How to Cook Shrimp

Scrumptious and incredibly versatile shrimp make a delightful addition to so many dishes. We'll key you in on everything you need to know about how to cook shrimp.

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Shrimp make their way into all kinds of cuisine, from enticing appetizers such as Shrimp Scampi-Style to hearty pasta dishes such as Saucy Shrimp and Pasta. Pick your favorite shrimp recipe and get cooking with the tips that follow.

Shrimp Scampi-Style recipe

Saucy Shrimp and Pasta recipe

More delicious shrimp recipes

How to Choose Good Shrimp

Use these pointers when purchasing shrimp:

  • Purchase 1-1/2 pounds of raw shrimp for each pound of shelled shrimp you need.
  • The price of shrimp usually depends on the size of shrimp you are purchasing -- the bigger the shrimp, the higher the price and the fewer per pound.
  • Look for firm, juicy shrimp with translucent, moist shells and without black spots (unless you are purchasing black tiger shrimp).
  • Be sure the shrimp have a fresh, sealike scent. An ammonia odor indicates spoilage.
  • Avoid shrimp with yellowish shells or dry spots, which could indicate freezer burn.
  • The number of shrimp per pound increases as their size decreases. For instance, 16/20 shrimp are considered extra-large, meaning there are 16 to 20 shrimp per pound. With medium shrimp, you'll get 41 to 50 shrimp per pound.

Fresh or Frozen?

Because shrimp are bought and sold in large quantities, most of the shrimp available in U.S. supermarkets have been previously frozen. Shrimp freeze remarkably well. If the shrimp you purchase are frozen, place them in a sealed container in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. To speed up the thawing process, place the shrimp in a colander under cold running water for about 2 minutes. To retain their succulent texture, avoid thawing shrimp in warm water or at room temperature.

How to Store Fresh Shrimp

Fill a large bowl about half-full with ice. Nestle the shrimp into the ice, making sure the shrimp are not too close to the bottom of the bowl where melted water will accumulate. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to use, draining the water and adding more ice as needed.

How to Peel & Devein Shrimp

Step 1: Peel the shrimp

Most shrimp recipes call for peeled shrimp. Here's how to do it:

  • Open the shell lengthwise down the body on its belly side (the inside curve).
  • Starting at the head end, peel back the shell. Gently pull on the tail to remove it, or, if you prefer, leave the tail intact.

Step 2: Cut a slit down the back side of the shrimp

Use a sharp knife to make a shallow slit along the back of the shrimp from the head to tail end.

Step 3: Devein the shrimp

-- Using the tip of your knife, locate the vein.

-- Place the tip of your knife under the vein and lift it out.

-- Rinse the shrimp under cold water.

Tip: The vein is actually the intestinal tract and can impart an unpleasant taste if left in the shrimp.

How to Cook Shrimp

Many recipes, such as Double-Quick Shrimp Cocktail, call for cooked shrimp. Here's how to do it:

Double-Quick Shrimp Cocktail recipe

  • Bring a large saucepan filled with lightly salted water to boiling.
  • Add the shrimp to the boiling water.
  • Cook for 1 to 3 minutes or until the shrimp are pink and opaque.
  • Drain and rinse shrimp in a colander under cold running water.

How to Grill Shrimp

  • To direct-grill shrimp, thread them onto skewers to make kabobs.
  • Over medium coals, grill extra-large shrimp (20 per pound) for 6 to 8 minutes or jumbo shrimp (12 to 15 per pound) for 10 to 12 minutes, or until opaque.
  • Check for a pink color on the outside. Cut into a skewered shrimp to make sure the flesh is opaque throughout.
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