How to Cook Shrimp Perfectly Every Time

Shrimp are one of our favorite options for quick and easy weeknight dinners! Learn how to cook shrimp without over- or undercooking them.

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What’s not to love about shrimp? They’re a high-protein, low-calorie option that cooks up in a flash. Making shrimp for dinner is the perfect way to create easy weeknight dinners. The tricky thing is learning how to cook shrimp so they hit that perfect medium between over- and undercooked.

Our secret: Using a skillet that’s large enough to cook the shrimp without crowding them. If each shrimp has space to breathe, it’ll have more contact with the hot cooking surface. That creates a rich sear and even cooking throughout the shrimp.

How to Cook Shrimp

Taste of Home

Here’s one of our favorite shrimp recipes, from South Carolina reader Athena Russell, which you’ll want to add to your repertoire. It’s quick enough for a weeknight, but the flavors are 100% company-worthy. It serves four, but if you need to double the recipe for a bigger group, it’s easy to multiply.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp (26-30 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • Hot cooked pasta or rice (we like it with zoodles, too)


how to cook shrimp- heating oilTaste of Home

Step 1: Heat the oil

Start by selecting a skillet large enough to cook all the shrimp without crowding them. If you don’t have a large enough pan, consider cooking the shrimp in two batches. Once you’ve selected your skillet, heat it over medium-high heat and add the oil (or combination of oil and butter).

how to cook shrimp- cooking shrimp in panTaste of Home

Step 2: Add the shrimp

When the oil is slightly shimmering, it’s hot enough to add the shrimp. Add the shrimp and cook for about two minutes, stirring often, until the shrimp just start to turn pink. Keep in mind that smaller shrimp cook more quickly than large ones, so pay more attention to the color and texture of the shrimp more than the time they’ve cooked.

Test Kitchen tip: Worried you might have taken the shrimp too far? Immediately remove them from the pan to halt the cooking process. They will continue cooking even when they’re off the heat, but the residual heat from the pan can dry them out.

cooking shrimpTaste of Home

Step 3: Add seasoning

Now that the shrimp are nearly cooked, it’s time to add the garlic, lemon juice and salt. Adding them at the last minute allows their fresh, bold flavors to infuse into the shrimp while preventing any tiny pieces from burning. Cook and stir until the shrimp curl inwards and turn pink with a white sheen. Stir in the parsley and serve over pasta or rice.

Test Kitchen tip: If you’re ready to experiment, add in fresh herbs and citrus zest after cooking. Keeping these ingredients away from the heat maximizes their fresh flavor, adding a delicate accent to the shrimp. Don’t be afraid to experiment with any type of herbs you like!

Do you cook shrimp with the shell on?

Shrimp can be cooked peeled or unpeeled, although they are significantly easier to eat when the shells are removed before cooking. If you’re cooking for company, you should always peel the shrimp so your guests don’t have to do it at the table. When you’re cooking for the family, feel free to skip it! Either way, remove the dark-colored veins inside the shrimp and rinse them in cold water. Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about cleaning, deveining and prepping shrimp.

Are undercooked shrimp bad for you?

Yes. Raw shrimp contains bacteria that can cause unpleasant reactions, so we recommend fully cooking shrimp. That being said, you don’t want to overcook your shrimp. Overcooked shrimp are tough and chewy. By the way, this is why you should be eating more seafood.

How can you tell when shrimp are cooked?

To know when shrimp are cooked (and safe to eat), watch the color. A perfectly cooked shrimp is firm enough to curl without being constricted, and it has an opaque pinky color with a sheen. When they are overcooked, shrimp turn matte white or gray.

Another easy way to tell if your shrimp are cooked is if they are curled into a nice C shape. Overcooked shrimp are curled tightly into an O shape. So simply, C = cooked, O = overcooked. Easy! Do you know how to pick the right type of shrimp for your recipe?

Next up: Learn how to grill shrimp.

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Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay has been writing for digital publications for seven years and has 10 years of experience working as a professional chef. She became a full-time food writer at Taste of Home in 2023, although she’s been a regular contributor since 2017. Throughout her career, Lindsay has been a freelance writer and recipe developer for multiple publications, including Wide Open Media, Tasting Table, Mashed and SkinnyMs. Lindsay is an accomplished product tester and spent six years as a freelance product tester at Reviewed (part of the USA Today network). She has tested everything from cooking gadgets to knives, cookware sets, meat thermometers, pizza ovens and more than 60 grills (including charcoal, gas, kamado, smoker and pellet grills). Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, especially if it provides an opportunity to highlight local, seasonal ingredients. As a writer, Lindsay loves sharing her skills and experience with home cooks. She aspires to motivate others to gain confidence in the kitchen. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her cooking with fresh produce from the farmers market or planning a trip to discover the best new restaurants.
Christine Rukavena
Christine loves to read, curate, sample and develop new recipes as a senior book editor at Taste of Home. A CIA alumna with honors, she creates cookbooks and food-related content. A favorite part of the job is taste-testing dishes. Previous positions include pastry chef at a AAA Five Diamond property. Christine moonlights at a boutique wine shop, where she edits marketing pieces and samples wine far higher than her pay grade.