When you want a delicious and quick-cooking seafood dish, you undoubtedly turn to shrimp. Healthy and tasty, shrimp can be used in a wide variety of recipes. That’s why you always want to have some on hand. Unfortunately, shrimp, like many other forms of seafood, have a short shelf life when stored in the refrigerator. How long can frozen shrimp stay in the fridge? What about raw, unfrozen shrimp?
It’s time to find out.
How Long Can Frozen Shrimp Stay in the Fridge?
Most people know that you shouldn’t keep uncooked shrimp outside or even inside the fridge, unless you want to cook the shrimp immediately. Leaving your uncooked food out to sit in temperatures between 40-140°F (4.4-60°C) means that it can spoil in about 2 hours, according to the Department of Health. Even the FDA recommends getting rid of perishable food that has been exposed to room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
So, you should always put uncooked shrimp in the fridge. But how long do they last in there?
Generally, 4-5 days is the maximum time frozen shrimp can stay in the fridge. During the course of that time, those shrimp will undoubtedly thaw, which leaves them susceptible to bacterial growth.
When cooked and stored in an airtight container, the maximum length shrimp can stay in the refrigerator increases to 3-4 days. Fresh shrimp from the store will only last 1-2 days in the fridge.
Shelled vs Shell-On Shrimp in the Fridge
You might find that your shrimp still have their shells on, which is often designated as “shell-on” on the package. In this case, you will need to peel the shrimp after they have been cooked.
Shell-on shrimp can last one day longer in the fridge than shrimp that have been peeled. In other words, shell-on shrimp can last for 2-3 days in the fridge because their shells prevent bacterial growth.
However, fresh shrimp should only stay 2 days in the fridge to be safe; frozen shrimp shouldn’t stay in the fridge for longer than 4-5 days.
Is it Safe to Consume Cooked Shrimp That’s Been in the Fridge for 5 Days?
Absolutely not. As mentioned above, shrimp is only safe for 4 days in the fridge once it’s been cooked. This means that 5 days is beyond the limit and you could get incredibly sick. Most producers will put the warning that shrimp should be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking on the packaging, so be sure to adhere to those guidelines. If you have frozen shrimp in the refrigerator, make sure you cook it within 1-2 days or safely store it in the freezer.
The only time you can use shrimp that’s been in the fridge for 5 days is if it was frozen.
How Long Can Frozen Shrimp Stay in the Freezer?
The shelf life of shrimp increases dramatically when you put it in the freezer. When frozen, fresh shrimp that have been shelled will last 6-9 months past the date printed on the packaging. If the shell is on, the length of time extends to 9-12 months.
Cooked shrimp that has been frozen lasts 6-9 months in the fridge, while already frozen or canned shrimp stay good for 9-12 months in the freezer.
How Do You Defrost Shrimp in the Refrigerator?
How long can frozen shrimp stay in the fridge? It depends on how frozen they were when you place them in. Shrimp that is closer to being thawed when placed in the fridge is going to have a shorter shelf life.
In order to maximize the shelf life, make sure you are defrosting shrimp the correct way in the fridge. Place the frozen shrimp in a colander and place a plate under the colander. Return the shrimp to the refrigerator, where they will spend several hours overnight defrosting. This is the best way to defrost shrimp to get as much deliciousness out of them as possible—as well as 4-5 days of shelf life.
You could also potentially force shrimp to defrost, though this could cause the meat to be slightly more tough than usual. To do this, gently place the frozen shrimp in a bowl of warm water. Let them sit until they are no longer frozen.
How to Properly Store Shrimp
If you don’t want your shrimp to go bad before you can use it, learn how to store it properly. Here are two ways:
Freezing Cooked Shrimp
- Cooking shrimp before freezing is one of the best ways to keep the seafood from spoiling. After cooking the shrimp, let it cool and remove any shells that need to be taken off. Shelled shrimp freezes better than shell-on shrimp. You should also remove the large vein down the shrimp’s back before putting it aside.
- Keep your shrimp in air-tight containers. Optionally, you can spread them on a baking tray and flash freeze the shrimp. Place the flash-frozen shrimp in a freezer bag.
Squeeze out air and put a label on the bag before placing it in the freezer.
Freezing Raw Shrimp
- Never remove the shell and veins when dealing with raw shrimp. Instead, just remove the head, if necessary. Do this with a sharp knife.
- Wash your shrimp. You want there to be a moisture on the surface of the shrimp, as that will form a glaze that helps preserve the shrimp when in the freezer.
- Place the raw shrimp in an airtight container.
- Place a brine solution (1 qt of water and 2 tbsp of salt water) into the container as well, submerging the raw shrimp. Leave 1-inch of head space at the top of the container so you can seal it.
How Do You Know Shrimp is Bad?
Do you think your shrimp has gone rotten. Telling good shrimp from bad is relatively easy, as the smell should alert you first. If you’re still unsure, look for the following signs:
- Look at the shrimp. If the shrimp is misshapen, slimy-looking, or discolored, throw it away.
- Take a whiff of the shrimp. Anything that smells putrid has gone bad and should be tossed immediately. You will know seafood is unsafe when it smells fishy, sour, or like vinegar.
- Touch the shrimp to see if it feels slimy or sticky. In either case, the shrimp has gone bad.
Make sure you follow food safety standards when handling potentially unsafe food. You don’t want to handle bad shrimp then touch your face, eyes, or mouth and end up with a food-borne illness.
Shrimping Towards Your Next Meal
How long can frozen shrimp stay in the fridge? 4-5 days before it goes bad. If your frozen shrimp is more or less thawed going into the refrigerator, however, you should assume it’ll go bad faster—within 1-2 days.
Don’t take chances with shrimp. If it’s been unfrozen for too long, there is a high risk of it spoiling before you even get to cook!