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How to Defrost Shrimp So It Thaws in Time for Dinner
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

When it comes to easy weeknight dinners, shrimp is one of our go-tos. Whether it's tossed with pasta, thrown on the grill or topped with cheese (hey, don't judge us), this versatile ingredient is a quick and delicious way to add protein to a meal. Which is why we make sure to always have some stashed in the freezer. And while you can technically cook shrimp from frozen, it won't give you the tastiest results possible. Read on to learn how to defrost shrimp so it thaws in time for dinner. But first...

The Best Way to Freeze Shrimp

Step 1: To extend the shrimp's shelf life as long as possible, freeze the shrimp with the heads removed and the shells still on. When prepared, rinse them thoroughly and remove any visible debris.

Step 2: Pack them tightly into a freezer-safe container, leaving minimal space between them to limit the air in the container. Leave space on top of the shrimp. 

Step 3: Cover them in ice water or a saltwater brine, leaving some space at the top of the container for the liquid to expand as it freezes. Then, store the container upright in the freezer.

The Best Way to Thaw Shrimp...If You Have 12 Hours

Step 1: Take the shrimp out of the freezer and place them in a container with a lid (you can also use a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap).

Step 2: Place the container in the fridge overnight or in the morning on the day you plan to use the shrimp. They'll be defrosted and ready to cook in about 12 hours. The final step? Congratulate yourself on doing such an excellent job of planning ahead. 

The Best Way to Thaw Shrimp...If You Have 20 Minutes

Step 1: Place the frozen shrimp in a fine-mesh strainer or colander and submerge them in a bowl of cold water, making sure that every piece of shrimp is covered.

Step 2: Wait about ten minutes, then discard the water and refill the bowl with more cold water.

Step 3: Wait another ten minutes, then remove the shrimp from the water and pat dry. They should be completely defrosted, but still cold and ready to use immediately. (Once they're thawed, you should use them within 48 hours, BTW.) 

How Long Does Frozen Shrimp Last?

Frozen fish and shellfish alike will stay good basically forever in the freezer, according to the USDA. Here's the catch: The flavor and texture of the food will deteriorate over time the longer it's frozen. So, frozen raw shrimp (and all shellfish) should be used within three to 12 months. 

Can I Refreeze Shrimp Once It's Thawed?

Maybe. As long as the shrimp was thawed in the refrigerator, it's safe to refreeze at any time. If it's been left outside the fridge for longer than two hours (or even one hour in high temperature), it shouldn't be refrozen. You can also refreeze cooked shrimp that was once frozen. 

Ready to cook? Here are seven shrimp recipes we love:

RELATED: 18 Quick Dinners That Start with Frozen Shrimp

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