Shrimp is one of our favorite options for quick and easy weeknight dinners! Learn how to cook shrimp without overcooking it.
Who doesn’t love shrimp? They are a high-protein, low-calorie option that cooks in an instant. Preparing shrimp for dinner is the perfect way to create easy and healthy dinners on weekdays! The complicated thing is learning to cook shrimp so that they reach that perfect medium between overcooked and undercooked.
Our secret: use a pan that is large enough to cook shrimp loosely. If each shrimp has room to breathe, you will have more contact with the hot cooking surface. That creates rich browning and even cooking throughout the shrimp, but before we start cooking, let’s answer some of the most common questions about shrimp.
Do you cook shrimp in the shell?
Shrimp can be cooked peeled or unpeeled, although they are much easier to eat when shells are removed before cooking. If you are cooking for the company, you should always peel the shrimp so that your guests do not have to do it at the table. When you’re cooking for the family, feel free to skip it! Either way, remove the dark-colored veins inside the shrimp and rinse with cold water.
Are undercooked shrimp bad for you?
Yes. Raw shrimp contain bacteria that can cause unpleasant reactions, so we recommend cooking them completely. With that said, you don’t want to overcook your shrimp. Overcooked shrimp are tough and chewy.
How do you know when shrimp are cooked?
To find out when shrimp are cooked (and safe to eat), look at the color. A perfectly cooked shrimp is firm enough to roll without being constrained and has a dull pink color with a sheen. When overcooked, the shrimp turn a white or dull gray.
Another easy way to tell if your shrimp is cooked is if it’s in a nice C shape. Annealed shrimp curl tightly into an O shape. So just keep in mind: C = cooked, O = overcooked. Easy!
How to cook shrimp
Here is one of our favorite shrimp recipes. Serves four, but if you need to double the recipe for a larger group, it’s easy to multiply. Before you start, make sure you know how to choose the right type of shrimp for your recipe.
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 pound raw shrimp (26-30 per pound), peeled and deveined
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Cooked pasta or rice
Step 1: heat the oil
Start by selecting a pan large enough to cook all the shrimp without crushing them. If you don’t have a large enough skillet, consider cooking the shrimp in two batches. Once you have selected your pan, heat it over medium-high heat and add the oil (or a combination of oil and butter).
Step 2: Add the shrimp
When the oil is slightly shiny, it’s hot enough to add the shrimp! Add shrimp and cook for about two minutes, stirring frequently, until shrimp start to turn pink. Keep in mind that smaller shrimp cook faster than larger shrimp, so pay more attention to the color and texture of the shrimp than when they are cooked.
Step 3: Add the seasoning
Now that the shrimp are almost cooked, it’s time to add the garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Adding them at the last minute allows their fresh and intense flavors to infuse into the shrimp and prevents small pieces from burning. Cook and stir until shrimp curl inward and turn pink with a white sheen. Add the parsley and serve over pasta or rice.