How to Defrost Shrimp – 2 Super Easy Ways to Do It

Buying shrimps may be a bit confusing for a newbie cook. While it may be tempting to buy a bag of fresh-looking shrimps in the supermarket, I’d still recommend buying frozen shrimps instead.

Ironically, frozen shrimps are often fresher than thawed-out ones because shrimps are usually frozen right after they’re harvested. If you spot thawed-out shrimps in the supermarket, there’s really no way of telling how long they’ve been sitting there or how fresh they really are.

If you’re worried about how to defrost frozen shrimps for your recipe, I’ve got you covered. I will share two easy ways on how to defrost shrimps and keep their flesh firm and their taste delicious. 

Option 1: Defrost Using a Bowl of Cold Water

Things You Need

  • Large bowl or container
  • Cold tap water
  • Colander or fine-mesh sieve
  • Cutting board or large plate
  • Paper towels


1. Fill the bowl with cold tap water.

While using hot water sounds more logical when you want to thaw something, I find that using cold tap water is the best way to defrost shrimps. Cold water keeps the shrimps’ flesh firm and intact. Hot water, on the other hand, tends to make the flesh soggy, which could affect the taste and texture of the shrimps.

I recommend placing your bowl in the sink or near it for two reasons. One, you can easily replace the water with a fresh batch if you need more time to defrost your shrimps. Two, it allows the sink to catch any spillover water from the bowl, which may cut down on your cleanup time later.

2. Stack the colander or sieve in the bowl.

​Pick a fine-mesh sieve or colander that will fit snugly in your bowl or container. While a stainless sieve or colander is the more common choice, a plastic or silicon one should work just as fine.

Place your colander or sieve in the bowl and check your water level. Ideally, you should have enough water so that you can completely submerge your shrimps without any excess water spilling out. If water does spill, make sure your bowl is in the sink so that it can immediately catch the excess water.

3.Transfer shrimps into the colander or sieve.

​Get only the number of shrimps you need for your recipe and return the rest in the freezer. This will keep them fresh longer. Do not defrost shrimps and then return them into the freezer because you risk spoiling them.

If you’re having a hard time getting the shrimps out of their supermarket package, you can run them under tap water for a few minutes. Gently remove the shrimps you need, drain the excess water out, and quickly return the rest in the freezer.

4.Submerge shrimps in the bowl and defrost.

Make sure all shrimps are submerged in the cold tap water and leave them for a couple of minutes to allow them to defrost.

Small to medium-sized shrimps usually take 10 to 15 minutes to completely thaw out. Prawns and big shrimps, on the other hand, take about 25 to 30 minutes.

5.Check your shrimps.

​After 10 minutes, you can start checking if your shrimps are fully defrosted. To do this, simply lift your sieve or colander from the bowl, take one shrimp and gently press it between your thumb and index finger. Don’t squeeze the shrimp as this would bruise it and affect the quality of its meat.

If the shrimps are not yet defrosted, throw out the water in the bowl, replace it with a fresh batch, and re-submerge your shrimps. Check again after 5 to 10 minutes.

6. Remove from the bowl, drain, and pat dry.

​Once the shrimps are full defrosted, remove your sieve or colander from the bowl and rinse the shrimps with cold water. Let the excess water drain out.

Place a paper towel on a cutting board or plate. Place the defrosted shrimps on the towel, cover with another sheet, and allow the towels to absorb the remaining water. Gently pat dry and prepare for grilling or cooking.

Option 2: Thaw Overnight in the Fridge

Things You Need

  • Airtight container or bowl with cover (you can use plastic wrap if you don’t have a lid)
  • Cold tap water
  • Cutting board or plate
  • Paper towels


1. Place shrimps in the bowl or container.

​Place the number of shrimps you need in the container. If you’re using a bowl without a lid, you can use a plastic wrap to seal its opening. The important thing is to have the shrimps sealed so that the flavors of the other food in the refrigerator won’t transfer to them.

Ideally, your fridge should be around 40 F so that the shrimps will thaw faster. I advise thawing your shrimps at night so that you can cook them the next morning.

2. Rinse, drain, and pat dry.

Remove the bowl of shrimps in the fridge and rinse them under running cold tap water. This may also help get rid of any remaining ice still covering the shrimps. Drain excess water from the bowl.

Place a paper towel on a plate or cutting board and place the thawed shrimps on them. Cover with another sheet of towel and let them absorb any excess water. Pat dry and prepare.


Shrimps taste great when defrosted properly, so don’t hesitate to use them in your salad or seafood dish. Just remember to cook them immediately after defrosting so their quality doesn’t go down or they end up spoiled. Remember: Shrimps taste best when they’re fresh!

Is this article helpful? Leave your comments and suggestions in the comments’ section. I’d love to hear from you! Also, please take the time to share this article and other my recipes with your friends. It might help them, too. Enjoy your shrimps!

Jack Smith

If you're looking for some great Outdoor Cooking Recipes, then you found the right channel! BBQRecipez.com brings you helpful barbecue tips and tricks, recipes and product overviews.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 5 comments
christine hadden - June 4, 2018

You know, that does make sense now that you say it that the defrosted ones in the store might not be as fresh as the frozen. I hadn’t really thought of it like that and usually go for the defrosted. I’m changing my ways!

Shashi at SavorySpin - June 4, 2018

Gah – I’ve been doing it all wrong! I sometimes just submerge the bag with shrimp in cold water – next time I’ll just take what I need and use your method! Thanks Jack!

Dawn - June 4, 2018

Great tips! I usually have shrimp handy and typically run over cold water and that does the trick. I love how quick they cook up!

Danielle - June 4, 2018

We always do ours in a bowl with cold water – it never fails.

Ginny - June 4, 2018

This is a greta basic lesson that so many people will be checking out!


Leave a Reply: