How to Clean and Prepare Raw Shrimp

Shrimp cook quickly, making them an excellent choice for a weeknight meal or appetizer. 

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time (boil): 6-12 minutes
  • Total time: 30-40 minutes

The following cooking method is for uncooked shrimp with shells. This means the shrimp needs to be peeled and cleaned. Most markets sell pre-peeled shrimp. If the shrimp is bought pre-peeled, skip to step 4.

Step 1: Buy fresh shrimp from your local market. 

  • When picking out fresh shrimp, the flesh should be translucent white and the shell should be light grey.

Step 2: Peel shrimp. 

  • Shrimp can be peeled before or after cooking. The vein can be eaten, but many people prefer not to. However, cooking with the shells makes it easier to peel and helps preserve the flavor.
  • To peel shrimp, grasp the legs and tear them off. Open the shell along the inner curve of the body and remove it.

Step 3: Devein the shrimp. 

  • Use a sharp paring knife to cut a slit along the outer curve of the shrimp’s body. The cut will reveal a dark brown or black vein, the shrimp’s digestive tract. Use your fingers, a fork or the paring knife to lift it out of the shrimp.

Step 4: Prepare the shrimp. 

Boil Shrimp:
  • Rinse shrimp with cold water and allow them to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
  • Fill a large pot with water and turn on high heat until water comes to a rolling boil, add the shrimp to the pot and make sure they are completely submerged.
  • Allow the shrimp to cook for 1 to 2 minutes. As the water begins to boil again with small bubbles, remove the pot from the heat.
  • Cover the pot and allow the shrimp to continue cooking in the hot water for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp. When they are finished cooking, the shrimp will turn a pink color.
  • Drain the shrimp by pouring into a strainer.
Saute Shrimp:
  • Heat skillet on high heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add olive oil to your heated skillet. Enough to coat bottom of skillet and allow to heat up.
  • Add shrimp to skillet. The key is to add the shrimp to your skillet when it’s very hot. This will give the shrimp a crisp outside while still cooking the inside just perfect.
  • Allow shrimp to cook about 5 minutes or until pink in color.
Grill Shrimp:
  • Heat grill on high heat.
  • Season shrimp with salt, threaded them onto a skewer, brushed them with a bit of olive oil then place shrimp skewers on the hot grill.
  • Allow shrimp to cook until nicely browned on the exterior (about 5 minutes).
  • For juicier, more tender shrimp cook them with their shells still on.

*NOTE* If you didn’t peel your shrimp before cooking them, you can either serve them with the peel on and allow people to peel their own shrimp, or peel the shrimp yourself when they’re finished cooking and serve them that way.

*TIP* Season shrimp with salt and pepper or any seasoning you desire.

Try Skillet Lime Shrimp. Click here for recipe.

Skillet Lime Shrimp