What Are the Best Tips for Making Sauteed Shrimp?

Elizabeth West

Cooking with seafood requires a delicate touch. When making sauteed shrimp, it is important not to overcook it. Shrimp that is tightly curled and nearly white is too done and may end up rubbery. Sauteing food is a good way to cook it quickly. Sauteed shrimp can be served in many different ways, including with pasta, rice, and a good white wine.


Shrimp can be purchased thawed or frozen. There isn’t much difference between the two, although living near the coast makes it easier to find a fresh catch. Frozen seafood should be thawed in the refrigerator prior to making sauteed shrimp or fish. Shrimp should also be peeled and de-veined if this has not been done by the processor. This is not difficult but can be time-consuming.

Known for its heart healthy properties, olive oil is a staple in making sauteed shrimp.
Known for its heart healthy properties, olive oil is a staple in making sauteed shrimp.

Garlic butter or olive oil add flavor to sauteed shrimp, and olive oil is also very healthy. The pan must be very hot before adding the oil or butter. When food is first added it can lower the cooking temperature, so the oil or butter should also be allowed to get quite hot. A good nonstick pan with sloped sides works very well for making sauteed shrimp.

Once the seafood has been added, it should be kept moving. Frequent tossing with a spatula is part of the sauteing technique. Some people like to flip the food in the pan for show, but this takes practice to avoid a mess. It’s a good idea not to overload the pan or the temperature will drop and the shrimp will steam rather than saute.

It only takes three to five minutes to make sauteed shrimp, and the flesh should just be opaque. Care should be taken to avoid cooking the shrimp until it is tightly curled, or it will be rubbery and flavorless. A good white wine, excellent with fish and seafood, can be served with the sauteed shrimp or added to the pan during cooking. The alcohol will burn off, leaving the flavor behind.

If adding herbs to the dish, it is best to do so toward the end of cooking to avoid destroying the flavors. Sauteed shrimp should be served quickly. It is delicious when mixed with brown or white rice and vegetables, which can be prepared first so the hot shrimp does not have to wait. Many people like shrimp served with pasta in a marinara or alfredo sauce.

White wine pairs well with shrimp.
White wine pairs well with shrimp.

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