If you bought a large bag of shrimp recently, you probably wondered how long does shrimp last in the fridge. Whether you got a great deal at the store or had leftovers from when you cooked, you don’t want shrimp going bad and even giving someone food poisoning.
Thankfully the United States Department of Agriculture answered this question so you don’t have to guess. The department recommends raw shrimp, like other fish, should only be kept in the fridge for one or two days. If you’ve wondered how long does cooked shrimp last in the fridge, the department recommends no more than four days if properly stored.
So why does the USDA recommend only one or two days for raw shrimp? We’ll cover why shrimp spoils more quickly than other meat or seafood, how to tell if your raw or cooked shrimp has gone bad, how to store shrimp for longer, and even talk a little bit about shrimp cocktails as well. Then stay tuned for a nice grilled shrimp recipe at the end!
How Long Does Raw Shrimp Last In The Fridge?
The USDA recommends your fresh shrimp should only hang out in the fridge for one or two days. Despite your refrigerator running under 40°F, that doesn’t prevent bacteria growth that can cause your shrimp to go bad.
However, you might find yourself wondering why shrimp has such a short shelf life compared to meats like steak, chicken, or pork which the USDA says might be good for up until even five days. Let’s answer that question!
Why Does Raw Shrimp Last So Little Time In The Fridge?
Shrimp and other types of seafood spoil much more quickly in the fridge than surface animals due to living conditions. Land animals like cows, chickens, and pigs live in relatively warm climates. The bacteria in their systems are accustomed to operating at higher internal temperatures, so being plunged into a sub-40°F fridge really slows down their growth process.
Shrimp, like other shellfish and fish, live underwater. The deeper in the water they live, the colder the climate even down to just above freezing. The bacteria in their systems have acclimated to living and growing in much colder temperatures. So while your fridge does a good job for most meats, the temperatures aren’t very different than where the shrimp lived while still alive.
So that means that the cold environment of your fridge feels a lot like home for the bacteria in shrimp. So you’ve only got one or two days to cook that shrimp or find a longer-term storage option before they spoil.
How Long Does Cooked Shrimp Last In The Fridge?
If you got those shrimp cooked but you didn’t eat them all, you’ve got up to four days to eat them or they will spoil. You’ll get close to the full four days if you’ve stored the shrimp in an airtight container or a bag with all the air squeezed out. Air will always accelerate the spoiling process, so keeping the shrimp out of the open air is key to proper storage.
How To Reheat Shrimp
Reheating shrimp can be tough because it can become overcooked easily. The USDA recommends that all leftovers should be reheated to 165°F. Overcooked shrimp can become rubbery and no one wants that. If you grilled your shrimp, you can return the leftover shrimp to the grill, just cook it at a lower temperature. If it’s in a pasta dish, reheat it in the pan on a lower heat.
Do you have to throw your cooked shrimp out if you aren’t going to be able to eat it all in four days? Or is there another option for storing it long-term?
How Can You Make Shrimp Last Longer?
If you’ve found a great deal on shrimp at the store or you had to change dinner plans last minute, you need to know how to store shrimp properly for a longer time. The best option is to put them in the freezer. If you’ve got an unopened bag of shrimp, you should be good to put it directly into the freezer in its original packaging. You can put that bag inside a freezer bag if it’ll fit for greater protection as well.
If you’re freezing cooked shrimp, you’ll want to double-bag it in freezer bags. Make sure to squeeze any air out of the bags. Otherwise, the shrimp will be susceptible to freezer burn. Once again, freezer burn isn’t going to spoil your shrimp, but it will affect the quality.
How Long Is Shrimp Good In The Freezer?
Now that you’ve got your raw or cooked shrimp stored properly, how long can you store it in the freezer? As long as your freezer stays below 32°F, you can keep shrimp in the freezer indefinitely. However, there is a loss of quality the longer shrimp stays frozen.
For raw shrimp, the USDA recommends using them within 12 months. For cooked shrimp, plan on thawing and eating within three months of when they go in the freezer. To help with the timeframe, label your bags with the date with a permanent marker.
How To Properly Thaw Frozen Shrimp
The first thing to remember is that you can cook frozen raw shrimp directly out of the freezer. However, if you want to thaw your shrimp, there are better ways and worse ways of going about it.
If you’re a planner when it comes to meals, just put the frozen shrimp in the fridge the night before. Make sure the package is on something that can prevent liquid from going all over the fridge during the thawing process.
If you’ve made a decision that you want shrimp for dinner only an hour before it’s time to eat, there is a quicker option that doesn’t involve going near a microwave. If you’ve bagged your frozen shrimp yourself, you can simply put the bag into a bowl of cold water and let it sit for around 20 to 30 minutes. Make sure you’ve got something to hold the bag fully underwater like a plate or something.
If you’re really in a rush, you can even dump the shrimp themselves into cold water. This takes only 15 minutes or even less. However, you should make sure to pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel because they will soak up additional water as they thaw.
Don’t thaw shrimp or really any meat out on the counter at room temperature. It’s much harder to manage to keep the shrimp out of the danger zone of 40-140°F which can accelerate the spoiling process. The same goes for thawing in hot water. The possible risk outweighs the speed.
As said above, don’t thaw in a microwave. You can ruin the texture and even start cooking it before you’re ready.
How Long Does Thawed Shrimp Last In The Fridge?
If you thawed your shrimp in the fridge, the USDA says they can be good for up to two days after thawing. If you’ve used either of the cold water methods to thaw your shrimp, you should start cooking them immediately.
How To Tell If Your Shrimp Has Gone Bad
You’ve tried to follow the directions, but sometimes you just aren’t quite sure. So how can you tell if shrimp is bad? It all comes down to your senses, and your sense of taste should be the very last sense you use if at all.
How Does Your Shrimp Look?
Fresh, raw shrimp is translucent or slightly gray or white. If the shrimp have discolored or even developed spots, throw them out.
Cooked shrimp develops a distinctive pinkish color. If that color has faded or grayed or if you have seen any signs of mold, throw it out.
Shrimp doesn’t have much of a smell, just a slightly salty smell from the sea. If you smell ammonia, an overly fishy, sour, or spoiled smell, you should toss it without hesitation.
A Slimy Texture
Shrimp should have some moisture, but it shouldn’t ever feel slimy. If you grab a single shrimp and it feels like it’s coated in a slimy film, that’s a sign of reproducing bacteria. It should be thrown away.
Remember, if you are at all concerned that shrimp have spoiled, throw them out. The potential for food poisoning is far worse than having to get more shrimp from the store.
How Long Does Shrimp Cocktail Last In The Fridge?
If you’re preparing to host a party or storing the leftovers, you’ll want to know just how long shrimp cocktail will last in the fridge. Just like regular cooked shrimp, the shrimp can last up to four days from the point of cooking.
Wrapping It Up
So how long does shrimp last in the fridge? Raw shrimp should only be in your fridge for one or two days before you cook or freeze it. If you’ve got leftover shrimp from cooking, you’ve got up to four days to eat it or freeze it.
If you’re looking for a new recipe for the next time you cook shrimp, check out our very own Jannah Haas’ recipe for Italian grilled shrimp skewers!
What’s your favorite way to cook shrimp? Let us know in the comments!