How to Cook Shrimp: A Step-by-Step Guide

Choosing the Right Shrimp

Before you start cooking shrimp, you need to choose the right type of shrimp for the recipe you intend to make. There are hundreds of varieties of shrimp, but the most commonly sold in supermarkets are white shrimp, black tiger shrimp, and pink shrimp.

White shrimp are mild in flavor and considered a great all-purpose shrimp. Black tiger shrimp are larger and have a firmer texture, making them ideal for grilling or sautéing. Pink shrimp are smaller and sweeter in flavor, making them perfect as a cold shrimp cocktail.

When purchasing shrimp, make sure to look for shrimp that smells like the ocean, has firm flesh, and no discoloration. Avoid shrimp that has a fishy odor, slimy texture, or black spots.

Preparing the Shrimp

The next step is to prepare the shrimp before cooking it. Start by rinsing the shrimp under cold water and removing the shell. To remove the shell, grasp the head and legs with one hand and the tail with the other, and gently pull the shell off. It’s best to leave the tail on as it adds flavor and is helpful when eating.

Next, using a sharp knife, make a shallow cut down the back of the shrimp and remove the vein. Rinse the shrimp under cold water to remove any loose bits, pat dry with a paper towel, and place them on a plate.

Cooking the Shrimp

Now it’s time to cook the shrimp. There are several methods to cook shrimp, including boiling, sautéing, grilling, and baking. Here are three easy and delicious methods to try:

Boiling: In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the shrimp turns pink and is no longer translucent. Drain the water and place the shrimp in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and prevent overcooking.

Sautéing: In a large pan, heat some oil or butter over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until the shrimp is pink and cooked through. Add any desired seasonings like garlic, lemon, or herbs.

Grilling: Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Skewer the shrimp and brush them with olive oil. Grill for 2-3 minutes on each side or until the shrimp is charred and cooked through.

Serving the Shrimp

Now that the shrimp is cooked, you can serve it in a variety of ways. Shrimp can be served hot or cold and is delicious on its own, mixed in salads, or as part of a pasta dish. You can also serve it as a shrimp cocktail by arranging it on a platter with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.

Tips for Cooking Perfect Shrimp

– Don’t overcook the shrimp, it will become tough and rubbery.
– Always remove the vein to ensure the shrimp is clean and fresh.
– Experiment with different seasonings and marinades to add flavor.
– Serve the shrimp immediately after cooking for best flavor and texture.


Q. Can you cook frozen shrimp?

A. Yes, you can. Rinse frozen shrimp under cold water to remove any ice crystals and then follow the recipe as usual.

Q. How long does it take to cook shrimp?

A. Shrimp cooks quickly, and it can take as little as 2-3 minutes depending on the cooking method and the size of the shrimp.

Q. Can you reheat cooked shrimp?

A. Yes, you can reheat cooked shrimp by microwaving it or adding it to a sauté pan with some oil or butter.

Q. How long can you keep cooked shrimp in the fridge?

A. Cooked shrimp can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.