How to Boil Shrimp

4.88 from 8 votes

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Boiling shrimp is one of the quickest and easiest methods of cooking shrimp. And they’re perfect for classic shrimp cocktail, shrimp salsa, for sushi rolls and more! The best part it takes less than 5 minutes.

close up of boiled shrimp


 

Why you’ll love this recipe:

Wonder why one would want to boil shrimp? Well, boiled shrimp is incredibly versatile and can be used in many dishes, like homemade sushi rolls, or served as an appetizer. Shrimp cocktail, anyone?

Plus, this method is so simple and quick!

Boiled Shrimp on plate

How to thaw frozen shrimp quickly:

  1. Place frozen shrimp in a bowl with cold tap water. Don’t use warm water to expedite the process, or you’ll start cooking the shrimp.
  2. Change the water couple of times during 10 minutes or so. And your shrimp will be thawed!
frozen shrimp in a bowl of water

Tip

I like to peel my shrimp before cooking, so I thaw the shrimp in cold water for about 5 minutes. And then the shrimp will be semi-frozen, hard, but easy to peel.

Put the peeled shrimp back into the cold water. By the time all shrimp are peeled, they will pretty much all thawed.

raw shrimp on paper towel

How to boil shrimp:

  1. Add salt, pepper, lemon wedges, and bay leaf into a pot of water, and bring it to a boil.
  2. Then add thawed shrimp and cook until done. Check the visual cues of cooked shrimp below.
  3. Place in an ice bath to stop the cooking and you’re good to go!

Visual cues of fully cooked shrimp:

  • opaque
  • pink with bright red accents
  • curl into a perfect C shape
close up of fully cooked deveined shrimp

What kind of shrimp is best to use?

I like to use extra-large shrimp. It is usually labeled as 26/30 count. Frozen EZ peel deveined shrimp is my go-to, as they’re super easy to peel and prep. Just make sure to thaw frozen shrimp before cooking.

How long should I boil shrimp for?

Cooking time depends on the size of the shrimp. Typically, 2 minutes is perfect for 26/30 count shrimp.

Why are my shrimp tough and rubbery?

Most of the time rubbery shrimp is a result of overcooking. Make sure you cook until you no longer see anymore gray and then throw them in that ice bath to stop the cooking and keep the tenderness.

A pile of cooked shrimp on a plate

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close up of boiled shrimp
4.88 from 8 votes

How to Boil Shrimp

Boiling shrimp is one of the quickest and easiest methods of cooking shrimp. And they're perfect for classic shrimp cocktail, shrimp salsa, for sushi rolls and more! The best part it takes less than 5 minutes.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 2 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb raw extra large shrimp peeled and deveined Note 1
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • Lemon wedges optional
  • Black peppercorns optional
  • Bay leaf optional

Instructions 

  • Bring a large pot of water with aromatics, if using, to a boil. (TIP: About 2qt/2L of water is enough for 1-2lbs of shrimp.)
  • Add shrimp and simmer for about 2 minutes, or until shrimp turn opaque and pink. Immediately transfer the cooked shrimp into a bowl of ice water. (Note: Cooking time depends on the size of the shrimp. 2 minutes is perfect for 26/30 count shrimp.)

Tips & Notes

Note 1: Extra large shrimp is usually labeled as 26/30 count. Frozen EZ peel deveined shrimp is my go-to, as they’re super easy to peel and prep. Just make sure to thaw frozen shrimp before cooking.

Nutrition

Calories: 113kcal
Protein: 23g
Fat: 2g
Sodium: 1462mg
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American

Hi, I’m Shinee!

Welcome! I’m so happy you’re here! I believe anyone can cook restaurant-quality food at home! And my goal is to help you to become a confident cook with my easy-to-follow recipes with lots of tips and step-by-step photos.

4.88 from 8 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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11 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I am very glad that I looked up the proper way to cook shrimp because I cooked shrimp once or twice before and cooked the shrimp approximately 7 to 10 minutes long. Yes they were a bit rubbery but I love shrimp so I ate them but I also never knew about cooling the shrimp down in the ice bath. I guess you learn new things every day all you need to do is seek out what your looking for. I have to run, the market has raw shrimp on sale $5.99 a pound for extra large shrimp 26 to 30 per pound so their calling out my name.

    1. Hi, Michael! So happy you ran across my recipe and it was helpful!! Hope you enjoyed perfect shrimp! It sounds like you found a great deal!!

  2. 4 stars
    Hi Shinee, nothing wrong with your recipie, just a few tips to kick it up a notch. Been cooking shrimp for over 50 years. 2 tips I can add. During the later stage of the thaw process or better yet if you can obtain true fresh shrimp add a tablespoon of Kosher Salt and a tablespoon of baking soda to the final 30 minutes. Not gonna go into the science but you will notice a plumper shrimp. More importantly the cooking process. Bring your water and aromatics to a full rolling boil for several minutes. Dump your fresh or completely thawed shrimp into the full boiling pot. Immediately remove from stove top and cover for exactly 8 minutes. For anything smaller than 40 to 50 count size subtract one minute. After the 8 minutes dump shrimp into a collander and serve immediately or if using in a recipie place hot shrimp in a sealed bag and immerse in ice water to halt. This method allows the seasonings to remain with the shrimp vs rinsing the flavor off.