The best methods for cooking frozen shrimp so they turn out plump and flavorful every time.

Frozen shrimp are always a good thing to have around. Those small, pre-peeled, and deveined uncooked shrimp in the frozen aisle are super convenient, highly nutritious, and come in handy for a delectable shrimp dinner on the fly or a protein-packed lunch. You've probably a bag of them tucked in the back of your freezer right now.

However, frozen shrimp can be tricky to cook. One wrong step, and you've got tiny sponges that taste dry and rubbery, or soggy and bland or turn your sauce into a too-thin, watery mess.

Well, good news, convenience-minded shrimp lovers. We've got a few tips and tricks to make frozen shrimp taste almost as good if they were just pulled from the bay. Keep reading to learn the best methods to cook frozen shrimp, so they stay juicy and never dry. 

How to Cook Frozen Shrimp

Frozen shrimp on parchment paper
Credit: Blaine Moats/Meredith

Thaw shrimp safely.

The best way to thaw shrimp is overnight in the refrigerator, allowing the shrimp to thaw gradually. If you need your shrimp to be ready quicker, remove them from the packaging, transfer them to a strainer in the sink, and let them thaw under cold running water. Once thawed, place them on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up any excess water.

Flash cook shrimp first.

Depending on how you plan to prepare your shrimp, cooking them will prevent them from watering down your dish. Add the thawed shrimp to a large pan and cook on high heat for 1 to 2 minutes until they begin to release some of their liquid. Let the shrimp sit in the pan without stirring for 1 minute, then stir quickly, and let them cook another minute. Then remove the shrimp from the pan with a slotted spoon. This method will remove the excess moisture from the shrimp, so expect them to shrink slightly in size.

Save the shrimp juices in the pan.

If you're making a dish that calls for stock, water, or wine, include the shrimp-flavored juices from the pan as part of your sauce's measured amount of liquid. But be careful that the added shrimp liquid isn't more than the amount of stock the recipe calls for. Then, once your sauce is done, add in your cooked shrimp. 

Boil the shrimp on the stove.

Boiling shrimp is a quick and easy way to cook frozen shrimp, making them perfect for shrimp cocktail or sushi rolls. Bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove. Add salt, pepper, lemon wedges, Old Bay seasoning, and bay leaves to the water and stir. Add thawed shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the shrimp turns gray to pink. Turn the heat off, and transfer the shrimp into an ice bath to stop the cooking. 

Cook frozen shrimp in the air fryer.

The air fryer is an effortless way to get juicy, tender shrimp that can be used in a variety of shrimp recipes. The best part about air fryer frozen shrimp is there's no need to defrost the shrimp first; you can take them right from the freezer to the fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F and place the shrimp into the air fryer basket. Cook for 5 minutes if using frozen cooked shrimp or for 10 minutes if using frozen raw shrimp. Flip the shrimp halfway through to ensure they are evenly cooked. 


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