How to Brine Shrimp

How to make succulent shrimp even tastier and juicier? Brine it! You read that right—you can brine shrimp! Here’s how.

How to make succulent shrimp even tastier and juicier? Brine it! You read that right—you can brine shrimp! Here’s how.

When I tell people you can brine shrimp, they’re always a little surprised. I think it’s because we typically think of turkey for brining, and maybe pork. Plus, shrimp is so tiny and quick-cooking—it might seem illogical to add an hour-long brine to the equation.

But the truth is that brining is absolutely appropriate for shrimp, making it even juicier and tastier. All in all, well worth the small amount of time and effort.

What is brining?

Brining is simply soaking food in a saltwater solution. The solution might also contain sugar, herbs, or spices. As it soaks, the food absorbs some of the brine, making meats juicier because of the added liquid and tastier because of the added salt. (For more about how brining works, see this post.)

What should you brine?

Because the benefits of brining are juiciness and flavor, the best meats for brining are lean proteins, because with less fat they tend to dry out and to have less flavor. This is probably why turkey and pork are so associated with brining.

But they’re certainly not the only lean proteins, right? Chicken breasts are lean. Fish is lean. And shrimp is definitely lean. So they’re all good candidates for brining.

How to brine shrimp

My basic brining recipe is below. It makes just a few cups because that’s plenty for about 1 1/2 pounds of shrimp, enough to serve 4. But you can use the same proportions to make more or less depending on how much and what else you want to brine.

I usually mix up my brine in a spouted container, then put my shrimp in a resealable bag and pour in the brine. (If your shrimp is still frozen, see this post for how to thaw frozen shrimp.) Then I set it aside in the refrigerator.

Because shrimp are small and have a lot of surface area, the brine soaks in relatively quickly. So unlike a turkey which you might brine for up to a day, shrimp only needs about an hour.

After brining, pat your shrimp dry—especially if you’ll be pan-searing or grilling and want to get some browning—and proceed with your recipe. If you need one, check out my best ways to cook shrimp.

One more tip—don’t rinse the shrimp before cooking. You don’t want to water down all the flavor you just added. :)

Enjoy!

Christine

 

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How to Brine Shrimp


  • Author: Jill Hough
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

Description

How to make succulent shrimp even tastier and juicier? Brine it! You read that right—you can brine shrimp! Here’s how.


Ingredients

  • 3 cups cold water
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp. Diamond Crystal kosher salt, 3 Tbsp. Morton’s kosher salt, or 2 Tbsp. fine or table salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar (optional)
  • 1 1/2 pounds large raw shrimp (2040 per pound, peeled, deveined, tail on or off)

Instructions

  1. In a large nonreactive container, combine the water, salt, and sugar (if using), stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.
  2. Transfer to a resealable bag, add the shrimp, and seal the bag, squeezing out as much air as possible.
  3. Set aside in the refrigerator 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Remove the shrimp from the brine, pat it dry, and proceed with your recipe.
How to Brine Shrimp

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