The Frozen Shrimp Tricks You'll Wish You Knew Sooner

Seafood Source asserts that shrimp was the number one seafood in the U.S. in 2020. 5 pounds out of the 19 pounds of seafood that was consumed per capita in the U.S. consisted of shrimp. 

Digital Journal reveals that shrimp makes up over 43 percent of the U.S. market in frozen seafood. The shrimp market is expected to be worth $48.8 billion by 2031. According to Seafood News, Chicken of the Sea Frozen Foods is the largest importer of Fair Trade Certified shrimp in the U.S.

If you're a shrimp lover too, then you'll love trying out different shrimp varieties, from the tiger shrimp to the Mexican blue. There're plenty of shrimp recipes to choose from as well. Do you buy shrimp fresh from the fishmongers? Or do you buy them frozen and thaw them out? That's all well and good, but did you know you can do a lot with frozen shrimp? 

If you do opt for frozen shrimp, you might have a lot of questions. How do you prep and cook with them? What's the best way to defrost them? If you're going to cook with shrimp, it's best to have some shrimp tricks up your sleeve.

Rinse shrimp without thawing

It's a Monday night, and you're too tired and hungry to make an elaborate dish. You want something to make something that's quick, tasty, nutritious, and still feels like a treat. Then you remember you've got frozen shrimp in the freezer, and you've suddenly got options, such as making a delicious garlic shrimp stir-fry. Don't worry, you can cook these fishy morsels directly from frozen, so there's no wasting any time waiting for them to thaw out either. However, does recommend giving them a quick rinse.

Since they're not usually frozen in a clump, it's easier to grab just the right number of shrimp you need. Frozen shrimp are often covered with ice. This keeps the shrimp in good condition while they're in the freezer. If the color of the shrimp looks patchy, or they look dried-up or have white markings, the shrimp could be showing signs of freezer burn (via The Kitchen Community). However, you don't want this layer of protective ice going into your pan, so while you don't need to thaw out frozen shrimp, you should give them a rinse to get rid of the freezer burn. The easiest way to do this is under a tap. The running water will get rid of the ice in no time.

Defrost slightly to devein

If you're purchasing shrimp, you might want to opt for deveined ones. Trying to take out the black line along the edge of your shrimp (the digestive tract) while they're rock hard is challenging. However, there is a way of deveining shrimp without thawing them out first. 

Foodal suggests putting the shrimp under the faucet in a colander and letting the water slightly defrost them. You just need to soften them slightly. If they've got the tops and shells on, you can remove these, although you may want to keep the tail on. Slide a knife along the edge of the black line. Gently pick it out with the tip of the knife. Tasting Table asserts that if you're dealing with small or even medium-sized shrimp, you don't necessarily have to devein them.

A clever peeling and deveining tip is demonstrated on YouTube by Ted Chef Bourque using a fork. Place a fork tine under the top of the shell and thread it down to the tail. Now pull the shrimp away from the shell with the other hand, and it'll come away with ease. You should be able to pick out the vein as well. 

Another method, which is a classic fish hack, is to use a toothpick. Poke the stick through a shrimp between one of the segments near the top. Pull it out upward, and the vein should slide out with it (via Sunset).

Get rid of excess water

Shrimp really soak up moisture, and if they're frozen, they're definitely going to be holding on to a lot of water. The issue is that while it's convenient to cook shrimp before they've thawed, you probably don't want all that excess liquid coming out into whatever dish you're cooking. If it does, then you might end up with a meal that has a watery consistency and taste. Thankfully, there's a culinary trick from YouTube chef Matthew Francis that might just help you.

Start by drying off your seafood by laying the shrimp out on a kitchen towel and then adding a layer on top to soak up some of the water. Fry for a minute in a dry frying pan on high heat without moving them around. Then fry for another minute, making sure you keep stirring so that the shrimp are cooking evenly. At this point, you should see some liquid coming out of the shrimp.  

Put them in a bowl and leave them sitting for a short time. Drain them, keeping any watery juices. You can use this liquid and use it in recipes. You can add it to stock, for example, as it'll have some of the shrimp flavors in there. Meanwhile, your shrimp, which are nearly cooked, but not quite, are now ready to use in a recipe without any sauce being diluted. The fresh taste of the seafood will shine through.

Air fry seasoned shrimp for perfect results

If you love your shrimp seasoned, then you might balk at the idea of using frozen shrimp as you might be worried that whatever you sprinkle on just isn't going to stick. According to Lifehacker, it sticks just fine, and if you add oil, too, it'll help the seasoning stay on even better because the cold will make it less likely to run off. Put the oil on the shrimp first and then the seasoning, and then use your air fryer to turn them into hot, succulent bites.

Life Savvy suggests using shrimp that are already deveined and setting the air fryer to 400 degrees Farenheit. One TikToker sprays oil on the frozen shrimp when they're in the air fryer basket and adds seasoning before serving with a spicy dip once cooked. TikToker @carolbeecooks uses avocado oil, spicy seasonings, and a squirt of lime juice before air frying. 

The seasoning consists of seasoned salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika with black pepper. When these tasty shrimp come out of the air fryer, they can be served with delicious white rice and steamed broccoli to cut through the bold flavors of the shrimp. Lime juice is drizzled over the top, along with some Trader Joe's Yuzu Hot Sauce, which is spicy and citrusy. Weekday meals from the freezer to the air fryer have never been so good.

Use an Instant Pot

A great way to cook shrimp from frozen is with an Instant Pot. The only difference between fresh and frozen shrimp is that the latter will need to be cooked for a little longer. You can literally just add frozen shrimp to a recipe just the same, even when they're the star of a dish such as the Instant Pot Shrimp Boil

Once you've cooked your baby red potatoes, Andouille sausages, onion, and corn in lager and/or chicken stock with spicy sauce and Old Bay, you need to remove these ingredients. You're now ready to add your frozen shrimp.

You want deveined, shell-on, and tail-on frozen shrimp for this recipe. If your shrimp aren't peeled but still have that black line, you're should remove it. You're using jumbo shrimp for this recipe, so it makes all the difference. You can use either the toothpick or slit method to take this out without removing the shell (via Sunset). 

Add them to the broth and let them cook for over 4 minutes, which is the cooking time for fresh shrimp. You want to set your Instant Pot to sauté mode. When they're pink, they're ready, all you need is a Cajun lemon butter with garlic for dipping your succulent shrimp.

Poach shrimp so they are juicier

If one of your concerns is that a frozen shrimp turns into a soggy, water-logged one when you cook it, then this cooking tip is a no-brainer: It entails poaching your frozen shrimp. While this may be a good way to avoid having to deal with all that excess liquid, it also results in juicy, plump shrimp. 

Boil some shrimp in a pot of water, add some salt, and add the raw shrimp. Put the lid on and cook for 5 minutes until the shrimp are pink and there's no grey. Instead of adding flavors to the water, eat the freshly poached shrimp with a dip (via The Rose Table). suggests poaching frozen shrimp in a court-bouillon to add flavor, which is the traditional way to poach seafood. You can add other ingredients to these shrimp, such as herbs, slices of lemon, onions, and wine vinegar, with some peppercorns and salt. One TikTok post poaches shrimp for a pasta dish. 

Add frozen shrimp to boiling water and when they're done, take them out and cook your pasta in the same water. In a pan, melt some butter and add your poached shrimp along with some Old Bay, garlic powder, and onion powder. Let the flavors come together, and serve your seasoned shrimp with your pasta and some Parmesan grated on top.

Sous vide with baking soda

Do you remember when sous vide cooking was only found in fancy restaurants? That has all changed: Plenty of home cooks who love chef-style gadgets have an immersion circulator. The beauty of this culinary wizard is that it locks in flavor while also ensuring that whatever's being cooked retains all of its juiciness. If it sounds like the perfect kitchen contraption for cooking shrimp, it is. You can also enjoy sous vide frozen shrimp with a little bit of seasoning, according to Thyme & Joy

It's super easy to overcook shrimp, which makes them tasteless and rubbery. Sous vide controls the temperature of the water bath, and this prevents the crustaceans from overcooking. Sprinkle on some baking soda before popping them into the sous vide bag.

Not only does this enhance the texture and make them more succulent, but it also intensifies the flavor. Drizzle on some oil and season as well. You'll need around half a tablespoon of baking soda for each pound of shrimp. Another good tip is to use a kitchen utensil to weigh down the bag so that it's fully under the water while it's being cooked. If you're not eating your shrimp straightaway, then pop them in an ice bath for a few minutes and refrigerate.

Make bang bang shrimp the easy way

Bang bang shrimp is best when it's made with raw medium shrimp that have been shelled and deveined. Once these delicious bites have been dipped in buttermilk, cornstarch, and garlic powder, they're ready to be fried. This creates a crispy coating which makes them delicious when they're served with mayo, Sriracha, and a sweet chili sauce dip: It's no wonder that this is such a popular shrimp dish. You can also use Panko breadcrumbs if you want to add some extra crunch on the outside.

If you're having one of those days when you don't want to thaw out and bread your shrimp, then there's a TikTok tip from @doctornatashacomedy that you can utilize: Use Trader Joe's frozen coconut shrimp instead. You don't have to fry them since they're baked in the oven. You can even cook them straight from the freezer. 

TikToker @doctornatashacomedy suggests serving shrimp with a dipping sauce too, although Kewpie mayonnaise is used in place of regular mayo. This Japanese condiment is made from egg yolks rather than the whole egg. You can serve this shrimp with other sides like shelled edamame with chili sauce, along with imitation crab mixed with Sriracha and Kewpie mayo, plus rice with rice vinegar. Getting hungry yet?

Broil on a baking tray

There are so many ways to cook shrimp and even more recipes. When it comes to cooking with frozen shrimp though, you may think that your options are a little limited. Your first thought might be to deep fry them or stir-fry them, but if you don't want them to be greasy, then another option could be to broil them. That's right, you can take those rock-hard crustaceans straight out of your freezer and get them sizzling under your oven's broiler without having to thaw them first. A simple TikTok tip makes cooking spicy shrimp simple. 

Add some aluminum foil to a baking tray on the top rack of your oven and turn your broiler on. Give your frozen shrimp a rinse under running water, and then add some flavor by sprinkling on Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning

They only take a few minutes to cook: If you want to know when the shrimp are done, whatever recipe you follow, a cook's thermometer should read 120 degrees Fahrenheit when you stick it into the meat. We recommend serving the grilled shrimp with some chili garlic sauce. 

Break up frozen shrimp blocks into portions

One of the most frustrating about frozen food is when everything melds together into a solid ice block. You can grab a few frozen shrimp from a small bag in the freezer if they weren't usually clumped together. If you've bought a whole load of shrimp wholesale, then they may have frozen together. 

This can be frustrating. You probably won't want to defrost them all and then refreeze the ones you don't want, although, according to the USDA, this is safe to do as long as you do the defrosting in the fridge.

While you might be tempted to hurl your frozen shrimp block across the kitchen at the wall or smash the bag on the floor, it's possibly not the best solution. Not only might it not work, but you might cause some havoc and injury in the process, and it might just leave a shrimp-shaped dent in your kitchen wall. 

And don't even think about trying to break it up with a knife. Reddit tipsters suggest running warm water over the portion you want to use so that this part of the block thaws out faster. You can also use cold water and run it over the block. As the water runs, the ice that's protecting the shrimp should start to melt, and you'll soon be able to bend and break the block and use the shrimp. 

Thaw frozen shrimp in cold water

While you can cook with frozen shrimp, you might decide it's easier to just defrost them. You might not be in a rush and prefer to use fresh shrimp instead. If's useful to know how best to do so. 

The FDA recommends letting them defrost in the fridge or in a bag in cold water. If you need them to thaw quickly because you want to cook them straightaway, then you can defrost them in the microwave, but they should still be cold but a little more pliable. COOKtheSTORY recommends putting the frozen shrimp directly in a bowl of cold water. Your raw shrimp will turn from opaque to translucent when they're thawed.

You can also stir the water every few minutes to break up the ice. This will speed up thawing, Meanwhile, it's best not to use hot water or leave the shrimp at room temperature as this can lead to bacteria developing (via Southern Living). 

To follow a TikTok defrosting trick, put your frozen shrimp in cold water and only then pull apart any that are stuck to each other. Don't do this before they're in the water. Swish the shrimp around in the water and then pour it away because it's going to be super cold from the ice. Refill your bowl with cold water, and they'll soon thaw. Then, all you have to do is figure out how to cook them. 

Defrost shrimp in a colander

While cooking with frozen shrimp is such a time-saver, it's inevitable that there will be times when you just can't avoid thawing them out. Perhaps you've got a bag of frozen cooked prawns, and you want to thaw them and eat them straightaway without going through any frying, poaching, broiling or sous vide processes. 

Before you tip your frozen shrimp into a bowl and let the ice melt, grab a colander and follow this TikTok tip. Place the seafood into the colander and put it over the bowl instead. Why? Because you don't want your defrosted shrimp to be soaking up a lot of water from the melted ice. 

As the shrimp thaws, the water will trickle down into the bowl and away from the seafood. This is a quick and simple way to thaw shrimp without being left with soffy pieces. They aren't going to be easy to cook with or appetizing to eat if they're already cooked, and you're going to be serving them right away. Sometimes the simplest of tips can work wonders. This is one of those special techniques: Once you've tried it, you'll never not use it again.

Freeze shrimp waste to eliminate odors

There's no better aroma than grilled shrimp, but the fishy odor that stems from leftover shrimp tails is less than appealing. Even if you're serving peeled Spanish garlic shrimp, you may have shells to dispose of from prepping this recipe. 

You can put them in your garbage can, but it's soon going to stink. Even if you put them in the trash outside, they'll soon start to let off a strong odor that could linger in your bin. Similarly, if you put all the shrimp debris in the fridge, the smell is going to permeate into all the other ingredients and is going to be difficult to get rid of.

The solution is simple. Put all the discarded shells and any shrimp bits that you want to dispose of in a Ziploc bag. Then, put it in the freezer. Once the shrimp is frozen, it can safely stay in there until it is garbage collection day, when you can just toss them into the waste while they're still frozen (via TikTok). 

Remember, you can use the discarded bits from shrimp in other ways, such as making shrimp stock. Another idea is to coat them in cornstarch, deep fry them, and serve them with red pepper flakes (via The Kitchen Chalkboard). Foods Guy advises making sure you've got that sublime slither of soft meat inside the shrimp tail.