How Long Should You Cook Frozen Shrimp?

Shrimp can be a healthy option for a meal, and having a meal ready in a few minutes is a plus for anyone wanting to put something quick and easy on the table. However, another challenge is knowing how long to cook frozen shrimp and still have a sweet and tender delicacy rather than a watery mess. So how long should you cook frozen shrimp?

Shrimp is cooked to an internal temperature of 145oF on a food thermometer. There are ways to know when your shrimp is done if you don’t have a food thermometer; the flesh of the shrimp should be clear white, and firm. Cooking shrimp takes about 3 to 4 minutes in total, 1 or 2 minutes on each side.

Having a fresh supply of frozen shrimp in your freezer can be the ultimate jewel. You just have to know how to treat the shrimp with respect, and it will give your tastebuds a sweet and euphoric ride through the ocean in return. Let’s look at the details of cooking frozen shrimp so you can know that you’re doing it right.

How Long Should You Cook Frozen Shrimp?

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), shrimp and most seafood must cook to an internal temperature of 145oF. By this standard, shrimp should be done in about three to four minutes, cooking them for one to two minutes for each side if you cook the shrimp fast on high heat. That’s approximately five to six minutes using medium heat, like on a stovetop.

When they’re cooked properly, the flesh of the shrimp will become white and firm, and the shrimp will slightly curl inwards to make a C shape. The outside of the cooked shrimp should be an opaque pink color. When shrimp is overcooked, they will turn a matte white or even grey color, and they will curl up tightly into an O shape and shrink in size.

The above method of cooking is known as the saute method. We will look at different ways of cooking shrimp and how the time differs with each cooking method. But the rules of observation remain the same: the shrimp should turn an opaque pink color, with the flesh turning white, not matte white or grey, and the shrimp should curl up slightly to form a C.

How Long Should You Fry Frozen Shrimp?

If you consider frying the shrimp, it will take only a few minutes. It‘s safe to say it should also be between three and four minutes when you consider the intense heat that the oil generates. Look out for the signs of the trusted C shape that indicates if the fried shrimps are done. If you are still unsure, cut into one. If its flesh has the correct shade of white, not transparent grey, then it is done.

Remember that the time may differ from shrimp to shrimp. If they are bigger, then they may take longer to cook.

How Long Should Frozen Shrimp Be Cooked On The Grill?

On a medium grill with a temperature of approximately 450oF, you should cook the shrimp on each side for two to three minutes. Again, look out for the tell-tale signs that it is done. Opaque pink color on the outside, bright white flesh on the inside, and the C shape indicate perfectly-cooked shrimps.

How Long Should Frozen Shrimp Be Cooked In An Air Fryer?

Air frying is probably the healthiest way to cook shrimp. Preheat your air fryer to 400oF for three to five minutes. Place the shrimp in the basket, taking care not to crowd the shrimp. They will be ready in approximately ten minutes, and you should turn them halfway.

How Long Should Frozen Shrimp Be Cooked In The Oven?

If you preheat your oven to 450oF, the shrimp should be ready in approximately seven to nine minutes. In order for the shrimp to roast right through, give the shrimp space on the roasting sheet or pan; do not let the shrimps crowd each other in clumps. This is a crucial part of the cooking process since crowding and clumping will considerably slow the cooking process.

What About Broiling Shrimp In The Oven?

Preheat your oven to broil. Place the shrimp on a sheet pan, again giving the shrimp space to enjoy the heat. With this cooking method, the shrimp should be ready in four to six minutes, again turning them over halfway.

How To Thaw Frozen Shrimp

According to FDA regulations, the safest way to thaw frozen shrimp to cook later is to thaw it in your fridge gradually overnight. The FDA should know what they are talking about, so it’s wise to stick to that advice as much as possible.

If you are like most people, you probably forgot to take the shrimp out to thaw overnight. Do not be concerned about this since there are other safe alternatives for thawing shrimp quickly. You can place the shrimp in a sealed plastic bag and submerge it in cold water until it’s completely thawed. This will usually take between 20 and 30 minutes.

The final thawing method is to use the trusted old microwave, but you should only use this method if you are cooking the shrimps immediately after defrosting them. You should also keep your eyes on the shrimp while defrosting, stopping the process before it goes too far; they should still be icy but flexible.

The last point to consider is whether you should thaw or defrost your shrimps at all. If they are correctly frozen (separated, not in large clumps), many chefs and cooks actually claim that they taste better if you cook them directly from the freezer without thawing them at all. This works best in a poaching method; the shrimps should be ready to eat in about six to eight minutes.

Mistakes You Should Avoid When Cooking Shrimp

You can easily make some simple mistakes when you are cooking shrimp. Here are some common mistakes you can easily avoid when cooking your next batch of shrimps.

  • Shrimps are delicate creatures, and it is very easy to overcook them when they are exposed to heat. Even one minute too much will turn your shrimp from firm, sweet, and fleshy to an overcooked, dry mess. Remember, “O” for “overcooked.” The closer it gets to the “O” shape, the more overcooked it is.
  • It isn’t advisable at all to cook the shrimp low and slow since this could make them too watery. The best way of cooking shrimp is by searing the shrimp with immediate heat from the pan.
  • If you want to cook your shrimp in any method other than poaching, you should allow your shrimp to thaw completely before cooking. Skipping this will make you end up with a watery mess that is easily avoidable.
  • Do not add too much salt or seasoning to the shrimp. They are already quite salty, but if you find that they are not seasoned enough, you can always add a pinch of salt over them after cooking.

How To Choose Frozen Shrimp From The Supermarket

When choosing frozen shrimp from the freezer at the supermarket, look for the following signs in order to choose the best frozen shrimp to eliminate the possibility of food poisoning.

  • Do not buy frozen shrimp if there is a chance that it will thaw during the trip home. If it could thaw during this time, then any other dinner plans you might have had should change to shrimp cocktail, shrimp tacos, or even a bowl of shrimp pasta.
  • Avoid buying frozen shrimp if the package is torn, open, or crushed around the edges in any way.
  • Do not buy them if the package has signs of ice crystals or a lot of frost on the shrimps themselves. This can be a sign of frozen shrimp that was previously thawed and then refrozen, or even that it’s been frozen for a long time, which means that it is not the freshest frozen shrimp that you can buy.
  • Also, please avoid frozen shrimps or prawns if they are not entirely frozen in some places. They shouldn’t be bendable at the time of purchase.
  • When choosing frozen shrimps, it is also essential to know the size of the shrimps. Shrimps size is calculated to determine how many shrimps you will get in a one-pound package. A package labeled 16/20 shrimps means that there are 16 to 20 shrimps in a pound.
  • Chemical additives are often added. The suppliers do this to increase the shelf life of shrimp that will be frozen and to make the shrimp retain moisture. These additives make a shrimp appear to be larger than it actually is, and it’s sold that way. Check the package carefully. If it only mentions “shrimp,” you know you are buying the best product.
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How To Store Frozen Shrimp In Your Freezer

Shrimp can be safely stored in your freezer for two to twelve months. But there are some vital points you must consider when you’ll be freezing shrimp for longer than three months. The maximum duration depends on how long the shrimp has been frozen previously. If it’s already been frozen for a month, you must remember to add that to your calculations.

When placing the shrimp in the freezer, make sure you lay the package flat and keep the shrimp separate from each other. Also, keep in mind that if there is any shrimp that has started to thaw already, rather change your dinner plans for the evening and use the shrimp immediately.

Lastly, you should also know that the longer shrimps are frozen, the more their quality will suffer. Shrimps that have been in the freezer for five months will not have the same level of freshness as shrimps that have only been frozen for three months.

Signs To Look Out For When Shrimp Smells Fishy

Shrimp that isn’t safe for consumption will have some or all of the following signs. Please do not think that it is still safe to eat; bacteria grow on seafood much faster in the right conditions, and sometimes we aren’t even aware that the shrimp was previously exposed to the ideal conditions for this to happen.

Your life and health are much more critical than a dish you prepared that smells too “fishy” or foul. Rather stay away and discard if any of these signs are noticeable:

  • If there is any sour smell.
  • A strong, fishy smell (seafood must smell fishy, but it should be toned down, not overwhelming).
  • If it smells like ammonia, this is an immediate sign of shrimp that shouldn’t be eaten. The smell indicates that it has already started to decompose, which signifies that it isn’t as fresh as you may have thought.
  • If there is a dull color to the shrimp, for example, if the shrimp don’t get the opaque pink color when cooked.
  • If the shrimp is slimy in any way, do not eat it.
  • Shrimp should be firm. If the shrimp is falling apart or feeling brittle, you know it isn’t fresh and safe for consumption.

Any of the odors will smell stronger once the shrimp is getting cooked, so even if you are unsure of your shrimp’s freshness before the cooking process, you should definitely find out while you’re cooking them.

Precautions To Keep In Mind When Handling Shrimp

One crucial thing to remember regarding shrimp is that bacteria start to grow immediately after they are thawed. You should be aware of this while handling and preparing your food to prevent cross-contamination.

  • Take care to properly wash your hands before you handle the thawed shrimps. You should also wash your hands properly with soap for at least 20 seconds after handling them before you handle any other food.
  • Wash all utensils, cutting boards, dishes, and countertops with soap and hot water while you’re cooking the shrimp. This is to prevent cross-contamination with any other food.
  • It is also important to note that cooked seafood should be stored in the refrigerator if you aren’t enjoying it immediately after cooking. Do not leave any leftovers out for more than an hour or two. Bacteria will also start to grow in temperatures between 40oF and 140oF.

Please take every possible precaution to avoid the possibility of food poisoning, especially when it comes to seafood. Bacteria needs only a little encouragement to start growing, and your health is always more important than a tasty meal.


Shrimp is a healthy protein to add to any meal, but you must cook it correctly. The cooking time of shrimp varies according to the size of the shrimp. That is why it is best to go by the internal temperature of shrimp rather than how long it cooks. There is no 100% accurate science as to how long shrimp will take to be thoroughly cooked.