Do You Have To Thaw Frozen Shrimp?

Most seafood can’t beat shrimp as a delicious ingredient; low-fat, high-protein shrimp is a perfect addition to any meal. Cook shrimp on the grill, poach or steam them; shrimp is a delicacy, but like other varieties of seafood, they are incredibly perishable. So, have you wondered if you should thaw shrimp before cooking?   

Instead of thawing frozen shrimp, it is preferred to cook them frozen because shrimp is small and easy to prepare. It is unnecessary to thaw frozen shrimp before cooking; you can take them straight from the freezer to the cooking pot. Shrimp are delicious when cooked from frozen and taste great.

America’s favorite seafood is shrimp, full of flavor and their quick preparation makes these little crustaceans a favorite on many dinner tables. This article discusses everything you need to know about frozen shrimp, should it be thawed and how to cook it. Read on to find out!

Should Frozen Shrimp be Thawed?

If you prefer, your shrimp can be thawed but cooking shrimp straight from the freezer is more convenient and entirely safe. Unlike salmon and chicken, which must be cooked at the appropriate temperature to ensure safety, shrimp are small, quick, and easy to cook. It is unnecessary to thaw frozen shrimp before cooking; use them straight from the freezer.

Because they are so small shrimp, it is unlikely that you will undercook them. Cooking shrimp from frozen helps prevent overcooking, resulting in more tender and juicer shrimp.

Shrimp are delicious in many dishes, grill them, steam them, poach them, stir-fry them, or serve them chilled. America’s favorite seafood is on many dinner tables each day.

Shrimp is highly perishable and should be handled with care from when it’s in the boat until it reaches the dinner table. Shrimp are typically sold frozen, fresh, or previously frozen and which you choose depends on how you prepare it.

The freshest shrimp are firm with a mild aroma; if you smell anything like ammonia, it means the shrimp is way past fresh. If your shrimp have spots, it is an indication of poor handling. Shrimp in the supermarket is defrosted, and their flesh will seem opaque. Fresh shrimp’s flesh is entirely translucent.

The Types of Shrimp

There are wide varieties of shrimp; the most popular types of shrimp are from the Atlantic Ocean. The colder the water from where the shrimp are harvested, the more succulent the shrimp are.

One of the most favorite shrimps is Tiger shrimp and called so because of the dark body stripes that resemble tiger stripes. Raw shrimp is not pink but a translucent bluish-white color; when shrimp is cooked, they turn from pink to bright orange due to a chemical change that happens.

Once Tiger shrimp is cooked, you won’t be able to tell them from other shrimp varieties. Rock shrimp is another popular shrimp variety named so because of its hard rock-like shell and spiny lobster flavor. These are the common types of shrimp found in most supermarkets.

  • Atlantic Northern Shrimp
  • Aesop Shrimp 
  • Banana Prawn
  • Blue Shrimp 
  • Brown Shrimp
  • Chinese White Shrimp 
  • Pink Shrimp     
  • Rock Shrimp
  • Spot Shrimp 
  • Tiger Shrimp
  • White Shrimp

Shrimp Count Sizes

Count and size generally grade shrimp to make one pound of shrimp. Typically, the higher the number, the smaller the shrimp.

In some countries, jumbo shrimp are called prawns, but the prawn is an entirely different lobster species.

Their size determines the number of shrimps packaged by the pound. These are the available shrimp sizes and counts packaged in one-pound bags.

  • Colossal – Around 10 Shrimp
  • Jumbo – 11 to 15 Shrimp
  • Extra-Large – 16 to 20 Shrimp
  • Large – 21 to 30 Shrimp
  • Medium – 31 to 35 Shrimp
  • Small – 36 to 45 Shrimp
  • Miniature: +/- 100 Shrimp

Don’t Fall for the Typical “Fresh” Shrimp Sign in the Supermarket

If you bought fresh live shrimp from a fishing boat, then sure that shrimp can indeed be called “fresh” However, the shrimp on top of the ice in the supermarket are not genuinely fresh. These shrimps have previously been frozen and thawed for days so they can be sold as fresh.

For the freshest shrimps (if you are not buying from the fishing boat), it is best to buy IQF (individually quick frozen) shrimp.

If shrimp is thawed with their heads intact, they can quickly spoil because the shrimp head contains an enzyme that can degrade the meat if it is not removed immediately from the body after harvesting.

Buy Deveined Frozen Shrimp

If you buy shrimp from the supermarket, make sure you purchase shrimp already deveined. The packaging should say de-veined. If shrimp are frozen and you want to use them directly, it is difficult to clean and de-vein them when they are frozen. Cooking shrimp with the vein intact is unsavory; it’s full of sand and mud and impossible to remove once cooked.

Most frozen shrimp packages are available in different options, de-veined, shelled, and shell intact. Whichever kind you choose depends on what your recipe requires.

Either way, you can cook shrimp from frozen and serve it; there is no need to thaw it. If you choose shelled shrimp to cook, it is easy to remove the shells afterward; just make sure they are de-veined.

Clean Shrimp Thoroughly Before Cooking

When using fresh shrimp, make sure you clean them thoroughly. It is not difficult to remove the vein when the shrimp is fresh. A shrimp’s digestive tract is filled with sand, and the gritty texture is unpleasant when it is cooked intact.

The best way to de-vein and clean shrimp is with a sharp knife or kitchen scissors. Cut a shallow strip on the top of the shrimp from the thick end downward, scrape out the fine black digestive tract, and rinse under clean water to remove any grit. Cleaning shrimp this way allows you to keep the shells on if you prefer to cook them intact while having the vein out. 

Shrimp Shells On or Off?

Some people prefer cooking shrimp with the shells on. Cooking shrimp in the shells adds extra flavor and prevents overcooking, resulting in rubbery shrimp. It all depends on what you like or what the recipe asks if you prefer the shell on or removed. 

Some people don’t like the shells on because it can be messy to peel every shrimp by hand before eating. If shrimp is served as hors d’oeuvres at a cocktail party, no one wants to peel the shrimp before eating. It is also not advised to leave the shell on if shrimp is served in a pasta dish, salad, or shrimp cocktail.

How NOT to Thaw Shrimp

It is not recommended to use a microwave to thaw shrimp. Never thaw shrimp by letting them sit on the kitchen counter at room temperature. Never use warm water to thaw shrimp, and don’t run water over them directly; they will become waterlogged.

The safe way to thaw frozen shrimp is overnight in a colander in the refrigerator or seal the shrimp in a Ziploc bag with the air removed and run cold water over the bag for five minutes.

Grilling Frozen Shrimp

When grilling shrimp, you must be alert and pay close attention; shrimp overcooks quickly. Cooking shrimp from frozen allows it to stay moist and not dry out. Directly cooking shrimp from the freezer gets better results than thawing shrimp first.

Cooking shrimp on the grill with the shell intact protects against the heat while adding extra flavor.  For tasty grilled shrimp, brush with lemon and butter as they grill and sprinkle with sea salt. Grilled shrimp is an excellent companion with rice. The shrimp is cooked when the flesh turns white.

Skewer The Shrimp Before Grilling

Skewer the shrimp before you place them on the grill, it makes it easier to turn them over and prevent them from falling through the grill, and it helps keep their shape.

Use more than one skewer to help stabilize the skewer and stop it from spinning over. They will just spin over if you try to flip a row of shrimp on a single skewer. Using two skewers prevents the shrimp from spinning when you turn them over.

Skewering shrimp helps save time, too, because you don’t waste time flipping them one by one. By the time you flipped them all, some were already overcooked. Shrimp cooks quickly on the grill; cook them for two minutes per side only.

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Poaching or Steaming Frozen Shrimp

Another way to cook frozen shrimp without thawing is by poaching or steaming the shrimp. Steam the shrimp over fresh herbs or wine to infuse them with fresh flavors. If you like a more robust flavor, poach your frozen shrimp in a court-bouillon for flavorful shrimp.

The way to prepare Court-bouillon is by boiling water with lemon slices, wine vinegar, peppercorns, onions, fresh herbs, and salt for robust flavor. Strain and cool the infused water and poach your seafood in this classic liquid.

Shrimp poached in court-bouillon tastes delicious and excellent when served chilled in appetizers or salads. Poaching and steaming frozen shrimp cooks them quickly. It takes only a few minutes for most sizes of shrimp to cook.

Quick and Easy Shrimp

You can add shrimp to any meal, even at the last minute. Cook frozen shrimp in a sauce or broth and add it to any meal.

As the shrimp is cooked while frozen, they thaw and add extra flavor to the dish. Add frozen shrimp to a risotto for a taste sensation during the last six minutes.

Add some shrimp on a pilaf when most water evaporates for extra crunchiness and flavor. Plates of pasta and seafood soups also taste better with some added shrimp.

Again, we recommend using deveined and peeled shrimp for these dishes. Leaving the shell on is fine if you cook cioppino or grilling shrimp.

Don’t Overcook the Shrimp

Shrimp are fiber bundles like meat and chicken; however, in fish and seafood, the fibers are much shorter, and the connective tissue is thinner; therefore, seafood and fish cook faster than chicken or meat. Shrimp are small; consequently, it doesn’t take long to cook.

Shrimp are fully cooked when the interior reaches 120 F while the meat is cooked at 160 F. Shrimp’s color will change when they are fully cooked from a translucent bluish to opaque pink. When the shrimp curls up into tight little balls, they are already overcooked.

Frozen Shrimp Recipe

This delicious frozen shrimp recipe takes just ten minutes to prepare. A rich buttery, garlic, and white wine sauce is a perfect addition to any pasta dish or paired with your favorite crusty bread.

Frozen Shrimp Scampi

When you prepare this recipe, ensure that as soon as the shrimp are added, you cook them just long enough to turn pink but not until they curl up into rubbery round little balls.


1 ¾ pound large frozen shelled and deveined shrimp. 
4 garlic cloves, minced. 
2 tablespoons butter.
¾ teaspoon kosher salt.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. 
⅓ cup chopped parsley.
½ cup dry white wine.
⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.  
Ground black pepper. 
Fresh lemon juice of half a lemon.
Crusty bread or cooked pasta.


Melt the butter and olive oil in a large pan. Add the garlic and lightly cook until soft for a minute. Add the white wine, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the white wine by half for two minutes.

Add the frozen shrimp and cook until pink, for two to four minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley and serve over crusty bread or on cooked pasta. Enjoy!


You don’t have to thaw shrimp before cooking; it can be used straight from the freezer to the pot.  Cooking frozen shrimp is quick and easy. Just make sure you buy deveined shrimp, so you don’t have the hassle of having to remove the digestive tract before cooking.

Removing the vein when the shrimp is frozen can be a challenge. Buying de-veined shrimp save you a lot of time and effort. If you like to thaw frozen shrimp before cooking, make sure you follow the recommendations in this article to do it safely.

We hope you found this article informative, and next time you cook shrimp, know that it is not necessary to thaw shrimp; you can just cook it straight from the freezer