The Ultimate Guide to Buying Shrimp

Follow these guidelines when buying shrimp
Whole Foods Market

Find out how to get the highest-quality shrimp

Shrimp may be small, but they should be big on flavor. I love the dense but tender texture and subtle sweetness of this healthy protein. Great for everything from summer grilling to holiday entertaining, shrimp are a fantastic year-round seafood choice. Whether you’re buying MSC-certified wild shrimp or options from Responsibly Farmed sources, here’s how to find the highest-quality shrimp and how to prepare them at home.

It’s important to buy shrimp from sources with good water quality. Certifications or ratings on the packaging should help identify shrimp raised responsibly, so look for a seal from organizations like the Marine Stewardship Council, or green and yellow ratings from the Monterey Bay Aquarium or Blue Ocean Institute. Environmental stewardship is especially important when it comes to farmed shrimp. Your seafood counter should be able to tell you exactly where their shrimp comes from.

Shrimp’s light, fresh flavor will shine when it is not chemically treated and contains no added phosphates, sulfates, or preservatives. And make sure your frozen shrimp is flash-frozen within hours of harvest to maintain the best flavor.

Here are some other helpful tips for choosing and cooking shrimp:

  • Shrimp size is measured by the count per pound. Weight is affected not just by length and girth, but also by whether or not shrimp is peeled or has the heads and tails on.
  • Fresh shrimp should be kept refrigerated and cooked within two days; frozen shrimp can be kept in a sealed bag in the freezer for up to 60 days.
  • Boil shrimp for approximately four to six minutes (depending on size) until they turn pink and opaque. Do not overcook; they will become tough.
  • Grill shrimp for three or four minutes just until they turn pink. Smaller shrimp should be skewered so they don’t fall through grill grates.

Now, savor your new shrimp know-how with these creative, easy recipes:

Spicy Shrimp: The marinade balances fiery Sriracha with a little sugar and aromatic garlic to create a caramelized kick

Pineapple Shrimp in Endive Leaves: This light, fresh, no-cook appetizer can also be served in small romaine leaves or lettuce cups.

Thai Shrimp and Carrot Salad: The flavorful, refreshing, and crisp salad tops a bed of rice noodles for a great mix of textures and tastes.


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David Pilat, global seafood buyer for Whole Foods Market