How to Cook Shrimp on the Stovetop

How to Cook Shrimp on the Stovetop
13 min reading time

Are you a seafood lover looking to perfect your stovetop cooking skills? Look no further! In this section, we’ll guide you through the how to cook shrimp on the stovetop with a step-by-step tutorial and delicious recipes to try out. Whether you’re an experienced home cook or a beginner, our stovetop shrimp cooking techniques will help you create mouthwatering dishes that will impress your guests.

From choosing the right shrimp to marinating and seasoning, we’ll cover everything you need to know to achieve perfectly cooked shrimp every time. With our beginner-friendly stovetop shrimp cooking tips and easy-to-follow instructions, you’ll be able to create quick and delicious stovetop shrimp recipes that will leave everyone wanting more.

So put on your chef’s hat, grab your cooking pan, and get ready to dive into the wonderful world of stovetop shrimp cooking!

Choosing the Right Shrimp

When it comes to stovetop shrimp recipes, selecting the right type of shrimp is crucial. High-quality, fresh shrimp will ensure that your dish is flavorful and delicious. Here are some best stovetop shrimp cooking practices to help you choose the right shrimp:

  • Opt for fresh, not frozen shrimp whenever possible. Fresh shrimp has a sweeter flavor and a firmer texture, making it perfect for stovetop cooking.
  • Look for shrimp that has a bright, translucent appearance and a slightly pink color.
  • If possible, choose wild-caught shrimp instead of farmed. Wild-caught shrimp has a more robust flavor and is generally considered to be of higher quality.
  • When selecting shrimp, pay attention to the size. Generally, larger shrimp are better for grilling or broiling, while smaller shrimp are better for stovetop cooking.

While you can use any type of shrimp for stovetop cooking, some varieties work better than others. Here are some of the best types of shrimp to use for stovetop shrimp recipes:

Type of ShrimpBest For
Freshwater ShrimpSauteing and stir-frying
Gulf ShrimpBoiling and steaming
Rock ShrimpGrilling and pan-searing

By choosing the right shrimp and following the best stovetop shrimp cooking practices, you’ll be able to create delicious and flavorful dishes that are sure to impress.

Preparing the Shrimp

Before cooking the shrimp on the stovetop, it is essential to prepare them properly. Here’s a step-by-step guide for cleaning, deveining, and peeling the shrimp:

  1. Remove the shell: Hold the shrimp by the tail and gently peel off the shell. You can leave the tail on or remove it, depending on your preference.
  2. Make a small incision: With a sharp knife or kitchen shears, make a small incision along the back of the shrimp, exposing the vein.
  3. Remove the vein: Use the tip of the knife or a toothpick to remove the vein. Some shrimp have a black vein, while others have a white vein. Regardless of the color, make sure to remove it completely.
  4. Rinse the shrimp: Rinse the shrimp under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.

For a beginner-friendly stovetop shrimp cooking tip, you can purchase pre-cleaned and deveined shrimp from your grocery store. This saves time and makes the preparation process much easier.

Marinating and Seasoning Options

To make your stovetop shrimp dishes even more flavorful, marinating and seasoning are essential. Here are some easy stovetop shrimp cooking methods to try.


Marinating shrimp in a mixture of oil, acid (like lemon or vinegar), and spices is an excellent way to add flavor and tenderize the shrimp. Try a simple garlic and lemon marinade with olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, and pepper, or a spicy marinade with chili powder, cumin, paprika, and lime juice.

Spices and Herbs

Add a burst of flavor to your shrimp dishes with a variety of spices and herbs. Paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, and chili powder are excellent choices for a spicy kick, while ginger, garlic, and thyme add a savory flavor. For a fresher taste, try adding basil, cilantro, or parsley.


Sauces are the perfect complement to stovetop shrimp dishes. Try a classic cocktail sauce made with ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice. For an Asian-inspired dish, mix soy sauce with honey, rice vinegar, and ginger for a delicious glaze. Or, make a creamy garlic and Parmesan sauce for a decadent twist.

Choosing the Right Cooking Pan

How to Cook Shrimp on the Stovetop

Choosing the right cooking pan is an essential aspect of stovetop shrimp cooking techniques. Different types of pans have different heat distribution and retention levels, which can significantly affect the overall quality of your shrimp dish.

The best stovetop shrimp cooking practices recommend using pans made of materials with high heat conductivity, such as stainless steel, cast iron, or copper. These materials distribute heat evenly and retain it well, ensuring perfect cooking results every time.

When choosing a pan, it’s also crucial to consider its size and shape. A pan that’s too small can overcrowd the shrimp, leading to uneven cooking, while a pan that’s too big can cause the oil to spread too thin, resulting in overcooked shrimp.

Finally, it’s essential to choose a pan that’s easy to clean and maintain. Non-stick pans are a popular choice for cooking shrimp on the stovetop, as they prevent the shrimp from sticking to the surface, making cleanup a breeze.

Types of Cooking Pans:

Here are some of the most common types of cooking pans used for stovetop shrimp cooking:

Pan TypeMaterialHeat ConductivityHeat Retention
Saute PanStainless SteelHighHigh
Cast Iron SkilletCast IronHighVery High
WokCarbon SteelHighLow
Non-Stick PanTeflon-coatedMedium-HighMedium-Low

Regardless of which pan you choose, following the best stovetop shrimp cooking practices when cooking shrimp on the stovetop will ensure delicious and perfectly cooked shrimp every time.

Heating the Pan and Adding Oil

Before adding the shrimp to the pan, it’s crucial to heat the pan and add oil. This helps prevent the shrimp from sticking to the surface and ensures even cooking.

Start by selecting a pan that is suitable for cooking shrimp. A non-stick pan or a cast-iron skillet works best. Heat the pan over medium-high heat for a few minutes until it’s hot.

Next, add oil to the pan. You can use any cooking oil, including olive oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil. Just be sure to use a high smoke point oil to prevent the oil from burning and giving the shrimp an unpleasant taste.

Add enough oil to the pan to evenly coat the bottom. You don’t need to use too much oil, as shrimp naturally release moisture as they cook. One to two tablespoons of oil should suffice.

Once the oil is heated, you can add the shrimp to the pan and begin cooking.


If you’re looking for a quick and delicious stovetop shrimp recipe, try sautéing the shrimp in garlic and butter. Heat two tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and cook for a few seconds until fragrant. Then, add the shrimp and cook for a few minutes on each side until pink and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper, and enjoy!

Cooking the Shrimp

Now that you have properly prepared your shrimp, it’s time to start cooking! There are different stovetop cooking techniques that you can use to cook shrimp, and we’ll cover some of the most popular ones below.


When sautéing shrimp, make sure your pan is hot before adding the shrimp. You can add some butter or oil to the pan to prevent the shrimp from sticking. Cook the shrimp for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until pink and opaque.


For stir-frying shrimp, use a wok or a large pan and cook the shrimp over high heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan, as this can affect the cooking time and result in unevenly cooked shrimp.


To pan-sear shrimp, heat up a small amount of oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Regardless of the technique you choose, avoid overcooking the shrimp as it can result in tough and rubbery texture. Shrimp cooks quickly, and it’s essential to keep an eye on it to ensure it’s cooked to perfection.

Tip: Shrimp is cooked when it turns pink and opaque. When overcooked, it will turn white and rubbery.

With these stovetop shrimp cooking techniques, you can whip up quick and delicious shrimp dishes that are perfect for any occasion. Experiment with different flavors and spices to create your own unique twist on classic shrimp recipes!

Testing for Doneness

Knowing when the shrimp is cooked to perfection is essential to perfecting stovetop shrimp cooking. Overcooking the shrimp can lead to a tough and rubbery texture, while undercooking can result in raw and unpleasant shrimp. To avoid this, follow these tips on testing for doneness:

  • Visual Cues: Watch for the shrimp to turn pink and opaque, with no traces of gray or translucent meat.
  • Touch: Gently press the shrimp with a fork or your finger. If it feels firm and springy, it’s done. If it’s mushy or soft, it needs more time.

Remember that cooking times may vary depending on the cooking method used, the type and size of the shrimp, and the heat level of the pan. It may take a few tries to get the perfect timing down, but with a little practice, you’ll be able to cook delicious and perfectly cooked shrimp every time.

Removing the Shrimp from the Pan

After cooking your shrimp, it’s time to safely remove them from the pan. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to avoid picking up any excess oil or liquid from the pan. Place the cooked shrimp on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any remaining oil.

If you’re cooking multiple batches of shrimp, it’s important to clean the pan between each batch to avoid any residual flavors or burned bits. Clean the pan with a paper towel or rinse with hot water and dry it thoroughly before adding more shrimp.

Now that your shrimp are cooked and safely removed from the pan, you can use them in a variety of stovetop shrimp recipes. Try adding them to pasta dishes, stir-fries, or serving them with a side of fresh vegetables for a quick and delicious meal.

With just a few easy stovetop shrimp cooking methods, you can create flavorful and impressive dishes that are perfect for any occasion.

Serving and Enjoying the Shrimp

Your perfectly cooked stovetop shrimp is ready to be served and enjoyed! Here are some ideas to plate and garnish your dish:

  • Serve the shrimp over a bed of rice or pasta, or on a plate alongside some vegetables for a well-rounded meal.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, or parsley for added flavor and presentation.
  • Squeeze some lemon or lime juice over the shrimp for a refreshing citrusy kick.

Now that you have some ideas on how to plate and garnish your dish, it’s time to dig in and enjoy your quick and delicious stovetop shrimp recipe!

Storing and Reheating Leftover Shrimp

After enjoying your delicious stovetop shrimp dish, you may have leftovers that you would like to save for later. Here are some helpful tips on how to store and reheat your shrimp:

First, let the shrimp cool down to room temperature before storing it in an airtight container in the fridge. This will help prevent bacteria growth and maintain the quality of the shrimp. Cooked shrimp can stay fresh in the fridge for up to three days.

To reheat the shrimp, there are a few methods you could use:

  1. Stovetop: Place the shrimp in a small saucepan with a splash of water or broth, and cover with a lid. Heat over medium heat until the shrimp is hot and steaming.
  2. Microwave: Place the shrimp in a microwave-safe dish, and cover it with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 30-60 seconds, or until the shrimp is hot all the way through.
  3. Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Place the shrimp in an oven-safe dish, and add a splash of water or broth to keep it moist. Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 5-10 minutes, or until the shrimp is heated through.

When reheating shrimp, be careful not to overcook them, as this could make them tough and rubbery. Keep an eye on the shrimp and remove them from the heat as soon as they’re heated through.

Now that you know how to store and reheat leftover shrimp, you can enjoy your stovetop shrimp dishes without worrying about waste. Happy cooking!


Cooking shrimp on the stovetop is now a breeze with these easy-to-follow steps and delicious recipes. You’ve learned how to choose the right shrimp, prepare them properly, and season them to perfection. By mastering different stovetop cooking techniques, you can create flavorful and juicy shrimp dishes that will impress your family and friends.

Remember to choose the right pan and heat it properly, and don’t forget to test for doneness to avoid overcooking. Once you’ve finished cooking, plate your shrimp dishes with a wide range of garnishes and side dishes, and enjoy!

Finally, if you have any leftovers, you can store and reheat them easily by following our guidelines. So go ahead and experiment with different recipes and techniques, and soon enough, you’ll become a seasoned stovetop shrimp chef!


Should I remove the shell before cooking shrimp on the stovetop?

It’s a personal preference whether to cook shrimp with or without the shell. However, most recipes call for peeled and deveined shrimp for easier eating. If you prefer to keep the shell on, make sure to score it to allow flavors to penetrate.

Can I marinate shrimp before cooking them on the stovetop?

Absolutely! Marinating shrimp before cooking can infuse them with delicious flavors. For best results, marinate shrimp in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes. Avoid marinating for too long, as acidic ingredients can cause the shrimp to become mushy.

What is the best oil to use for cooking shrimp on the stovetop?

It’s best to use an oil with a high smoke point, such as canola, grapeseed, or avocado oil, for cooking shrimp on the stovetop. These oils can withstand high heat without burning or imparting a strong flavor to the shrimp.

How can I tell if the shrimp is cooked through?

Shrimp should turn pink and opaque when cooked through. Another way to check is to gently press the shrimp with a fork or your finger. If they feel firm and spring back slightly, they are done. Overcooking can make the shrimp tough, so be careful not to leave them on the heat for too long.

Can I reheat leftover cooked shrimp?

Yes, you can reheat leftover cooked shrimp. The best method is to lightly sauté them in a pan with a bit of oil or butter over medium heat until warmed through. Avoid overheating, as it can make the shrimp rubbery.

How long can I store cooked shrimp in the refrigerator?

Cooked shrimp can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It’s important to place them in an airtight container or wrap them tightly in plastic wrap to prevent moisture loss and maintain their freshness.

Can I freeze cooked shrimp?

Yes, you can freeze cooked shrimp. Place them in airtight freezer-safe bags or containers and label them with the date. Frozen cooked shrimp can be stored for up to 3 months. Thaw them in the refrigerator before reheating or using in recipes.

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