Q. There’s a fish market not far from my house that I like to visit sometimes when the weather is nice. The local fishermen bring in the most amazing seafood, and I love buying what’s freshest on the morning I visit. This morning I bought a big batch of shrimp because they were big and fresh. I overestimated how much my family could eat, and cooked up the whole batch. Now I have leftover shrimp that I don’t want to go to waste. I know that you can freeze raw shrimp, but I’ve never tried freezing cooked shrimp. Shrimp is expensive, so I don’t want to ruin it. Can you freeze cooked shrimp?
A. As a matter of fact, you can freeze cooked shrimp! Have you ever bought frozen shrimp from the grocery store? Many brands of frozen shrimp are actually cooked before freezing, so you just have to thaw and eat! It’s actually quite simple to freeze cooked shrimp, as long as you’re careful during the process. Cooked shrimp can be frozen plain, in a sauce, or as part of a cooked recipe.
It’s important to freeze shrimp as soon as possible after cooking to preserve freshness and also to avoid having shrimp go limp. Clean raw shrimp carefully, and cook while fresh. Cook and chill shrimp completely before freezing. Pat shrimp dry to avoid having them clump together in the freezer. If desired, place shrimp in a single layer on a baking tray. Place the baking tray in the freezer for about 15 minutes, or until shrimp begins to harden slightly. Remove from the freezer and place shrimp in freezer bags. Squeeze out the excess air, the seal the bags. Label and date the shrimp, then place the bags in the freezer. Some people prefer to place shrimp in a double layer of freezer bags to protect against freezer burn. Frozen cooked shrimp should maintain its taste and texture after thawing.
To thaw frozen cooked shrimp, remove the freezer bags from the freezer. Place the bag in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight until thawed completely. Never thaw seafood on the counter at room temperature. If using in a cooked recipe such as a gumbo or a stew, frozen cooked shrimp can be added directly to the recipe from frozen. For best results, eat thawed cooked shrimp within 24 hours. Never refreeze previously frozen cooked shrimp.