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December 8, 2023

Steamed Shrimp

Steaming shrimp is a great way to get the most shrimp flavor out of those little pink crustaceans. It’s easy to steam with the right tools, and yields tender shrimp in no time.

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Steamed shrimp on top of ice on a serving platter garnished with lemon wedges
Photography by Gayle McLeod

Steaming Shrimp 101

A simple skill that comes with so many questions! How long to steam shrimp? Can you steam frozen shrimp? Can you steam shrimp without a steamer basket? We wanted to answer all of these and more in this recipe for steamed shrimp so you get delicious shrimp every time. Once you’ve made a batch, you can throw these guys into Shrimp Ceviche, Cream Cheese Shrimp Dip, or just dip into some Cocktail Sauce!

Steamed shrimp on top of ice on a serving platter garnished with lemon wedges

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What You Need To Know When You Buy Shrimp

  • Shrimp sizing: it’s helpful to know, first of all, that here in the U.S., shrimp is sold by weight. When shrimp size is referenced—”jumbo”, “medium” “small” and so on—that size correlates with the number of shrimp per pound. This recipe calls for 1 pound large tail-on raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 20-25).

  • What to buy: wild shrimp is typically a better choice, environmentally-speaking, than farmed, and buying wild American shrimp is a good way to cut any worries about slavery or shady labor practices right out of the equation. Look for wild Gulf shrimp—fresh or frozen—and check labels for preservatives. Different packers use different preservatives in different amounts, and (of course) you want as little added to your shrimp as possible if you’re buying frozen shrimp.

raw shrimp on parchment paper ready to be steamed
steamed shrimp draining in a colander

How To Steam Shrimp Like A Restaurant Chef

  1. Place a steamer basket inside of a large pot.

  2. Fill the pot with about 1 inch of water, making sure there are at least two inches between the bottom of the basket and the waterline.

  3. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the shrimp.

  4. Steam the shrimp, covered, for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through.

  5. Make an ice water bath in a large bowl.

  6. Transfer the shrimp to the ice bath using a slotted spoon.

  7. Stop the cooking. Let sit for 5 minutes, then drain.

steamed shrimp draining in a colander

How to Store Steamed Shrimp + Tips

  • Good news. You can cook shrimp from frozen! Following the above method, it will take just a little bit longer. Give them a stir as they cook if they are frozen together. Keep an eye on the color change of the shrimp while they’re cooking.

  • Steaming shrimp without a steamer basket is entirely possible, but requires some Macgyvering. If you don’t have a steamer basket, we think it might just be easier to poach the shrimp in water at a low simmer, letting them cook for about four minutes. Right at the four minute mark, check the shrimp for done-ness, and if they're bright pink and firm, immediately turn the heat off. Cover the pot again, and let it stand for about two minutes. Drain the shrimp. This is how we prepare shrimp for our Shrimp Cocktail.

  • You can freeze cooked shrimp, but it’s best to keep uncooked shrimp frozen until you need to cook it since it’s so quick cooking.

  • Steamed shrimp can be used for our Shrimp Cocktail recipe.

Steamed shrimp on top of ice on a serving platter garnished with lemon wedges

More Shrimp Lovers Recipes From The Modern Proper

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Steamed Shrimp

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  5 min
  • Cook Time:  5 min
  • Calories: 60

Ingredients

  • 1 pound large tail-on raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 20-25)

Method

  1. Place a steamer basket inside of a large pot. Fill the pot with about 1 inch of water, making sure there are at least two inches between the bottom of the basket and the waterline. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the shrimp. Steam, covered, for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through.

  2. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to the ice bath. Let sit for 5 minutes to stop the cooking, then drain.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories60
  • Protein15 g
  • Carbohydrates1 g
  • Total Fat0 g
  • Dietary Fiber0 g
  • Cholesterol117 mg
  • sodium207 mg
  • Total Sugars0 g

Steamed Shrimp

Questions & Reviews

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  • Ronald

    What's the best way to use a bag of your cooked schrimp - any recipes for?

    We have a lot of shrimp recipes: shrimp ceviche, shrimp tacos, shrimp fajitas...if you type "shrimp" into our site you will see all of our shrimp recipes.

  • jenn

    Extremely easy and extremely delicious. Thanks for this!

    Thanks Jenn!