Shrimp is one of the most popular types of seafood around the world. The delicious taste and versatility of shrimp lends itself well to a variety of dishes, from shrimp cocktail appetizers to main entrees like shrimp scampi pasta or jambalaya. With their sweet, briny flavor and tender meat, shrimp can be prepared boiled, fried, grilled, baked and more.
But like any type of seafood, proper storage is crucial for shrimp. Eating spoiled or contaminated shrimp can cause foodborne illnesses. So how long does cooked shrimp last in the fridge or freezer? And what’s the shelf life for raw shrimp?
I’ll cover all the details on shrimp freshness and storage methods in this article. I’ll also share tips on how to tell if shrimp has gone bad, and recipes for eating up shrimp before it spoils. After reading, you’ll be a pro at maximizing shrimp freshness and avoiding waste.
What Exactly is Shrimp?
First, let’s start with the basics – shrimp refers to a type of small shellfish and saltwater crustacean with an exoskeleton. Although there are thousands of shrimp species, most shrimp fit into two main classifications:
- Penaeid shrimp – found in warmer saltwater climates. Most farm-raised and wild-caught shrimp eaten in the U.S. are Penaeid shrimp.
- Caridean shrimp – found in colder water climates. Think of shrimp like pink shrimp and spot prawns.
Shrimp are high in protein, low in fat, and rich in vitamins and minerals like selenium, vitamin B12 and iodine.
Here are some other interesting shrimp facts:
- China exports the largest amount of shrimp in the world, with over 2 million metric tons exported each year.
- The United States imports the most shrimp of any country, with over 760,000 metric tons of shrimp imported annually.
- Unlike most seafood which is caught wild, over 75% of shrimp consumed worldwide is farm-raised rather than wild-caught.
- The Southern United States, especially states like Louisiana and Florida, lead U.S. shrimp production.
Now that you know what shrimp is and where it comes from, let’s get into the details on storing, freezing, cooking and spotting spoiled shrimp.
How to Properly Cook Delicious Shrimp
Before discussing storage, it’s helpful to review proper cooking methods for shrimp. The right prep and cooking techniques help bring out shrimp’s signature sweet, briny taste and tender texture.
Here are two popular cooking methods:
Boiling is one of the easiest ways to prepare shrimp perfectly. Follow these steps:
- Clean fresh shrimp by removing shells, tails and veins. Rinse.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Add shrimp and cook until pink and opaque, about 3-4 minutes for medium sized shrimp. Jumbo shrimp may need 6-8 minutes.
- Drain and serve peeled or with shells on.
The high heat of the grill caramelizes the shrimp for delicious flavor. Follow these instructions:
- Prepare your grill by heating to medium high and oiling the grates.
- Rinse jumbo raw shrimp and pat dry. Leave tails on for easy handling.
- Toss shrimp with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Thread onto skewers.
- Grill shrimp 2-3 minutes per side until opaque and slightly charred.
- Serve shrimp skewers hot off the grill.
Grilled shrimp also taste amazing in tacos, salads and pasta. Now let’s get into the details on storage time.
Can You Eat Cooked Shrimp After 5 Days?
How long shrimp lasts depends on whether it’s raw or cooked, and if it’s being stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
Here are the details on shrimp shelf life:
- Cooked shrimp keeps for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Freeze for 10-12 months.
- Raw shrimp keeps 1-2 days in the refrigerator. Freeze for 3-6 months.
So in the fridge, cooked shrimp lasts for 3-4 days after cooking. You can eat it on day 5, but it will be approaching its limit.
For maximum freshness, freeze any cooked shrimp you don’t eat within 3-4 days.
Next I’ll explain how to freeze shrimp properly.
Storing Cooked and Raw Shrimp
To get the full shelf life while maintaining taste and texture, follow these guidelines:
Freezing is the best storage method for long term shrimp freshness.
For cooked shrimp:
- Let shrimp cool completely after cooking.
- Portion shrimp into airtight freezer bags or containers. Remove air.
- Freeze for up to 12 months. Thaw overnight in fridge before using.
For raw shrimp:
- Place raw shrimp in original packaging or airtight bags.
- Press out excess air and freeze for 3-6 months.
- Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.
The refrigerator preserves shrimp for shorter term storage.
For cooked shrimp:
- Refrigerate cooked shrimp in an airtight container and eat within 3-4 days.
For raw shrimp:
- Store raw shrimp in original breathable packaging.
- Use within 1-2 days for peak freshness.
With proper chilling or freezing methods, you can enjoy shrimp when you crave it.
How To Tell If Shrimp Has Gone Bad
Shrimp that has gone bad can make you sick, so it’s important to watch for signs of spoilage.
Here’s what bad shrimp looks and smells like:
- Slimy texture – Fresh shrimp should feel firm. Discard shrimp with a slimy, mushy feel.
- Grey/dull color – Shrimp flesh should be shiny, translucent white when raw, and pink-orange when cooked.
- Fishy, sour or ammonia smell – Shrimp naturally has a seafood smell that gets stronger over time. Foul, sour or ammonia odors mean shrimp has spoiled.
- Discoloration – Look for black spots or dull, yellowish discoloration.
- Dry, shriveled texture – Shrimp dries out as it ages. Rehydrating won’t make it fresh.
When in doubt, remember the old saying: “When shrimp is off, it’s really off.” Play it safe and throw away shrimp with any signs of spoilage.
Consequences of Eating Spoiled Shrimp
Eating shrimp that’s gone bad puts you at risk for food poisoning.
Potential symptoms if you eat bad shrimp include:
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Headache, dizziness, fever
- Rash, itching
In severe cases, bad shrimp can cause shellfish poisoning. See a doctor immediately if shrimp poisoning symptoms persist or worsen.
Prevent problems by learning to identify bad shrimp and adhering to proper storage times. Check shrimp packaging for safe use-by dates.
When kept chilled at 40°F or below, fresh raw shrimp has a refrigerator shelf life of just 1-2 days. It’s easy to miss the short prime window for enjoyment.
So what should you do if your shrimp is about to go bad? Don’t waste it! Instead, use it in a delicious recipe.
Quick and Easy Shrimp Recipes
Running up against the limit of shrimp freshness? Use it pronto in a tasty dish:
- Shrimp fried rice – Stir-fry shrimp with rice, eggs, peas and diced carrot. Drizzle with soy sauce.
- Shrimp soup – Simmer raw shrimp in chicken or veggie broth with greens, tomatoes and pasta.
- Shrimp salad wraps – Fill tortillas with cooked shrimp, avocado, lettuce, tomato and a spritz of lime.
- Shrimp and grits – Sauté shrimp with garlic, lemon and Cajun