Learn How to Safely Defrost and Cook Frozen Shrimp
Shrimp is one of the easiest, most economical, and most delicious proteins that you can make for your family any night of the week. Frozen shrimp is a particularly smart buy because you can keep it on hand for weeks—and up to 12 months in the freezer (most packages of frozen seafood will have a "best buy" date printed on them). Whether you planned your meals a week in advance or are trying to decide what to make for dinner at the last minute, timing is everything when it comes to safely cooking frozen shrimp. Here's how to get it right.
Cooking with Frozen Shrimp
From pasta to salads, like the Romaine with Snap Peas, Bulgur, and Shrimp pictured here, once thawed, frozen shrimp can be used in any recipe where you'd use fresh shrimp, which means there are so many different and delicious ways to prepare it. Our Shrimp-Cocktail Burger is a delicious twist on the classic raw bar appetizer. You can also fry thawed frozen shrimp for our Quick Shrimp Po'boys, a staple sandwich in The Big Easy. Looking for more inspiration? From poached to sautéed, we have a curated list of of our best shrimp recipes that you can consult.
Buying Frozen Shrimp
Purchasing frozen shrimp at the grocery store is just like buying fresh—first, choose between wild-caught or farm-raised shrimp. Know how large you want the shrimp to be; a count of 16-20 shrimp means that you get approximately 16-20 jumbo shrimp per pound. By comparison, medium shrimp will come in a count of approximately 41-50 per pound. Frozen shrimp also come raw or pre-cooked, shell-on or shell-off, and either with the vein or deveined, so decide what will work best for your recipe.
Frozen shrimp does not mean that the quality or flavor of the shrimp will be worse than fresh. It often will taste even fresher because most frozen seafood is immediately frozen and after it's caught, which preserves the fresh-from-the-sea taste.
How to Thaw Frozen Shrimp
If you're planning dinner in advance, thaw frozen shrimp in the refrigerator 24 hours before you need to cook with them. Only thaw the amount of shrimp that you need to cook with, as you shouldn't re-freeze previously frozen seafood. Be sure to place the frozen shrimp in a bowl or plastic bag to thaw. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), if you're in a time crunch, you can defrost the shrimp by transferring them to a sealed plastic bag and placing the bag in cold water; within about 45 minutes, they should be completely thawed.
Once they're thawed, pat each shrimp dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, then follow your recipe accordingly.