6 Ways to Cook Frozen Shrimp Fast | Juicy Results Every Time

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Are you tired of overcooked, rubbery shrimp? As a former chef at the Boat Basin Cafe in New York, I’ve learned the secrets to perfectly cooking frozen shrimp every time – no thawing needed!

In this article, I’ll share my expert tips and techniques for transforming frozen shrimp into delicious, restaurant-quality dishes using various cooking methods.

You may also like: How to Tell if Shrimp is Cooked: How to Perfectly Cook Shrimp Every Time

Buying the Best Frozen Shrimp

Fresh Peeled Frozen Tiger Prawn Shrimp on Metal Tray
fresh peeled frozen tiger prawn shrimp on metal tray

Before we dive into cooking methods, let’s talk about selecting the best frozen shrimp.

Look for bags labeled “IQF” or “Individually Quick Frozen,” which means each shrimp was frozen separately to prevent clumping and ensure even cooking.

Avoid brands with excess ice crystals or frost, as this may indicate the shrimp has been thawed and refrozen, negatively impacting texture and flavor.

Yes! You Can Cook Shrimp Straight From Frozen

how to cook frozen shrimp

Contrary to popular belief, you can cook frozen shrimp without thawing them first. In fact, cooking shrimp straight from frozen often results in juicier, more flavorful shrimp than cooking from thawed.

As James Beard Award-winning chef, Gabrielle Hamilton, explains in her cookbook “Prune,” “Cooking shrimp from frozen allows them to retain their moisture and texture, preventing them from becoming overcooked and rubbery.”

How Long to Cook Frozen Shrimp (By Method)

6 Ways to Cook Frozen Shrimp Fast | Juicy Results Every Time 1
How Long to Cook Frozen Shrimp

The cooking time for frozen shrimp varies depending on the size of the shrimp and the cooking method. Here’s a quick reference guide:

MethodSmall ShrimpLarge ShrimpNotes
Stovetop2-3 minutes3-4 minutesListen for the sizzle!
Air Fryer5 minutes8-10 minutesPreheating is key
Oven5-8 minutes8-12 minutesSpace for even broiling

How to Thaw Frozen Shrimp (When Needed)

While most cooking methods work perfectly with frozen shrimp, some recipes may call for thawed shrimp. Here’s how to thaw frozen shrimp quickly and safely:

  • Fill a large bowl with cold water and submerge a colander with the frozen shrimp. Leave for 10 minutes.
  • Drain the water and refill the bowl with fresh cold water. Let the shrimp sit for another 10-20 minutes.
  • Pat the thawed shrimp dry with a paper towel before cooking.

When to Skip Thawing: Most methods work perfectly with frozen shrimp, saving you time and effort!

6 Delicious Ways to Cook Frozen Shrimp

Discover the variety of textures and flavors you can achieve by cooking frozen shrimp using these six methods.

From crispy air-fried shrimp to succulent boiled shrimp, there’s a perfect technique for every taste and occasion.

6 Ways to Cook Frozen Shrimp Fast | Juicy Results Every Time 2
How to Cook Frozen Shrimp in 6 ways 1

1. Air Fryer Frozen shrimp

Cook frozen shrimp in an air fryer to retain its juice, taste, and texture, it’s super easy, my favorite way!

Step 1: Simply preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204.5 degrees Celsius). Without thawing the shrimp, place them in the air fryer basket. 

Step 2: If you’re using frozen raw shrimp, cook for 10 minutes. However, 5 minutes will suffice for frozen pre-cooked shrimp. 

Step 3: After you take them out of the air fryer, add the shrimp to any sauce that you like. We recommend teriyaki sauce for a sweet and tangy taste.

Alternatively, you can add dry seasoning like salt and pepper, smoked paprika powder, or garlic powder to add more flavor to the shrimp. 

Is Air-frying More Healthy For You? 

Since air-frying makes minimum use of oil, it is better and healthier for you. In fact, it can cut down calories in your food by 70 – 80%. 

Moreover, air-frying also helps reduce the chances of getting cancer. How? Well, when you fry potatoes and other starchy foods in oil, a chemical called acrylamide. Research has shown this chemical has a direct relation to causing cancer. 

If you air-fry potatoes, the amount of acrylamide is reduced to 90%, thus making it a much healthier option to cook your food. 

2. Stove

You can cook frozen shrimp on the stove through the simple process of boiling. 

Step 1: Put a large pot on the stove and fill it ¾th part with water. You may like to fill it with hot tap water to reduce the boiling time. 

Step 2: On medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil. Don’t put the frozen shrimp before the water boils as this will lower the temperature of the water. The shrimp will not only take longer to cook but will also turn rubbery. 

Step 3: Add some seasonings like salt, whole peppercorn, and bay leaves. For some lemony zest, squeeze the juice of half a lemon and drop the lemon in the water. 

Don’t shy away from adding herbs like parsley, cilantro, or thyme to make it more flavorful. 

Step 4: Simmer for about five minutes to allow the flavors to infuse. 

Step 5: Add the shrimp and let them boil for 2 to 7 minutes or until some of them start rising up to the top. Remember to stir it around to make sure all the shrimp gets evenly heated. 

Step 6: Strain the boiled shrimp through a colander and serve with melted butter and seasoning of your choice.

Pro Tip: In two cups of ice cubes and half a bowl of water, put the boiled shrimp to stop them from overcooking. This step is great for cooking frozen shrimp for shrimp cocktail or shrimp salad. 

3. Instant Pot

If you’ve ever wondered how to cook frozen shrimp in an instant pot, look no further! Just follow the steps below. 

Step 1: Into the instant pot, put a steamer basket. 

Step 2: Put the frozen shrimp in the steamer, add water, and close the lid. 

Step 3: Select the Pressure Cooking option, select “High”, and set the timer at 0 minutes. 

Step 4: It will take 10 to 15 minutes for the cycle to run through. 

Step 5: Let the steam out by opening the Quick Release option. 

Step 6: After all the steam is out, take off the cover, and strain the liquid. 

Step 7: Season the strained shrimp with seasonings and sauce of your choice. 

If you don’t own an instant pot, it’s easier than ever to get one now!

4. Pan

Did you know that it’s possible to cook frozen shrimp in a pan? It’s quite simple if you check out the following steps. 

Step 1: Put a tablespoon or two of oil or butter in a pan and wait till it gets heated. 

Step 2: Add chopped shallots, minced garlic, parsley, or coriander leaves to flavor the oil. 

Step 3: Sauté for about a minute until they become soft and translucent. 

Step 4: Add the frozen shrimp to the pan and stir for 4 to 5 minutes until they turn pink. 

Step 5: Season with salt and pepper. If you want a stronger flavor, you can sprinkle some curry powder or chili powder. 

 5. Oven

By using the broiler in your oven, cooking frozen shrimp is a matter of minutes. 

Step 1: Preheat the oven broiler by setting the temperature to High for 8 to 10 minutes. 

Alternatively, you can preheat your convection oven to 400 °F (204.5 °C). Broiling is preferred, however, to cook faster and get the perfect texture of the shrimp. 

Step 2: For 230 grams or half a pound of shrimp, make a seasoning mix by combining ¾ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of crushed black pepper, ½ teaspoon of garlic and paprika powder, and ¼ teaspoon of oregano and cayenne pepper. 

Step 3: Toss the shrimp in the seasonings mixture until they are coated well. 

Step 4: Take a baking sheet and arrange the shrimp in a single layer, making sure there’s a half an inch gap between each. 

Step 5: Put the pan beneath the oven broiler for 5 to 8 minutes. 

Step 6: When the shrimp turn pink, carefully get the pan out of the oven and wait for the shrimp to cool down before serving. 

6. Steamer

For cooking frozen shrimp in a steamer, follow the same steps for cooking in an instant pot. 

The only difference is instead of using an instant pot, use a large pot on the stove. 

Step 1: Fill the pot with an inch of water and bring to a boil. 

Step 2: Carefully place the steamer basket in the pot with water. 

Step 3: Place the shrimp in the steamer basket, put the lid on the pot, and steam for 5 to 6 minutes. 

Step 4: Take the steamer basket out, plate the shrimp, and season with salt, pepper, and other condiments that you like. You can squeeze a few drops of lemon for a zesty flavor. 

How to Cook Frozen Shrimp with Shell

frozen shrimp with shell
Frozen Shrimp with Shell

Cooking frozen shrimp with shell protects the texture of the shrimp and also helps to lock in the moisture and flavor, resulting in succulent shrimp. 

Just add salt and pepper seasoning to a large bowl and toss in the frozen shrimp with the shell.  

Heat a pan on the stove and add a couple of tablespoons of oil. 

Once the oil is heated, add the shrimp and sauté for 2 minutes if the shrimp is small or for 4 minutes if they are larger. Wait until the tails are red so that you know the shrimp has been cooked to perfection. 

Things to Consider When Cooking Frozen Shrimp

  1. Does shrimp size matter for cooking time? Yes, larger shrimp will take slightly longer to cook than smaller ones. Adjust cooking times accordingly.
  2. Should I devein shrimp before or after cooking? It’s best to devein shrimp before cooking for the best texture and appearance. Look for frozen shrimp that are already deveined to save time.
  3. How do I know when the shrimp are done cooking? Shrimp are done cooking when they turn from translucent gray to opaque pink. Be careful not to overcook them, as they can quickly become tough and rubbery.

Final Thoughts

Cooking frozen shrimp is a quick and easy way to create delicious, restaurant-quality meals at home. By mastering these six cooking methods and experimenting with different seasoning blends, you’ll be able to enjoy perfectly cooked shrimp anytime, without the hassle of thawing.


Is it safe to cook shrimp from frozen?

Absolutely! Cooking frozen shrimp is safe and often preferred as it helps preserve moisture and prevents overcooking.

Will my shrimp be mushy if I cook them from frozen?

Not at all! As long as you don’t overcook them, shrimp cooked from frozen will have a tender, succulent texture.

Can I air fry frozen shrimp without thawing?

Yes! Air frying is an excellent way to cook frozen shrimp. Just remember to preheat your air fryer for crispy results.

Should I space out my shrimp when broiling them?

Yes, spacing the shrimp on the baking sheet allows for even cooking and a nice char.

How can I tell if my frozen shrimp are bad?

If your frozen shrimp have a strong fishy odor, freezer burn, or discoloration, it’s best to discard them.

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