How Long Can Cooked Shrimp Stay Out?

There’s nothing quite like a big bowl of shrimp, cooked to perfection and served with your favorite dips. But when you’re done with dinner and want to put leftovers away, you might wonder how long cooked shrimp will last at room temperature. 

The good news is that store-bought shrimp usually lasts for about a week if it’s kept in the refrigerator. However, the shrimp you had out at your latest party are a different story.

Cooked shrimp shouldn’t be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, less if the temperatures there are above 90 degrees F.

How Long Does Cooked Shrimp Last at Room Temperature?

You can keep cooked shrimp at room temperature for about an hour or two. If you leave it out for longer than that, the shrimp will start to taste rubbery and dry and bacteria could start to multiply.

This is the case for any perishable food. The USDA states clearly that any perishable meat, cooked food, and seafood should only be left at room temperature for two hours maximum. After that two-hour mark, you’re risking dangerous bacterial growth. 

If the temperatures inside or outside are above 90 degrees F, then it drops down to an hour and no more. At those temperatures, bacteria grow at a rapid rate. Don’t keep cooked shrimp out in the sun or hot temperatures because this will cause them to spoil quickly.

Raw or cooked, shrimp should never be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. It’s best to keep your cooked shrimp in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it. 

Store any leftovers back in the fridge as soon as possible. Consider rinsing them in cold water beforehand to help speed up the refrigeration process. Make sure to pat them dry before placing them in the fridge again. 

Be advised. If you defrosted/thawed cooked, frozen shrimp, you can’t put them back in the freezer. The defrosting/thawing process will compromise the shrimp and expose them to bacteria. 

What Happens When you Leave Cooked Shrimp at Room Temp?

If you leave cooked shrimp at room temperature, it will start to lose its flavor and texture.

After an hour: The shrimp will start to dry out. The color will also fade and the odor may become more pungent.

If you’re storing your cooked shrimp in the refrigerator, you can keep them fresh for 2-3 days by placing them on a plate covered with plastic wrap or foil; don’t use airtight containers because they might trap moisture inside which could cause mold growth. If using airtight containers, make sure your shrimp is good and dry before sealing them. 

Seafood that sits out too long, including cooked shrimp, will start to grow an unhealthy bacterial colony.

This colony of bacteria can be dangerous. If your shrimp have sat out for over two hours, don’t eat them or try to save them, just throw them out. If you haven’t reached the 2-hour mark or just barely, you can put them in the fridge for later (as long as you know they’ve been cooked thoroughly). 

Bacteria thrive in temperatures between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F. They multiply at a rapid rate at these temperatures which is why it’s imperative to keep your shrimp in the fridge outside of that two-hour window. 

This is specifically room temperature or higher. If you have stored them over ice or another way of keeping them at cooler temperatures, you have more time to work with. 

How to Tell if Cooked Shrimp Has Gone Bad?

When it comes to determining the freshness of shrimp, you have a couple of options. If you find one or more of the below indicators, it’s time to toss your shrimp!

Even if you haven’t left your shrimp out at room temperature, you should always check your shrimp over. Even if you know you stored it properly, it never hurts to check considering how sick you can get.


If the shrimp is left out for too long, it will develop a grayish color. This indicates that the protein in your shrimp has been broken down and oxidized. They’ll even get squishy as their inner structure starts to break down. 

If you see any mold, throw your shrimp away immediately! Mold is an indication that there were bacteria present during preparation and they have multiplied over time.

If your cooked shrimp has turned brown or black, throw it out! This is another sign of bacterial growth (and possibly harmful pathogens). 

If there’s a slimy coating on top of your cooked shrimp dish, then it should also be discarded immediately due to the risk of food poisoning–this slime can harbor dangerous microbes like salmonella or E-coli. Shrimp that has gone bad will show a significant change in texture. 

White spots are often a simple sign of freezer burn and don’t mean that your shrimp is bad. White flecks and blue spots are a bad sign and that shrimp should be questioned.


If your shrimp has gone bad, it will taste sour or bitter. If you can taste either of these flavors in your shrimp, then it’s time to throw them away.

If the shrimp tastes off (for example: not exactly like what you were expecting), then this could be a sign that they are spoiled as well.


The smell of shrimp that has gone bad is unmistakable. It’s a pungent odor, similar to that of rotting fish. It smells sour.

If you notice this smell coming from your shrimp, it means that they have been left out for too long or have been cooked too long. The best way to avoid this problem is by storing your cooked shrimp properly and keeping them refrigerated until you are ready to eat them!

Good shrimp smell salty, not fishy. If you smell anything other than salty, like a fish smell, or ammonia, then it’s time to question the shrimp. 

What to Do If Cooked Shrimp Has Stayed Out for Too Long?

If you leave cooked shrimp out for too long, it’s best to throw it away. If you think you may have left the shrimp out for a few hours, don’t eat it and talk with your doctor about whether or not there are any concerns. Don’t give the shrimp to your pets either!

Going beyond those two hours is never a good idea. Don’t try to keep it in the fridge either. It’s no longer safe for you or anyone else. Only put cooked shrimp in the fridge if you’re sure they sat at room temperature for under two hours. 

Some think they can just reheat the shrimp again to kill off the bacteria. That’s why we cook meat to certain temperatures right? Only the first time. Cooking kills any bacteria that are found on the raw meat, including shrimp. You can only depend on using the heat from cooking to kill the initial bacteria on the raw meat, not on the leftovers.

What Happens if You Eat Spoiled Cooked Shrimp?

If you’ve eaten bad shrimp, the resulting illness usually rears its ugly head within 48 hours after eating them. You can get symptoms as early as 4 hours after eating them. When it comes down to it, if you’re questioning your shrimp, it’s best to toss it. 

If you eat spoiled cooked shrimp, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Food poisoning. This is the most common sign of foodborne illness, and it can be caused by a number of different things that spoil food–including bacteria, parasites, or viruses.
  • Shellfish poisoning. This can occur by consuming any spoiled seafood like mussels, crabs, and clams that can all spoil very easily. It’s a specific type of food poisoning.
    • Cramps
    • Abdominal pain
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea
    • Bacterial infection (blood in the stool and fever)

If you present with these symptoms it’s important that you seek medical care immediately. 

  • Vomiting. You might throw up within hours after eating spoiled cooked shrimp or as long as 24 hours later; this could be accompanied by diarrhea (diarrhea) and/or nausea (feeling sick).
  • Diarrhea occurs when your intestines are unable to absorb nutrients from your food properly because they’re inflamed or irritated due to an infection in your body; this often causes watery stools with mucus in them coming out of your rectum (the end where feces come out). Diarrhea itself is not dangerous unless it lasts more than three days without treatment or causes dehydration from excessive fluid loss through vomiting/diarrhea combined with inadequate replacement of fluids consumed during these episodes. Dehydration can lead to serious complications such as kidney failure if left untreated for several days at a time so please seek medical attention immediately if experiencing any symptoms listed above–especially vomiting!


The bottom line is that cooked shrimp can stay out at room temperature for up to two hours before it starts to go bad. If you’re worried about spoilage, keep your cooked shrimp in the refrigerator until it’s time to eat.