How To Tell if Shrimp Is Cooked? | A Comprehensive Guide

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The bottom line between well-cooked shrimp and messed-up shrimp is very thin. This can make cooking the shrimp feel intimidating, right? Well, don’t be afraid to prepare your sweet and tasty delicacy. In this article, I will be building your crustacean confidence to learn how to tell if shrimp is cooked, either overcooked or undercooked.

How to Know When Shrimp is Cooked?

Shrimp cook QUITE QUICKLY, the is the reason they are often over or undercooked. The margin for cooking shrimp is three to four minutes. However, you could also increase the cooking time, at the expense of the heat level. For best results, one needs to sauté the shrimp on high heat. This gives the shrimp the best texture, juicy and tenderness without any stingy chewiness.

Because shrimp are enjoyed cooked in a number of ways, whether shrimp is well cooked will be dependent on the cooking method used. Good thing is that you can consider a few aspects to correctly decide whether your delicacy is well cooked. These include:


For a shrimp to be considered well-cooked, its inner parts must have reached 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Many homes rarely have thermometers in their homes hence this method is not used to determine whether the shrimp is well cooked or not.


Raw shrimp is translucent gray. When the shrimp is well cooked, it should turn to an opaque white with pink and bright red spots. If you really need to be sure whether the shrimp is well-cooked, pay attention to the color.


When raw shrimp cooks, their muscles contract, so they shrink and curl. Well, perfectly cooked shrimp will resemble a C-shape. When the shrimp curls, it means it is overcooked.

What Color is Shrimp When Cooked?

Raw shrimp is gray. On the other hand, you can know whether the meat is full-cooked from the presence of red and pink pigmentation, on the mostly white flesh. In some circumstances, the pink color is not achieved after cooking the shrimp. This makes one be amused, but there are different reasons for this.

  • The ability of the meat to turn pink when cooked depends on the freshness. If stale, color might not change.
  • If there are different types of shrimp that are being cooked.

What Does Cooked Shrimp Look Like?

The meat of a well-cooked shrimp is firm. While the inner sections of these crustaceans are white and rather opaque, the outer part is primarily pink. Shrimp turn pink because they have a compound called astaxanthin which is released upon exposure to heat. Smaller shrimps can be ready in three minutes while the more giant ones could take up to five minutes. Duration will also vary depending on your chosen method of cooking.

Another aspect is the appearance and shape of the cooked shrimp. Perfectly cooked shrimp will resemble a C-shape. Once overcooked, the shrimp will have a vibrant pink color forming a very tight O- shape. This is due to the shedding of moisture in the shrimp cells. So simply C=cooked and O=over cooked.

How to Cook Perfect Shrimp?

Shrimp make their way into all kinds of cuisine because of delicate the flavor and tenderness of their meat. It is a perfect addition to all sorts of dishes. Shrimp can be thrown on pasta, added to salads, used for tacos, and rolled into spring rolls.

Do you want to get it right every time? The following instructions get you there in no time:


  • two tablespoons of olive oil
  • a quarter cup – dry white wine
  • two tablespoons of butter oil
  • four garlic cloves finely minced
  • Some common table salt
  • Some medium shrimp which have been cleaned, de-veined and shelled
  • one lemon juice
  • a quarter teaspoon red pepper flakes


  • Melt the olive and butter oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Swirl to mix them well.
  • Once the butter melts, it’s time to crank down the heat.
  • Add red pepper flakes and garlic. Stir and cook for a minute.
  • Increase the heat to medium high.
  • Add some salt and stir well.
  • Add the clean, de-veined, and without tail shrimp into skillet.
  • Stir and cook 2-3 minutes as the color changes from pink to white (opaque). This takes 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Squeeze your lemon, or add the juice and shake up.
  • Turn the heat off and place the top on the countertop (over a heat-resistant rag).
  • If need be, you may season with salt and extra red pepper flakes as need be.
  • Transfer the shrimp to a plate, and it is ready to serve.

How to Tell If Cooked Shrimp is Bad

Sour shrimp can result in a dish that does not taste good. It can result in dangerous food poisoning. Cooked shrimp that has gone bad will give an unpleasant odor smell. They also have a slimy texture. Poorly cooked shrimps also have an unpleasant smell. If the shrimp is overcooked or undercooked, it will have a mushy texture and a disagreeable taste. Shrimp that is not thoroughly cooked may contain bacteria and other pathogens. It is also possible to get sick from shrimp that have been recooked (especially microwaved), as the recooking process does not kill bacteria.

Consuming such shrimp may lead to food poisoning, bringing adverse health effects like diarrhea and dehydration.

How Long Does it Take to Cook Shrimp?

Shrimps are one of the favorite shellfish to eat; when properly cooked they are genuinely delicious. The margin for cooking shrimp is 3 to 4 minutes. Beyond this, the meat starts to lose its flavor and the texture becomes rubbery. Below three minutes, the prawns are obviously undercooked. In addition to being mushy, they are still unfit for consumption.

Other aspects which one needs to look at include;

  • Size of the shrimp

The larger the shrimp the more time it takes to cook. The vice versa is also true.

Shelled shrimp will take a longer time to cook than unshelled shrimp.

  • Cooking source

When your cooking source has a lot of heat then less time will be required to cook the shrimp. An example is when one is cooking on a stovetop, and it takes one 6 minutes.

See on Video: How to Tell if Shrimp is Cooked

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the health benefits of eating cooked shrimp?

Eating cooked shrimp brings about the following benefits:

  1. It is highly nutritious and contains vital minerals like iodine, which is essential for the proper functioning of thyroid glands and brain cells.
  2. Shrimp is proteinous. Proteins are body-building elements and help our bodies to fight diseases.
  3. Shrimp is low in calories, cholesterol, and fat.
  4. It is rich in vitamin B12.
  5. Shrimps contain L-carnitine and omega-3 fatty acids. However,remember that we must eat food rich in omega-3 fatty acids only as a supplement and not as a replacement for all other foods. Other foods should still be consumed, but just less of them.

Q. Is it bad to eat cooked shrimp tails?

It is not bad to eat cooked shrimp tails. You should however avoid the tail altogether if you are allergic to shrimps.

Q. Do cooked shrimp have nutritional values?

Shrimps have a couple of nutrients to offer to the consumer. Apart from their low calories, they are a rich source of other nutrients and minerals salts. These include; zinc, selenium, chlorine, and vitamin B12.

On a negative note, some shrimp have a higher concentration of cholesterol. This cholesterol promotes heart disease.

Q. Is it safe to eat raw shrimp?

No, it’s not safe to eat raw shrimp. As you may have known, raw meat carries several harmful bacteria that can cause illness in human beings. The risk is more pronounced among pregnant women and young children. This is because they have weak immune systems, which puts them more at risk of foodborne illnesses. Instead, they should give up this delicacy until their immune systems are somewhat ready for the risk.

Eating raw or undercooked shrimp can cause foodborne illnesses such as vibriosis (Vibriovulnifius). Symptoms of this infectious disease include

  • Diarrhea, along with stomach cramps.
  • Fever, chilies and low blood pressure.
  • Can shrimp be poisoned?

Shrimp poisoning is caused by consuming shrimp that is contaminated with bacteria and viruses. Contaminated shrimp have a tainted odor and unpleasant smell.

Symptoms of poisoned shrimp include;

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pains
  • Cramps


From the above discussion, your questions about whether shrimp is well cooked are now answered. Shrimp when well-cooked turns from gray to white with pink and red pigments. They also have a savory and mild salt flavor taste. The other taste which can compare to that of shrimp is the taste of lobsters and crayfish. Although slightly different, it is less or more the same.

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