Read This Before Making This Classic Shrimp Mistake

What's not to like about shrimp? It's a convenient protein that's relatively affordable, cooks up in no time at all for quick and easy weeknight dinners, and has a neutral flavor profile that adapts to all types of dishes, from Italian-American shrimp scampi to Thai tom yum soup. It's also no surprise that the crustacean is the most widely consumed seafood in the U.S., with Americans eating about 4.6 pounds per person each year, according to IntraFish

Pretty much everything about shrimp is dead simple, it's easy to find in supermarkets, cooking with it is foolproof as long as you don't overcook the delicate flesh, and, most conveniently of all, it freezes well. According to Still Tasty, raw frozen shrimp will stay good for three to six months, while cooked frozen shrimp are fine for up to a year. But before you go to defrost those shrimp, make sure you're taking the best approach because thawing shrimp can easily go awry, spoiling the seafood before you even get a chance to cook it. 

Thaw shrimp overnight in the fridge

Advice abounds on how to properly thaw shrimp, with some websites suggesting it's ok to defrost them in the microwave. Many of us have also been guilty of dumping the frozen crustaceans in a bowl of warm or even hot water to get them ready faster. But neither of those options is a good idea, and here's why, according to All Recipes. Shrimp cooks so quickly that defrosting them in a warm medium like a microwave or a bath will start the cooking process prematurely (and unevenly). So, by the time you go to cook your "raw" shrimp, they're actually already partially cooked and will therefore overcook in your dish, wasting all your time and effort.

Luckily, the correct way to defrost shrimp couldn't be easier — although it requires a little foresight. The night before you want to cook, measure out the frozen shrimp you'll need and set them into a colander placed inside a bowl, then tuck the whole setup into the fridge. Overnight, the shrimp will thaw, and the excess water will drip into the bowl below. If you've got a shrimp craving that needs to be satisfied, stat, you can also place your frozen shrimp into an airtight bag and then submerge the bag in a bowl of cold water (via Southern Living). They'll be ready to go in 10 to 20 minutes, which is perfect for that shrimp cocktail you were looking to serve.