No need to continue avoiding shell-on shrimp! Peeling shrimp is not as complicated as you might think. What you're about to learn is by far the easiest way to peel and devein and we're also going to talk through the best tools for the job and the quickest way to get it done without demolishing everyone's favorite dinnertime protein.
Looking for some awesome Shrimp recipes to try out your new skills? Bookmark Stuffed Shrimp in your internet browser for next time!
HOW TO PEEL AND DEVEIN SHRIMP
We will start with a quick overview of the peeling and deveining process, but if you're looking for more info, rest assured, we'll be covering all crustation questions and concerns below!
- Break | Use a paring knife or kitchen shears to make a small break in the shell.
- Peel | Then, wiggle your thumb under the shell to loosen it up and peel it away.
- Cut | Run the blade of a paring knife along the back of the shrimp to expose the vein.
- Remove | Then use the tip of the knife to pick up the vein and pull it out.
- Twist | If you'd like the tails removed, pinch the tail, twist it, and gently pull it away.
HOW TO THAW SHRIMP
Before you can peel and devein shrimp, they'll first need it to be completely thawed. If you purchased frozen shrimp, which we highly recommend using, you can thaw it quickly in a bowl of cold water.
How long it takes shrimp to thaw, depends on how many you are preparing and how large they are. On average, they will thaw out completely after sitting in a bowl of cold water for about 30 minutes.
HOW TO REMOVE THE SHELL FROM SHRIMP
I actually find peeling shrimp a bit easier if the legs are still attached. When the legs are still intact, you can easily pull them off (rugged -- but satisfying), which leaves behind a break in the shell. Then you can slide your thumb under the shell and pull it right off.
If your shrimp do not have the legs still attached, you'll want to have either a paring knife or kitchen shears on hand. Use the tip of your knife or a small snip of the scissors to make a break in the shell.
Once you have a break in the shell, slide your thumb under the shell to loosen it up, and peel it away with your fingers.
SHOULD I SAVE THE SHELLS?
Shrimp shells are often used for making shrimp broth or stock. If you're interested in making a homemade seafood soup sometime in the near future, you most definitely want to save the shells.
To save them, have ready a heavy-duty freezer-safe zip-top bag. Transfer your shrimp shells to the bag, remove the air, and seal it tightly. The shells will keep in the freezer for about three months.
WHAT IS THE DARK VEIN ON SHRIMP?
The thin black string running along the back of the shrimp is actually not a vein, but an intestinal tract, also known as a digestive tract.
It is often dark in color dark, but not always; sometimes it may appear a blushy pink. While the color is not 100% consistent, the texture is, and that texture is gritty. And, while it won't hurt you to bite into the digestive tract of the shrimp, it's... frankly, pretty gross. It's for this reason we highly recommend deveining your little aquatic friends before cooking.
HOW TO DEVEIN SHRIMP
To devein your shrimp, you'll want to have your paring knife handy. Paring knives are perfect for working with small food items, as the smaller blade makes them ideal for making precise, small cuts.
Run the blade of your paring knife along the back of the shrimp, making a smooth, shallow cut. Then, use the tip of the knife to pull the vein away.
If you have trouble removing the vein after you have loosened it with the tip of your paring knife, place the shrimp under cool running water and pull it away with your fingers.
REMOVE THE TAIL OR LEAVE THE TAIL?
Whether or not you want to leave the tails on your shrimp is completely up to you! However, it is best to consider how you are going to be using your shrimp before you start ripping tails.
If you are preparing your shrimp for a roasted shrimp cocktail, or any shrimp dish in which you will be dipping your shrimp into a sauce, you'll most likely want to leave the tails on.
On the other hand, if you are preparing shrimp for popcorn shrimp or a shrimp pasta dish, removing the tails will likely make dinner a bit easier to eat!
To remove the tails from the shrimp, pinch the tail, twist, and gently pull it away.
6 MORE SHRIMP RECIPES YOU’LL
- Shrimp Pesto Pasta
- Shrimp Quesadillas
- Air Fryer Shrimp
- Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- Garlic Butter Shrimp
- Blackened Shrimp