How to Tell if Shrimp is Cooked? (One Hack You Need to Know!)

image of sign of perfectly cooked shrimp

Shrimp recipes are a delight to prepare. They are versatile, delicious, and take only a few minutes to cook. But here’s the problem—it’s so tricky to cook right! Overcook it, and you get tough and chewy shrimp. On the other hand, undercook it, and you get food poisoning. So how do you tell if shrimp is cooked?

Short answer:

You’ll know that the shrimp is already fully cooked once the translucent flesh at the thickest part of the shrimp becomes opaque.

That’s it! That’s the only hack you need.

But if you want the long answer, we have those too!

Keep reading to know the other signs that can help tell if shrimp is cooked.  

image of cooked shrimp looks like

How to Tell if Shrimp is Cooked?

Heads up, we have a hack coming through!

The simplest way to tell if shrimp is cooked is to look at the thickest part of the shrimp—the part opposite to the tail. Once that translucent part becomes opaque, the shrimp is already done.

This one’s the easy route. But if you want to go the long route, here are the other signs to look for:

Change In The Flesh’s and Shell’s Color

The shrimp is cooked when the shell’s color turns greyish or brownish to orangeish and reddish. On the other hand, the flesh should also have an opaque milky white appearance with tinges of pink and oranges.

  • Pro Tip: The flesh should have a pearlescent color. If it already looks dull or matte white, it’s already overcooked.

Curved C Shape

Raw shrimp is straight. While cooking, it will start to shrink and curve inward. Once the shrimp takes on a Curved C or oval shape, it’s already cooked through, so take it off the heat immediately.

  • Pro Tip: When the shrimp is shaped like an O, it might already be overcooked.

Tender Feel

After cooking, try to pinch the shrimp’s body. If it feels soft yet a bit tender, it’s already done cooking.

  • Pro Tip: If the shrimp feel springy, slimy, or bouncy, it’s undercooked. On the other hand, it’s overcooked if it feels rubbery or tough.

Internal Temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit

If you’re still not sure if the shrimp is already cooked, the last thing you can do is use a thermometer to check its internal temperature.

As per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, shrimp and fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. (*)

  • Pro Tip: Stick the food thermometer into the shrimp’s thickest part and wait for 5 to 15 seconds before reading the temperature.

Learn more:

Can You Eat Undercooked Shrimp?

No, undercooked shrimp is dangerous for your health. This is especially true for pregnant women, children, and anyone with weak immune systems.

Eating raw or undercooked shrimp should be avoided at all costs because it may cause the following foodborne illnesses:


This is a foodborne illness caused by a marine bacterium often found in undercooked or raw seafood.

Its symptoms include watery diarrhea, fever, chills, and fever.


This is an intestinal infection caused by the cholera bacteria, which often spread through raw and undercooked shrimp.

The symptoms to watch out for include thirst, leg cramps, profuse watery diarrhea (rice-water stools), vomiting, and restlessness.    

Learn more: Can You Eat Raw Shrimp?

What Are The Mistakes To Avoid When Cooking Shrimp?

Undercook shrimp, and you’ll get a foodborne illness. Overcook it, and you get rubbery and tough shrimp.

If you want to enjoy shrimp in all its sweet and tender glory, you should cook it right! To do that, here are some mistakes that you should avoid:

Overcooking The Shrimp

This is the most common shrimp cooking mistake.

Compared to meat and poultry, shrimp and fish cook much faster because they are smaller. Also, the connective tissues that hold them together are much thinner, so they become tougher faster.

  • Pro Tip: To avoid overcooking shrimp, cook the shrimp for only 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Not Seasoning or Marinating The Shrimp

Since it’s a highly prized protein, most people think there’s no use in seasoning or marinating shrimp. However, shrimp only has a subtle and mild flavor, so you would end up with a bland meal if you don’t season or marinate it.

  • Pro Tip: So go ahead and season your shrimp with all spices or marinades imaginable—gochujang, salt, pepper, chili flakes, and many more!

Learn more: What to Cook with Shrimp: 24 Shrimp-ly Amazing Recipes to try!

Not Using Skewers When Grilling Shrimp

If you want to infuse a smoky flavor into your shrimp, grilling it is the way to go. But before you throw them into the grill, make sure that you put them in skewers first.

Doing so can prevent the shrimp from falling in the spaces between the grills. Not only that, flipping skewered shrimps is a lot easier than flipping the shrimps one by one.

Last but not least, putting them in skewers is a great and presentable way to serve grilled shrimps.

Not Deveining The Shrimp

The shrimp’s vein is the black strip that runs along its back. While it’s not harmful, it might bring undesirable flavor or texture to the dish.

Because of this, you must devein the shrimp before cooking it. (*)

  • Pro Tip: You can use a shrimp cleaner tool to make things easier.  

Improper Thawing

Thawing the shrimp in the microwave can alter its texture. On the other hand, placing them at room temperature overnight can increase their risk of spoilage.

The best way to thaw shrimp is to place it in a coriander inside a bowl. After that, put it in the refrigerator overnight.

Final Words

So how to tell if shrimp is cooked? Simple, you can look at its texture, color, shape, and internal temperature.

Or if you’re in a hurry, you can simply check the thickest part of the shrimp. Once it turns opaque, remove it from heat right away. That’s the best hack to knowing if the shrimp is already cooked.

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