What are the different ways to cook shrimp?

What are the different ways to cook shrimp?


Shrimp is a popular and versatile seafood that can be cooked in various ways. Each method yields a unique flavour and texture. Whether grilled, baked, fried, boiled or sautéed, there is a cooking method to suit every taste and occasion. Grilling or pan-searing shrimp adds a crispy texture, while boiling retains their succulence. Sautéing with aromatics like garlic and ginger brings out their natural sweetness. Depending on personal preference and the desired texture, shrimp can be cooked to various doneness levels, such as rare, medium, or well-done. The preparation time and level of complexity may vary depending on the cooking method chosen, but the result is always a delicious and nutritious dish. While some techniques are quicker and require less preparation, others take more time and effort but can result in a more tender and flavorful dish. Some cooking methods may also be better suited to certain types of shrimp, such as smaller or larger sizes. In this article, we will explore the different ways to cook shrimp and provide tips and tricks to help you achieve perfect shrimp every time.


There are many other ways you can prepare shrimp

No matter which way you choose, cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes on each side in medium-high heat or until pink and opaque. You know they’re ready when the tails start to curl in.

Here are some easy and quick ways to prepare delicious shrimp.

Always follow proper food safety guidelines when cooking shrimp or any other type of seafood.
Keep raw and cooked shrimp separate, and ensure that they are cooked to a safe internal temperature of 63°C/145°F.

Fried shrimp

There’s nothing better than the satisfying crunch of a perfectly fried shrimp.

To make fried shrimp, prepare them by peeling and deveining them, leaving the tails intact.

  • Pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Make a batter by mixing flour, cornstarch, salt, and pepper with milk, egg and any other desired seasonings in a shallow dish.
  • Dip the shrimp in the batter and let them sit for 5 minutes.
  • Heat oil to about 180°C/350°F in a deep frying pan over medium-high heat until hot.
  • Carefully drop the shrimp into the oil and fry until golden brown, usually about 3-4 minutes (around 2 minutes per side).
  • Remove the shrimp from the oil with a slotted spoon and place them onto a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.
  • Season the fried shrimp with salt and a squeeze of lemon juice, if desired.
    Serve immediately with your favourite dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Air fried shrimp

Air-fried shrimp is a healthy option for those who love fried shrimp. Here is a simple recipe to make air-fried shrimp:

  • Start by preheating the air fryer to 200°C/400°F.
  • Take fresh shrimp and peel and devein them.
  • Make a coating mixture of flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt, black pepper and your preferred seasoning or spices in a bowl in a bowl.
  • Dip each shrimp into the coating mixture and shake off any excess.
  • Coat the shrimp in panko, breadcrumbs, or a mixture of breadcrumbs and panko.
  • Use air fryer parchment paper or spray the basket with cooking spray and place the shrimp in a single layer in the basket.
  • Cook the shrimp for 4-6 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden brown and crispy.
  • Serve the shrimp with your favourite dipping sauce, and enjoy!

This is a quick and simple way to make air-fried shrimp that people of all ages will love. It’s also a healthier alternative to traditional fried shrimp so you can indulge without the guilt.

Sautéed shrimp

Sautéing involves cooking the shrimp quickly in a small amount of oil or butter over medium-high heat. The shrimp is often seasoned and can be cooked with other ingredients like garlic or vegetables.

To make sautéed shrimp:

  • Start by peeling and deveining the shrimp, leaving the tails intact if desired.
  • Heat a large sauté pan or a skillet over medium-high heat and add a generous amount of oil or butter.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the shrimp to the skillet in a single layer.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until shrimp turns pink and opaque. Be careful not to overcook, as shrimp can become tough and rubbery.
  • While cooking, you can season the shrimp with salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes or other desired spices.
  • Finish with a splash of lemon juice or white wine and chopped fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro.
  • Serve hot.

Sautéed shrimp can be enjoyed on its own as a delicious appetizer, as a main dish served over rice or pasta, added to salads, stir-fries, or wrap for a flavourful addition. Enjoy!

Pan-seared shrimp

Pan-searing involves cooking the shrimp on high heat in a dry skillet. This method gives the shrimp a nice crust while keeping the inside moist.

To make pan-seared shrimp:

  • Start by cleaning and deveining the shrimp, then lightly pat them dry with paper towels.
  • Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat and place the shrimp in the pan, ensuring each shrimp has enough space around it. It’s important not to overcrowd the pan, as it can prevent the shrimp from searing properly.
  • Season the shrimp with salt and pepper to taste and let them cook for about 2 minutes until the underside is pink and opaque.
  • Flip the shrimp and cook for an additional 2 minutes until the other side is pink, and opaque and the shrimp is thoroughly cooked.
  • Serve the shrimp immediately.

To add flavour, add minced garlic or red pepper flakes to the pan before adding the shrimp.
For a finishing touch, add herbs and squeeze a fresh lemon over the shrimp before serving to enhance the taste.
Pan-seared shrimp is a quick and easy dish that can be served as a main course or an appetizer with your favourite dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Stir-fried shrimp

Stir-frying is a Chinese cooking technique that involves cooking the shrimp with high heat and constant stirring in a small amount of oil. This quick method results in a flavourful dish with crisp-tender shrimp and vegetables.

To make stir-fried shrimp:

  • Start by cleaning and deveining your shrimp.
    Once ready, heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat and add minced garlic and ginger.
  • Stir for about 30 seconds until fragrant, and then add shrimp to the pan.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes until shrimp are pink, opaque, and cooked.
  • Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add a little more oil and your preferred vegetables (such as sliced bell peppers, broccoli, and carrots) and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until vegetables are cooked but still slightly crisp.

Next, add your sauce mixture (you can make a simple one by combining soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch with a bit of water) and stir until the sauce thickens and coats the vegetables. Add the cooked shrimp back into the pan and toss everything together until the shrimp are coated in sauce.

Season with soy sauce, salt, and pepper to taste, and serve immediately with steamed rice or noodles.

Baked shrimp

Baked shrimp is a delicious and easy-to-make seafood dish perfect for any occasion. Baked shrimp are cooked in the oven, typically in a casserole dish, with seasonings and sometimes cream or cheese.

To start:

  • Preheat your oven to 190-200°C/375-400°F.
  • Prepare the shrimp by cleaning and deveining them.
  • Then, season with salt, pepper, garlic, lemon juice and any other desired seasonings.
  • Arrange the seasoned shrimp in a single layer in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil or melted butter.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through and pink in colour.
  • Serve with lemon wedges and garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.

To add more flavour and texture, sprinkle breadcrumbs or grated Parmesan cheese over the shrimp before baking. Enjoy your delicious and nutritious baked shrimp dish!

Poached shrimp

Poached shrimp is cooked by gently simmering the shrimp in seasoned liquid, typically a broth, stocks or court bouillon, until cooked through. This method tends to result in more tender and flavourful shrimp. Poached shrimp is often served warm or chilled and can be a delicious addition to salads or pasta dishes. 

To poach shrimp:

  • Start by boiling the seasoned liquid with some herbs, spices, and lemon juice in a large pot.
  • Once the liquid is boiling, add the raw and peeled shrimp and cook them for 2-3 minutes until they turn pink and firm up.
  • Drain the poached shrimp from the liquid and rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking process.

For additional flavours, you can add other ingredients to the poaching liquid, like white wine, soy sauce, or garlic. Poached shrimp can be served hot or cold, with butter, herbs, or a flavourful dipping sauce or added to salads, soups, or pasta dishes.

Poaching is a healthy and simple cooking method that helps preserve the natural flavours and texture of the shrimp without adding extra fat or calories. It’s essential not to overcook the shrimp as they can become tough and chewy.

Boiled shrimp

Boiled shrimp is a delicious and healthy seafood dish that is easy to make. Boiled shrimp are cooked by submerging them in boiling water until they turn pink and are fully cooked. This method is often used for shrimp that will be served cold, such as in shrimp cocktails.

Here is how to make boiled shrimp:

  • Start by peeling and deveining  the shrimp.
  • In a large pot, boil about 4 cups of water.
  • Add kosher salt, garlic, onion, lemon juice, and your favourite seafood seasoning, and stir until well combined.
  • Once the water is boiling, add in the shelled and deveined shrimp (with or without the tails).
  • Cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes or until they turn pink and start to float to the surface.
  • Drain the shrimp and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
  • Serve the boiled shrimp with your favourite seasonings, dipping sauce, cocktail sauce, or melted butter.

With these simple steps, you can enjoy a delicious seafood dish perfect for any occasion.

Steamed shrimp

Making steamed shrimp is a simple and delicious way to enjoy this seafood delicacy. Steaming involves cooking shrimp in a steamer, typically with vegetables and seasonings, until they’re cooked through and tender.

To make steamed shrimp:

  • First, begin by cleaning and deveining  the shrimp.
  • Then, fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil.
  • Once the water is boiling, place a steamer basket or colander over the pot, ensuring it doesn’t touch the water.
  • Add the shrimp to the steamer basket, cover it and steam for 2-3 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink. Avoid overcooking the shrimp, as it will lead to a rubbery texture.
  • Once the shrimp are cooked, remove them from the pot and serve with your choice of seasonings and ingredients, such as butter, garlic, lemon or your favourite dipping sauce.

Steamed shrimp is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed as an appetizer or incorporated into main dishes like stir-fries, salads, or pasta.
For flavour and nutrition, you can add other vegetables like broccoli or carrots to the steamer.

Grilled shrimp

Grilled shrimp is a delicious seafood dish perfect for outdoor gatherings and summer barbecues. The dish involves mixing shrimp with oil, herbs, and spices before grilling them to perfection on a grill or stovetop. The result is smoky, flavourful shrimp perfectly cooked and bursting with juicy goodness. Grilled shrimp can be served as an appetizer, main course, or even added to salads or pasta dishes.

Making grilled shrimp is easy and delicious. To make grilled shrimp:

  • First, start by cleaning and deveining the shrimp.
  • Then, marinate the shrimp in a mixture of olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and your choice of herbs and spices.
  • Let the shrimp marinate for about 30 minutes to allow the flavours to blend.
  • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  • Pat dry and season the shrimp with salt, pepper, and other desired spices or herbs.
  • Brush the shrimp with olive oil or melted butter to prevent sticking to the grill.
  • Place the shrimp on skewers or directly on the grill grates in a single layer and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until cooked through and slightly charred. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp, which can become tough and rubbery.
  • Remove from the grill and serve immediately, garnished with fresh herbs and lemon wedges.

Serve your grilled shrimp with your favourite dipping sauce or as a topping for salads or pasta dishes. Enjoy!

Should I use skewers for grilled shrimp?

skewers shrimp

You can grill a shrimp recipe without using a skewer. However, skewers for grilled shrimp are highly recommended, as they keep them from falling through the grill’s grates when you turn them.

Additionally, skewers make it easier to turn them all in simultaneously and ensure they cook evenly. I use a pair of tongs to hold and turn over my shrimp.

Skewers also allow adding other ingredients, such as vegetables or fruits, to create a delicious and visually appealing dish.

When skewering the shrimp, thread them onto the skewers to keep them secure. This will prevent them from spinning or falling off while they’re on the grill. You can thread the shrimp through the tail and the body to ensure they stay in place.

Once the shrimp are done, carefully remove them from the skewers and serve them hot. They make a delicious appetizer or main dish, and you can serve them with a dipping sauce or alongside grilled vegetables for a complete meal.

What type of skewer should I use?

There are a variety of skewers available, including wooden or metal options.

If using wooden skewers, it’s important to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before use to prevent them from burning on the grill.

If using metal skewers, be cautious when handling them, as they can get very hot.

Never use plastic skewers to avoid any harmful chemicals that may leach into the food during grilling.


Is it better to cook shrimp with the shell on or off?

Different opinions exist on cooking shrimp with the shell on or off. Cooking shrimp with the shell on can help retain its flavour and texture, prevent overcooking and keep the meat from drying out. However, peeling the shrimp before cooking can make it easier to eat and provide a cleaner presentation. It ultimately comes down to personal preference and the specific recipe being used. If the shells are left on, it’s important to thoroughly rinse them to remove any dirt or debris before cooking. Some recipes may also call for removing the shell from only the head of the shrimp, allowing the tail end and sometimes the body to remain intact for added flavour or presentation.


Should you cook shrimp fast or slow?

When cooking shrimp, it is generally better to cook them quickly rather than slowly. Shrimp is a delicate protein; cooking them too long can produce a tough and rubbery texture. A quick cooking method, such as sautéing, grilling, or boiling, is recommended to preserve their texture and juicy flavour.

Ultimately, the key is to monitor the cooking process closely and remove the shrimp promptly from heat once they turn pink and are fully cooked.

How do you know your shrimp are ready?

When cooking shrimp, you want to ensure they are cooked through without overcooking and becoming rubbery. One way to tell if shrimp is ready is by looking at their colour. Cooked shrimp will turn from grey and flabby to pink and opaque with a bright red tail, with the tails curling inwards into a C shape. If you’re grilling skewered shrimp, you’ll have to pay close attention to the colour more than the curl.

To test if they are done, cut into one of the shrimp to check if it is opaque and no longer translucent.

You can also check the texture of the shrimp.

  • If it’s firm with enough crunch with your bite (look for enough resistance to the teeth, but it should give way to a gentle bite) and the meat is white and slightly translucent, then it’s cooked through.
  • If it’s mushy or gray, it’s overcooked or undercooked.

Another method is gently pressing the shrimp with your finger – if it springs back and feels firm, it is cooked.

The cooking time will vary based on the size of the shrimp, but as a general rule, it usually doesn’t take more than a few minutes. Small shrimp typically take about 2-3 minutes to cook, while larger shrimp may take 4-5 minutes.

Once the shrimp are pink and firm, remove them from the heat to avoid overcooking and use them in your favourite recipe.

Don’t overcook the shrimp. If you overcook them, they lose their juiciness and become rubbery.

What happens if you eat undercooked shrimp?

If you eat undercooked shrimp, you risk getting food poisoning from bacteria. Shrimp can harbour a variety of harmful bacteria, including Vibrio, Salmonella, and E. coli. When shrimp are not cooked properly, these bacteria can survive and multiply in your stomach, causing symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. In severe cases, food poisoning from undercooked shrimp can lead to dehydration, sepsis, and even death. Additionally, undercooked shrimp may contain parasites, like the one causing the Anisakiasis disease.

It’s important to cook them thoroughly until they turn pink and opaque throughout and their internal temperature reaches 63°C/145°F to prevent getting sick from shrimp.

You should also avoid eating raw or undercooked shrimp and always thoroughly wash your hands, utensils, and cutting boards after handling raw seafood. You can get infected with this germ by eating raw or uncooked seafood. But you can also be infected if a wound comes into contact with raw or undercooked seafood or its juices.

Why does my shrimp come out rubbery?

Shrimp can turn out rubbery for several reasons.

  • One of the most common causes is overcooking. If the shrimp are cooked too long, they can become tough and chewy. Make sure to cook the shrimp until it’s pink and firm to the touch, and avoid cooking it at temperatures above 71°C/160°F to prevent the proteins from breaking down and making it rubbery.
  • Another factor can be the type of shrimp you are using. Bigger shrimp tend to be tougher and more rubbery than smaller shrimp.
  • It’s also important to properly defrost the shrimp before cooking them. Rapid defrosting in a microwave or hot water can cause the shrimp to become tough and rubbery.
  • Finally, the cooking method may be to blame. Boiling or steaming shrimp for too long can make them rubbery while sauteing or grilling can help retain their texture and tenderness.

How do you cook shrimp so it doesn't get tough?

To cook shrimp so it doesn’t get tough, it’s important to avoid overcooking it. Shrimp should generally be cooked on each side for 2-3 minutes until it turns pink and opaque. The cooking time may vary depending on the shrimp’s size.

One way to ensure the shrimp cooks evenly is to use a timer and remove them from the heat as soon as they are done. If you are boiling or steaming shrimp, removing them from the heat as soon as they turn pink is important. After cooking, plunge them into cold water to prevent them from overcooking.

Another important tip is to use fresh shrimp and to avoid overcrowding the pan or pot. Overcrowding can lead to uneven cooking and tough shrimp.

Lastly, try marinating the shrimp in an acid-based marinade, such as lemon juice or vinegar before cooking. This will help to tenderize and flavour the shrimp.


Can you cook shrimp ahead of time?

Yes, you can cook shrimp ahead of time. However, there are a few factors to consider before doing so:

  • Cooked shrimp should be stored properly to ensure it remains safe to eat. Shrimp should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking and stored in an airtight container for up to three days at a temperature of 4°C/40°F or below. Cooked shrimp can be stored in the fridge safely for up to 3 days, but I recommend you serve them as soon as they are cooked for the best taste and texture.
  • Cooked shrimp can become rubbery and overcooked if stored for too long or reheated improperly. To avoid this, it is recommended to slightly undercook the shrimp and finish cooking when reheating.
  • If using the shrimp in a dish that requires additional cooking, such as a stir-fry, it is best to cook the shrimp to around 80% done and then finish cooking it in the final dish.

Another option is to mix the marinade up to 5 days in advance if you are short on time. The marinade can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Keep in mind that this is only the marinade, NOT the marinade with the shrimp.

You can marinate the shrimp in advance, but be careful not to do it for more than 2 hours because the acid from the lemon will end up cooking the shrimp.


This article is part of “How to cook shrimp


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