If you cook frozen shrimp directly from frozen, they can make your entire dish watery. Learn how to make perfect roasted shrimp for cocktail or dinner dish in just minutes.
I have come a long way since my early picky-eating days as a young kid. One of the greatest examples is my current love of all things shrimp.
I remember being just horrified when my parents would cook peel-and-eat shrimp for their Christmas Eve dinner. The meal seemed like such an odd choice and no matter how they coaxed me, I was just not brave enough to try them.
Now as an adult, I totally regret all those missed years of shrimp cocktail heaven that I missed out on!
But, better late than never. Now they are one of my favorite appetizers to order, especially on vacation. Nothing beats shrimp cocktail as big as your head in Vegas.
When I want to channel that vacation vibe at home, roasted shrimp cocktail is my go-to party appetizer. Ideally, I'd make it with fresh shrimp from our favorite local seafood shop but family budget and time constraints often mean I have to turn to frozen shrimp instead.
It took a few tries to perfect the recipe using frozen shrimp instead of fresh, the initial attempts had too much water. Now I've nailed the easiest method that turns our excellent tender shrimp every time.
How to cook frozen shrimp for a roasted shrimp cocktail:
Before you begin, be sure to have the right kind of shrimp. This recipe calls for frozen shrimp that have been peeled and deveined.
Shrimp comes in different sizes, we tested our recipe on a package of shrimp that is 31 - 40 ct per 12 oz. If your shrimp are a larger size (with a smaller number range on the package) you may need an additional minute or two of cook-time.
Step 1: Why you absolutely need to defrost your shrimp.
You will find some recipes that say you can just cook them straight from frozen, but when making roasted shrimp the extra ice on the shrimp will cause them to steam instead of brown up on the pan.
When you start with thawed shrimp, you can pat them dry and ensure that they get the pretty browned bits here and there that signal they've been roasted.
I promise thawing frozen shrimp doesn't add on a lot of time to the dish at all. Learn how to defrost frozen shrimp so they don't get waterlogged.
NOTE: In a pinch, you could still cook them from frozen and just add a little extra time for them to heat up but the texture will be different and you risk having them turn out a little rubbery.
Step 2: Make sure to use a hot oven.
This is not a "low and slow" recipe, it's a "hot and fast" one! Shrimp only take 8 - 10 minutes to roast in a 400-degree oven.
When your shrimp are thawed from frozen, they will heat thoroughly and evenly with that hot heat. You won't have to worry about the outside having more cooking time than the inside as they come up to temperature. The delicate shrimp will just cook in a pinch and be ready to go in minutes.
Step 3: Season your shrimp as desired
This is the fun part! My favorite base recipe calls for just the simplest of ingredients: olive oil, lime juice, and salt and pepper. They have a fun little zip to them and are perfect when paired with your favorite cocktail sauce or dip recipe.
Truly, you can season your shrimp however you prefer. Got a new seasoning blend you're eager to try out? Sprinkle it on! Here are some fun suggestions to consider using basic spices from your pantry or the grocery store:
- Quick and spicy shrimp: the seasoning blend on this is the perfect blend of not-too-spicy.
- Cajun seasoning blend: would be great for a smokier twist to your shrimp cocktail
- Lemon-pepper: an all-in-one jar of this from the store would be tasty
- Italian seasoning + garlic: wonderful if you plan to turn this into an easy dinner with pasta
- Jerk seasoning: with a sprinkle of this seasoning you'll be ready for homemade shrimp po'boys for dinner
BONUS: How to turn your roasted shrimp into an easy dinner
If you want to use the roasted shrimp for an entree for super-easy quick dinner, you could add some quick-cook veggies to the pan like asparagus or cherry tomatoes along with a touch of garlic and your favorite seasonings.
Toss them with some pasta or over a bed of rice. They would also be delicious on top of a simple salad.