It’s never ideal to waste leftovers — especially seafood. But there’s a delicate balance between saving food and ensuring the food is still safe to eat. That balance is really a matter of hours when it comes to perishables like shellfish. So, how long does cooked shrimp last in the fridge?
Cooked shrimp will last between three to four days in the fridge. Raw shrimp, however, lasts only about one to two days. The shrimp will smell foul and feel slimy when it starts to go bad. Discard any bad shrimp immediately, as it can make you sick.
Shrimp is one of the most popular seafood items in the world, but it will go bad quickly if it’s not eaten or stored properly. If you’ve got quite a bit of leftover shrimp — we’ve got you covered with all the best shrimp storage and safety tips, as well as a few yummy recipes to help you get rid of them!
We cover the following items in this post:
- How Long Does Cooked Shrimp Last in the Fridge?
- Proper Storage: The Right Way to Store Shrimp in the Fridge
- Food Safety Considerations
- Recommended Ways to Reheat Shrimp
- Recommended Shrimp Recipes with Cooked Shrimp
- How Do I Know If Cooked Shrimp Has Gone Bad?
- Can You Get Food Poisoning from Cooked Shrimp?
- How Long Does Raw Shrimp Last in the Fridge?
- How Long Can Fresh Shrimp Last in the Fridge?
- Final Thoughts on the Shelf Life of Cooked Shrimp
How Long Does Cooked Shrimp Last in the Fridge?
Leftover shrimp is safe in the fridge for no more than three to four days.
This is due to the fact that bacterial growth — which leads to foodborne illnesses — becomes prevalent if shrimp is not stored correctly and for the appropriate duration of time.
Per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are two types of bacteria found on perishable food:
- Pathogenic bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses like Salmonella.
- Spoilage bacteria cause food deterioration and lead to the development of bad smells, undesirable flavors, and poor textures.
Proper Storage: The Right Way to Store Shrimp in the Fridge
The time frame in which you store your shrimp is one of the most important factors. Remember that you always want to limit the amount of time that seafood is left at room temperature.
- Ensure the refrigerator is set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Higher temperatures than that lead to more opportunity for bacteria growth.
- Put your shrimp in the fridge as soon as possible once you’ve purchased it. The journey from the market to your home is about as much time as you’d want to keep the shrimp away from cool temperatures.
- Never leave your cooked shrimp or raw shrimp at room temperature for more than two hours. The bacteria that lead to foodborne illnesses grow quickly in temperatures between 40°F and 140°F.
- Ensure the shrimp is covered in an air-tight container. Plastic wrap is another good option — just ensure it’s wrapped tightly.
- Prevent cross-contamination by separating the shrimp from other dishes in the fridge. Don’t place it in a container with other foods. Especially if some food is cooked and the other food is raw.
- You should store raw shrimp on the lowest shelf of your fridge inside its original packaging. Don’t remove it from its packaging unless necessary. In case of leakage, keep it away from other foods to prevent cross-contamination.
- You should store cooked shrimp inside your refrigerator. Place them inside an air-tight container as soon as they are cool enough to store safely. Keep cooked shrimp on the bottom shelf of your fridge as well.
Food Safety Considerations
To avoid ending up with spoiled shrimp, follow the guidelines below.
Before You Take the Shrimp Home
The first measure of food safety begins in the grocery store, long before you bring the shrimp home.
- Ensure the shrimp flesh is clear with a pearl-like color.
- The shrimp should have little or no odor. A fishy smell is always a bad sign.
- Check for time and temperature indicators on the shrimp packaging, and ensure the shrimp was maintained within those recommendations.
- Check the label of the shellfish for the processor’s certification number. This identifier ensures the shrimp was maintained within shellfish safety controls.
- Ensure the packaging is not tampered with or leaking.
- If there is a sell-by date, be sure not to exceed that timeline.
- For frozen shrimp: Don’t buy any packages that show signs of frost or crystals. Excess frost could signify that the package has been frozen too long or thawed and refrozen.
When You’re Preparing Shrimp
When cooking frozen, raw shrimp, gradually thaw it overnight inside your fridge. You can also place it in a plastic bag inside a bowl of cold water to defrost it faster.
- You should work fast while handling shrimp. You don’t want the shrimp in your hands for too long while you’re deveining and shelling them. Your body heat from your hands may heat the meat too much, leading to the spread of harmful bacteria. Instead, keep the shrimp in cold water or on ice whenever possible.
- Throw away shells and veins immediately to avoid the spread of any bacteria from them.
- Wash your hands and any utensils after handling the uncooked shrimp. Wash your hands often!
If you’re not going to eat the shrimp within three to four days, place it in the freezer! Place the shellfish in a freezer-safe air-tight container — glass containers, plastic containers, and freezer bags all work well. But aluminum foil and other moisture-proof paper also suffice. Just ensure you wrap the food tightly.
Recommended Ways to Reheat Shrimp
For the best quality shrimp, reheat the shellfish at low to medium heat for a longer duration of time (the low and slow method). This helps to prevent the shrimp from drying out and the degradation of its texture.
Reheating shrimp is best done the same way you cooked it. Getting the shrimp to room temperature first is a great way to avoid overcooking them.
Add some extra water to keep your shrimp from drying out while reheating. Some recipes recommend adding whatever fat or liquid the shrimp was originally cooked in instead of water. You only need enough to submerge 1/4th of the shrimp.
Check the shrimp frequently — they heat up fast. If you’re not careful, they will overcook and become rubbery.
Other great ways to reheat shrimp include:
- A hot water bath (sous vide)
- A steamer
- A skillet
Some strongly recommend against using the microwave, but I do it all the time when I need to eat quickly. It may not be the optimal way to reheat shrimp, but I won’t pretend it’s a terrible technique either. If possible, try a low and slow method, but don’t throw the microwave technique out if time is of the essence!
Recommended Shrimp Recipes with Cooked Shrimp
- For something quick and insanely delicious, try making lemon garlic butter shrimp with a bit of angel hair pasta. You can add some broccoli to make it a fully-rounded meal!
- Garlic shrimp is a go-to favorite for most shrimp lovers, and this garlic shrimp stir fry does not disappoint.
- If you’re looking for something a little more unique, try adding shrimp fajitas to your menu.
How Do I Know If Cooked Shrimp Has Gone Bad?
Shrimp goes bad quickly, whether raw or cooked. Bacteria on shrimp breaks down the protein constituents, which leads to spoilage. Below are some obvious signs your cooked shrimp has gone bad:
- A sour smell. The shrimp shouldn’t smell like ammonia and it shouldn’t smell fishy.
- A slimy texture.
- A bad taste. If you bite into the shrimp and it tastes like bleach or it tastes overly fishy, spit it out and throw it out.
- An off-color. The shrimp should be white with shades of pink and red. Any other colors are generally a bad sign.
- An expired timeline. Label the stored shrimp with the date and time you stored them. If they’ve exceeded three to four days in the fridge, toss them.
Can You Get Food Poisoning from Cooked Shrimp?
Yes, you can.
A study by Consumer Reports revealed that 16% of ready-to-eat cooked shrimp were covered with bad bacteria, like E. coli.
These bacteria cause food poisoning with symptoms like dehydration and diarrhea. In some rare cases, these bacteria were fatal. While 16% of cooked shrimp is much less than the 60% of raw shrimp that carry harmful bacteria, it is still a cause for concern.
How Long Does Raw Shrimp Last in the Fridge?
Raw shrimp lasts only one to two days in the fridge, but it can last for about three months if kept in the freezer. Always check the packaging for a “best by” or a “use by” date for an estimate. And always label the package with the date you cooked and stored it. Use the tips we’ve listed out above to preserve the shrimp.
How Long Can Fresh Shrimp Last in the Fridge?
Fresh shrimp, like raw shrimp, will only last one or two days in your fridge. You should keep them on ice for as long as possible. Use the tips we’ve listed out above to preserve the shrimp.
Final Thoughts on the Shelf Life of Cooked Shrimp
You should always have meals in mind when you buy shrimp.
Cooked shrimp has a short shelf life due to the potentially dangerous bacteria that break down and spread at warmer temperatures. Think of shrimp as a time bomb, and it’s due to explode much faster than you’d like.
Most importantly, remember to keep your shrimp at room temperature for as short a period of time as possible, use an air-tight container to keep it stored safely, and throw it out a day early rather than a day late.