Best Ways To Cook Shrimp: Top 5 Methods Most Recommended By Culinary Experts

One of the most memorable scenes in cinema is from the film “Forrest Gump”, when the character Benjamin Buford Blue, better known as “Bubba” delivers a lengthy monologue about the many dishes that can be prepared with shrimp. Though played for laughs, the scene really does highlight the seemingly endless number of dishes that can be prepared with our favorite crustacean. Rather than delve into specific recipes, let’s have a look at the five best ways to cook shrimp in order to achieve pro-chef status in the kitchen.

Shrimp is rich in Omega-3 fatty acid. According to a recent study, seafood is beneficial to your health. If you’re still deciding on what to eat for dinner, consider shelling out on a seafood platter. An international team of researchers finds that eating seafood and oily fish high in omega-3 fatty acids helps lower the risk of developing kidney disease. In comparison to eating omega-3s coming from plants, regular seafood consumption also appears to slow down any declines in kidney function. An estimated 700 million people worldwide deal with chronic kidney disease, a condition that ups the risk for kidney failure and death. Animal studies have linked omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) to maintaining kidney function, but the data among humans has been unclear. Unlike animals, who have their diets strictly monitored, human diets differ from person to person and there may be some human error when it comes to over or underestimating how much of one food someone eats. Despite limited human evidence, current nutritional guidelines support the consumption of a healthy amount of seafood and oily fish.

Shrimp offers a lot in terms of dietary nutrition, and it can be a great addition to your weekly menu planning. Another recent study indicates that the more omega-3 in your diet, the more you’ll thrive. Middle-aged adults who consume more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (like oily fish) or omega-3 supplements are more likely to be better thinkers and avoid dementia. Scientists say that higher levels of the healthy fatty acids — abundant in salmon, sardines, trout, and albacore tuna — helps improve brain structure and health. People can also buy foods fortified with omega-3 or find it in pill-form at a vitamin shop. Researchers report that those who higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids scored higher in abstract reasoning tests and had a larger hippocampus – an important area of the brain which controls memory. Writing in the journal Neurology, Dr. Claudia Satizabal of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio says simply increasing omega-3 in our diets could massively benefit public health as people age.

With so many nutritional benefits matched by an equally large number of regional and international recipes, shrimp could be a great way to add another healthy and delicious option to your go-to meals. That’s why StudyFinds turned to the experts to compile a list of the best ways to cook shrimp regardless of your skill level. What are your favorite ways to prep shrimp? Let us know the comments below!

Plate of shrimp (Photo by Maria Labanda on Unsplash)

The List: Best Ways to Cook Shrimp, According to Foodies

1. Sauté/Stovetop

This is one of the easiest methods for cooking shrimp. Stovetop preparations include sautéing, simmering, or braising in a sauce. Jambalaya, gumbo, stir-fry, and shrimp curry all fall under this awesome cooking method. “Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat until the oil makes nice waves in the pan. According to Jendrytzko, the ideal temperature for cooking shrimp is around 360 degrees. Add shrimp (as many as will fit comfortably in one layer with none overlapping) and flip them around for a few minutes until they start to curl into a tight C-shape and the outsides are pink. The insides should be opaque, not translucent. Depending on the size of the shrimp, this will take about five minutes,” writes Today.

Shrimp scampi is one of the five best easy dinner ideas, according to experts.
Sautéed shrimp (Photo by Durenne Loris on Unsplash)

Stovetop shrimp recipes are quick to put together and could be a great choice for fast week-night meals. “Sautéed shrimp is the best way to cook shrimp, and often the fastest. Popular recipes using this technique include Teriyaki Shrimp, Blackened Shrimp and Garlic Butter Shrimp. For this method, you need to place a non-stick pan or skillet with oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add shrimp (seasoned or marinated) and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes each side until they turn pink and start to curl up,” adds Tip Buzz.

The basics of this method are easy: “Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add in your fat of choice and let it warm/melt for 4-5 minutes, making sure it coats the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile, rinse your shrimp with cold water and pat it dry. Arrange them on a plate and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and lemon juice (if using). Transfer the shrimp to the skillet making sure to not over crowd the pan. You want them to be at least a 1/2 inch apart from each other. Cook the shrimp for 4-5 minutes, flip them (I find this is easiest and makes less mess if you use a pair of kitchen tongs), and then cook for an additional 4-5 minutes,” explains Milk & Honey Nutrition.

2. Boil

Boiled shrimp with lemons and cocktail sauce are an iconic appetizer that offers a little touch of elegance. “All you need is a pot of boiling water, some shrimp, and seasonings. In just a few minutes, you’ll have perfectly cooked shrimp that are ready to eat. Fill a large pot with 4 cups of water and season with salt and pepper. Add freshly squeezed lemon juice, and then add the wedges or slices. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the shrimp to the boiling water. Cook for about 2 minutes (depending on the size of your shrimp, you may need more) or until the shrimp is pink, opaque, and forms a ‘C’ shape. Remove and enjoy immediately or add to an ice bath to stop cooking for serving cold. Variations: instead of water, you can use broth (chicken or vegetable broth) or make a homemade broth with water, chopped veggies, and seasonings. This is similar to how we make shrimp fondue,” mentions Northern Yum.

Shrimp on ice (Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash)

Boiling is perhaps the easiest way to cook shrimp, and it works for large batches as well as individual portions. “Boiling shrimp is the simplest, low calorie method for making shrimp. It is also the best way to prepare it for shrimp cocktails, salsa and other cold dishes. Bring water, with seasoning of your choice (bay leaves, garlic salt and pepper are a popular seasoning mix, so are lemon juice, garlic, onion, and parsley), to a boil in a medium to large pot. While the water heats up, prepare a bowl with cold water to immerse the shrimp in after it is cooked. (The trick to making tender boiled shrimp is giving it a bath in cold water as soon as you take it out of the pot. This stops the cooking process. If you skip this step, your shrimp may turn out rubbery tasting.) Once the water is boiling, add in the shrimp. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until all the shrimp are slightly pink. Then, immediately, drain the shrimp and immerse it in the cool water,” describes City Fish Market.

With no added oil or carbs, boiling is also a very healthy way to cook shrimp. “Boiling is an easy and simple way to cook shrimp and is used for Shrimp Boil, Shrimp Salad, and other recipes. With this technique, you need to boil the water and add other ingredients. When everything is cooked, add shrimp. Stir and cook for 7-10 minutes. This method works well with both thawed and frozen shrimp, and you can also leave the shell on,” says Tip Buzz.

3. Bake/Roast

Baking or roasting shrimp in the oven concentrates the flavor of the shellfish. “Learning how to cook shrimp in the oven is equally as simple as on the stovetop and in the air fryer. Rinse your shrimp with cold water and pat dry. Arrange them on a foil lined pan and sprinkle with salt, pepper, oil/melted butter, and lemon juice (if using). Make sure to not over crowd the pan. You want them to be at least a 1/2in apart from each other. Cook the shrimp for 8-9 minutes, on 400 degrees,” writes Milk & Honey Nutrition.

A shrimp dish
A shrimp dish (Photo by maggie hung on Unsplash)

Ready in less than 10 minutes, this is another great time-saver cooking method for home-cooks that are pressed for time. “Roasting the shrimp for 8-ish minutes at a consistent temperature—instead of blasting them with high heat in a pan—produced meat that was sweeter and softer than the sear batch. The real standout, though, was the garlic, which began to caramelize into sticky, savory bits on each individual shrimp. I ate a whole half-batch myself before 8 a.m. Over rice, with a drizzle of soy and tart vinegar, they could overthrow any other entrée,” adds Food 52.

Baking is a hands-off method that will allow home-cooks to pop dinner in the oven and then look after other things like setting the table or helping kids get ready for dinner. “Baking is a quick and easy way to cook shrimp, and it results in perfectly cooked shrimp every time. Begin by preheating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Arrange raw shrimp in a single layer on the sheet pan. Brush with olive oil and add salt, pepper, and preferred seasonings. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Enjoy with your favorite sauces and side dishes. Variation: add a butter garlic lemon sauce to the shrimp before cooking,” reccommends Northern Yum.

4. Grill

Grilled shrimps are fantastic, there’s just no substitute for the great flavor and aroma that can only be achieved with an open fire. “The best way to grill shrimp is either on a skewer or wrapped in foil so that the shrimp won’t fall into the fire. If you plan to marinade your shrimp before putting it on the grill, make sure to remove the shell. You should also remove the shell if you want your shrimp to have that smoky flavor from the grill. If you aren’t looking forward to that smoking flavor and aren’t going to use a marinade, you can leave the shell on. It will keep the shrimp moist and enhance its flavor. Once you place the shrimp on the grill, cook it on each side for 1 ½ – 2 ½ (3-5 minutes total) or until its pinkish instead of grey,” advises City Fish Market.

Shrimp on the grill
Shrimp on the grill (Photo by Markus Spiske on Unslpash)

Grilling shrimp does require a more hands-on approach as compared to the other methods on this list. “Don’t walk away! Shrimp cook so quickly that you can’t turn your attention to anything else while they’re on the heat. It only takes a few minutes for even the largest shrimp to start turning pinkish and curling up into a C shape. And when that happens, they’re about done. If you’re grilling skewered shrimp, you’ll have to pay close attention to the color more than the curl. Keep a couple of test shrimp on a separate skewer to cut into,” adds All Recipes.

The reward for your attention at the grill is tangible and tasty. “A skewer of grilled shrimp is one of our favorite summertime cookout treats, not to mention a favorite way to cook shrimp. After peeling and deveining, season or marinate shrimp as desired, then thread onto skewers leaving a ¼-inch space between each. Follow these instructions for grilling shrimp kabobs (note that how long to cook shrimp on the grill depends on their size): Grilled Shrimp Kabobs. For direct grilling: Grill shrimp, covered, over medium heat as long as directed below based on their size, or until opaque: extra-jumbo shrimp (20 per pound) 5 to 8 minutes. colossal shrimp (12 to 15 per pound) 7 to 9 minutes. For indirect grilling: Grill shrimp, covered, over medium as long as directed below based on their size, or until opaque: extra-jumbo shrimp (20 per pound) 8 to 10 minutes. colossal shrimp (12 to 15 per pound) 9 to 11 minutes. Check for the shrimp to change to a pink color on the outside. Cut into a skewered shrimp to make sure the flesh is opaque throughout,” describes Better Homes & Gardens.

5. Fried

This list would not be complete without this favored method. “Frying. There’s nothing better than the satisfying crunch of a perfectly fried shrimp. The sweet meat pairs perfectly with a crisp batter or breadcrumb coating, and frying suits shrimp of all sizes. Deep-frying at home may seem intimidating, but all you’ll need is a large, sturdy pot or deep frying pan and quality oil. Most chefs prefer peanut oil for its low smoke point and clean flavor, but vegetable oil is also a recommended option. For best results, keep your oil hot, and fry shrimp in small batches to avoid overcrowding and uneven cooking. Trying to eat healthier but still love the flavor of fried shrimp? An air fryer delivers great results with less fat,” says Biloxi Shrimp Co.

Fried shrimp (Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash)

A basket or platter of golden fried shrimp has undeniable appeal. “A hearty meal is all very well, but sometimes all you want is a treat. And that’s why breaded shrimp exists. Chicken nuggets are popular for a reason, and that reason is a tasty, crispy, golden coating that also looks great on a little pink shellfish. Better, in fact, because shrimp is inherently superior to bad chicken, and if a crispy golden coat can make bad chicken taste great, it can make good shrimp taste amazing. Start by mixing water, cornstarch, and eggs in a bowl, then mix breadcrumbs with garlic and onion powder in a separate bowl. Take some peeled and deveined shrimp and coat first in the wet mixture, then shake around in the breadcrumbs and repeat. Fry in hot oil a few at a time until they get golden brown, then drain thoroughly. Best served without fake smiles, cheap uniforms, or the smell of old grease,” writes Mashed.

The method to make fried shrimp from scratch is detailed as follows: “Peel raw shrimp and season as desired. Coat seasoned shrimp in a mixture of flour and beaten egg (first dipping the shrimp into the flour, then the egg, then flour once more). Deep fry each batch of four to five shrimp for about three minutes,” adds Today.

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