How to Cook Shrimp from Frozen

No need to defrost shrimp before cooking. Learn how to cook shrimp from frozen, taking them straight from the freezer to the pot. It makes dinners a breeze and they taste so good!

Remember back when I told you that you don’t have to defrost fish or chicken breasts before you cook them? Well, you don’t have to defrost shrimp before cooking them either!

To be honest, I don’t love cooking chicken from frozen. I do that more in a pinch when I forget to take it out. It doesn’t turn out quite as good as when defrosted first. The fish turns out really good, especially thicker pieces. But, the shrimp!?!? They’re amazing cooked from frozen! They turn out even better when not defrosted first. Seriously.

Frozen shrimp on white plate with bag of frozen shrimp in the background.

Here’s A Video Showing How To Cook Shrimp From Frozen:

What Kind Of Shrimp Should I Use?

So, don’t buy the “previously frozen” shrimp at the grocery store. They often cost more and you need to use them up right away. Instead, get a bag of frozen shrimp. Then put them into your freezer and you’ve got the makings of a quick meal on hand and ready to go.

What kind of shrimp work best? Medium to large shrimp. And make sure they’re already deveined. It will say deveined on the bag. The reason you want them deveined is that you won’t be able to take the veins out yourself while they’re frozen and it will be hard, if not impossible to do after they’re cooked as well. So deveined shrimp are required. Other than that, I prefer them to be peeled but with the tail on, or easy peel. Either way, you can cook them from frozen and then serve. People can easily take the peels off after they’re cooked.

Note that the shrimp also need to be frozen separately, not in a big clump. If you shake the bag, you should hear a bunch of frozen shrimp all moving around separately in there. If 2-3 are frozen together here and there, that’s fine. But no bigger clumps than that. If the shrimp are bought frozen from the store, they are usually frozen separately. If they’ve clumped up in the bag a bit, try banging the bag lightly on the counter. This could dislodge them.

How Do You Cook Shrimp from Frozen?

Frozen Shrimp on a white plate.

Today I’ll show you my favorite way to cook shrimp from frozen…poaching. Tomorrow I’ll be roasting them (from frozen) on a pan with some asparagus for a one-pan dinner that’s ready in 10 minutes.

Poaching is truly my favorite way to cook shrimp, especially for shrimp cocktail, but for almost any preparation. It’s such a gentle cooking method and it leaves the shrimp plump, juicy, and tender – never tough.

The crazy thing is that to poach the shrimp from frozen, you do everything EXACTLY the same as for poaching thawed shrimp. You just leave them in the water for an extra minute. One minute. That’s all.

So here’s what you do.

Step #1

Get a medium or large saucepan. This depends on the number of shrimp you’re cooking. 12-15 large shrimp cook well in a 3 quart pot. You’ll need a bigger pot if you’re doing more than that. Fill the pot about 3/4 full of water.

Pot of water on the stovetop.

Step #2

Add salt. I use about 1/2 teaspoon for the 3 quart pot.

Adding salt to the pot of water on the stove.

Step #3

Then you can add other aromatic ingredients if you’d like. Half of a lemon is a great addition. Squeeze the juice into the pot before adding the halved lemon.

Half a lemon being squeezed into a pot of water.

Peppercorns and parsley are two other things you can add. These aren’t as important as the salt but are nice additions.

Peppercorns in the palm of a hand over a pot of water with lemon and parsley.

Step #4

Bring the pot to a rapid boil over high heat. (Cover the pot to make it boil sooner).

Pot of boiling water with aromatics.

Step #5

Remove from the heat and let it stop boiling.

Pot of water with aromatics off of the stove, no longer boiling.

Step #6

Add the frozen shrimp.

Frozen shrimp in the pot of hot water with a lemon half.

Step #7

Stir.

Shrimp and aromatics being stirred in pot of hot water.

Step #8

Cover the pot. And let sit off of the heat for 5-6 minutes, until shrimp are opaque and pink. Yes, this is correct. The pot is not supposed to be on the heat at all anymore. The shrimp are poaching in the leftover heat of the water. If you keep boiling them, the shrimp will not be good at all!

Pot covered with lid on a countertop.

Step #9

If you’re planning to serve the shrimp cold (like for shrimp cocktail) or use them later, prepare an ice bath: In a large bowl, put two cups of ice cubes and fill halfway with cold water.

Water and ice in large light blue bowl with a wooden spoon beside it.

Step #10

If you want cold shrimp, once they’re cooked, drain off the hot liquid and transfer shrimp (but not the aromatics) to the ice bath. Let them sit in there for a few minutes to fully cool off before draining.

If you want the shrimp to be served warm instead, drain off the hot liquid and serve immediately. You can add them to a pasta sauce or squeeze some lemon over them and serve them as is.

Cooked shrimp in an ice bath in a light blue bowl. A wooden spoon is being held above with a couple shrimp on it.

Step #11

Note that if they had the peels on, you can serve them with the peel or take the peels off before serving.

Poached shrimp on a small glass bowl.

Here’s the instructions for how to cook shrimp from frozen in handy printable form:

Print
Frozen Shrimp

How to Poach Frozen Shrimp


  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This is the best way to cook frozen shrimp. They end up so tender and juicy.


Ingredients

  • 12 large frozen shrimp (2125 count per pound, deveined and peeled or deveined and easy peel)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 of a lemon, optional
  • 810 peppercorns (optional)
  • a handful of fresh parsley (optional)

Instructions

  1. Fill a 3 quart saucepan 3/4 full of water.
  2. Add salt. If using, squeeze the juice of the lemon into the pot and add the peel and flesh once squeezed. Add the peppercorns and parsley if using.
  3. Bring the pot to a rapid boil over high heat.
  4. Remove from the heat and let it stop boiling.
  5. Add the frozen shrimp. Stir. Put the lid on the saucepan. Cover the pot. Let sit off of the heat for 5-6 minutes, until shrimp are opaque and pink.
  6. If serving cold, prepare an ice bath: In a large bowl put two cups of ice cubes and fill halfway with cold water.
  7. When shrimp are cooked, drain off the hot liquid and serve immediately or transfer shrimp (but not the aromatics) to the ice bath. Let them sit in there for a few minutes to fully cool off before draining.
  8. Serve as is or peel them first.
This post originally appeared in January 2018 and was revised and republished in September 2020.
How to Cook Shrimp from Frozen

80 responses to “How to Cook Shrimp from Frozen”

  1. Brenda Lippe says:

    Do I have to thaw shrimp to cook in a pan with other vegetables?  I want to fry them up with veggies and make a sauce and serve over pasta and I don’t want to wait forever to defrost the shrimp. I’m only using about 20 shrimp. 

  2. Kellergirl says:

    Brilliant! thank you. hadan emergency need for shrimp this PM, had frozen, but bag said to thaw completely prior to cooking. This popped up when I Googled “can I boil frozen shrimp?”. PERFECTION! thanks so much.

  3. Helene M says:

    I can’t believe I am today years old before I learned how to poach shrimp from frozen. I have used this a few times in the past few months and added shrimp to pasta and salads. This is so easy and so tasty. I would like to know how to use old  bay seasoning to replicate some tasty shrimp from a local restaurant 

  4. Stephanie M says:

    This technique worked really well! It was the best shrimp texture to ever come out of my kitchen. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Joy D. says:

    I’ve used this method successfully with frozen, peeled, and deveined shrimp. Thank you!

    Will this work with prawns as well? Mine are frozen with shell on.

  6. Kate says:

    Will it work if I poach the shrimps in a’la Criollo sauce instead of salty water? 

    • Christine Pittman says:

      Kate, I’ve never tried poaching shrimp in anything but water. However, I think any liquid should work. If you try it, come back and let us know how it goes!

  7. Maria says:

    Just went over my notes. It was actually 8 min poaching time! Cant wait to try your frozen poached chicken! Be well always!

  8. Maria says:

    This was PERFECTION! THANK YOU!! Finally delicious moist shrimp. I did some calculating ( I can’t eye things because they never come out right) and I used twelve 8 oz cups of water for 24 medium sized shrimp in a stock pot. I let them poach for 10 minutes and they were so tender and moist. This was so easy. Thank you. An absolute keeper!

  9. Carl says:

    OMG this recipe is spot on. Than You

  10. Rachel says:

    So simple and delicious!! I love shrimp, but no one else in my family really eats it. Such an easy way for me to enjoy it just for me!

  11. Jeff in Ann Arbor says:

    Just tried this with 16-20 wild caught gulf shrimp at six minutes, and sadly, they were still partially raw. Used 14 shrimp in four quarts of water for six minutes.  

    • Christine Pittman says:

      I’m sorry, Jeff. Sounds like your shrimp were larger than the ones we used, we used 21/25 count per pound shrimp here. You want to let them cook in the water until opaque and pink.

  12. Sheri says:

    What if the shrimp is 16-20 per pound? Do they sit for longer than 5 or 6 minutes? Or what if they are smaller, like 26-30? Do the shrimp sit for less time? I am dying to try this but want to make sure that I do it right!

    • Christine Pittman says:

      For larger shrimp, add a few minutes of cooking time. Smaller shrimp should be about the same cooking time. This is a really gentle cook since it’s being done off the heat. If you’re not sure, quickly lift the lid to check the color for pinkness. If the shrimp are still a bit gray, continue cooking.

  13. Christopher James says:

    I’ve had trouble cooking shrimp for years. And subsequently spend inordinate amounts of money eating them at restaurants. I’ll echo what someone else said; this recipe is a game changer. I used apple cider vinegar, half a lemon and rind, peppercorns, salt, pepper, and old bay seasoning. The old bay definitely gave the shrimp a kick in flavor that I would prefer be less pronounced. Going to withhold using it in next batch. I used jumbo, skin on, headless, deveined individually frozen shrimp. Hoping this recipe with a modified cooking time can be adapted to smaller shrimp. Thanks for sharing this recipe and creating simple, clear instructions. 

  14. Tootie says:

    Can frozen raw shrimp(no shells) be breaded and baked without thawing?
    That would be great if they could be. Your  Recipe is wonderful. 

  15. KT says:

    This was one of the most useful posts I’ve ever pinned! I love shrimp fettuccine dishes, but the idea of remembering to defrost and then cook the shrimp only to get so-so results… it never seemed worthwhile. This is a game changer and I plan to make a habit of picking up a bag of frozen shrimp whenever it’s on sale!! 

  16. Bri says:

    Can you sauté them after poaching? 

    • Christine Pittman says:

      Any cooking after poaching will toughen the shrimp up a bit, Bri. But, if you’re not sauteing them for long, it’s fine. One thing I do is to melt some butter in a pan and add chopped garlic. I let it sit on low on the stove infusing while the shrimp poach. Then once they’re done, I toss them with the garlic butter just to flavor them, not to further cook them.

  17. Patrick says:

    Never any other way again. Even did the salad shrimp, just reduced the poaching time by a minute. Just make sure they are NOT precooked and do ice bath. Amazing! (Can’t think of anything I would want warm shrimp for.)

  18. lee says:

    Reply to @Mel – Mel the issue wasn’t the way you cooked the shrimp. It was the shrimp. Sounds like a bad batch of farm raised chemical laden shrimp. The chemical causes the shrimp to retain water so sometimes they don’t firm up properly. When you buy shrimp look at the ingredients and make sure it simply says shrimp or shrimp, salt.

  19. Judy Gregory says:

    Wow! Easy peasy! Such a good idea.

  20. Jen says:

    You are awesome! I don’t think I’ll ever cook shrimp any other way, they are perfection!  Thank you! 💝🙏🏻💝

  21. I love shrimp so I’ll have to try this

  22. Angelica says:

    You’re a lifesaver! I had no idea you could cook shrimp from frozen! I always put them in the fridge or cold water to thaw and then forget about them, I’ve let so many poor little shrimp go to waste because of it!

  23. Cheryl says:

    You make it sound to easy 😊

  24. Michael Coovert says:

    Frozen shrimp are horrible!!  They are one of the worst things you can freeze.  Freezing them dramatically alters their taste and physicality.  You should always use fresh, unfrozen shrimp whenever possible.  In my opinion.  

  25. Jennifer Phillips says:

    I love learning how to cook meats from frozen, I seem to have this happen a lot where I don’t have anything thawed but need to make dinner.

  26. Calvin says:

    Always wondered how, this method will hopefully make it like it tastes just like fresh shrimp.

  27. Debbie Yoder says:

    Shrimp is one of our favorites,Im going to try it this way!Thanks!

  28. Deborah Waddell says:

    Living in South Florida I prefer fresh shrimp but in a pinch I have used frozen. This is a interesting recipe.

  29. Sandy says:

    I have used this method in the past and it is very successful. Shrimp are nice and tender.

  30. Karen Anderson says:

    I always have a bag of frozen shrimp in my freezer. So many ways to cook shrimp! Delicious!

  31. Rebekah Kirby says:

    Thank you! This is really good to know.

  32. Mel says:

    Again, I can’t figure out how to reply, but @ Jaxon:

    No, they were raw and unpeeled. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but that wasn’t it! Thanks though.

  33. Jaxon says:

    Regarding the shrimp that turned to mush: Only way that could happen following this recipe is if the shrimp used were either frozen, deveined and PRECOOKED, meaning they’d now be cooked twice.

  34. Mel says:

    I can’t figure out how to reply, but yes, I took the pan off the heat both times and kept it off.

  35. Mel says:

    This was a disaster. My shrimp turned to a pile of mush and became completely inedible. I tried reducing the time and encountered the same issue. I’ve ruined about $30 of shrimp, so it’s too expensive to keep trying, but I really don’t know what’s going wrong. I’m glad I seem to be the only one with this issue.

    • Christine Pittman says:

      Mel, Did you remove the pan from the heat before adding the shrimp, and then keep it off of the heat after adding the shrimp? The shrimp are supposed to cook very gently in water that is no longer on the heat. That’s the first thing that comes to mind for me. (FYI, I’ve updated the recipe and instructions in the post to make it extra clear that you aren’t supposed to put the pot back onto the heat. It originally said to remove the pot from heat, add the shrimp, cover and let sit 5-6 minutes. Now it says to remove the pot from the heat, add the shrimp, cover and let sit off of the heat for 5-6 minutes. I would hate for anyone else to make this kind of mistake.).

  36. Patrick says:

    Exactly what I have been doing for years. Accidentally found that boiling frozen was better when I was making a surprise dinner for my wife. Had everything ready then. Realized I had forgotten to thaw the shrimp!!!! Out of desperation I boiled them frozen. Been doing it since and telling everyone about it

  37. Jen says:

    Wow, great recipe – and this is coming from someone that spent her childhood eating freshly-steamed shrimp in waterside seafood shacks.  Marylander that I am, I added a couple of (heaping) teaspoons of Old Bay to the water, used a whole lemon and threw in 2 or 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.  They were honestly the best homemade frozen shrimp I have ever had the pleasure of serving.  Kudos!

  38. Joan says:

    I always buy the frozen raw shrimp cleaned and deveined but I find on the back side there still are veins I have to clean.
    How can I cook frozen?
    Please advise.

  39. Jillian says:

    OH MY! These turned out absolutely PERFECT. Will never boil shrimp again! Thank You, THANK YOU!

  40. Dana says:

    I’m wondering the same thing as Toria- did you roast the shrimp from frozen? Or use the poached ones? Thanks! 

  41. Toria says:

    When you said that tomorrow youll be roasting them with asparagus, do you mean after you’ve done this method and the ice bath? So they are already cooked, but then you roast them too?

  42. Bridget says:

    Thank you for this! I used small shrimp and it was still perfect! I will always use this method from now on!

    • Christine Pittman says:

      Bridget, You’re welcome! I’m honestly always amazed at how well this works but it is now my go-to way of cooking shrimp for sure.

  43. Peg says:

    Now THAT”S what I’m talking about!!
    Foolproof and perfect every time!

    Don’t ruin your frozen shrimp by thawing and removing them from their
    shells. This is the only way to go!
    Thanks so much!

  44. Crystal says:

    Great idea….. I love skipping the step of thawing. Will be testing this out tonight. Thanks ! 

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