This Is the Right Way To Peel Shrimp

We make peeling and deveining shrimp easier in four simple steps.

You’re home from the store with a couple pounds of shrimp, ready to assemble a spicy shrimp boil, crispy coconut shrimp, or a veggie-packed bowl of shrimp poke—but first, you’ve got to peel them. No need to be intimidated or regret not buying the pre-peeled variety; we’ve got peeling and deveining shrimp down to four easy steps.

How to peel and devein shrimp
Illustration: Matt Caserta

Step 1. Pull or chop off the head and pull off the legs.

Step 2. Slide your thumb under the shell from the bottom and pull the shell off in one piece (and save those shells for a flavor-packed stock).

Step 3. If your prepping for a handheld appetizer, like coconut shrimp, keep the tail on. For all other dishes, go ahead and pinch the tail and pull it off.

Step 4. Skim a paring knife along the dark vein on the shrimp's back, making a shallow cut. Pull at the vein with the knife, starting at the top, and remove with your fingers.

Is it cheaper to buy shrimp with shells?

Buying shrimp shell-on (or even EZ-peel shrimp, if you’re just starting out) knocks down the price compared to pre-peeled shrimp. Once you’re done peeling, save the shells and heads for creamy shrimp bisque or savory shrimp stock that will add depth and flavor to a bouillabaisse, paella, or seafood gumbo.

When do I defrost the shrimp?

If your shell-on shrimp are frozen, start defrosting them in the fridge (in a colander, with a bowl underneath to catch the water) the night before you peel and cook them.

Should I always devein shrimp?

If you’re short on time, it’s alright to skip the deveining—it’s less of a health concern and more of an aesthetic choice. But if you do devein your shrimp, running them under cold water while you devein helps speed up the process, a line cook at Nobu Dallas told Bon Appetit.

Easy Shrimp Recipes

Once your shrimp are peeled, deveined, and prepped, choose from one of our hundreds of recipes with shrimp as the star. Fire up the grill for a perfectly charred Grilled Shrimp Satay, go tropical with our Pineapple Fried Rice with Spam and Shrimp (served in a pineapple!), or indulge in a taste of a summer boardwalk with our Mini Shrimp Rolls—you can’t go wrong with America’s favorite seafood.

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