lb.)?
    Answered by Brenda Bell
    • If steeping according to the instructions in Method 1, you should allow 12-14 minutes. However, extra large shrimp (4-6 per pound) are excellent for grilling and will usually cook to perfection in 3-4 minutes per side on a hot grill.
    Thanks! 12 7
  • Can shrimp be cooked with bourbon and butter?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes it can. I like to melt the bourbon and butter together and then sautée them over a bed of onions and bacon.
    Thanks! 9 5
  • Can the water used to cook the shrimp be used to enhance the flavor of soup?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes. You could use it as a stock for other dishes as long as it has boiled properly.
    Thanks! 1 0
  • How can I cook the shrimp so that it won't be hard to peel?
    Answered by Brenda Adams Bell
    • Shrimp are actually very easy to peel regardless of how they're cooked. First pull the legs off. Then break the shell along one side of the belly from the head to the tail. Tear away the shell in one piece leaving the tail and the first joint. Hold the flesh with one hand, squeeze the first joint gently with the other hand, and pull.
    Thanks! 7 9
Show more answers
  • How do I cook frozen raw shrimp without the shell and how long do I need to cook it
  • Can I cook raw, peeled shrimp in tomato sauce or do I need to cook it first?
  • How do I devein the shrimp?
  • If steaming a 3 lb large shrimp in a 60 quart pot, how long do they generally take to cook?
  • How long can I leave sauteed shrimp that I've marinated at room temperature before serving?
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Quick Summary

To cook shrimp, start by peeling and deveining the shrimp if it hasn't been done already. Then, fill a pot with enough water to cover all of the shrimp and bring it to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, add the shrimp and cook them for 1-2 minutes. Then, cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the shrimp cook for an additional 5-10 minutes or until they're pink. Finally, drain the shrimp in a colander and serve.


  • If you must thaw shrimp quickly, submerse the unopened bag in a large bowl of room temperature water just long enough to soften them. Transfer the bag to the refrigerator until thawed.
    0 Helpful?  0
  • Electric burners retain a significant amount of residual heat after the burner is turned off. When you use the boiling method, you must move the pot to a cool burner.
    0 Helpful?  0


  • Consuming raw shellfish can be a health risk. Test the largest shrimp to make sure there is no translucent flesh in the center of the shrimp before serving.
    0 Helpful?  0

Things You'll NeedEdit

  • Pot
  • Skillet
  • Grill

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About This Article

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Co-authors: 25
Views: 1,317,884
Categories: Prawns and Shrimp

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