How to Tell If Shrimp is Cooked?

Shrimp is a food that is enjoyed all around the world and is one of the most popular seafood due to its light, fresh taste and how easy it is to prepare. However, before you eat shrimp, it is important to make sure that it is thoroughly cooked. If the shrimp is not cooked, it could result in food poisoning or a foodborne illness.

The easiest way to tell if shrimp is cooked is by looking at the color, taste, smell, and texture. A cooked shrimp should be pink, have a good taste, smell fresh, and have a firm, non-slimy texture.

Read on to learn more about the signs that you should look for when deciding whether or not your shrimp is cooked.

How Long Should You Cook Shrimp For?

One of the reasons that shrimp is so popular is that it only takes a few minutes to prepare and cook. On average, shrimp only takes two to five minutes to cook

Shrimp that still have their full shells will take a couple of minutes longer to cook than shrimp without a shell of a similar size. The size of the shrimp also impacts the cooking time, larger shrimp will need longer on the pan whereas small shrimp may only require a quick sear on each side.

Be careful when you are cooking your shrimp so that you don’t overcook or undercook them. Overcooked shrimp burn easily and become very rubbery in texture. In contrast, undercooked shrimp can cause foodborne illness and be dangerous to consume if not cooked all the way through.

How Do You Know If Shrimp is Already Cooked?

Luckily, it is pretty easy to tell if shrimp is already cooked. There are a couple of easy signs that you can look for when deciding whether or not your shrimp has been cooked long enough.


In its raw form, shrimp tends to be a mix of gray and white. Once shrimp begins to cook, it will slowly turn pink and by the time it is fully cooked the tail and any shell left on the shrimp should be a relatively bright pink-red color. Cooked shrimp should also be fully opaque. 

If the shell or tail still has some gray on it then it likely hasn’t been cooked enough and should not be eaten. The same applies if the shrimp is still translucent. If parts of the shrimp are still see-through, it has not been cooked enough and should be thrown back on the grill.


Another easy well to tell if shrimp is fully cooked is by taking a bite. If the shrimp has a watery flavor and more jelly-like texture, this means that the shrimp is not fully cooked. If the shrimp has a strong fishy flavor this is another sign that it is not cooked and it may have gone bad.


One last thing that you can check is the texture of the shrimp. While the shrimp are cooking take a fork and gently push down on the shrimp. The texture of a fully cooked shrimp should be firm and shouldn’t have too much give. 

If you press down with the fork and the shrimp easily bends the shrimp that’s a sign that the shrimp is still undercooked. The same goes for if you pull the fork away and the shrimp immediately bounces back to its original shape.

Can You Eat Undercooked Shrimp?

Technically, you can eat undercooked shrimp and some cultures actually prefer to eat shrimp in its raw or undercooked form. If you go to a traditional sushi restaurant, you may even see an option with raw or undercooked shrimp on the list.

However, raw or undercooked shrimp comes with significant health risks. Shrimp spoils quickly and this means that bacteria can rapidly grow on raw and undercooked shrimp which can cause it to go bad and cause food poisoning if consumed. 

Raw or undercooked shrimp can also carry salmonella which can be potentially dangerous if contracted by people with weakened immune systems. The people who are at the highest risk of contracting a severe illness from salmonella are young children, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised immune system.

What Happens If You Accidentally Ate Raw Shrimp?

If you accidentally eat shrimp raw, chances are you will be totally fine and won’t have any negative side effects. 

If you are going to have symptoms or get sick that will likely happen within a few hours or days. Common symptoms of eating raw shrimp include an upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting. As long as you can keep food and water down and the symptoms are gradually improving, this should not require a visit to the doctor.

Final Thoughts

Shrimp can be notoriously difficult to get cooked just right. Within a minute they can be undercooked or overcooked, both of which are rather avoided.

A fully cooked shrimp should be reddish-pink in color and have a firm texture that does not give easily under pressure. It should not have a fishy smell and should not be slimy.

If the shrimp is still translucent, has gray patches, or has a more jelly-like texture, this is a sign that it’s undercooked and should be added to the heat for a couple more minutes.