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How to Boil Shrimp

Speedy Shrimp "Ceviche"

Get recipe: Speedy Shrimp "Ceviche"

"It's as easy as boiling water" is an oft-used adage in the kitchen. But when it comes to learning how to boil shrimp, the saying is as appropriate as ever.

By following a few simple tips and pointers, you can learn how to boil shrimp, putting a fundamental technique into your culinary bag of tricks and giving yourself a sturdy building block in the kitchen.

Tips for How to Boil Shrimp

  1. Always start with shrimp that are fresh or that have been thawed after freezing. Dropping frozen shrimp into boiling water can cause the temperature of the water to plummet, affecting cooking times.
  2. After adding your shrimp to the boiling water, keep your eye on the pot and don't move on to another task. Overcooking shrimp causes them to take on a tough, rubbery texture.
  3. When your shrimp turn pink and begin to curl, you'll know they're done.
  4. Cooking times vary by the size of the shrimp. Shrimp are sold based on how many individual shrimp it takes to weigh one pound. For instance, a 51/60 count bag means there are between 51 and 60 shrimp per pound. Small shrimp (more than 50 per pound) will be cooked in 2 to 3 minutes, Medium 41/50 will be cooked in 4-5 minutes. Large (31-35 per pound) shrimp will finish in about 6 to 8 minutes. Times are approximate. Check for color cues.
  5. Don't feel limited to boiling your shrimp in water. Good ol' H20 is perfectly fine, but other liquids, such as stocks, broths and even beer, can add another dimension of flavor to your shrimp. Bringing spices and citrus into the mix also helps build flavor.
  6. Always keep in mind how you're going to use or serve your shrimp after you're done boiling them.
    • If you plan to serve them cold, drain and rinse them under cold water to stop the cooking process.
    • If you're serving them as part of another dish, consider when you incorporate them. Shrimp added to another hot vessel will continue to cook, possibly resulting in that rubbery texture mentioned earlier.

Now that You Know How to Boil Shrimp

Try these recipes to put your skills to delicious work: