Is It Safe to Eat Leftover Shrimp?

Some foods make chefs, both amateur and professional take a little more pause than others. Salmonella and other foodborne illnesses present themselves in some ingredients more than others. Anyone who’s ever had a bad shrimp can attest to the pain and suffering it will cause. So if you’ve taken home leftovers from a safely-prepared batch of shrimp, is it safe to eat those leftovers?

It’s safe to eat leftover shrimp for up to five days if it was previously frozen or three days if you did not freeze it. 

Preparation Matters

Shrimp is an incredibly versatile protein and is featured in just about every cuisine. For this reason, several different ways to prepare shrimp exist, ranging from poaching, grilling, boiling, frying, steaming or just “curing” in lime juice. The cooking method used in preparing your shrimp matters when it comes to whether and for how long you can safely consume the leftovers. 

Eating Leftover Shrimp That Was Cooked With Heat 

If your shrimp was grilled, poached, fried, boiled or otherwise cooked over a heat source then it can be safely enjoyed for up to three days if refrigerated. When enjoying leftover cooked shrimp, make sure to heat it thoroughly in the microwave or on the stovetop to destroy any bacteria that may have begun to form. 

Eating Leftover Shrimp That Was Cured in Acid 

Curing shrimp in acid may sound like something that happens in a laboratory, but it really refers to using citrus juice for cooking shrimp without heat. The citric acid in lemons and limes breaks down the proteins in shrimp, curing the shrimp to an opaque pink and making it safe to eat. Shrimp that has been cooked with this curing method needs to be kept cool at all times and is best eaten immediately. However, if the shrimp was indeed kept cool before refrigerating, it can safely be eaten within two days. 

How to Store Leftover Shrimp

There are multiple factors to take into consideration when storing leftover shrimp. For example, was it left at room temperature for more than two hours (if so– toss it!)? Will you eat it within the next few days, or should you freeze the shrimp and enjoy it at a later date? 

Storing Leftover Shrimp in the Fridge 

If you’re storing leftover shrimp in the fridge, there are some best practices to keep in mind to ensure your safety when enjoying them next. Some best practices are:

  • Do not let cooked shrimp sit for more than two hours before refrigerating. 
  • Store shrimp in the fridge in a shallow, airtight container or ziplock bag. 
  • Write the date you placed shrimp in the refrigerator and enjoy it within four days. 

Storing Leftover Shrimp in the Freezer

If you don’t plan on eating your leftover shrimp within four days of cooking and don’t want to waste food, you can store your leftover shrimp in the freezer. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Remove all air from the container you wish to store your shrimp in to avoid freezer burn. 
  • Frozen leftover shrimp are best enjoyed within three months of freezing but can be safely enjoyed for up to nine months. 
  • Make sure to heat frozen shrimp entirely before enjoying it. 
  • Precooked frozen shrimp that have been defrosted cannot be refrozen and safely enjoyed. 

Final Thoughts:

Leftover shrimp are delicious when enjoyed safely, which is possible if proper refrigeration and freezing protocol is followed. So bear in mind the best practices listed above for safe storage, and enjoy your leftover shrimp with confidence!