How To Thaw Shrimp The Right Way: Guide To Defrosting Seafood

As any mother out there, I must confess I have a weak spot for my kids, especially when it comes to their favorite food. I like to indulge in them from time to time, but I sometimes have to be an adult. It usually means I have to say no to unhealthy but tasty meals, and yes, it’s not easy to resist hungry, beautiful eyes.

Years of cooking for my family have taught me that you don’t have to choose between taste and health, with little practice, you can have it both. When I want something delicious and healthy, seafood is my first choice.

If you are not blessed to live on a coast, your choices of seafood, like mine, are narrow to frozen or canned products. As I mentioned earlier, I know that’s not ideal, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a tasty home-cooked seafood meal.

Shrimp is beloved for several reasons, among them are its simplicity in preparation and sophisticated flavor. I had a real love affair with shrimp from the very first mouthful. How can something be so delicious to the palate while being so beneficial to your health?

Shrimp are, in fact, low in calories and high in protein. They are therefore ideal for people who wish to consume delicious meals while trying to keep in shape.

They are ideal for people who are in a rush or unexpected visitors since you can prepare a delicious supper with them in five minutes.

If you are not one of the select few who enjoys fresh seafood, frozen is definitely your first option. Although it’s not ideal, frozen shrimp may still be excellent since the key to preparing great seafood is in the proper preparation. However, you must first master the right thawing techniques for shrimp.

How to thaw shrimp?


The refrigerator method: When you are not under time pressure

You’ll need:

  • The colander
  • A large bowl
  • Plastic wrap

In my opinion, this method is the safest one. As a mother of two, I’m always choosing safety over convenience. Yes, it takes time, but be honest, how often do you prepare shrimp surprisingly?

Place the shrimp in the colander, and seal with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Take a bowl big enough to hold the colander & shrimp combined and leave it in the fridge overnight.

You have to think of the size of the bowl, and factor in that bowl has to be wide enough to hold all excess water from melted ice. A fridge full of water is not fun, trust me.

The most important part of this method is getting the right temperature of the fridge. If you don’t do this right, other things will not turn right, either.

An ideal temperature is just below 37 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Important note: What’s perfect for thawing shrimp may not be perfect for other food in your fridge. For some food, like fresh vegetables and lettuce, this temperature can be too low. Before you start to thaw shrimp, be sure to find proper storage for those groceries to avoid wasting food. You can leave fresh vegetables at room temperature – it’s much less harmful than to leave them at low temperatures.

Earlier I mentioned that this method requires time, and in general, leaving it in the fridge overnight will do the work. The best way to know if shrimp are ready is to defrost them for up to 24 hours. Friendly reminder: Don’t forget to reset the temperature of the fridge after your shrimps are thawed!

Related: Does Cooked Shrimp Last In The Fridge?

The cold running water method: When you want it fast and safe!

If you don’t want to experiment with the microwave method, try doing this. Yes, it’s not as fast as a microwave, but you will be sure that the shrimp are defrosting properly.

The beauty of this method lies in its simplicity. All you need is cold running water and a resealable plastic bag.

Place shrimp in a resealable plastic bag, and seal them tight – this way, shrimp will not get mushy.

Put the plastic bag in the bowl, fill it with cold tap water, and place it in your kitchen sink. Let them sit for about 10 minutes and then change the water. Take time to move shrimp periodically so they thaw evenly.

If you have a lot of shrimp, you will have to change the water more often. The average time to thaw shrimp this way is 30 minutes to an hour.

Be careful when you thaw shrimp this way, you can’t freeze them again.

Freezing is a great way to preserve food and cut down on waste. Food is safe because freezing slows down molecules’ movement, stopping the growth of microorganisms that can cause foodborne illnesses.

Each time you freeze, the water inside the cell expands and destroys the cell membrane, it’s harming the texture of the food. It also encourages bacteria growth.

You can’t be too careful when it comes to your health or the health of your loved ones.

The microwave oven method: Emergency only!

You’ll need:

  • A microwave (ideal with defrost setting)
  • A microwave-safe dish
  • Paper towels
  • The colander (optional)

We have all been there. Forgetting to thaw a shrimp last night, and now you are in a hurry. Don’t fall in despair, it is doable but try to avoid it.

Here are some things I learned (the hard way) on how to thaw seafood right:

It’s ideal if your microwave has a defrost setting but if not, set it to 30 percent of its average power.

Remove original packaging and place shrimp in a microwave-safe bowl. Try to use a glass or a ceramic bowl – this way, you can avoid that plastic smell. Pay attention to the size of the container. You need a dish large enough to contain shrimp without overfilling.

Excess water can cause the outside of shrimp to become defrosted but inside to be frozen still. By covering shrimp with paper towels, you can avoid unevenly defrosting.

Be careful, though – thin paper towels get soaked easily, which means they will dissolve and get stuck on shrimp. To prevent that, be sure to use multilayered paper towels or thicker ones. In these situations, less is not more!

Put the bowl in the microwave and set it on defrost mode for 30 seconds precisely. After 30 seconds, check the shrimp, and if they feel cold, throw them back in the microwave for another 30 seconds. This way, your shrimp will be perfect.

After removing shrimp from the microwave, give them a rinse with cold water.

If you are afraid of mushy shrimp, take a bowl big enough to hold the colander and high enough to leave some space at the bottom for the melted ice to collect, place the colander in it, and put it in the microwave.

This way, shrimps will not heat in excess water. During this procedure, you should use paper towels, even though most of the excess water is solved this way, you protect shrimp texture.

See also: Leading Over Range Microwaves with Reviews

Additional Tips: What to Avoid at all Costs!


Speaking of health, one thing you must avoid at all costs is leaving shrimp at room temperature. Doing so will allow bacteria to foster and can contaminate shrimp.

  • If you ask for my advice, don’t thaw shrimp with hot water. Not only will shrimp lose its unique texture but also you risk losing the richness in taste.
  • Before choosing the best way to thaw shrimp, make sure to check if the shrimp needs defrosting in the first place. It depends on a brand to a brand, so always read the instructions on the label. Usually, in the instructions on the packaging, you have a recommendation on how to defrost the product.
  • Shrimp come in 300 varieties from all over the world and can do so much for your health. Different textures and tastes of each guarantee a gourmet meal. Don’t spoil it with the wrong defrosting technique!

Further Reading: Four Proven Methods To Reheat Shrimp

Final thoughts


Remember, always choose safe before convenient!

Like any other seafood, shrimp are delicate, so don’t regret the time you are spending on them. I can guarantee that it is worth it.

When choosing how to thaw shrimp, keep in mind that, although all methods are valid, all have advantages and disadvantages.

Try to avoid a microwave oven if it’s possible, the risk of overcooking shrimp is too high.

Don’t forget carefulness doesn’t stop at defrosting shrimp, it starts there, so be thoughtful about protecting cooked ones.

Let me know about your experience. If you know other ways how to thaw a shrimp, please be generous and share!

Also, Learn When The Shrimp Are Cooked.

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