[Full Guide] How Long To Boil Cooked Shrimps

Shrimps are a versatile and delicious seafood that can be prepared in various ways, including boiling. Boiling cooked shrimps is a simple and quick method to reheat them while maintaining their juicy and succulent texture. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the ins and outs of boiling cooked shrimps, including the selection of shrimps, preparation techniques, and the ideal boiling process to achieve perfectly cooked and flavorful shrimps.

Quick Answer: How Long To Boil Cooked Shrimps

Boiling cooked shrimps requires meticulous timing to avoid overcooking, which can result in a rubbery and less palatable texture. Ideally, cooked shrimps should be boiled for approximately 2-3 minutes to ensure thorough reheating without compromising their tenderness. However, the exact timing can vary based on the size and quantity of the shrimps being boiled, which will be elaborated on further in the subsequent sections.


When it comes to boiling shrimps, selecting the right type and quality of shrimps is paramount to achieving a delectable outcome. It is advisable to choose cooked shrimps that have been properly stored and have not surpassed their recommended consumption date. Opt for high-quality shrimps that exhibit a firm and translucent appearance, signifying their freshness. Whether you opt for fresh cooked shrimps or frozen ones, ensuring their quality prior to boiling is crucial for a successful outcome.


Prior to boiling cooked shrimps, it is essential to prepare them adequately to enhance their flavor and ensure uniform cooking. If using frozen cooked shrimps, it is recommended to thaw them under refrigeration or in cold water before proceeding with the boiling process. Thawing the shrimps allows for even cooking and prevents the exterior from becoming overcooked while the interior remains cold.

How To Boil Cooked Shrimps

Boiling cooked shrimps involves a straightforward process but demands attention to detail to achieve optimal results. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to boil cooked shrimps to perfection:

Step 1: Thawing

If the cooked shrimps are frozen, ensure they are completely thawed before boiling. This can be accomplished by placing the shrimps in the refrigerator overnight or by submerging them in a bowl of cold water for approximately 10-15 minutes until fully thawed.

Step 2: Boiling Water

Fill a pot with water, leaving enough room to accommodate the shrimps without causing water overflow once added. It is advisable to add a generous amount of salt to the water to infuse the shrimps with additional flavor during the boiling process.

Step 3: Seasoning

Consider adding aromatic ingredients such as bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic, or lemon slices to the boiling water to impart extra layers of flavor to the shrimps. This step is optional but can elevate the overall taste of the boiled shrimps.

Step 4: Boiling

Once the water is boiling vigorously, carefully add the pre-thawed cooked shrimps to the pot. It is crucial to monitor the shrimps closely as they will cook rapidly. The shrimps are ready once they turn opaque and their texture becomes firm, typically requiring 2-3 minutes of boiling.

Step 5: Cooling

Promptly remove the shrimps from the boiling water using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a bowl of ice water to halt the cooking process. This quick cooling step helps to preserve the shrimps’ tenderness and prevents them from becoming overcooked.

Step 6: Draining

After the shrimps have been sufficiently cooled in the ice water, drain them thoroughly to remove any excess water before incorporating them into your desired recipe or enjoying them on their own.

Boiling cooked shrimps is an efficient method to reheat and enhance the flavor of this delectable seafood. By carefully selecting high-quality shrimps, adequately preparing them, and following the precise boiling process, you can achieve perfectly cooked shrimps that retain their natural sweetness and succulence. Whether you plan to incorporate them into pasta dishes, salads, or simply savor them with a flavorful dipping sauce, mastering the art of boiling cooked shrimps will undoubtedly elevate your culinary repertoire.

Science Behind Boiling

Boiling is a popular cooking method that is widely used for various ingredients, including shrimp. Boiling cooked shrimps can be a convenient way to reheat or prepare them for further culinary uses. However, it is important to understand the science behind boiling and the factors that can affect the outcome.

Boiling is a cooking technique that involves the application of heat to a liquid, causing it to reach its boiling point. The boiling point of water, which is commonly used as the liquid for boiling, is 100 degrees Celsius or 212 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level. When the liquid reaches this temperature, it starts to convert into steam or vapor.

During the boiling process, the heat from the stove or burner is transferred to the liquid. As the liquid absorbs heat, its temperature rises. When the boiling point is reached, the liquid begins to evaporate, and bubbles of vapor form and rise to the surface. This process is called nucleation.

Boiling has several effects on the cooked shrimp. Firstly, it heats the shrimp, ensuring even heating throughout the piece. It also helps to rehydrate the shrimp by allowing the water in the boiling liquid to be absorbed by the shrimp. Additionally, boiling can enhance the flavor and texture of the shrimp, making them more enjoyable to eat.

Optimal Boiling Times

The boiling time required for cooked shrimps depends on a variety of factors such as size, thickness, and initial temperature. In general, it is recommended to boil cooked shrimps for a short period of time to avoid overcooking and maintaining their tender texture.

For small or medium-sized cooked shrimps, boiling them for 2-3 minutes is usually sufficient. These shrimps are already cooked, so the goal is to heat them through without making them tough or rubbery. Overcooking can lead to a loss of moisture and result in dry and tasteless shrimps.

On the other hand, larger or thicker cooked shrimps may require slightly longer boiling times. For these shrimps, it is best to boil them for around 3-4 minutes. The additional minute allows for the heat to penetrate the thicker parts of the shrimp, ensuring that it is thoroughly heated throughout.

It is important to note that these times are general guidelines and can vary depending on personal preferences, the specific recipe being followed, and the desired texture of the shrimp. It is always a good idea to monitor the shrimps closely while boiling to avoid overcooking.

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Doneness Test

To determine if the cooked shrimps are done boiling, a simple doneness test can be performed. One of the most common methods is visual inspection. Cooked shrimps are typically pink or orange in color, and when they are heated through, the color becomes more vibrant. The flesh should be opaque and firm, indicating that the shrimp is fully cooked.

Another method is to touch the cooked shrimp. It should feel firm and springy, rather than mushy or rubbery. If the shrimp feels mushy, it may be an indication of undercooking, while a rubbery texture can indicate overcooking.

Lastly, and perhaps the most accurate method, is to use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the shrimp. The USDA recommends that cooked shrimps reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit to be considered safe for consumption. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the shrimp and ensure it reaches the recommended temperature. If the shrimp has not reached the recommended temperature, continue boiling for a short duration and check again.

Factors Affecting Boiling Shrimps

Several factors can affect the boiling process and the outcome of boiling cooked shrimps. It is important to consider these factors to achieve the desired result.

  1. Shrimp Size: The size of the shrimp can significantly impact the boiling time. Smaller shrimps will require less time to reach the desired doneness compared to larger ones. It is important to adjust the boiling time accordingly.

  2. Initial Temperature: The starting temperature of the cooked shrimps can affect the boiling time. If the shrimps are chilled or refrigerated, they may take slightly longer to reach the desired temperature compared to shrimps that are at room temperature.

  3. Shell-on or Shell-off: Whether the cooked shrimps have their shells on or off can influence the boiling process. Shrimps with shells on may take longer to heat through and absorb the flavors from the boiling liquid. On the other hand, shrimps with the shell off may cook faster but could be more prone to drying out.

  4. Boiling Liquid: The choice of boiling liquid can impact the flavor and texture of the cooked shrimps. Water is the most common choice, but adding other ingredients such as salt, spices, or citrus can enhance the taste. It is important to note that highly acidic liquids, like lemon juice or vinegar, can toughen the shrimp, so it is best to use them sparingly.

  5. Altitude: The altitude at which you are boiling the shrimp can also affect the cooking time. At higher altitudes, the boiling point of water is lower, which means it takes longer to reach 100 degrees Celsius or 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjustments may need to be made to the boiling time to account for altitude.

  6. Overcrowding the Pot: It is important to avoid overcrowding the pot when boiling cooked shrimps. Overcrowding can cause the temperature of the liquid to drop significantly, resulting in uneven cooking. Cook the shrimps in smaller batches or use a larger pot to ensure they have enough room to cook evenly.

  7. Stirring: Stirring the shrimps while they are boiling can help to ensure even heating. Gently agitate the shrimps with a spoon or tongs to prevent them from sticking together and to distribute the heat evenly.

  8. Timing: It is crucial to monitor the cooking time closely when boiling cooked shrimps. Overcooking can lead to dry and tough shrimps, while undercooking can result in a mushy texture. Set a timer and conduct the doneness test mentioned earlier to ensure the shrimps are cooked to perfection.

Boiling cooked shrimps can be a convenient way to reheat or prepare them for further culinary uses. Understanding the science behind boiling and the factors that can affect the boiling process is essential to achieving the desired outcome. By following optimal boiling times, conducting a doneness test, and considering the various factors, you can ensure that your boiled shrimps are flavorful, tender, and cooked to perfection. So, the next time you decide to boil cooked shrimps, keep these guidelines in mind to elevate your cooking experience.

Texture After Boiling

Shrimps are a delicious and versatile seafood that can be enjoyed in various dishes such as stir-fries, pasta, and salads. Whether you’ve cooked shrimp yourself or purchased pre-cooked shrimp, you may wonder if there are any benefits to boiling them further. Boiling cooked shrimps can help enhance their texture, taste, and even their smell.

When you boil cooked shrimps, the heat causes the proteins in the shrimp to coagulate and firm up. This can result in a firmer and slightly chewier texture. If you prefer your shrimps to have a firmer bite, boiling them can be a great option.

However, it is crucial not to overcook the shrimps as they can become tough and rubbery. Overcooked shrimps can lose their natural tenderness and become unpleasantly chewy. To avoid overcooking, it is recommended to boil the shrimps for only 1-2 minutes or until they are heated through.

For those who prefer a more delicate and tender texture, boiling shrimps may not be the ideal method. Over-boiling can lead to a loss in moisture and result in a dry texture. In such cases, it is best to consume the shrimps directly without further boiling.

Taste After Boiling

Boiling cooked shrimps can also slightly alter their taste. The process of boiling allows the shrimp to absorb flavors from the cooking liquid, enhancing their overall taste. If you are looking to infuse additional flavors into your shrimps, boiling can be a simple and effective method.

When boiling shrimps, you can use flavored liquids such as broth, wine, or aromatic herbs and spices to enhance the taste. The shrimps will soak up the flavors during the cooking process, resulting in a more flavorful experience. For example, boiling shrimps in a garlic-infused broth can impart a subtle garlic taste to the shrimp.

However, it is essential to note that boiling can also dilute the natural flavors of the shrimps. If you prefer to savor the original taste of the shrimps, consuming them without boiling may be the better option. Consider your personal preferences and the specific dish you are preparing when deciding whether to boil your cooked shrimps for enhanced taste.

Smell After Boiling

Boiling shrimps can have an impact on their aroma as well. While shrimp generally has a naturally pleasant smell, boiling can intensify this aroma and fill your kitchen with a delightful seafood fragrance. The steam that arises from the boiling process carries the scent of the shrimps, making it even more noticeable.

If you enjoy the rich and enticing aroma of shrimp, boiling them can heighten this aspect of your culinary experience. The smell can be particularly enticing when using flavored liquids or adding aromatic ingredients to the boiling water. The combination of these flavors can create a mouthwatering scent that adds to the overall enjoyment of the dish.

However, it is important to acknowledge that not everyone finds the smell of shrimp appealing. Some individuals may be sensitive to seafood odors, or they may simply prefer milder scents in their kitchen. If you fall into this category, boiling cooked shrimps may not be the preferred method for you.

Boiling Techniques For Different Culinary Preferences

The method used to boil cooked shrimps can significantly impact their final texture, taste, and smell. Here are a few boiling techniques you can experiment with to cater to different culinary preferences:

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1. Quick Boil

For those who prefer firmer shrimps with a slightly chewier texture, a quick boil is recommended. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and add the cooked shrimps. Boil for 1-2 minutes until they are heated through. Be cautious not to overcook, as this can result in tough and rubbery shrimps.

2. Flavored Boil

To enhance the taste of your shrimps, consider preparing a flavored boiling liquid. For example, you can simmer the shrimps in a mixture of broth, wine, garlic, and herbs. This will infuse the shrimps with additional flavors, elevating their taste.

3. Steaming Method

If you are concerned about the shrimp losing moisture during boiling, you can opt for a steaming method instead. Set up a steamer basket or insert in a pot, ensuring that the water does not touch the shrimp. Steam the cooked shrimps for a few minutes until they are heated through. Steaming helps retain the natural moisture of the shrimp, resulting in a tender and juicy texture.

4. Poaching Technique

Poaching is another alternative to boiling that offers a moist and tender result. Prepare a poaching liquid by combining broth, wine, and aromatic ingredients. Bring the poaching liquid to a gentle simmer, then add the cooked shrimps. Allow them to poach for a few minutes until they are heated through. This technique imparts additional flavors to the shrimps while maintaining their moisture.

Boiling cooked shrimps can have various effects on their texture, taste, and smell. Boiling can result in a firmer texture, enhanced taste through flavor absorption, and a more prominent aroma. However, it is essential to consider your personal preferences and the desired outcome of your dish before deciding to boil cooked shrimps. Whether you choose a quick boil, flavored boil, steaming, or poaching method, take care not to overcook the shrimps and maintain their natural moisture. With proper boiling techniques, you can elevate the culinary experience and enjoy deliciously prepared shrimp dishes.

Retaining Nutrition

Shrimps are a beloved seafood delicacy enjoyed all over the world. They are delicious, nutritious, and incredibly versatile. While there are numerous ways to prepare shrimps, boiling them is one of the simplest and most popular cooking methods. Boiling preserves the natural flavor and texture of the shrimps and also makes them easier to peel.

Shrimps are an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. However, like most seafood, they are susceptible to overcooking, which can lead to the loss of nutrients. Therefore, it is essential to cook shrimps properly to retain their nutritional content. One way to ensure this is by boiling them for a short time. Overcooking shrimps can result in the loss of texture, flavor, and nutrients. Therefore, it is crucial to keep a close eye on the cooking time to prevent them from becoming rubbery.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

When it comes to boiling cooked shrimps, there are some common mistakes that people tend to make. These include:

Overcooking Shrimps

One of the biggest mistakes people make is overcooking shrimps. Shrimps cook very fast, and leaving them in the boiling water for too long can result in a loss of texture and flavor. It is crucial to time the cooking process carefully and remove the shrimps from the heat as soon as they turn pink.

Not Deveining The Shrimps

Not deveining shrimps is another common mistake that people make. The vein is the dark line on the back of the shrimp, and it contains the digestive tract. Failing to remove the vein can result in a gritty, sandy texture and unpleasant taste. It is essential to devein the shrimps before boiling them to ensure their texture and flavor are retained.

Using Old Shrimps

Using old shrimps is another mistake that can ruin the dish. Old shrimps tend to have a slimy texture and an unpleasant smell. It is crucial to use fresh shrimps, or if you must use frozen shrimps, ensure they are thawed correctly.

Tips To Boil Shrimps

To achieve perfect boiled shrimps, there are some tips to keep in mind. Here are some of them:

Use Well-Salted Water

Shrimps have a delicate flavor, and salting the water can enhance their taste. It is essential to use well-salted water to boil the shrimps. The general ratio is one tablespoon of salt per quart of water.

Use Aromatics

Adding aromatics like herbs, garlic, and onion to the water can infuse the shrimps with more flavor. You can also add some lemon juice to the water to give the shrimps a bright, tangy flavor.

Remove The Shrimps From The Heat As Soon As They Turn Pink

As mentioned earlier, shrimps cook very fast, and overcooking them can result in a rubbery texture and a loss of flavor. It is crucial to remove the shrimps from the heat as soon as they turn pink. This usually takes about two to three minutes.

Shock The Shrimps

After boiling, plunging the cooked shrimps into a bowl of ice water helps them to cool quickly. This stops the cooking process and prevents them from overcooking, ensuring the shrimps retain their texture and flavor.

Choose The Right Pot

Choosing the right pot to boil the shrimps is crucial. A big pot is recommended as it gives the shrimps enough space to move around freely, ensuring they cook evenly.

What To Do With Boiled Shrimps

Boiled shrimps can be used in various dishes, including salads, pasta, stir-fries, and tacos. They can also be served as a standalone dish with cocktail sauce or homemade remoulade sauce.


Boiling cooked shrimps is an easy and straightforward process that can be mastered with the right techniques and tools. Remember to avoid common mistakes such as overcooking, not deveining, and using old shrimps. Follow our tips to achieve perfectly boiled shrimps every time, and enjoy them in various dishes or as a standalone delicacy.


What Is The Best Way To Boil Cooked Shrimps?

The best way to boil cooked shrimps is to bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and then add the shrimps. Boil for about 2-3 minutes until they are heated through.

Can I Use Frozen Cooked Shrimps For Boiling?

Yes, you can use frozen cooked shrimps for boiling. However, it is recommended to thaw them first before boiling to ensure even cooking.

How Do I Know When The Shrimps Are Done Boiling?

Shrimps are done boiling when they turn pink and curl up into a "C" shape. They should also be firm to the touch and the flesh should be opaque.

What Seasonings Can I Add To The Water When Boiling Cooked Shrimps?

You can add seasonings such as salt, pepper, bay leaves, garlic, and lemon juice to the water for added flavor. However, the shrimps will also absorb the flavors of the seasonings used when they were initially cooked.

Can I Reuse The Boiling Water For Other Dishes?

It is not recommended to reuse the water from boiling cooked shrimps for other dishes. The water may contain traces of seafood flavors and bacteria from the shrimps, which can potentially contaminate other foods. It is best to discard the water and start fresh for other dishes.