Cooking Frozen Shrimp with the Shell On (4 BEST Easy Way!)

by Ella

Cooking seafood is a culinary adventure that yields delicious and nutritious results. Among the treasures of the sea, frozen shrimp with shells is a versatile ingredient that can elevate your meals to new heights. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the nuances of cooking frozen shrimp with shells, unveiling step-by-step techniques, delectable recipes, and expert tips to ensure your seafood endeavors are nothing short of a triumph.

Types of Frozen Shrimp

Frozen shrimp are available in various forms, including **shell-on**, **shell-off**, **tail-on**, and more. Cooking shrimp with the shell intact can enhance both flavor and texture, as the shell acts as a protective layer during cooking, preserving the shrimp’s natural juices and flavors.


See Also: Shrimp: Nutrition, Health Benefits, choosing & storage


Thawing Frozen Shrimp

Thawing frozen shrimp is a crucial step in the cooking process to ensure that the shrimp cooks evenly and retains its natural texture and flavor. There are safe and effective methods for thawing frozen shrimp, and it’s important to follow proper food safety guidelines to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.


1. Refrigerator Thawing

Time Needed: Overnight or 24 hours


Refrigerator thawing is the recommended method for safely thawing frozen shrimp. This method requires patience, as it takes several hours or overnight for the shrimp to fully thaw. Here’s how to do it:

Preparation: Place the frozen shrimp in a leak-proof plastic bag or airtight container to prevent any moisture or juices from leaking onto other foods in the refrigerator.

Thawing: Place the bag or container of frozen shrimp on a plate or shallow tray to catch any potential drips. Put the shrimp in the refrigerator and allow them to thaw for approximately 24 hours. Thawing times may vary based on the size of the shrimp and the temperature of your refrigerator.

Inspecting: Once the shrimp are fully thawed, they should feel flexible to the touch and there should be no ice crystals present on the shrimp’s surface. It’s important to inspect the shrimp before using them to ensure they are completely thawed.

2. Cold Water Thawing

Time Needed: About 1 hour

Cold water thawing is a faster method compared to refrigerator thawing and is suitable when you need to prepare the shrimp relatively quickly. Here’s how to do it:

Preparation: Place the frozen shrimp in a sealed plastic bag to prevent water from seeping in and diluting the natural flavors.

Thawing: Fill a large bowl or basin with cold tap water. Submerge the sealed bag of shrimp in the cold water. Ensure the bag is fully sealed to prevent water from getting in.

Water Changes: Change the water every 30 minutes to maintain a consistently cold temperature. This helps promote even and safe thawing.

Thawing Time: Depending on the size of the shrimp, it may take about 1 hour for the shrimp to fully thaw using the cold water method.

Inspection: As with refrigerator thawing, make sure the shrimp are fully thawed by feeling for flexibility and checking for the absence of ice crystals on the surface.

3. Quick Thawing Tips:

Do Not Use Hot Water: Avoid using hot water to thaw shrimp, as this can result in uneven cooking and promote bacterial growth.

Use Immediately: Once the shrimp are thawed, use them immediately for cooking. Avoid refreezing thawed shrimp, as this can impact their texture and quality.

Cook Thawed Shrimp Promptly: To maintain food safety, ensure that you cook the thawed shrimp as soon as possible after they are fully thawed.

See Also: 10 Minute Air Fryer Frozen Shrimp – No Thaw!

Peeling and Deveining

If desired, you can peel and devein the shrimp before or after cooking. To peel, gently remove the shell by starting at the head and pulling down along the body. To devein, make a shallow incision along the back of the shrimp, exposing the dark vein. Use a small knife or your fingers to lift and remove the vein.

See Also: Peeling & Deveining Shrimp: A Step-by-Step Guide

The Cooking Process

Now that you have your thawed shrimp ready, let’s dive into the cooking process. We’ll explore various cooking methods that bring out the best in frozen shrimp with shell.

1. Boiling

Boiling frozen shrimp with the shell on is a quick and simple method that retains the shrimp’s natural flavors.


Bring a pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil.

Add the thawed shrimp to the boiling water. The water should cover the shrimp completely.

Cook for 2-3 minutes until the shrimp turn pink and opaque.

Drain the shrimp and immediately transfer them to an ice water bath to halt the cooking process.

Once cooled, peel the shell off and devein the shrimp if desired.

2. Sautéing

Sautéing frozen shrimp with the shell on is a great option for creating flavorful and slightly crispy shrimp.


Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of cooking oil (olive oil or butter work well).

Add the thawed shrimp to the skillet in a single layer. Allow space between each shrimp for even cooking.

Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until the shrimp turn pink and the shells become slightly crispy.

Remove the shrimp from the skillet and place them on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Once the shrimp are cool enough to handle, peel the shells and enjoy.

3. Grilling

Grilling frozen shrimp with the shell on imparts a smoky flavor that’s perfect for outdoor gatherings.


Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Thread the thawed shrimp onto skewers, allowing enough space between each shrimp.

Brush the shrimp with a marinade of your choice, such as garlic butter or a citrus-based marinade.

Place the shrimp skewers on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until they are pink and slightly charred.

Carefully remove the shrimp from the skewers and serve.

4. Baking

Baking frozen shrimp with the shell on is a gentle method that results in tender and succulent shrimp.


Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Place the thawed shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Drizzle with olive oil and season with your favorite spices and herbs.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink and opaque.

Allow the shrimp to cool slightly before peeling the shells.

See Also: How to Cook Frozen Shrimp & 10 Recipes!

Delectable Recipes to Delight Your Palate

1. Garlic Butter Shrimp


  • Frozen shrimp with shells (peeled and deveined)
  • Butter
  • Minced garlic
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper


1. In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat.

2. Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant.

3. Add the thawed shrimp to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.

4. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the shrimp.

5. Season with salt, pepper, and chopped parsley.

6. Toss the shrimp to coat in the garlic butter mixture.

7. Serve immediately with your choice of sides.

2. Cajun Spiced Shrimp Boil


  • Frozen shrimp with shells
  • Corn on the cob (halved)
  • Red potatoes (quartered)
  • Smoked sausage (sliced)
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Lemon wedges
  • Melted butter


1. Fill a large pot with water and add Cajun seasoning and Old Bay seasoning.

2. Bring the water to a boil and add the potatoes and corn. Cook for 10-15 minutes.

3. Add the sliced sausage to the pot and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

4. Carefully add the thawed shrimp to the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes until they turn pink.

5. Drain the shrimp boil ingredients and transfer them to a serving platter.

6. Serve with lemon wedges and melted butter for dipping.

See Also: Super Easy Chowking Fried Chicken Recipe – Wanna To Try It?

Are frozen shrimp with shells better or frozen shrimp without shells?

1. Frozen Shrimp with Shells


Enhanced Flavor: Cooking shrimp with shells can enhance the flavor of the dish. The shells act as a protective barrier during cooking, helping to retain the natural juices and flavors of the shrimp.

Moisture Retention: The shells provide a layer that helps to keep the moisture within the shrimp during cooking, resulting in tender and succulent meat.

Visual Appeal: Shrimp with shells can add visual appeal to dishes, especially if you’re serving them in their shells. They can also create an attractive presentation when used as a garnish.

Versatility: Shrimp with shells are versatile and can be used in a wide range of dishes, from soups and stews to pasta dishes and grilling.


Preparation Time: Peeling and deveining shrimp with shells can be time-consuming, especially if you’re preparing a large quantity.

Eating Experience: Some diners prefer not to deal with peeling the shrimp while eating, as it can be a bit messy.

2. Frozen Shrimp without Shells


Convenience: Shrimp without shells are convenient and save you the time and effort of peeling and deveining before cooking.

Ease of Eating: Shrimp without shells are easier to eat, making them a good choice for dishes where you want to minimize the mess and effort for your diners.

Quick Cooking: Shrimp without shells cook faster since you don’t have to account for the extra time needed to cook the shells.

Marination: Shrimp without shells can absorb marinades and flavors more effectively, as there is no shell barrier.


Flavor: While shrimp without shells cook faster, they may lose some of the moisture and flavor that the shells can help retain.

Texture: Shrimp without shells might have a slightly different texture compared to those cooked with the shells, as the shells can contribute to the overall texture of the dish.

3. Which to Choose?

The choice between frozen shrimp with shells and without shells ultimately depends on the specific dish you’re preparing and the cooking method you plan to use. Here are some guidelines to consider:

Shrimp with Shells: If you’re preparing a dish where the flavor and moisture retention are crucial, such as shrimp boils, soups, or stews, using shrimp with shells can be a great choice. The shells will contribute to the overall taste and texture of the dish.

Shrimp without Shells: For dishes that require quicker cooking times, such as stir-fries, sautés, or skewers for grilling, shrimp without shells are more convenient. They also work well when you want to showcase the flavors of marinades and spices.

Expert Tips for Culinary Success

1. Avoid Overcooking: Shrimp cook quickly, and overcooking can result in tough and rubbery texture. Keep a close eye on the shrimp and remove them from heat as soon as they turn pink and opaque.

2. Experiment with Seasonings: Shrimp’s mild flavor pairs well with a variety of seasonings and sauces. Experiment with different herbs, spices, and marinades to create a personalized culinary masterpiece.

3. Use High-Quality Ingredients: The quality of your ingredients, including the shrimp itself, can greatly impact the final dish. Opt for high-quality, sustainably sourced frozen shrimp for the best results.

4. Add a Citrus Twist: Fresh lemon or lime juice adds brightness to shrimp dishes and complements their natural flavors.

5. Enhance with Aromatics: Garlic, onions, shallots, and fresh herbs can elevate the taste profile of your shrimp preparations.

See Also: Is Shrimp Good for Liver? [Revealed!]


Cooking frozen shrimp with shells is a delightful journey that leads to succulent and satisfying results. The shells contribute to the shrimp’s overall flavor, and proper cooking techniques ensure they remain tender and delectable. Whether you’re boiling, steaming, or sautéing, each method brings out the best in this seafood gem.

As you explore the realm of cooking with frozen shrimp with shells, don’t hesitate to experiment with seasonings, flavors, and accompaniments that resonate with your taste preferences. With the guidance provided in this guide and your culinary creativity, you’re well on your way to crafting memorable dishes that highlight the essence of this ocean delicacy.



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