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!
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.
Video: How To Cook Shrimp From Frozen
What Kind Of Shrimp Should I Use?
So, don’t buy the “previously frozen” thawed 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?
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, no need for thawing.
So here’s what you do.
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.
Add salt. I use about 1/2 teaspoon for the 3 quart pot.
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.
Peppercorns and parsley are two other things you can add. These aren’t as important as the salt but are nice additions.
Bring the pot to a rapid boil over high heat. (Cover the pot to make it boil sooner).
Remove from the heat and let it stop boiling.
Add the frozen shrimp.
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!
A couple of times when cooking shrimp this way, they looked done but were a tad mushy. I actually think they were not quite ready yet because I ended up leaving them in a little bit longer and then they were perfect. So, if you’re not sure if it’s been long enough, try leaving them for another minute or two. At that point, the water has cooled enough that it’s not going to overcook them, so leaving them longer is a good idea.
If you have more shrimp than the 12 that the recipe calls for, you’ll need more time. I have done as many as 20 in that same pot. They then take about 10 minutes. If you’re going to do more than that, use a bigger pot and more boiled water.
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.
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 sauce for a pasta dish or squeeze some lemon over them and serve them as is.
Note that if they had the peels on, you can serve them with the peel or take the peels off before serving.
Podcast Episode: Cooking Frozen Shrimp
Listen to me explain briefly about How To Cook Shrimp From Frozen, with some great tips along the way, by clicking the play button below:Print
This is the best way to cook frozen shrimp. They end up so tender and juicy.
- 12 large frozen shrimp (21–25 count per pound, deveined and peeled or deveined and easy peel)*
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 of a lemon (optional)
- 8–10 peppercorns (optional)
- a handful of fresh parsley (optional)
- Fill a 3 quart saucepan 3/4 full of water.
- 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.
- Bring the pot to a rapid boil over high heat.
- Remove from the heat and let it stop boiling.
- 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.
- If serving cold, prepare an ice bath: In a large bowl put two cups of ice cubes and fill halfway with cold water.
- 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.
- Serve as is or peel them first.
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*NOTE: You can do as many as 20 shrimp in that same sized pot with that same amount of water. They’ll just take longer to all cook through, about 8-10 minutes. If you want to do more shrimp than that, use a bigger pot with more boiled water in it and it will work perfectly.
**It is better to err on the side of more time than less time. If the shrimp look done but aren’t quite ready, they will be mushy. So if you’re not sure, leave them a bit longer. And if you try one and it’s a bit mushy, let everything stay in the water a bit longer.