If you're looking to squeeze another crazy fast dinner into the weeknight rotation, learning how to cook shrimp on the stove is a must. This method for perfectly pan-seared shrimp takes less than 15 minutes and is guaranteed to become your new go-to easy dinner plan.
Around here, we like shrimp in a number of ways! Steamed, roasted, stovetop, you name it. Our favorite ways to serve these pan-seared shrimp are probably in pasta dishes, shrimp cocktails, as a sandwich filler, or as a salad topper! The possibilities are practically endless so do with it as you please. It won't disappoint!
FROZEN OVER FRESH
Surprisingly, frozen shrimp is typically fresher than… well, fresh shrimp. Unless you live on the coast, in very close proximity to the ocean, the shrimp you are looking at through the glass at the seafood counter has likely already been frozen once and has just been thawed.
This isn't quite as big of a deal if you are planning to cook your pan-seared shrimp that very night. If you were purchasing shrimp from the seafood counter, avoid shrimp that smells like ammonia or shrimp that feels especially soft or at all slimy.
Even if the seafood counter shrimp is up to standard, unless you plan to cook the shrimp that day, you should most definitely go the frozen route instead.
WILD-CAUGHT VS FARM-RAISED
You'll also notice you have a choice between wild-caught or farm-raised shrimp.
Wild caught seafood is caught from its natural habitat, in this case, an ocean. Farm-raised shrimp, on the other hand, are raised in a tank.
The benefit of eating wild-caught shrimp over farm-raised shrimp is that the wild-caught shrimp will have a higher nutritional value because of their access to fresh food sources.
HOW TO THAW FROZEN SHRIMP
To thaw frozen shrimp, place the frozen shrimp in a large bowl and run cold water over the shrimp until the bowl is full. Set the bowl aside and let the shrimp sit for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the shrimp are completely thawed.
With all your new-found shrimp knowledge, you should try making our easy Shrimp Quesadillas!
SHRIMP SIZE AND WHY IT MATTERS
The only reason shrimp size is truly significant in this quick shrimp recipe is that it will affect cook time. As you probably guessed, larger shrimp will take longer to cook, and smaller shrimp will take less time to cook on the stovetop.
Often times recipes will indicate shrimp size by the shrimp count, which is much more accurate than terms like large, jumbo, or medium.
The shrimp count indicates how many shrimp come in a pound. For example, a shrimp count of 15/20 means that there will be 15 to 20 shrimp per pound.
For a super quick and easy meal, try our Shrimp Sandwich!
PEELING AND DEVEINING
If you're looking to make life easier, just go ahead and buy your shrimp pre-peeled and deveined for this quick shrimp recipe.
But if you already have some on hand or you are just a DIY kind of gal, here's the best way to peel and devein your shrimp.
Use a paring knife to break into the back of the shell enough to get your thumb in. Then just wiggle your thumb around underneath the shell to loosen it up and use your fingers to peel it away.
To remove the vein, run your knife down the back of the shrimp, exposing the vein. Then, just use the tip of your knife to lift the vein away from the shrimp and gently pull it out.
HOW TO COOK PAN-SEARED SHRIMP ON THE STOVE
The first thing you want to do to prepare your shrimp for cooking on the stovetop is to pat them dry with a paper towel. The paper towels will absorb the excess moisture from the exterior of the shrimp, which is necessary to enable a good pan sear.
I like to lay a few sheets of paper towels down on a work surface, lay my shrimp across the paper towels in a single layer, and then bring in another couple of paper towels and press it gently over the tops of the shrimp. This method is much faster than patting dry each and every individual shrimp!
If you love pan-seared shrimp, try our Shrimp Po Boys next!
Next, it is on to the oil and the seasoning! For the oil, you can use either olive oil, avocado oil, or canola oil. Transfer your shrimp to a large bowl and drizzle with your oil of choice.
For the seasoning, you have options! You can keep it simple with salt and pepper, or take it up a notch with Italian seasoning, minced garlic, lemon zest, and more. Shrimp takes on a vast amount of flavors well, so it really depends on the dinnertime vibes you're shooting for. For this simple pan-seared shrimp recipe, in particular, we will keep it straightforward with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder.
Add your seasoning to the bowl and toss the shrimp until evenly coated in both the oil and seasoning. Set the shrimp aside, and get your pan hot and ready with oil.
The larger the pan, the better for cooking shrimp on the stovetop. Like any time you're pan-searing a protein, your protein needs room to "breathe." If you overcrowd your pan with shrimp, the shrimp will steam rather than sear.
When cooking shrimp on the stove, we prefer oil over butter because of oil's higher smoke point. However, if you'd like to infuse the flavor of butter into your stove-top shrimp, add 1 tablespoon of butter to the hot oil just before you add the shrimp.
Once your pan and oil are good and hot, add your shrimp in a single layer and sear for about two minutes. Then, you'll turn the shrimp and sear for about one to two minutes more.
Once your shrimp have finished cooking, remove them from the pan immediately so that the residual heat from the pan does not continue to cook your shrimp.
Don't know what to do with your perfectly cooked shrimp? Try our Shrimp Pesto Pasta!
HOW TO KNOW WHEN SHRIMP IS DONE
Since cook times vary depending on shrimp size, it is important to know what you're looking for when cooking shrimp. Your shrimp are completely cooked through when they are no longer translucent at all and feel somewhat firm to the touch.
Another way to confirm doneness is to check the tails! They should start to curl slightly under when your shrimp are ready.
6 MORE SHRIMP RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Stuffed Shrimp
- Shrimp Pasta
- Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
- Shrimp Enchiladas
- Shrimp Sandwich
- Steamed Shrimp
Having this quick shrimp recipe on hand is going to totally revolutionize your weeknight dinner game. Fast, easy, delicious protein!
- 1 pound jumbo shrimp (16/25 count), peeled and deveined
- 3 tablespoons olive or avocado oil, separated
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning (optional)
- Juice of a lemon
Pat the excess moisture away from the shrimp using a paper towel. Add the shrimp to a medium-sized mixing bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil, add spices and toss until evenly coated. Set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and allow it to come to temperature. Then, add one single layer of shrimp, leaving a bit of space in between each one.
Cook for about 2 minutes, then flip and cook for about 2 minutes more on the other side. Repeat the cooking process with any remaining shrimp. The shrimp are ready when completely opaque and semi-firm to the touch.
Remove from the pan and squeeze lemon over the shrimp, if desired.