How to Cook Frozen Shrimp With the Shell on the Stove Top

Eating shrimp is a tasty way to get protein, iron and selenium without a lot of calories or fat. You can easily prepare frozen shell-on shrimp by thawing and then boiling them on your stove-top. After boiling shrimp, you can peel them with your fingers as you eat them, or you can shell them before using them in any recipe that calls for pre-cooked shrimp -- like shrimp cocktail or shrimp salad. Enjoy shrimp in moderation; one 3-ounce serving contains 166 milligrams of cholesterol.

Thaw the Shrimp

Step 1

Place the shrimp in a colander and lightly rinse them under cold running water.

Step 2

Place the shrimp-filled colander on a plate lined with paper towels and place in the refrigerator to thaw. Thaw for 8 to 12 hours or overnight.

Step 3

Submerge the thawed shrimp in salted ice water for a few minutes to plump them before cooking.

Boil the Shrimp

Step 1

Add 4 to 6 cups of water for each pound of shrimp you're cooking to a large pot. For extra flavor, add a few lemon wedges to the water or add a spice mix made specifically for boiling shrimp. Bring the water to a roiling boil.

Step 2

Add the shrimp to the boiling water.

Step 3

Boil the shrimp. Cooking time depends on the size of the shrimp; boil 2- to 3-inch medium shrimp for about 2 minutes and larger shrimp for about 3 to 5 minutes. The shrimp are fully cooked when their color changes to pink or orange and they turn opaque all the way through, which you can check by cutting through one shrimp at it's thickest point. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp, because they'll become tough and less flavorful.

Cook Directly From Frozen State

Step 1

Put water in pan -- just enough to cover your shrimp -- and bring it to a boil.

Step 2

Run shrimp under cold water to remove any debris.

Step 3

Pat frozen shrimp dry with a paper towel.

Step 4

Drop frozen shrimp into boiling water.

Step 5

Reduce heat and simmer until shrimp are opaque. This may take between 4 and 6 minutes.


Deveining the shrimp -- a process which removes the shrimp's intestinal tract -- isn't necessary with small and medium shrimp and depends upon your personal preference. Devein larger shrimp because they contain grit. To devein a shrimp with the shell still on, use a pair of scissors to cut the shell along the back of the shrimp, and then remove the dark vein that runs along the shrimp's length with a pick, a skewer or your fingers.


Follow safe handling guidelines when preparing shrimp. Never thaw them at room temperature. After using a safe thawing method, keep shrimp refrigerated and use them within two days. Promptly refrigerate leftover shrimp, and store them in an air-tight container in the coldest part of your refrigerator.

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