How to Cook Shrimp on the Stove

Wondering how to cook shrimp? Here’s a quick tutorial on how to saute shrimp on the stove: and it takes only 4 minutes to cook!

How to cook shrimp

Are you a shrimp fan? Alex and I eat a mostly plant based diet, but we occasionally eat some seafood as well. And one of our very favorite choices of seafood is shrimp: for obvious reasons. There are endless ways to eat it (tacos, grilled skewers, with couscous), and the quick cooking time makes it perfect for weeknight meals. Cooking time 2 to 4 minutes? Yes, please! Easily the quickest way to cook shrimp is on the stove: it couldn’t be simpler. Here’s how to cook shrimp: our simple stove method, and a few other ways we like to eat it.

Related: Broiled Salmon with Bourbon Glaze

How to cook shrimp

How to cook shrimp

Cooking shrimp on the stove is one of the easiest ways to prepare it! You can cook shrimp on the stove peeled or unpeeled, whatever your preference! If you’re using frozen shrimp, make sure it’s fully thawed (see below). For this method, we’ve used a simple blend of seasonings: minced fresh garlic and butter. It’s simple, classic, and hits the mark every time.

Here’s how to cook shrimp on the stove:

  1. If using frozen shrimp, thaw it completely.
  2. Pat the shrimp dry and mix it with minced garlic and salt.
  3. In a large skillet, melt a few tablespoons butter. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until opaque and cooked through, turning with tongs.
  4. Spritz with fresh lemon or lime juice (optional). Serve immediately!

Scroll down for the full recipe!

Saute pan

How to thaw frozen shrimp

How to thaw frozen shrimp? There are a few different options: if you think ahead, simply place the frozen shrimp in the refrigerator overnight.

If you’re using them the day of (which is what we normally do!), place the frozen shrimp into a large bowl with very cold water. Stir the bowl every 5 minutes to break up clumps of shrimp that freeze together. The shrimp should be defrosted in about 15 minutes.

How to cook shrimp

How to buy sustainable shrimp

Finally, a little note on how to buy sustainable shrimp. Alex and I try to buy sustainable seafood where possible. In researching how to buy sustainable seafood, Alex and I have learned to look for wild-caught fish if possible. Also if you live in the US, look for US caught if you can. 90% of the seafood we eat in the US is imported. Imported seafood runs the risk of being overfished, caught under unfair labor practices, or farmed in environmentally harmful ways.

Also, how your fish is caught matters. Look for hook and line as one example of a sustainable gear type. Bottom trawling is considered the most destructive and least sustainable method.

Fresh vs. frozen shrimp: which is better?

If you’re wondering about fresh vs. frozen shrimp, frozen is okay too! A myth about fish is that “fresh is best.” As soon as an animal dies it begins to decompose; freezing suspends this process. If a fish is frozen when it was caught and stays frozen until it gets to your kitchen, it will be higher quality than a raw fish that has taken a week to get to your plate.

Seafood tacos

How to serve sauteed shrimp

Once you’ve made the recipe below and cooked your shrimp on the stovetop, how to serve it? There are a multitude of ways to serve shrimp; here are some of our favorite ways to accessorize this recipe:

  • Shrimp Tacos: Toss them in a tortilla with cabbage, red onion, fresh lime juice, and our shrimp taco sauce
  • Over Polenta: Serve them over creamy polenta for a make-shift shrimp and grits (or for dairy-free, use vegan polenta).
  • On a Salad: Throw them on a salad to make a main dish salad bowl meal, like Shrimp Cobb Salad or Tropical Shrimp Salad.
  • With Broccoli: Try this Best Steamed Broccoli, bright green, crisp tender and served with feta cheese (or try it in the Instant Pot).

And that’s it: how to cook shrimp!

Scroll down to our recipe for the exact steps on how to cook shrimp on the stove!

And looking for more ways to cook shrimp? Scroll down to below the recipe for a list of our favorite ways.

This recipe is…

Pescatarian and gluten free. For dairy free, use olive oil.

How to Cook Shrimp on the Stove

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  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x
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Wondering how to cook shrimp? Here’s a quick tutorial on how to saute shrimp on the stove: and it takes only 4 minutes to cook!



  • 1 pound large shrimp, deveined (peeled or unpeeled)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 2 lemon wedges (or lime)
  • Torn cilantro or parsley, for garnish


  1. Thaw the shrimp (see the notes above).
  2. Mince the garlic.
  3. Pat the shrimp dry. In a medium bowl, mix the shrimp with the garlic and salt.
  4. In a large skillet, heat the butter or olive oil on medium high heat. Cook the shrimp for 1 to 2 minutes per side until opaque and cooked through, turning them with tongs.
  5. Spritz with juice of the lemon wedges and serve immediately.

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