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How Long to Boil Shrimp

Looking for a speedy way to cook shrimp? Boil it!

It takes just a few minutes. Then, you can use it in shrimp cocktail, tacos or over pasta. 

One Pot Zoodle Shrimp Scampi Image

Add shrimp to your salads or make a shrimp salad sandwich. How about shrimp and dip? Or a delicious Old Bay Shrimp Boil?

The possibilities are endless! Let’s get to the details.

Shrimp Bowl with Rice

What Kind of Shrimp to Buy

You’re going to start with raw shrimp. If you have access to fresh shrimp, great.

Otherwise, it’s perfectly fine to purchase frozen, raw shrimp. Shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico taste wonderful, if you can find them.

Shrimp is sold by its size. The bag will state approximately how many shrimp per pound are included in each package.

For instance, 26/30 means 26-to-30 shrimp per pound, which is a decent size. A bag of 16/20 will contain jumbo shrimp. If you want small shrimp, go for 51/60.

Creamy Shrimp Pasta Picture

Shells on or off?

There are two schools of thought here. Some say it’s best to buy shrimp with shells on and leave them unpeeled while cooking, to impart flavor.

But someone still needs to peel and devein the shrimp before eating them. (That dark “vein” is the digestive tract.)

I prefer the convenience of buying peeled and deveined shrimp in the first place. Do what works for you.

Chicken and Shrimp Curry Picture

How to Boil Shrimp

  1. If starting with frozen shrimp, thaw them by placing the shrimp in the refrigerator overnight or by running cold water over them in a colander.
  2. Fill a pot 2/3 full with hot water and any desired seasonings, and place it on the stove over high heat, covered.
  3. Check your shrimp for dark veins (even if you bought deveined shrimp) and remove them with a shrimp tool or tweezers. If you’re using shrimp with the shells on, you’ll need to cut along the curve of the shrimp with a paring knife to get access to the vein and remove it.
  4. Rinse your shrimp.
  5. When your pot is boiling, gently add your shrimp.
  6. Boil the shrimp until they’re pink and opaque. For small shrimp, this will take 2-3 minutes. For larger shrimp, you’ll need 5-7 minutes.
  7. Drain your shrimp and immediately place them in a bowl of ice water to cool for a couple minutes before serving or using in a recipe.
  8. Store boiled shrimp in the coolest part of your refrigerator for up to four days.
Lemon Shrimp Cocktail Picture