How Long to Boil Frozen Shrimp?

When it comes to boiling shrimp, it’s important to boil them for the right amount of time—or else they’ll become rubbery and tough. How long to boil frozen shrimp?

Shrimp should be boiled between 2 and 7 minutes, or until they start to float and their flesh turns opaque with pink accents. The amount of time needed to boil shrimp will really depend on their size.

The average time to boil frozen shrimp, based on their size, is as follows:

  • Small shrimp: 30 seconds to 1 minute
  • Medium shrimp: 1 to 1 1/2 minutes
  • Large shrimp: 2 to 3 minutes
  • Jumbo shrimp: 3 to 4 minutes
  • Extra Jumbo shrimp: 4 to 5 minutes

Read on to learn more about how long it takes to boil frozen shrimp and two excellent boiled shrimp recipes.

How Long to Boil Frozen Shrimp?

how long to boil frozen shrimp

You should allow frozen shrimp to boil for about two to seven minutes, depending on their size. The shrimp are fully-cooked when they turn opaque with pink accents.

The boiling time of shrimp is fast, which increases the chance of overcooking them.

If you’re a stickler for precision, here’s a general guideline for the boiling time of fresh and frozen shrimp based on their size:

  • Small shrimp: 30 seconds to 1 minute
  • Medium shrimp: 1 to 1 1/2 minutes
  • Large shrimp: 2 to 3 minutes
  • Jumbo shrimp: 3 to 4 minutes
  • Extra Jumbo shrimp: 4 to 5 minutes

But for some people, the boiling time isn’t really that important. It’s more important to keep watch. Look for signs that the shrimp are already boiled.

Signs That Boiled Shrimp Are Done

  1. The shrimp meat separates from the shell;
  2. The shrimp float to the top of the pot; and
  3. The surface of the shrimp meat turns a little pinkish or bright red.

Steps to Properly Boil Your Shrimp:

  1. Fill your pot with 64 ounces of water per pound of fresh or thawed shrimp;
  2. If needed for your recipe, add your seasonings. (Please take note that seasonings may affect the boiling time.);
  3. Once the water boils, add your shrimp, then set your timer;
  4. Pour the shrimp and water into a mesh strainer or colander to strain; and
  5. Run the shrimp under cool water or place them in a bowl filled with ice. This makes sure that they don’t become overcooked after boiling.

Factors That Affect the Boiling Time of Shrimp

It’s good that you have a guide for the length of time for boiling your favorite crustacean. But, as you’ve previously learned, the exact boiling time of shrimp depends on several factors.

Let’s go over the three of them:

1. Size

The problem with classifying shrimp based on their size is there’s no strict definition for the names. For example, medium for one brand might mean large for other brands. That’s why it’s better to buy them by weight, not size.

Check the label on the packaging of the frozen shrimp. You’ll notice the letter “U” that’s followed by a set of numbers. Good examples are U/10 and U/15. The “U” means “under” or “less than” the number of shrimp per pound. So, U/10 means there are less than 10 shrimp for every pound.

Remember:

The smaller the count per pound, the larger the shrimp. Now, let’s estimate shrimp’s boiling time based on the “shrimp per pound” label.

How long do you boil frozen shrimp? A pound of large frozen shrimp (around 31 to 35 pieces per pound) could have a boiling time of around 8 minutes. Meanwhile, medium frozen shrimp (around 41 to 50 pieces per pound) would be fully boiled after around 5 minutes.

2. Cooking Appliance

Another important factor is the type of burner you have, like a stovetop that runs on electricity, natural gas, or propane. Many professional cooks prefer gas stoves because they heat up much faster.

But, is it really the best choice?

SCHOTT Innovation’s research, which involved boiling 0.75 liters of water, offers answers. They tested three cooktops:

  • An induction cooktop
  • An electric coil stove
  • A gas range

Among the three, it was the induction cooktop that emerged as the winner. It boils water faster (approximately 4 minutes) and is energy efficient, allowing you to shorten cooking times and temperatures.

3. Amount

There are several reasons why the amount matters. One of these reasons is when you boil food that’s frozen—in this case, frozen shrimp—the water’s temperature drops. Meaning, boiling them will take time. The amount of water and heat transfer also affects boiling time.

how long do you boil frozen shrimp

The more water you use for boiling frozen shrimp, the more heat you need to get the water to the right temperature and keep it there.

How long does it take to boil frozen shrimp? Suppose you have 35 large shrimp, then it’ll take about 6-8 minutes to boil. The shrimp size per pound is proportional to the boiling time.

Can You Boil Frozen Shrimp Without Thawing?

There are different opinions on this one. According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), it’s completely okay to cook raw foods straight from frozen. However, that would mean you need to cook them 50-percent longer than usual.

On the other hand, other food safety organizations advise people to thaw frozen food before cooking properly. Failing to do this could encourage the growth of potentially harmful microorganisms in food.

When thawing frozen shrimp, always read the packaging for instructions. In general, there are three ways to thaw any frozen food safely. The right method will mostly depend on how much you have left before cooking your shrimp.

1. Overnight Refrigerator Thawing

Among the three methods, thawing in a refrigerator is considered the best. The only downside to it is it requires you to plan since frozen food takes up so much time to thaw in a refrigerator that’s set at a constant temperature of around 40ºF to 41ºF.

Where you place your frozen shrimp in your refrigerator will affect their thawing time. There are areas of this appliance that tend to be colder, usually the compartment’s lower parts. If you place your frozen shrimp in the coldest part, it would naturally take longer for them to defrost.

2. In Cool Water

Don’t have 24 hours? You can speed up the process by fully submerging frozen shrimp in cool water. You can also run them under cool tap water if that’s what you prefer. The entire process takes around 10 to 45 minutes, depending on the size and number of shrimp.

Just a couple of reminders if you plan to use this method:

  • Don’t submerge frozen shrimp in warm or hot water. They might cook inside the bag;
  • The cool water should be at least 70ºF or lower to prevent bacteria from growing and multiplying;
  • Put the shrimp in a leak-proof plastic bag to avoid contamination; and
  • Keep changing the cool water, preferably every half hour.

3. In the Microwave

It’s generally safe to thaw frozen shrimp in a microwave, but it has its disadvantages. Aside from encouraging bacteria to multiply, it can also produce uneven heating patterns. Use a microwave if you plan to cook your shrimp immediately after thawing.

The upside is it’s simple and fast:

  • Remove your frozen shrimp from the package, then place them in a microwave-safe bowl;
  • Defrost them in 30-second (for small shrimp) or 1-minute (for large shrimp) segments; and
  • Don’t forget to inspect the shrimp after every segment.

Other Things to Remember When Thawing Frozen Shrimp

  1. Never thaw frozen shrimp at room temperature once they start to defrost and enter the dangerous temperature zone, between 40ºF and 140ºF—potentially harmful bacteria present before freezing will multiply rapidly;
  2. Make sure the water maintains a temperature that’s less than 70°F;
  3. Thaw frozen shrimp in cool water for not more than 2 hours; and
  4. As much as possible, defrost frozen shrimp in a refrigerator for 24 hours.

Again, how long to boil frozen shrimp? Boiling frozen shrimp will take about two to seven minutes until they are fully ready. You’ll know that the shrimp are done when they turn pink or opaque.

Next, let’s discuss how you can fix over-boiled shrimp.

Can You Fix Over-Boiled Shrimp?

So, what if you boiled your shrimp for too long? Is there a way to fix them?
There’s no way you can undo their overcooked state.

But, don’t throw them just yet. You might still be able to use them for these tasty recipes:

Recipe 1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound shrimp (peeled, deveined, and chopped into bite-size pieces)
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) pre-cooked crab meat
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sodium-free granulated chicken bouillon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • One small or medium onion (chopped)
  • 8 oz (or 1/2 cup) Heavy whipping cream or half-and-half cream (half whole milk, half heavy cream)8 ounces (1/2 cup) heavy whipping cream or half-and-half cream (half whole milk, half heavy cream)
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped green onion tops
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces water
  • Garnish (optional): diced avocado, cilantro, parsley, chopped green onion tops, and extra minced shrimp
how long does it take to boil frozen shrimp

Recipe 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups short-grain white Japanese rice or medium-grain California rice (look for the “sushi rice” label)
  • One medium cucumber (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 small or medium avocado (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) boiled shrimp (cut into strips)
  • 6 sheets nori wrappers (edible seaweed)
  • 9 teaspoons (1.5 ounces) rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon wasabi powder or 6 teaspoons of wasabi paste
  • Bamboo mat (recommended), nonstick baking sheet, or aluminum foil
  • Cool water

Steps

  1. Soak short-grain Japanese rice for a minimum of 30 minutes to 1 hour. Don’t go over 8 hours because your rice could become watery and flavorless;
  2. Drain the rice and cook it in a rice cooker with 16 ounces (2 cups) or 20 ounces (2 1/2 cups) of water;
  3. Thoroughly rinse and dry the cucumber and slice it into thin strips (around 1/4-inch thick);
  4. Pat dry and slice the boiled shrimp into half lengthwise;
  5. Remove the seed of the avocado, then slice its flesh into strips;
  6. Prepare your wasabi if you chose to use the powder form. All you need to do is mix 3 teaspoons of wasabi powder with a teaspoon of water;
  7. After the rice is cooked, allow it to cool. Make sure it’s a little dry because you’re going to add the rice wine vinegar;
  8. Place a sheet of nori wrapper on a bamboo mat, nonstick baking sheet, or aluminum foil. Spread a thin layer of cooled rice on it, making sure that there’s at least 1/2-inch of space on the edges for easier sealing later;
  9. Put a dot of wasabi paste on the rice, then arrange all of the ingredients (avocado, cucumber, shrimp, etc.);
  10. Wet the nori wrapper (the parts without rice) with a small amount of cool water, then slowly roll it. Make sure it has the right amount of tension so that no ingredients will fall out; and
  11. Cut into smaller pieces, then repeat for the next rolls.

Conclusion – How Long Does It Take to Boil Frozen Shrimp?

Shrimp should be boiled between 2 and 7 minutes, or until they float and their flesh turns opaque with pink accents. The amount of time needed to boil shrimp will depend on their size.

Boiling frozen shrimp is generally an effortless and quick process. You have to follow a few simple tips for cooking them right, so they turn out juicy and flavorful—never tough and bland.

So, to properly boil frozen shrimp, here are the steps:

  1. Fill your pot with 64 ounces of water per pound of fresh or thawed shrimp;
  2. If needed for your recipe, add your seasonings. (Please take note that seasonings may affect the boiling time.);
  3. Once the water boils, add your shrimp, then set your timer;
  4. Pour the shrimp and water into a mesh strainer or colander to strain; and
  5. Run the shrimp under cool water or place them in a bowl filled with ice. This makes sure that they don’t become overcooked after boiling.

Again, here are the factors that affect boiling time of shrimp:

  1. Size
  2. Cooking Appliance
  3. Amount of Water and Shrimp