How to tell when shrimp is done

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Last Updated on: 23rd October 2022, 12:52 am

Shrimp are the go-to option for people who love seafood. Because these don’t require much effort to cook and can be cooked by any cooking method ranging from frying to grilling.

But the actual problem is knowing when the shrimp are done.

Whether shrimp are done or not may require some experience, but if you are new to cooking shrimp, then you can tell if shrimp are done after their color has changed from grey to pink, are C-shaped and firm in texture.

You should avoid panicking at the start because everyone has to go through this phase to become a master.

Even I struggled to differentiate a done shrimp from an undercooked one in the beginning. But over time, I have mastered it.

If you want to know when the shrimp are done, then you should consider examining the shrimp first before placing them in the frying pan.

It will give you an overview of what a raw shrimp looks like so that you can differentiate it easily from a cooked shrimp.

The doneness of shrimp is not a complex thing if you really know what you are doing.

I have researched and experimented with it over the years, and today I am going to boil down all of my experience of checking the doneness of shrimp into this article.

Let’s get started.

How to tell when shrimp is done

A properly cooked and done shrimp can be easily differentiated from an undercooked one or a raw shrimp by examining it through different methods.

You should consider taking all of its aspects into account and making the final decision after having a bird’s eye view of the shrimp.

There are various factors that are used to determine the doneness of a shrimp.

Usually, most people like to check the color, texture, and shape of shrimp while checking for doneness, but I like to go a step further and check a few other factors to make sure I am going to make an accurate decision.

The most important of these aspects are checking the temperature and getting the feel of the shrimp.

I prefer the temperature over other common factors like color and shape, because they can’t guarantee the doneness.

By checking the temperature, we can make sure that the shrimp is safe to eat.

We are going to explain each aspect in detail, and after the end of this article, you will be able to tell the doneness of a shrimp.

But we want to stress the fact that don’t make your decision about doneness on the basis of a single factor; rather, you should consider examining all the factors in relation to each to make sure that the final decision has higher accuracy.

Let’s get started


After cooking the shrimp, the first factor that you are going to examine is its color.

If you have been cooking shrimp for some time, then you will be able to distinguish a done shrimp from an uncooked one by just having a glance.

Raw shrimp are usually grey or translucent, and you can see right through them.The translucent color of shrimp is due to the presence of a pigment inside their membrane.

When the shrimp is exposed to heat, the membrane is denatured and the pigment is lost.

The loss of pigment results in the change of the color of shrimp from translucent to pink.

When a shrimp is done cooking, it will have a pink color or enough pink dots to make it translucent.

If the shrimp has not been deveined, then you can check if the vein is visible or not.

If it is deveined, then it will allow you to examine the internal color of the shrimp. If the color is still translucent without any pink dots, then you should consider cooking shrimp for some time.

If the color has changed to pink, then you should consider examining the shrimp from other aspects.

The color change is really effective in telling the doneness of shrimp, but if you are using some sauces or other liquids while cooking shrimp, then it can be difficult to differentiate the color change.

But you can still detect it on careful examination.


After examining the color of the shrimp, you should move forward and examine its texture to decide if it’s done yet or not.

If you have ever seen a raw shrimp, then you might know that raw shrimp is fleshy and soft.

When the shrimp is done, it has a firm texture. You can check it by touching the surface of the shrimp.

If the shrimp is firm and not loosy, then it might have lost enough moisture to be cooked properly.

But if it’s too tough, then it means you might have overcooked it.

You can also use a fork to test the firmness of shrimp. You should consider inserting the fork into the shrimp.

If the fork enters the shrimp without any effort, then the shrimp is done. If the shrimp slips a little bit, then it is undercooked.


Shape is another important factor when checking the doneness of shrimp. Some people even like to make the decision of doneness solely based on the shape of the shrimp.

The shape change also shows that the shrimp is done.

Raw shrimp have a straight or slightly curly shape that can be straightened with some effort.

But once it is done, the shrimp is c-shaped and can’t be straightened. While on the flip side, if the shrimp has an o or 9 shape, then it’s overcooked.

The shape change of shrimp is due to the evaporation of moisture and tightening of the protein crystals present within the shrimp.

When the shrimp is heated, the moisture evaporates and the shrimp shrinks in size while making a curly shape.

If the shrimp are overcooked, they become o-shaped with a rubbery texture. The shape of a shrimp is an effective and widely used method for determining its doneness.

If the shrimp is C-shaped, then you can tell that it is done.


If you have examined the color, shape, and texture of the shrimp carefully, then you might have already made your decision of doneness.

But I personally like to check the internal temperature of shrimp to tell if it’s done or not.

There are two types of temperatures when it comes to cooking shrimp inside a pan or on a grill. The first one is the temperature of the grill at which the shrimp are being cooked.

But the second and most important factor is the internal temperature of shrimp.

The appearance of shrimp gives us an overview of if the shrimp has been exposed to heat or not, but make sure to check the internal temperature to verify that the temperature was high enough to kill the pathogens.

It is normal for shrimp to have pathogens inside them when they’re raw.

But after cooking, if the shrimp is done, we expect that the pathogens have been killed. These pathogens are hazardous to health if consumed.

According to industry experts, the shrimp should have an internal temperature of 165°F to kill pathogens.

You can check the internal temperature by poking the probe of an instant thermometer into your shrimp.

You should take the shrimp from the grill or whatever you are cooking on and insert the probe into the central area.

You should make sure to take the shrimp off the grill because the rack temperature can affect the measurements and the reading can become faulty.

While cooking the shrimp in a pan requires stirring, you should consider pouring the shrimp into some dish and checking the temperature.

the shrimp are in the dish, then it’s more accurate and easy to measure the temperature.

Speaking of accuracy, you should consider using a good quality thermometer to measure the temperature, which can provide an accurate reading of the internal temperature.

Moreover, consider calibrating it from time to time to make sure you are getting an accurate reading.

You should keep in mind that there are some cases in which the internal temperature of shrimp will not reach 165°F.

The most common of these is less cooking time for the shrimp, due to which shrimp can dry out if heated to higher temperatures.

In this case, you should consider adding some water along with the shrimp to make sure it gets to 165°F.

It’s really important to heat the shrimp to higher temperatures because heat can kill the pathogens present inside the shrimp.


After you have checked the internal temperature of the shrimp, you should also consider taking into account the time for which the shrimp has been cooked.

Usually, shrimp require 1-3 minutes per side to cook properly.

Time can vary depending on the temperature at which you are cooking, but it’s an important factor to consider.

If the shrimp has been cooked for 1-4 minutes, then it should be done by the time you are checking for doneness because shrimp keep cooking even after removing from the pan.


After you have examined all the nitty gritty of the shrimp, you should have a clear decision on the doneness of the shrimp by now.

Flavor is also an important method to check the doneness, but you should also perform it at the end.

The reason is that if the shrimp is undercooked, it might affect your health. Checking the temperature of shrimp is extremely important.

Prior to eating shrimp, make sure that the pathogens have been killed.

By having a bite of the cooked shrimp, you can easily tell if it’s done or not. If the shrimp is undercooked, then it will not be edible.

Moreover, if the shrimp is cooked properly, then it should be edible and tender.

Get the feel of shrimp

After you have thoroughly analyzed the appearance and texture of shrimp, you might be able to discern if the shrimp have been cooked yet or not.

But based on your situation and personal choice on how you want your shrimp to be, you should get the shrimp feel.

Getting the feel might sound philosophical, but by this we mean checking the doneness based on your personal decision experience.

You should consider tasting the shrimp, palpating its surface, and analyzing its appearance to see if it’s done or not.

If you have been smoking seafood for some time, then you should be able to easily distinguish a raw shrimp from a done one.

You can even try to check the odor of the shrimp to check the doneness. A well-done shrimp will have the smell of different sauces and marinades.

Final Verdict

Shrimp have a really soft texture and require a little time for cooking, due to which the margin of error is really low.

If the cooking time exceeds a little bit, then you might end up with overcooked shrimp, which might not be edible.

But by following the right practices and the methods described above, you can easily differentiate between a cooked shrimp and an uncooked one.

This decision should be made after taking into account all the aspects of the shrimp.

You can tell if the shrimp is done or not by examining its color and texture without much effort. A done shrimp will have a pink color with a firm texture and a C-shaped body.

You should also consider taking other factors into account before making a final decision.

if you are interested in digging deeper into checking doneness ,then don’t forget read our article on when to pull brisket off smoker

Jakob miller
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