One of my favorite walk-in-the-door meals is shrimp, roasted until hot and juicy, tossed over a quick bowl of pasta or shredded zucchini. The beautiful thing about shrimp is that, even if you’re starting from frozen, they don’t take but a few minutes to cook. Here’s how to cook shrimp quickly and easily in the oven — such a treat!
Years ago, when I was just beginning to cook for myself, I felt intimidated by shrimp. Like other crustaceans from the deep, they seemed mysterious, expensive, and exotic. But then I learned that, like scallops, shrimp are actually extremely convenient and quick-cooking little packets of deliciousness.
Like most other seafood, shrimp cooks very fast, and like chicken breast and pulled pork, can be used to top vegetables or grains for a quick dinner. My favorite way to cook shrimp is in the oven; it's hands-off, foolproof, and great for cooking larger batches. Just pop a tray in the oven while you set the table, and about 5 minutes later, that shrimp is ready to eat.
Fresh & Frozen Shrimp
Unless you live near the coast and have access to really fresh shrimp (lucky you!), the shrimp you buy will have been frozen at some point in time. It may already be thawed if you buy it out of the seafood case, but it's most frequently sold frozen.
If you have time, take the shrimp out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator the night before cooking to let it thaw. Or quickly thaw the shrimp under some running water; we'll show you how in the tutorial below.
What's the best shrimp to buy?
→ Find out more about what to look for in sustainable shrimp at Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch's Shrimp Factsheet
How To Roast Shrimp in the Oven
What You Need
1 pound medium-sized (17-21 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
Extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the oven to 400°F: Heat the oven to 400°F with a rack placed in the middle of the oven.
- If frozen, thaw the shrimp: Place the shrimp you want to cook in a colander in the sink and run cold water over them for about 5 minutes. Toss the shrimp occasionally to make sure they are all exposed to the cold water.
- The shrimp will bend easily when thawed: You will know that the shrimp is thawed and ready when they are no longer frozen solid but soft, easily bendable, and slightly translucent. This will only take a few minutes. Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel.
- Toss the shrimp with olive oil: Lightly drizzle the shrimp with olive oil.
- Season with salt and pepper: Sprinkle generously with salt and freshly-ground black pepper.
- Toss to coat with oil and seasonings: Toss lightly with your hands to ensure the shrimp is coated with oil and seasonings.
- Spread on a baking sheet: The shrimp should be in a single layer on a baking sheet. The shrimp should fit on the baking sheet in a single layer, with plenty of space between the shrimp.
- Bake for 6 to 8 minutes: Bake until the shrimp turns from blue-grey and translucent to white and pink and opaque. Remove and eat promptly.
- Shrimp should be cooked immediately after thawing in cold water.
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