How to Peel Shrimp: The Only Guide You Will Need

Posted October 25, 2019 by in Lifestyle
cocktail shrimp

If there is one thing Americans can agree on, it’s that we love shrimp. Americans consume one billion pounds of shrimp in a year. There’s even a National Shrimp Day celebrated on May 10th.

Between delicious shrimp scampi dishes and refreshing shrimp cocktail appetizers, there are plenty of tasty shrimp-based recipes to try at home. But before you turn on the stove, make sure you know how to peel shrimp, so your dinner doesn’t turn into a disaster.

How to Peel Shrimp Step-By-Step

As you move through the shrimp peeling process, keep the shrimp cool. Warm temperatures can ruin the shrimp’s fresh flavor. Keep the shrimp on ice or in ice water as you peel and prepare them for your dinner.

  1. Clean the Shrimp

First things first, you must thoroughly clean the shrimp before you being peeling them. Rinse the shrimp with cold water. Pat them dry with a paper towel.

If the shrimp are frozen, you can first defrost them in cold water. Once thawed, rinse and clean your shrimp.

  1. Remove the Head and Feet

Now it’s time to remove the extra ligaments of the shrimp. Twist the shrimp’s head gently. One slight turn and the head should pop right off.

Flip the shrimp over, and you should see small legs and feet dangling from the underbelly. Pull the legs off and discard them in a nearby trash bucket.

  1. Cut and Peel the Shell

Shrimp have an exoskeleton that you must remove to eat them. Fortunately, most shells slide off easily.

Push your thumb under the shell where the legs were attached. Release the shell with your thumb. Hold the tail and pull the shell off of the shrimp.

If you don’t want to use your hands, you can use scissors or kitchen sheers to remove the shell. Cut through the shell at the top of the shrimp until you can crack open the exterior shell. Slide the shell off of the shrimp.

  1. Cut the Shrimp’s Tail

Gently pinch the area of the tail attached to the rest of the shrimp’s body. Pull the tail and slide it off of the shrimp. You may discard the tail, or save it to make seafood stock.

Keep in mind you don’t have to remove the tail of the shrimp. Some people choose to serve shrimp with the tail attached for aesthetic appearances, especially when serving coconut shrimp.

  1. Slice off the Vein

Finally, remove the shrimp’s digestive tract. This long, dark vein is located under the surface of a shrimp. You’ll find it on the shrimp’s back.

Use a paring knife to make a shallow cut. Starting at the top of the shrimp, pull at the vein with your knife. Once the vein is sticking out, you can remove it using your fingers. 


Peeling shrimp is simple and easy. Keep your shrimp clean, cold, and discard all of the remains immediately. Don’t forget to wash your hands with soapy water before and after you’re done handling the shrimp.

Are you motivated to begin cooking? Now that you know how to peel shrimp, head to the kitchen, and whip up your favorite shrimp-based dish. Bon Appétit!

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