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Can You Freeze Cooked Shrimp? – The Complete Guide

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Does your family love seafood for dinner? Shrimp is one of the most delightful forms of seafood. There is so much delicious goodness wrapped into such a small piece of meat. What’s more, is you can cook shrimp in a variety of ways so you basically never tire of it. 

We all have our favorite shrimp recipes. You can use any number of types of shrimp. You can also typically use raw or cooked shrimp in your recipes. You just need to be aware of which type it is you are working with so you can incorporate proper handling for each type. 

It seems like shrimp always stretches farther than you would think. We always end up with may more shrimp than we need. Can you freeze cooked shrimp? The good news is you CAN freeze cooked shrimp and it’s so simple to do. 

In this guide, we will walk you through what you need to know to effectively freeze your cooked shrimp. We will share some shrimp tips and information to help you through the overall process. 

Keep reading to learn everything you need to about freezing cooked shrimp and then some. 

The Complete Guide to Freezing Cooked Shrimp

Whether you buy your shrimp fresh from a local dealer or you scan the grocery store aisles at the grocery store, you will notice there are many options. Not only can you buy your shrimp raw or cooked but you can buy it in a variety of other ways as well. 

Here are a few ways you can buy shrimp:

  • Shelled and deveined
  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large
  • Extra large
  • In Shell
  • With tail
  • Without tail

These are just a few of the ways you can buy your shrimp. What you buy is purely up to you. There is not necessarily one better than the other. Our motto is generally fresh is best but unless you live in a coastal region you probably won’t get fresh very easily. 

There are some exceptions to that rule, of course. 

However, when it comes down to it, all of these will end with the same result. You will have a tasty shrimp dish. You will also most likely have cooked shrimp that you need a way to store so you don’t have to toss it out. 

Cooking with Shrimp

Shrimp is a unique food piece. Many people also tend to pair prawns with shrimp although they are not the same thing (they are quite similar). 

Shrimp can be made into so many different types of dishes. You can use shrimp in almost any way you would use other types of meat. Of course, there are some traditional meat dish options as well. 

Here are some ideas for using your shrimp:

  • Shrimp kabobs
  • Shrimp pasta
  • Shrimp scampi
  • Coconut shrimp
  • Fried shrimp
  • Popcorn shrimp
  • Shrimp and grits
  • Grilled shrimp
  • Shrimp fried rice
  • Shrimp on salad
  • Shrimp tacos
  • Cocktail shrimp

These are just a few of the most common uses of shrimp. As we mentioned before, there are so many ways you can use shrimp and they are certainly not limited to this list we’ve provided. 

There are more than 300 species of shrimp that are known so don’t get too tied up in the details of what type of shrimp you need. Just pick what will work for your recipe and your kitchen. There really is no right or wrong. 

The key in all things shrimp is understanding the proper handling of shrimp. Freezing steps could vary based on whether you cook your shrimp into a dish or just cook it to get it cooked. 

For instance, if you boil, bake, grill, or sauté your shrimp you can follow the processes we share later for freezing cooked shrimp.

However, you should be aware that shrimp cooked into recipes like shrimp in pasta may not freeze the same way. 

In this guide, when we refer to cooked shrimp we simply mean shrimp that has been cooked alone and not mixed into a full dish. It would be far too encompassing to try to pinpoint every type of shrimp dish and cover how to freeze them in a single guide. 

Proper Shrimp Handling

Shrimp is not a food that is designed to be at room temperature for excessive lengths of time.

For the best handling of shrimp, it should be stored in the fridge or the freezer to prevent it from going bad. This rule stands regardless of whether or not the shrimp is raw or cooked. 

Shrimp is typically not recommended to be eaten raw but there are cases in which it is served as such. There are many countries with cultural dishes that use raw shrimp. Sashimi is an example. 

One of the reasons raw shrimp eating is frowned upon is because of the potential for breeding and harboring bacteria and parasites. These make the potential for food poisoning very real.

However, these dishes remain quite common. It breaks down to it is all in the handling processes.  

Shrimp is frozen from the time it is caught out on the water. Shrimp boats are required to freeze the shrimp to properly comply with safe-handling practices. From the time you purchase your shrimp, it should only be refrigerated for about 4 days, or it should be frozen. 

This same rule applies to cooked shrimp. If you don’t plan to use it within 3-4 days, use the freezer to keep you and your shrimp safe for future use. 

When you cook your shrimp, you will know it is fully-cooked when it turns an opaque pink color. To double-check whether the shrimp is done, you can test the internal temperature. Shrimp should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Freezing Cooked Shrimp

If you handle your shrimp properly along the way, storing it is quite easy. You can store it in your fridge for up to 4 days and you can store it in your freezer for up to 6 months. 

Remember not to leave your shrimp at room temperature for more than 1-2 hours. Even once the shrimp has been cooked, it should not be left uncovered or out at room temperature for very long. This is because these types of food tend to be a magnet for bacteria. 

You simply want to follow best practice processes to ensure the safety of your kitchen and those who dine on your shrimp. 

Below, you will find instructions for both the refrigerator and the freezer for your cooked shrimp. 

Refrigerating Cooked Shrimp

  1. Allow shrimp to cool to room temperature. Do not leave out for more than 1-2 hours after cook time. 
  2. Place shrimp into an airtight container or into a heavy-duty storage bag. 
  3. Place shrimp in the coldest part of the fridge for up to 4 days. 

Freezing Cooked Shrimp

  1. Allow shrimp to cool to room temperature if freshly cooked. Do not leave shrimp at room temperature for more than 1-2 hours to prevent bacteria growth and spreading. 
  2. Place cooked shrimp into a heavy-duty freezer bag. Alternatively, you can wrap the shrimp in foil and place it into an airtight container. 
  3. Label and date packaging. 
  4. Store in this manner in the freezer for up to 6 months. 

When you are ready to use your frozen cooked shrimp, you can take it directly from the freezer to your pan for reheating. You can also add it to whatever dish you are making and heat it in accordance with the dish. 

Reheating your frozen cooked shrimp is simple and does not take long at all. 

Related Questions

We hope that you have found this guide to freezing cooked shrimp to be helpful and informative. It’s very simple to freeze your cooked shrimp as long as you handle it properly from the time you acquire the shrimp. 

We invite you to take a look at the following question and answer section. You will find additional information that may be useful to you or even answer one of your own questions about shrimp. 

What Do You Do if You Bought Cooked Shrimp?

You can handle cooked shrimp from the store in much the same manner as the instructions in this guide.

Just keep in mind that if you purchase cooked shrimp and then you cook the shrimp, it means it has been cooked twice prior to freezing it. This is okay to do but remember that the integrity of the flavor could reduce with each cooking time. 

How Can You Tell if Shrimp is Bad?

Shrimp does not have a strong fishy odor until it is beginning to pass its prime use time. It will always have a slight fish odor because it is seafood. Fresh shrimp typically has a slightly salty smell to it.

Shrimp that is spoiled has a deep fishy smell and possibly an ammonia or bleach smell as well. 

If your shrimp starts to smell heavily fishy or of ammonia, you should toss it out to prevent food poisoning. You might also be able to tell if your shrimp appears slimy. 

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