How to Cook Shrimp Perfectly Every Time

Shrimp are one of our favorite options for quick and easy weeknight dinners! Learn how to cook shrimp without over- or undercooking them.

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Whats not to love about shrimp? Theyre a high-protein, low-calorie option that cooks up in a flash. Making shrimp for dinner is the perfect way to create easy weeknight dinners. The tricky thing is learning how to cook shrimp so they hit that perfect medium between over- and undercooked.

Our secret: Using a skillet thats large enough to cook the shrimp without crowding them. If each shrimp has space to breathe, itll have more contact with the hot cooking surface. That creates a rich sear and even cooking throughout the shrimp.

How to Cook Shrimp

Taste of Home

Heres one of our favorite shrimp recipes, from South Carolina reader Athena Russell, which youll want to add to your repertoire. Its quick enough for a weeknight, but the flavors are 100% company-worthy. It serves four, but if you need to double the recipe for a bigger group, its easy to multiply.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp (26-30 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • Hot cooked pasta or rice (we like it with zoodles, too)

Directions

how to cook shrimp- heating oilTaste of Home

Step 1: Heat the oil

Start by selecting a skillet large enough to cook all the shrimp without crowding them. If you dont have a large enough pan, consider cooking the shrimp in two batches. Once youve selected your skillet, heat it over medium-high heat and add the oil (or combination of oil and butter).

how to cook shrimp- cooking shrimp in panTaste of Home

Step 2: Add the shrimp

When the oil is slightly shimmering, its hot enough to add the shrimp. Add the shrimp and cook for about two minutes, stirring often, until the shrimp just start to turn pink. Keep in mind that smaller shrimp cook more quickly than large ones, so pay more attention to the color and texture of the shrimp more than the time theyve cooked.

Test Kitchen tip: Worried you might have taken the shrimp too far? Immediately remove them from the pan to halt the cooking process. They will continue cooking even when theyre off the heat, but the residual heat from the pan can dry them out.

cooking shrimpTaste of Home

Step 3: Add seasoning

Now that the shrimp are nearly cooked, its time to add the garlic, lemon juice and salt. Adding them at the last minute allows their fresh, bold flavors to infuse into the shrimp while preventing any tiny pieces from burning. Cook and stir until the shrimp curl inwards and turn pink with a white sheen. Stir in the parsley and serve over pasta or rice.

Test Kitchen tip: If youre ready to experiment, add in fresh herbs and citrus zest after cooking. Keeping these ingredients away from the heat maximizes their fresh flavor, adding a delicate accent to the shrimp. Dont be afraid to experiment with any type of herbs you like!

Do you cook shrimp with the shell on?

Shrimp can be cooked peeled or unpeeled, although they are significantly easier to eat when the shells are removed before cooking. If youre cooking for company, you should always peel the shrimp so your guests dont have to do it at the table. When youre cooking for the family, feel free to skip it! Either way, remove the dark-colored veins inside the shrimp and rinse them in cold water. Heres everything you ever wanted to know about cleaning, deveining and prepping shrimp.

Are undercooked shrimp bad for you?

Yes. Raw shrimp contains bacteria that can cause unpleasant reactions, so we recommend fully cooking shrimp.That being said, you dont want to overcook your shrimp. Overcooked shrimp are tough and chewy. By the way, this is why you should be eating more seafood.

How can you tell when shrimp are cooked?

To know when shrimp are cooked (and safe to eat), watch the color. A perfectly cooked shrimp is firm enough to curl without being constricted, and it has an opaque pinky color with a sheen. When they are overcooked, shrimp turn matte white or gray.

Another easy way to tell if your shrimp are cooked is if they are curled into a nice C shape. Overcooked shrimp are curled tightly into an O shape. So simply, C = cooked, O = overcooked. Easy! Do you know how to pick the right type of shrimp for your recipe?

Next up: Learn how to grill shrimp.

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Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.
Christine Rukavena
Christine loves to read, curate, sample and develop new recipes as a book editor at Taste of Home. A CIA alumna with honors, she creates cookbooks and food-related content. A favorite part of the job is taste-testing dishes. Previous positions include pastry chef at a AAA Five Diamond property. Christine moonlights at a boutique wine shop, where she edits marketing pieces and samples wine far higher than her pay grade.