Raw shrimp (previously frozen) start out with just a little curl to their shape. I wouldn’t call them straight but with just a little pressure, you can straighten them out. When you cook shrimp, they naturally start to curl.

According to what I’ve recently learned, when they form a C-shape, they are perfectly cooked. However, if you let them continue to cook, they will twist into an O-shape signifying they are overcooked.

An easy way to remember this is C-shaped stands for “cooked” and O-shaped stands for “overcooked”.

This looks like a promising technique for telling when shrimp are cooked to perfection but what if you have them on skewers for shrimp kabob? The shrimp aren’t going to curl any because of the skewer so I’d suggest you go back to the Color technique and over time resort to my last technique….

Perfectly Cooked C-Shape Shrimp

Perfectly Cooked C-Shape Shrimp

Over Cooked O-Shaped Shrimp

Over Cooked O-Shaped Shrimp


The more you cook shrimp or any ingredient for that matter, the more you’ll being able to tell when something is done, by experience. Not only using all your senses including sight, touch, smell or even hearing but a feeling of “just knowing” when something is done.

This technique comes with time and lots of experience. The more you cook shrimp using the techniques above, the sooner you’ll be able to “just know” when it feels like it’s done and ready to plate. I pay attention to this feeling every time I cook and sometimes get it right and sometimes wrong knowing I’ll be better next time.


Shells On or Off – Cooking time is longer with shell on so you have to adjust cooking time accordingly. In my opinion leaving the shells on helps retain flavor and moisture but shell on or off really depends on the dish.

If I’m adding shrimp to a pasta or rice dish, I’ll usually remove the peels but if I’m serving a bowl of seasoned boiled or steamed shrimp, I like to leave the shells on.

Size – The size of the shrimp will affect how long they take to cook but if you use the techniques above, you should be able to get great results. Remember, the smaller shrimp will cook much faster so you really need to keep an eye on them.

Heat – I find shrimp does better with a higher heat cooking methods like grilling or pan frying. When I slow cook shrimp in a braise or crock pot recipe, it’s almost impossible to keep the shrimp from overcooking unless you add them right at the end. Same with a shrimp risotto. The shrimp is the last ingredient to be added so it can cook from the heat of the risotto and it doesn’t take long.

Written by mehdicrt


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