Ensuring Your Shrimp Is Fresh: Guide For Cooked Shrimp

Do you know how to tell if shrimp is bad? In this jam-packed article, I will go over every sign you can look out for to determine the freshness of your fresh shrimp! This informative guide will not only help prevent you from getting food poisoning but help you buy the freshest shrimp possible!

And, if you enjoy shrimp dishes, you will fall in love with my refreshing Mexican Raw Shrimp Salad, my Crispy Battered Fried Shrimp, and these fun Grilled Shrimp Skewers. But don’t worry. I have a ton of other shrimp and seafood recipes on my site!


What Does Raw Shrimp Look Like When It Is Fresh?

To make it easier to understand how to tell if shrimp has gone bad, it’s best to first look at what fresh shrimp should look like.

If you are buying raw fresh shrimp, it should preferably be whole. That’s the best way to determine the freshness.


Firstly, shrimp has completely white (or off-white) flesh that is slightly transparent. Some species also have a grey, orange, or pink undertone.

Either way, the color won’t be bright (like with prawns), but it shouldn’t be faded. It should also be uniform and have no discoloration or spots.


When buying fresh shrimp (no matter in which form they are), the flesh should be firm to the touch. It shouldn’t be soft or mushy at all.

You may also see that some shrimp have a slimy layer despite looking super fresh. That’s not normal! Shrimp can be wet from being stored in ice or condensation. But they shouldn’t be slimy.


Fresh shrimp smells like it was just caught! You can smell the salty ocean. It shouldn’t have a fishy or sulphuric smell at all.

It should simply smell clean and salty.


How To Tell If Shrimp Is Bad

Now that we’ve taken a look at the many ways to tell if shrimp is good, let’s get into more details on the signs of bad shrimp. And trust me, there are many very obvious signs to look out for.

Slimy Shrimp

Bad shrimp can vary in appearance depending on how far gone it is. Usually, it starts with a slimy film appearing on the surface of the shrimp or underneath the shell. This goes for both whole and peeled shrimp.

The slimy layer is an excess build-up of bacteria. Obviously, you don’t know whether or not it’s harmless or toxic bacteria. But trust me, more likely than not, it’s not good.

Off Color

Next in our list on how to tell if shrimp is bad, as I’ve said, fresh shrimp has a uniform color. If your shrimp has any blemishes, bruises, or discoloration, it is a sign that the shrimp isn’t as fresh as it should be.

The color of the shrimp shouldn’t be faded. Shrimp doesn’t have a particularly bright, saturated color. But it’s still prominent.

Moldy Shrimp

Obviously, if your shrimp has any mold in the package or on their skin, they are FAR past their due date. 

Mold is a sign that the shrimp has been left in favorable conditions for bacteria for far too long. You should never rinse off moldy shrimp to utilize them in food. The bacteria could grow in places that cannot be rinsed off, and you will still get food poisoning.

What does bad shrimp smell like?

Another immediate and very noticeable sign that shrimp is bad is a fishy smell. 

Fresh fish and seafood, in general, don’t have a smell. It smells like salty ocean water, and that’s it!

So, if you notice a rotting, sulphuric, and fishy aroma, it’s a sign of bad shrimp that will give you serious food poisoning.


And finally, if your shrimp has a soft, mushy texture that isn’t firm and tender, the structure has deteriorated due to age. 

Keep in mind, you should only use this as a determining sign if it goes with some others I’ve mentioned above. There could potentially be other reasons for soft, flimsy shrimp. For example, freezer burn.

How To Tell If Cooked Shrimp Is Bad

Now that you better understand how to know if shrimp is bad, let’s take a look at a different scenario: how to tell when cooked shrimp is bad.

Many people struggle to recognize off-food once it has been cooked. But the signs are pretty much the same as they are for the fresh counterparts.

If the cooked shrimp starts discoloring, getting a sour and rancid aroma, and start to get mushy or slimy, it is spoiled. 

I get it! Having to toss an entire batch of leftover shrimp pasta is super disappointing, especially with the price of seafood these days. But trust me, your medical bill from food poisoning is going to be far greater than a box of these treats. It’s just not worth it.



What happens if you eat bad cooked shrimp?

Shrimp, like most seafood, have some serious risks of harmful bacteria. These can cause symptoms like nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. These symptoms can lead to some other problems such as dehydration and, in rare cases, even death.

How To Tell If Precooked Shrimp Is Bad?

Pre-cooked shrimp are usually blanched in boiling water and then frozen. This makes the shrimp easier to use later and usually safer as well. However, just like cooked shrimp, they are not immune to spoilage. The signs for spoiled pre-cooked shrimp are exactly the same as for cooked and raw shrimp.

They will start developing an off odor, start discoloring, lose their firm texture, and even grow mold.

How long does shrimp stay fresh?

If you are unsure about the freshness of your shrimp, keep in mind that they generally don’t stay fresh for longer than 2-4 days. And even then, it’s only when they are SUPER fresh and continuously stored under perfect conditions.

How do you store fresh shrimp?

The best way to store fresh shrimp is simple but a little bit of a labor-intensive process. First, lay the shrimp in a single layer in an air-tight container. Cover it loosely with wax paper. Then, you can add another layer if you’d like. Only make two layers. Cover the container and place it inside the coldest area in your fridge. If it is at all possible, store your shrimp container in or on crushed ice.


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