How to Steam Shrimp: A Quick & Delicious Seafood Dish!

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shrimp in steamer basket
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Do you love seafood but don’t have the time to prepare it? Steamed shrimp is a delicious and convenient way to enjoy fresh seafood without hassle. Create restaurant-quality dishes at home with minimal effort by learning how to steam shrimp. Learn how to steam shrimp perfectly every time, plus get some tasty serving suggestions for this versatile dish.

Table of Contents:

What Is Steamed Shrimp?

Steamed shrimp is a cooking method that uses steam to cook the seafood. It’s an easy, healthy way to prepare shrimp and other types of shellfish like lobster or crab. To cook steamed shrimp, add the seafood to a pot with boiling water in a steamer basket. The heat from the boiling water cooks the seafood without needing any additional oil or butter. This makes steamed shrimp an ideal option for those looking for low-fat options when preparing their favorite dishes.

The definition of steamed shrimp can be summed up as simply using hot vapor (steam) for cooking seafood instead of frying it in oil, butter, or boiling water. Cooking with steam allows for the preservation of more nutrients than other methods, as no fat is added and less liquid evaporates. Consequently, you reap the benefits of more flavor and nutrients from your meal.

The Benefits of Steaming Seafood

It’s a healthier alternative to frying or grilling, requiring less clean-up time and energy consumption while ensuring minimal shrinkage. Moreover, steam only reaches 212F, so the chances of burning your food are slim – even whole lobsters and crabs can be cooked without sacrificing flavor. Plus, it takes substantially less time than other cooking methods, making it an economical choice as well as an environmentally friendly one. All in all, this makes steaming seafood a no-brainer for any savvy chef looking to make tasty yet healthy dishes with ease. 

Here are some of the most popular types of shrimp you can cook:

Small Varieties

Whiteleg shrimps (Penaeus vannamei)

Tiger prawns (Penaeus monodon)

Brown shrimps (Crangon crangon)

Large Varieties

King prawns (Melicertus latisulcatus)

Pink shrimps (Pandalus borealis)

Other types

Rock lobsters/spiny lobsters/langostinos (Panulirus argus)

Snow crabs (Chionoecetes opilio)

Dungeness crabs (Metacarcinus magister)

Ensure you recognize the type of shrimp before beginning to cook, as each species requires a distinct amount of time.

Cooking shrimp via steaming is an excellent way to experience the taste and texture of seafood without compromises. To ensure the best outcome, it’s important to know how to prepare steamed shrimp correctly.

Key Takeaway: Steaming is an easy, healthy, and economical cooking method that involves boiling water in a pot with a steamer basket to cook seafood without using fat. It preserves more nutrients than other methods, such as frying or grilling, while requiring less clean-up time and energy consumption. This makes it the perfect choice for savvy chefs looking to whip up delicious yet nutritious dishes.

How to Prepare Steamed Shrimp

Cooking up shrimp using steam is a tasty and nutritious option for enjoying seafood. It’s easy to prepare, and with the right ingredients, you can create a dish that will have your family asking for seconds.

Choosing the Right Ingredients:

When selecting shrimp for steaming, it’s important to choose fresh, high-quality shrimp. Look for wild-caught or sustainably farmed varieties if possible. Choose peeled and deveined raw shrimp if available; otherwise, purchase whole raw shrimp and peel them yourself. If buying frozen shrimp, make sure they are thawed before cooking.

Preparing the Shrimp for Steaming:

Once you’ve chosen your ingredients, you need to prep them before steaming. Start by rinsing any dirt or debris outside the shrimp using cold water; then pat dry with paper towels. Peel off any shells still attached to the body of each individual shrimp, then devein them (if necessary). 

Finally, season as desired – some popular options include garlic powder, paprika, or Old Bay seasoning – before placing it into a steamer basket inside your pot or pan of choice filled with 2 inches of boiling water beneath it.

Once all the necessary ingredients are ready, it’s time to begin cooking. Place your covered pot over medium heat until steam escapes under the lid. This should take about 5 minutes, depending on the size and quantity of cooked shrimp. Reduce the heat slightly after this point so as not to overcook the shrimp.

When done properly, they’ll turn pinkish-orange in color, indicating a fully cooked state. Remove immediately from the heat source and transfer onto a plate lined with a paper towel, allowing excess moisture and steam to evaporate away, leaving behind perfectly cooked deliciousness ready to be enjoyed.

Key Takeaway: Using fresh, high-quality shrimp, steam them for 3-5 minutes to achieve a pinkish-orange hue before transferring them onto paper towels and savoring the perfectly cooked seafood delight. It’s as easy as pie.

Tips for Perfectly Cooked Steam Shrimp

Timing is Everything

When cooking steamed shrimp, timing is key. To ensure that your shrimp are cooked perfectly, you must pay close attention to the clock. Depending on the size of your shrimp, they will only take a few minutes to cook through. Take them out of the heat promptly, as they can quickly become rubbery and tough if overcooked. It’s best to err on the side of caution and check them every minute or so until they are done.

Don’t Overcook Your Shrimp

Another important tip for perfectly cooked steamed shrimp is not overcooking them. As mentioned before, if you leave them in too long, they can become rubbery and tough, which nobody wants. To avoid this problem altogether, be sure to set a timer when steaming your shrimp and keep an eye on it throughout the process. Test one of the larger pieces with a fork or knife after each minute has passed.

Flavor Them Properly

The last tip for perfectly cooked steamed shrimp is flavoring them. Add a squeeze of lemon or a sprinkle of garlic powder during cooking, followed by fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro to garnish, which can take your steamed shrimp from ordinary to extraordinary. Experimenting with different seasonings will help bring out even more deliciousness in your seafood dish.

Cooking steamed shrimp is an easy way to enjoy a delicious seafood meal. Now let’s explore some ideas for serving up this tasty treat.

Serving Suggestions for Steamed Shrimp

Steamed shrimp is an easy and delicious way to prepare seafood. Steamed shrimp can be served as a main, side, or even appetizer and snack. The key to perfectly cooked steamed shrimp is timing and not overcooking the delicate flesh of the shrimp. Here are some tips for serving up delicious steamed shrimp dishes that will have your guests coming back for more.

Appetizers and Snacks with Steamed Shrimp:

Steamed shrimp makes a great addition to any appetizer spread or snack platter. For a light yet flavorful starter, try steaming small jumbo shrimps with garlic butter sauce on top. Serve them warm alongside fresh vegetables like carrots, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber slices.

For something hearty but still healthy, combine steamed shrimp with diced avocado cubes tossed in olive oil vinaigrette dressing over mixed greens salad leaves. Serve the shrimp as part of a starter platter with cured meats, olives, roasted red peppers, feta cheese chunks, artichoke hearts, and grilled zucchini slices, accompanied by small portions of focaccia or ciabatta bread.

For a meal with some added kick, sauté bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and snow peas in sesame oil before adding steamed shrimp. Serve this up over brown basmati rice or quinoa pilafs drizzled lightly with teriyaki glaze sauce for an extra sweet touch that complements the seafood perfectly while providing essential vitamins and minerals necessary when consuming such proteins regularly.

Key Takeaway: Shrimp cooked in steam is a quick and tasty option for any course, from an appetizer to the main dish. With the right timing and preparation techniques, it can be served with garlic butter sauce for starters, sautéed vegetables for mains, and teriyaki glaze over brown basmati rice or quinoa pilafs for added flavor.

Steamed Shrimp FAQs

How to steam raw shrimp?

To steam raw shrimp, you will need a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Half-fill the pot with water and heat over a high flame. Season the shrimp with herbs and spices and place them in a steaming basket. Place the basket over the pot of boiling water, cover it with a lid, and cook for 3-5 minutes or until they turn pink and opaque when pierced. Remove the steaming basket from the pot and plate the cooked shrimp.

Should you steam shrimp with or without the shell?

It is generally recommended to steam shrimp with the shell on. The shells help retain moisture and flavor while also preventing overcooking. Additionally, steaming in the shell helps keep the delicate flesh from breaking apart during cooking. When cooked correctly, the shells will easily peel away after steaming and reveal perfectly cooked shrimp underneath.

How do you steam shrimp without overcooking?

The key to preventing overcooking is heat. Make sure that the water in the pot is boiling before you place the steaming basket. Keeping the shells will ensure you can eat the shrimp meat whole because even if the shells stick, the meat inside should stay intact.

What is the best cooking method for shrimp?

The best cooking method for shrimp depends on the desired result. For a tender, succulent texture and flavor, steaming is recommended. Boiling or poaching can also be used to cook shrimp quickly without drying them out. Grilling and broiling are great methods for a smoky charring on your seafood while keeping it moist inside. Deep-frying is another popular option that results in crispy golden crusts with juicy centers. You can use any of these methods, just be careful not to overcook the shrimp, or they will become tough.


In conclusion, steamed shrimp is a great way to enjoy seafood with minimal effort. With just a few simple steps and tips for perfectly cooked shrimp, you can have delicious steamed shrimp in no time. Additionally, you can experiment with different flavorings to make your steamed shrimp dish truly unique. So don’t be afraid to get creative – give steamed shrimp a try today.

If you’re looking for a convenient way to enjoy fresh seafood without leaving your home, Maine Lobster House can provide the perfect solution. We offer mail delivery of live lobsters and shrimp so you can easily steam them up quickly!