Cooking shrimp might seem a bit daunting at first. There’s that fine line between undercooking, which can be a health hazard, and overcooking, which turns your lovely shrimp into something akin to rubber bands. But fear not. Nailing the perfect shrimp temperature is your ticket to tender, mouth-watering prawns every time. In this guide, we’re diving into the sweet spot for internal shrimp cooking temperatures, tailored to the size and cooking method of your shrimp.
Table of Contents
- Why is it Important to Properly Cook Shrimp?
- What Is the Ideal Shrimp Internal Temperature?
- How to Measure Shrimp’s Internal Temperature
- Understanding Shrimp Types and Cooking Impacts
- Different Cooking Methods Examined
- How to Tell When Shrimp Is Cooked
- Can You Eat Shrimp That Isn’t Cooked Perfectly?
- Common Shrimp Cooking Mistakes and Solutions
- Quick Shrimp Recipes to Try Now!
- Storing Cooked Shrimp
- Cooking Shrimp Perfectly – Not as Hard as You Might Think!
- FAQs on Shrimp Cooked Temp
Why is it Important to Properly Cook Shrimp?
Shrimp require careful cooking to avoid safety issues and achieve optimal texture. This delicate protein needs conscientious handling.
Cooking shrimp to an internal temperature of 145°F destroys potential pathogens, rendering shrimp safe to eat. This kills any dangerous bacteria present.
Achieving the right temperature also means tender, juicy shrimp. Cooking shrimp properly denatures the proteins, allowing moisture to be retained in the flesh. This creates the desired supple, plump texture shrimp are prized for.
Knowing the count per pound helps estimate cooking duration and prevents over or undercooking. Those handling smaller shrimp need to be extra vigilant about not overcooking.
What Is the Ideal Shrimp Internal Temperature?
For shrimp to be perfectly cooked, they must reach an internal temperature of 140-145°F (60-62°C). This ensures safety and ideal texture. At this temperature range, shrimp will be opaque, firm yet tender and succulent.
Going above 150°F (66°C) risks overcooking, while below 140°F (60°C) can potentially leave shrimp undercooked.
Temperature Guidelines Based on Shrimp Size
The internal temperature that shrimp should reach varies slightly depending on their size:
- Extra Colossal (10 or less per pound): Cook to 140-145°F (60-62°C)
- Colossal (11-15 per pound): Cook to 140-145°F (60-62°C)
- Jumbo (16-20 per pound): Cook to 140-145°F (60-62°C)
- Extra Large (21-25 per pound): Cook to 140-140°F (60-60°C)
- Large (26-30 per pound): Cook to 140-145°F (60-62°C)
- Medium (36-40 per pound): Cook to 140-145°F (60-62°C)
- Small (41-50 per pound): Cook to 140-142°F (60-61°C)
- Extra Small (51-60 per pound): Cook to 140-142°F (60-61°C)
As a general guideline, larger shrimp can be cooked to the higher end of the range, while smaller shrimp are better around 140-142°F (60-61°C). The thick flesh of big shrimp holds up well to slightly higher heat. Smaller shrimp quickly become rubbery and overdone above 142°F (61°C).
Cooking method also plays a role in ideal temperature:
- Pan searing or grilling: Best for large, jumbo shrimp. Cook to 140-145°F (60-62°C). The high heat sears the surface while cooking the interior perfectly.
- Sautéing or stir frying: Ideal for medium to large shrimp. Cook to 140-145°F (60-62°C). The constant motion distributes heat evenly.
- Steaming: Works well for medium or small shrimp. Cook to 140-142°F (60-61°C). The gentle moist heat suits their delicate texture.
- Boiling: Appropriate for small or peeled shrimp. Cook to 140-142°F (60-61°C). The rolling boil cooks them rapidly before overdoing it.
- Baking: Great for jumbo shrimp wrapped in foil or parchment. Cook to 140-145°F (60-62°C). The oven’s ambient heat gently cooks the interior.
Caveats and Exceptions
There are a few caveats to the target shrimp temperature:
When battered and fried, farmed shrimp stay especially moist and tender within the crunchy coating. Opting for wild shrimp can lead to overcooking when deep frying.
- Butterflying or pounding: Flattened, pounded or butterfly cut shrimp cook faster. Cook to 140-142°F (60-61°C) even if large.
- Breading or battering: The coating insulates shrimp, so fry until 140-142°F (60-61°C) regardless of size.
- Precooked shrimp: Only needs reheating to 130°F (54°C). Any higher risks overcooking.
- Shrimp in soup or stew: Can be cooked to 135°F (57°C) since residual heat from broth will finish cooking.
While the 140-145°F (60-62°C) range covers most scenarios, adjusting as needed prevents over or undercooking. Taking shrimp’s temperature is the only surefire way to nail perfect doneness every time.
How to Measure Shrimp’s Internal Temperature
Using an instant-read thermometer is the best way to monitor shrimp temperature. A leave-in thermometer won’t work since shrimp cook so quickly.
Stick the probe into the thickest part of the shrimp, taking care not to hit the shell. For extra large shrimp, test the temperature of one or two pieces. For smaller shrimp, sampling just a few is sufficient to confirm the batch is fully cooked.
Shrimp cook rapidly, so start checking temperature before the estimated cook time is up. For boiled or steamed shrimp, begin testing after just 1-2 minutes. Sautéed or grilled shrimp may need occasional monitoring starting at the 2 minute mark.
Understanding Shrimp Types and Cooking Impacts
When it comes to shrimp, not all varieties are created equal. The size, source, and type of shrimp can significantly impact the outcome when cooking.
Understanding the differences between shrimp options allows the home cook to better control temperature and cooking times.
Why Shrimp Size Matters
Shrimp are categorized by size to help predict how long they will take to cook. The smaller the shrimp, the less time they need.
Common sizes include:
- Colossal – These extra-large shrimp (over 18 per pound) can be grilled, broiled or pan seared. Their heft requires slightly longer cook times.
- Jumbo – Large shrimp (15 or less per pound) hold up well to bold seasonings and robust sauces. They may need an extra minute or two of cook time.
- Extra Large – These plump shrimp (16-20 per pound) are an ideal size for sautéing, steaming, or using in pasta. Their medium size means moderately quick cooking.
- Medium – The most common size (36-40 per pound), these adaptable shrimp work well in a multitude of dishes from stir fries to kebabs. Their smaller size equates to faster cooking.
Farmed vs Wild Caught Shrimp
The source of shrimp also affects texture and flavor. Wild caught shrimp have a firmer texture and more pronounced “shrimpy” flavor. Their natural diet leads to a robust taste. Farmed shrimp tend to have a softer texture and milder flavor since their feed is controlled.
Wild shrimp are best highlighted by quick cooking methods like grilling, broiling, sautéing or light steaming. This preserves their naturally firm texture. Their strong shrimp flavor can stand up to bold seasonings.
Farmed shrimp with a more delicate flavor are enhanced by seasoning blends, marinades, and breading. Their tender texture makes them ideal for shrimp tacos, seafood pasta, or coconut shrimp. Understanding the source helps choose optimal cooking methods.
Cooking Methods Matter
Some cooking techniques are better suited to certain shrimp types. Smaller wild shrimp has a quick cook time. Their naturally firm texture is maintained by high heat.
Larger farmed shrimp hold up well to moist heat steaming, poaching or slow simmering in soups and stews. This gentle cooking preserves their tender texture.
Different Cooking Methods Examined
When it comes to perfectly cooked shrimp, the method of preparation makes all the difference. We’ll explore an array of common cooking methods to help you nail shrimp perfection every time.
The intense dry heat of the grill imparts smoky flavor while creating a beautifully seared exterior. Large shrimp hold up especially well to grilling.
For ideal doneness, grill jumbo shrimp for 2-3 minutes per side until they reach an internal temperature of 145°F. Brush with oil to prevent sticking. Flip the shrimp once during cooking.
Smaller shrimp cook more quickly – medium shrimp will need about 1-2 minutes per side.
Boiling is a simple way to cook large batches of shrimp evenly.
Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add shrimp and cook for 1-3 minutes, just until opaque and cooked through to 140-142°F for small/medium or 145°F for jumbo. Drain immediately and serve.
The intense overhead heat of the broiler mimics grilling inside your oven.
Place jumbo shrimp on a broiler pan and broil for 2-3 minutes just until opaque and cooked through to 140-145°F. Flip the shrimp once midway through cooking. Baste with oil or melted butter for added moisture and flavor.
Butterflying shrimp helps them cook quickly over high heat. After butterflying, pat shrimp dry then sear in an oiled pan for 1-2 minutes per side. They should reach 140-142°F.
Searing adds a crisp, lightly charred exterior while keeping the interior moist.
Sautéing in a bit of oil or butter over medium-high heat keeps shrimp juicy while adding flavor. A nonstick pan makes tossing and turning easy.
Cook medium shrimp for 2-3 minutes, tossing occasionally until opaque and 140-145°F. Smaller shrimp may only need 1-2 minutes.
For hassle-free shrimp, bake them wrapped in foil or parchment paper. Place seasoned jumbo shrimp on a sheet pan, wrap, and bake at 400°F 8-10 minutes until cooked through to 140-145°F. The packet steams the shrimp gently in their own juices.
Roast shrimp at a high temperature for caramelization. Toss shelled shrimp with oil on a baking sheet. Roast at 450°F for 6-8 minutes until opaque and 145°F, tossing halfway.
The dry heat concentrates flavor while crisping the exterior.
Steaming cooks shrimp quickly and gently. Place shrimp in a steamer basket over simmering water and steam just until pink and cooked to 140-142°F, 1-3 minutes depending on size. Steaming retains moisture extremely well. Submerge the basket to cook shrimp directly in the water for faster, more even cooking.
Coating shrimp in a crispy beer batter or breadcrumbs transforms them into an indulgent treat. Fry small peeled shrimp at 350°F for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and 140-142°F inside. Let the oil recover between batches. Fry in small amounts for even cooking.
For deep fried shrimp, opt for medium to large in size for the best results. Leaving the tail on can make them easier to handle.
Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Less moisture helps the batter or breading stick better and prevents oil splatters during frying. Heat the oil to around 350°F to 375°F. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown, then remove shrimp. Smaller shrimp may cook faster, so keep an eye on them.
Use a cooking thermometer to check the internal temperature. Don’t overcrowd the pot – fry in batches if needed.
Cooking from Frozen
For convenience, you can cook raw frozen shrimp without thawing first.
Add frozen shrimp directly to simmering soups or stews and cook 2-3 minutes until 140-145°F. Pan frying also works – just increase cooking time by 1-2 minutes. Steaming frozen shrimp takes only an extra minute. The slow thaw during heating cooks the interior gently.
That said, the best thing to do with frozen shrimp is to thaw them out first to avoid rubbery or icy insides.
Follow recipe guidelines for each method and always monitor temperature for perfect results. With a little practice, you can master cooking shrimp to delicious doneness regardless of the cooking method!
How to Tell When Shrimp Is Cooked
Becoming familiar with how properly cooked shrimp looks and feels helps avoid under or overcooking. We’ll explore the transformations that indicate ideal doneness.
The most obvious of visual cues is color change during cooking. Raw shrimp have a blue-grey, translucent appearance. As they begin to cook, the flesh becomes more opaque. Perfectly cooked shrimp turn a solid pinkish-orange hue. This full color change signals they have reached the safe minimum internal temperature of 140°F.
Undercooked or partially cooked shrimp will still have some translucent areas or be lighter in parts. If there are noticeable blue-gray patches after cooking, they need more time. Fully cooked shrimp never appear even partially uncooked or transparent.
Along with color, texture alters dramatically between raw and ready-to-eat shrimp. Raw shrimp have a slippery, mushy texture. When properly cooked, the flesh firms up significantly while still retaining moisture and juiciness.
Well-cooked shrimp feel taut, plump and succulent. They will spring back slightly when pressed. If the shrimp flesh feels too soft or mushy, it is underdone. Overcooked shrimp turn rubbery and tough.
In raw shrimp, you can see through the flesh. It appears nearly transparent. During cooking, the proteins denature and the flesh becomes completely opaque. Fully cooked shrimp should never have any see-through sections.
Check the thickest part of the shrimp for opaqueness. Even a small translucent spot means the shrimp needs more time to cook through.
Separation from Shell
It’s easier to check doneness in peeled shrimp. But for shell-on shrimp, look for the meat naturally separating from the shell as it cooks. Properly cooked shrimp will often start detaching from their shells when ready to eat.
Try gently pulling on the tail end. If the meat slides out cleanly, it is fully cooked. Resistance removing the flesh indicates underdoneness.
Poke the shrimp flesh to gauge texture and firmness. Perfectly cooked shrimp will be firm with a springy, plump texture. The flesh should not indent much when pressed.
Undercooked shrimp will still have a soft, mushy feeling. Overcooked shrimp turn tough and rubbery rather than supple.
Curling and Tail Curl
As shrimp cooks, the flesh firms up causing the tail curl to tighten. Fully cooked shrimp will display a tighter curl compared to raw. The entire shrimp body also curls more snugly.
While a pronounced tail curl signals doneness, some varieties naturally have looser or tighter curls unrelated to cooking. So also rely on other visual and tactile signs.
Butterfly cut shrimp makes it easier to monitor changes during cooking. Visually inspect the center, checking that the thickest part turns fully opaque. The slit opening will also begin to gape slightly when cooked through.
When in Doubt, Cut In
For larger shrimp, slicing into the thickest section is the best way to confirm it has reached 140°F and is safe to eat. The interior should have no evidence of undercooking.
Err on the side of caution and cook shrimp thoroughly when uncertain. Undercooked seafood poses health risks. An instant thermometer takes the guesswork out of getting shrimp perfectly done.
With practice, you will learn to rely on visual and tactile cues to determine ideal doneness. Shrimp transitions dramatically in color, texture and opacity when cooked properly. Become familiar with these transformations for flawlessly cooked shrimp every time.
Can You Eat Shrimp That Isn’t Cooked Perfectly?
Can You Eat Shrimp Raw?
Raw shrimp is generally unsafe to eat due to the risk of foodborne illness. Shrimp naturally contain bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
The only exception is consuming raw shrimp at a high-end restaurant or sushi bar that serves sashimi grade seafood. This has been deep frozen to kill parasites.
For home cooks, shrimp should always be thoroughly cooked before eating to destroy any potential pathogens present. Consuming raw or undercooked shrimp is not recommended from a food safety perspective.
Can You Eat Shrimp Undercooked?
Lightly undercooked shrimp may be safe for some people to eat, but it is not recommended, especially for those with compromised immune systems. There is a risk of contracting salmonella, vibrio or other illnesses.
Don’t take risks with undercooked seafood.
Can You Eat Shrimp Overcooked?
While overcooked shrimp may turn out unpleasantly chewy and rubbery in texture, they are safe to eat from a food safety standpoint.
Use sauces and flavorings to try to mask the overcooked taste and texture if serving.
Common Shrimp Cooking Mistakes and Solutions
Even experienced cooks can occasionally overcook, underseason, or otherwise miss the mark when cooking shrimp. We’ll explore some of the most common pitfalls and provide tips for how to get back on track!
Letting the shrimp go too long leaves them tough and rubbery. Luckily, there are ways to mask the texture of slightly overcooked shrimp.
- For sautéed or pan-fried shrimp, remove them from the pan as soon as they become overdone. Make a quick sauce by deglazing the pan with white wine or broth. Pour the sauce over the shrimp—this provides needed moisture.
- For grilled or broiled shrimp that are too firm, toss them in a rich, glossy sauce like lemon-garlic butter, pesto, or teriyaki. The sauce helps break down the proteins a bit.
- If boiling results in too-firm shrimp, immerse them in ice water for 1 minute. This shocks them into regaining some tenderness. Pat dry before tossing in sauce.
- Severely overcooked shrimp work nicely in stir fries, fried rice, pasta, or tacos where a mix of textures is expected. Chop into smaller pieces to better disguise their firmness.
If some shrimp wind up underdone while others overcook, it’s usually an issue of crowding.
- Space shrimp in a single layer when sautéing or grilling. Density causes uneven heat exposure.
- When boiling, use a larger volume of water and add shrimp in batches to allow them to cook through gently.
- Buy shrimp of a uniform size, and avoid mixing jumbo and small shrimp when cooking the same dish. They have vastly different cooking times.
Several strategies help maintain juiciness if shrimp turn out dry:
- Plump up grilled shrimp by basting with glaze frequently and serving with boldly flavored dipping sauces.
- Sautéed shrimp prone to dryness benefit from a moist cooking method like steaming or poaching for 1-2 minutes afterward to rehydrate.
- Boost the sauce-to-shrimp ratio, smothering in broth, salsa, coconut milk, or other liquids. Focus on wet heat methods.
- For boiled shrimp, don’t overcook. Shrimp should be removed from heat as soon as they turn pink and opaque to retain moisture.
- Remedy bland boiled shrimp by tossing in spices, herbs, citrus and butter after draining. Give a quick sauté to coat the shrimp in flavor.
- Punch up mild sautéed or pan fried shrimp with a flavorful glaze, salsa, or sauce added just before serving.
- Sprinkle grilled or broiled shrimp with chili powder, garlic powder, paprika or zesty seasoning blends right after cooking for instant flavor impact.
- Rescue boring shrimp by incorporating them into strongly flavored dishes like garlic shrimp scampi linguine, Korean shrimp fried rice, or shrimp ceviche.
With a few minor adjustments, it’s possible to bring overcooked, unevenly cooked or flavorless shrimp back from the brink. Stay observant as shrimp cooks and react quickly as needed.
Quick Shrimp Recipes to Try Now!
Now that we’ve covered techniques for flawlessly cooked shrimp, let’s look at some recipes that put those tips into delicious practice.
Grilled Shrimp Skewers
Nothing says summer like shrimp on the barbie! Try this easy shrimp skewer recipe:
- Thread shelled, tail-on jumbo shrimp onto skewers, brushing with oil. Season with salt, pepper, and chili powder.
- Grill over direct high heat for 2-3 minutes per side until shrimp reach 140-145°F.
- During the last minute of grilling, brush with flavorful glaze made from orange marmalade, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger.
- Serve skewers over cooked rice. The sweet and savory glaze provides a perfect complement to the smoky grilled shrimp.
Sautéed Lemon Pepper Shrimp
This quick and easy skillet shrimp is bursting with bright flavor:
- Pat dry medium shrimp. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon pepper seasoning.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Sauté shrimp for 2-3 minutes until opaque and 140-145°F.
- Add lemon juice, zest, garlic and capers. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Serve shrimp over angel hair pasta or crispy garlic bread for a fast weeknight dinner.
Baked Coconut Shrimp
For special occasions, try these crispy, coconut-crusted shrimp:
- Roll peeled and butterfly cut shrimp in egg wash then coconut flakes seasoned with salt, cumin and cayenne.
- Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 4-5 minutes until 140-142°F.
- Serve with sweet chili and pineapple dipping sauce. The baked method keeps these extra large shrimp tender and juicy.
For party-perfect shrimp, this classic boil recipe shines:
- Boil broth, sausage, potatoes, corn and onion in a large pot for 10 minutes.
- Add drained shrimp and continue boiling for 1-2 minutes until shrimp reach 140-145°F.
- Drain and dump onto newspaper covered table for a fun, retro presentation. Provide plenty of hot sauce and lemon wedges.
Shrimp Scampi Zoodle Skillet
Lighten up shrimp scampi by swapping pasta for zucchini noodles:
- Sauté minced garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add halved medium shrimp.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes, tossing frequently until shrimp reach 140-145°F.
- Toss in zucchini noodles, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cook until noodles are tender.
- Garnish with chopped parsley. Enjoy this healthier take on a classic.
These recipes highlight preparations perfectly suited to cooking shrimp thoroughly without overdoing it. Follow recipe tips for timings, but always rely on checking temperature as your guide for when shrimp is done. Now get cooking and enjoy delicious, perfectly prepared shrimp!
Storing Cooked Shrimp
Follow these best practices for storing cooked shrimp and reheating leftovers.
Refrigerating Cooked Shrimp
Promptly refrigerate cooked shrimp within 2 hours of cooking.
- Let shrimp cool briefly after cooking, then transfer to shallow airtight containers. This encourages rapid chilling.
- Avoid overpacking containers. Shrimp need airflow to cool down efficiently.
- Refrigerate shrimp at 40°F or below. Use ice baths or freezer packs to quickly chill large batches.
- Cooked shrimp keeps 3-4 days refrigerated. Discard any shrimp with an off odor or appearance.
Freezing Cooked Shrimp
For longer storage, freeze extra cooked shrimp.
- First rapidly chill shrimp in refrigerator for 1 hour. Then transfer to freezer bags or airtight containers.
- Exclude as much air as possible and seal tightly. This prevents freezer burn.
- Label bags with the date and shrimp type for easy identification.
- Frozen cooked shrimp will keep for 2-3 months at 0°F. Thaw in refrigerator before using.
Safely reheat leftover shrimp to 165°F.
- Use the stove, microwave, or oven. Microwaving is quickest.
- Stir frequently to distribute heat evenly and prevent hot spots.
- Check temperature with an instant thermometer to verify shrimp reaches 165°F.
- Bring sauces, soups, pasta, etc containing shrimp back up to a full boil when reheating.
Handling Raw Shrimp
Take care when handling and prepping raw shrimp.
- Thaw frozen shrimp sealed in packaging in the refrigerator or under cold running water. Never leave at room temperature.
- Wash hands, prep tools, and surfaces after handling raw shrimp to avoid cross contamination.
- Store raw shrimp tightly wrapped on ice or in coldest part of refrigerator for just 1-2 days. Use quickly for best quality.
Cooking Shrimp Perfectly – Not as Hard as You Might Think!
Mastering the art of cooking shrimp is a delightful journey of precision and flavor. Whether you’re grilling colossal shrimp or gently boiling smaller ones, the key is monitoring temperature closely. This ensures not only a safe eating experience but also guarantees that delightful, juicy tenderness we all crave in perfectly cooked shrimp.
Remember, while shrimp is versatile and forgiving, attention to detail in cooking methods and temperature is crucial. If you ever doubt your shrimp’s doneness, remember the golden range of 140-145°F and the visual and tactile signs of perfectly cooked shrimp.
Go ahead, experiment with the recipes provided, and trust your newfound understanding of shrimp cooking. With practice and patience, you’ll soon be serving up shrimp that’s nothing short of perfection.
Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a home cook, this guide is your companion to achieving shrimp excellence every time. Happy cooking!
FAQs on Shrimp Cooked Temp
How can you tell if shrimp are cooked?
To tell if your shrimp are cooked or not is quite challenging unless you know what you are doing. The easiest way is to use a meat thermometer and make sure the internal temperature of the shrimp is 145 degrees F. If you do not have a meat thermometer, make sure the shrimp is consistently opaque.
How long do you cook fully cooked shrimp?
Shrimp can be cooked quite quickly depending on how high the temperature is. In an oven, shrimp will be finished in about 10 minutes when cooked at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to know when shrimp is done?
Shrimp is done when it is consistently opaque and the meat bounces back into place after being pinched together. To make sure it is safe to eat, the internal temperature should be 145 degrees Fahrenheit.