12 Delicious Ways to Turn Frozen Shrimp Into Dinner
A well-stocked freezer is a home cook’s best friend. Fill yours with pasta sauce, soups, and frozen vegetables (pre-chopped onions are a mainstay), and you’ll always have a healthy dish on hand that you can throw together at the last second. When it comes to seafood, however, we’ve often heard that you should only buy fresh, never frozen. However, it turns out this is a myth — and especially doesn’t apply to shrimp, which are almost always going to be freshest if you buy them frozen. We know that sounds paradoxical, but it’s true: fishermen flash-freeze shrimp on their boats, which preserves their flavor. Shrimp that are sold “fresh” are almost always frozen and then thawed, which means they’re losing flavor and freshness with every moment they sit in the seafood case at your market. So in practical terms, frozen shrimp recipes are absolutely the way to go for flavor — and they’re more cost-effective. Win, win.
Why frozen shrimp recipes are a fantastic weeknight choice
Mild and sweet, shrimp is exceptionally versatile: Grill it, poach them, toss them with pasta, pack them into tacos, arrange them over a salad — the possibilities for a delicious, clean, and healthy meal with shrimp are pretty limitless. Even better, shrimp is easy to cook since it defrosts quickly and cooks faster than most proteins.
We recommend getting the shrimp shell-on — it provides wonderful flavor, and the shells themselves are magical: just simmer the rinsed shells into a little white wine and onion, and you have a fantastically flavorful broth that takes minutes to prepare.
Health benefits of frozen shrimp
In the 90s, shrimp got a bad rap for being high in cholesterol. However, the kind of dietary cholesterol they actually contain has been shown to actually lower cholesterol levels: Shrimp has been shown in studies to not increase overall cholesterol and to actually have a protective effect by decreasing triglyceride concentrations. One recent study concluded that shrimp has anti-inflammatory properties and an antioxidant effect.
Packed with essential amino acids, shrimp are low in saturated fat and are an excellent source of protein. A 2021 study concluded that it is advisable to eat shrimp and other fatty seafood weekly — provided they’re not fried.
Our favorite frozen shrimp recipes
Here are some frozen shrimp recipes that make dinner a snap (and delicious):
1. Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Miso Dressing
Spicy shrimp sautéed with garlic, cayenne pepper, and chili powder packs a bold flavor, but this recipe’s gentle heat is perfectly tempered by chunks of avocado (which also add even more healthy fats to the mix). The creamy, slightly sweet miso dressing is absolutely fantastic — make some extra for the next day since it goes with absolutely everything, from crudités to poached fish.
Try our recipe from Pinch of Yum.
2. Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas
Shrimp and vegetables on a sheet pan: this is a super-simple, super-delicious way to get dinner on the table fast. While this recipe calls for traditional fajita vegetables like bell pepper and red onion strips, it’s easy to adjust this to whatever you have on hand. Serve over a bowl of cauliflower rice for a low-carb option, or with tortillas, avocado, and a squeeze of lime.
Try the recipe from Wholesomelicious.
3. Clean(er) Shrimp Scampi
We’re never going to judge anyone for enjoying a classic shrimp scampi (it’s a great special occasion meal), but for anyone who craves that flavor profile on an extremely regular basis, this is a great healthier version. Lemon juice, lemon zest, and parsley are the true flavor basis for shrimp scampi — and you can toss in some white wine for a little flavor boost. Enjoy this over a plant-based pasta — or even over a salad, using the lemon juice and white wine sauce as your dressing — and you’ve got a delicious dish without all the butter and empty (if delicious) carbs present in the original.
Try the recipe from The Gracious Pantry.
4. Clean Shrimp and Grits
Shrimp and grits are Southern comfort food at its best, but you don’t need to load it up with milk or cream to make it taste really good. This version loads up on fresh vegetables and broth — along with good coarse cornmeal — to make the magic happen. And at only six calories per shrimp, this can be a pretty low-calorie meal, while still feeling pretty indulgent.
Try the recipe from Clean Cuisine.
5. Grilled Za’atar Shrimp
Za’atar is a rich spice mix that originates in the Middle East. The exact blend varies from country to country and region to region, but generally, it includes sumac, which tastes sort of lemony, cumin, thyme, and sesame seeds, among others. It’s frankly delicious and is great sprinkled over flatbread, as a topping for hummus, or — in this case — giving shrimp a little flavor pop. This variation on the classic “shrimp on the Barbie” is ideal with some grilled seasonal vegetables.
Try the recipe from Derrick Riches.
6. 15-Minute Coconut Shrimp Curry
15-minute dinners are our favorites. Packed with healthy fats, this Coconut Shrimp Curry is also phenomenally flavorful — while being pretty seriously good for you. The recipe calls for zucchini and bell pepper, but you can absolutely toss in whatever vegetables you have in the fridge: broccoli, bok choy, baby corn, carrot, and kale would all be great in here, too. We’d recommend serving over a mixture of white rice and cauliflower rice.
Try the recipe from Green Healthy Cooking.
7. Paleo Shrimp Tacos
These might be the brightest, freshest, zestiest tacos you’ll ever eat. For a low-carb option, Michelle Tam calls for fresh butter lettuce in place of tortillas and offers tons of flavor in the form of cilantro, avocado, oregano, white onions, and limes.
Try the recipe from Nom Nom Paleo.
8. 20-Minute Honey Garlic Shrimp
The beauty of these frozen shrimp recipes is how quickly they tend to come together, and this one is among our favorites for its pristine ease, simplicity, and quickness. The shrimp marinate in a blend of honey, soy sauce, and garlic while you prep the vegetables, then you just throw them into a hot skillet. (Flip ’em once, and check them after just two minutes — nobody likes overcooked shrimp).
Try the recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
9. Sheet Pan Shrimp and Broccoli
We love take-out shrimp and broccoli, but in this version, you get to control how much — and what kind — of oil is used. Shrimp cooks super quickly, so you’ll want to start the broccoli and whatever your grain of choice might be (wild rice and quinoa are great options if you’re trying to avoid white rice), then add in the shrimp towards the very end.
Try the recipe from Well Plated.
10. Teriyaki Shrimp Stir Fry with Vegetables
Making teriyaki from scratch might seem hard, but it’s actually pretty easy: just get your ingredients lined up ahead of time, because it comes together fast. We love how flavorful and colorful this recipe is: with bright green snap peas, pretty pink shrimp, yellow bell peppers, peppers, and orange carrots, you’re basically eating the rainbow.
Try the recipe from Evolving Table.
11. Garlic Butter Shrimp Zucchini Noodles
Swapping pasta for zoodles adds a serving or two of vegetables, and makes this a low-carb dinner. But don’t worry: That combination of garlic, butter, and shrimp still feels plenty decadent. One great variation on the theme: toss the zucchini noodles with pesto beforehand.
Try the recipe from Damn Delicious.
12. Stir-Fry Salad Frozen Shrimp Recipe
This stir-fry salad leans on another staple we keep in our freezer: ready-to-go stir-fry vegetables. We always keep a bag in the freezer for those nights when cooking something feels practically impossible (the other vegetables recommended in this recipe are great, but you can really replace them all with a bag of stir-fried vegetables). The sesame-almond dressing takes it over the top and takes just a few minutes to whip together, too.
Try the recipe from Eating Bird Food.
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