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Lemon, bay leaf and seasoning with the shrimp for the shrimp cocktail

How to Perfectly Cook Shrimp Every Time

Let’s start with frozen shrimp. If you’re lucky enough to live on the coast then by all means use fresh but if you’re landlocked in Colorado like I am, look for the bag that says IQF; it stands for Individually, Quickly, Frozen. This means your shrimp or fish have been frozen as fast as possible once they’ve been caught which is the freshest means of getting them to you.



You can definitely use frozen, pre-peeled shrimp and still cook them to perfection, but I wanted to show you how to peel shrimp so we’re going to start with some that I defrosted under cold, running water.

Here is our thawed shrimp with the shell and tail on. See how the shell is segmented? We’re going to start peeling just one segment down from the tail.

You see along the back of the shrimp where the shell has been split? There used to be a vein in there which the fish mongers kindly removed for us already. If you end up with some veiny shrimp, just gently remove the vein with a small knife.

So go ahead and grasp the shell firmly on one side Then tear it downwards towards the legs, try and break it at the segmented part.

Repeat on the other side and then pinch the shell and the legs and pull firmly to remove them. If a few legs are still attached, go ahead and just pull them out one at a time.

A lot of restaurants will leave the tail on for cocktail shrimp, or just for presentation so you can definitely stop here if that’s what you’re going for.

Or you can remove the tail by grasping the shrimp firmly at the tail base, and gently wiggling and pulling the tail until it slides off. You want to keep the tail meat intact if possible.

Tada! Peeled shrimp ready for your dining pleasure.

Ok here’s the magic method – Place your shrimp, frozen or thawed, in a pot of COLD water. Place it on the stove over high heat and watch closely. As the water temperature comes up, so will the shrimp. Right when you see the very first bubble of a boil, the shrimp should be bright pink and perfectly cooked. Immediately drain the shrimp to avoid over cooking.

And there you have it! A bowl of shrimp ready for Pad Thai, cocktail dipping, po boys, you name it. You never have to worry about rubbery, overcooked shrimp again. Enjoy!

P.S You can save the shrimp water and simmer it with the shrimp shells to make a delicious, seafood stock. Great for sauces or soups that involve seafood.

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  1. Hi Savanna,
    Do you place the cooked shrimp in an ice bath to stop the cooking?

    • Hi Jessica,

      I do! I find an ice bath to be the best way to stop the cooking process right where I want it. – Savannah

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