How to Boil Shrimp (Quick + Easy Recipe)

Learn How to Boil Shrimp for shrimp cocktail, party snacks, and more! This easy cooking method is practically foolproof and fun to customize.

If you want to cook shrimp without them turning to rubber, follow this guide to learn How to Boil Shrimp. It’s a quick, easy, and foolproof method. The flavors are fun to play with, too!

The method is as simple as it sounds: the shrimp are cooked in a pot of boiling water along with flavorful aromatics, then transferred to an ice bath once they turn pink.

From there, the shrimp are ready to be dipped into tangy remoulade sauce, seafood boil sauce, cocktail sauce, or layered on shrimp sushi bowls, or served wherever you need a healthy, delicious protein.

MORE → 20+ 🌟 sauces for shrimp 🌟

Did I mention it’s all said and done in less than 10 minutes? The quick cooking time is just one of the many benefits of boiled shrimp. You’ll never want to go back to grilled or pan fried again!

Uncooked shrimp in collander.

Ingredients needed

Think of boiled shrimp as a blank canvas. You can incorporate all kinds of flavors using herbs, spices, and aromatics. If you’re just getting started, stick to these easy ingredients:

  • Shrimp – Choose the size of your choice; shrimp usually come in colossal, jumbo, extra large, large, medium, small, and miniature. I used large (16-20 count) shrimp for this recipe and removed the peel and vein before boiling (watch this video to learn how to peel and devein shrimp) but kept the tails in place. Pro tip: If you’re using a larger variety of shrimp, always remove the vein (AKA the shrimp’s digestive track) first as it can have a gritty texture and ruin the flavor.
  • Water – For boiling of course! If you want to get creative, boil the shrimp in seafood stock or beer instead.
  • Lemon – A halved lemon is boiled in the water to infuse the shrimp with a deliciously bright flavor. Feel free to experiment with more aromatics in the boiling water, like bay leaves, peppercorns, or garlic cloves.
  • Salt – To season the shrimp as they boil. 
Slotted spoon taking shrimp out of boiling water.

How to boil shrimp

Bring a large pot of water up to a boil on the stove. Once it starts to boil, add the lemon halves and salt, then the shrimp. 

While you wait, fill a bowl with cold water and ice.

Cook the shrimp until they turn from gray to pink. When they’re done, immediately transfer them to the ice bath to cool.

Remove the shrimp from the ice bath when completely cool and pat them dry. Serve them with cocktail sauce for dipping or anywhere else you love to eat shrimp!

Recipe FAQs

How long do you boil shrimp?

This depends on the size of the shrimp you use, but they likely won’t need to be boiled for longer than 8 minutes. The large shrimp I used here only took 2 to 3 minutes to cook.

How do you know when shrimp is done boiling?

You’ll know the shrimp are cooked and ready to be transferred to the ice bath when they turn from gray and translucent to a light pink color. Here’s my full post on how to tell when shrimp are done.

Can you boil frozen shrimp instead of fresh?

Yes, this recipe works just as well with frozen shrimp. Make sure to thaw them first in the fridge overnight or by placing the bag of frozen shrimp in a bowl filled with cold water.

Boiled shrimp in blue bowl next to lemon wedges.

Serving suggestions

If you’re wondering what to do with your boiled shrimp, shrimp cocktail is the best way to go! Pair the large boiled shrimp with either cocktail sauce or any of these flavorful dipping sauces:

Feel free to make it a meal by serving your shrimp cocktail with any of these 37+ Side Dishes for Shrimp.

More ways to serve boiled shrimp

Storing boiled shrimp

  • Any leftover shrimp can be stored in a shallow airtight container in the fridge for 1 to 2 days.

Wine pairings

  • Chardonnay has hints of butter and citrus that pair amazingly well with shrimp.
  • Sauvignon Blanc has bright citrus and herbal notes that pair perfectly with the lemon that’s squeezed over the shrimp.
  • Pinot Grigio and Pinot Blanc are a nice match with their crisp minerality and citrus notes.
  • For something unexpected, and budget friendly, try a Vinho Verde.
Side view of boiled shrimp on serving tray with cocktail sauce.

More helpful how-to guides

More shrimp recipes

​​Did you make this boiled shrimp recipe?

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Shrimp, lemon wedges and cocktail sauce arranged in tray with cocktail forks.

How to Boil Shrimp

Learn How to Boil Shrimp for shrimp cocktail, party snacks, and more! This easy cooking method is practically foolproof and fun to customize.
5 from 3 votes
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Cooling Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 people


  • 1 pound large shrimp (16 to 20 count, peeled and deveined, tail on)
  • 1 lemon (halved)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (plus more for serving)
  • Lemon wedges (for serving)


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil (about 2 quarts).
  • Prepare a bowl of ice water.
  • Once the water is boiling, add the lemon halves and salt, along with the shrimp.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes (depending on the size of your shrimp), until pink.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon to the bowl of ice water to let cool.
  • Serve with cocktail sauce, remoulade sauce, or drawn butter.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!


Slotted Spoon
Large Bowl


Calories: 95kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.003g | Sodium: 1163mg | Potassium: 38mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 6IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 0.2mg

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