Raw Vs Cooked Shrimp – What’s the Difference? Which Is Best?

Shrimps are found in a wide variety of meals and cuisines. They are one of the healthiest seafood since they are high in omega fatty acids and vitamins. Shrimps are easy to come by and may be purchased at any supermarket.

Shrimps have a mild flavor and make a great filler, and they can be used both raw and cooked. Have you ever been surprised by the prospect of eating raw shrimp? Or did you already know? Whatever the case may be, let’s look at the difference between raw vs cooked shrimp and which the best to consume is.

Raw vs Cooked Shrimp – The Difference

The difference between raw vs cooked shrimp is mostly the color. A raw shrimp has a greyish appearance while a cooked shrimp has pink and crimson undertones and is white. You should watch for the significant color variation between raw and cooked shrimp. The notable color of cooked shrimp is opaque white with pink and brilliant red accents. If your shrimp looks like this, it’s done to perfection.

How to Tell if Shrimp is Cooked?

It’s difficult to know when shrimp are done, but there are some signs you can look out for so you can get properly cooked shrimp every time. Also, because shrimp can be cooked in a variety of ways, how you determine when they’re done will vary.

The first thing to keep in mind is the proper temperature. A properly cooked shrimp has an internal temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s simply for reference; few amateur cooks will use a thermometer on these small decapods, and it’s certainly not required.

Another thing to take note of is the color. Shrimp exhibits a transparent gray color when raw (raw frozen shrimp is gray as well). It should be a milky white with pink and vivid crimson accents when cooked. This is the most accurate way to tell if shrimp are fully cooked. If the shrimp is gray or translucent after cooking, don’t eat it.

Furthermore, because the muscle in shrimp contracts as it cooks, the shrimp shrinks and coils. Some cooks say it’s done when it reaches a c-shape and done when it curls to an o-shape, but practically all shrimp — even shrimp prepared by the best chefs — gets into an o-shape, so it’s not the best sign of overdone shrimp. Having said that, it is safe to consume overdone shrimp.

Raw Shrimp

Raw shrimp, as the name suggests, is shrimp that has not been cooked. It is often used in a variety of dishes in different parts of the world. Raw shrimp is an excellent source of nutrition, as it is high in protein, low in calories, and contains omega-3 fatty acids.

Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, and shrimp is a good source of high-quality protein. In fact, just 3 ounces of raw shrimp provides around 20 grams of protein. This makes it a popular choice for athletes, bodybuilders, and anyone looking to increase their protein intake without consuming too many calories.

In addition to protein, raw shrimp contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for maintaining heart health, brain function, and reducing inflammation in the body. These essential fatty acids are also believed to help prevent certain types of cancer and improve overall cognitive function.

However, there are risks associated with consuming raw shrimp, as it may contain harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause food poisoning and other illnesses. Common pathogens found in raw shrimp include Vibrio vulnificus, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, and Listeria monocytogenes. Therefore, it is important to properly handle and prepare raw shrimp to prevent foodborne illness.

Raw shrimp is often used in a variety of dishes such as sushi, ceviche, and shrimp cocktail. Sushi is a popular Japanese dish that uses raw shrimp as a filling. Ceviche is a Latin American dish that involves marinating raw shrimp in citrus juice, which “cooks” the shrimp through a process called denaturation. Shrimp cocktail is a classic American dish that uses raw shrimp as an appetizer, often served with a cocktail sauce.

In conclusion, raw shrimp is a nutritious and delicious ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. However, it is important to handle and prepare it properly to avoid the risks associated with consuming raw seafood. If you are unsure about the safety of consuming raw shrimp, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional or a nutritionist.

Cooked Shrimp

Cooked shrimp is shrimp that has been cooked by boiling, grilling, baking, or frying. Cooking shrimp can increase its nutritional value and enhance its flavor and texture. Cooked shrimp is also generally safer to eat than raw shrimp, as cooking kills harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites that may be present in raw seafood.

One of the benefits of cooking shrimp is that it can increase its nutrient content. For example, cooking shrimp can increase the bioavailability of astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant that is naturally found in shrimp. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that has been linked to numerous health benefits, including improved heart health, reduced inflammation, and better brain function.

Cooking shrimp can also improve its flavor and texture. Boiling or steaming shrimp can make it tender and juicy, while grilling or broiling can give it a smoky and charred flavor. Baking or roasting shrimp can produce a crispy and crunchy texture. Additionally, cooked shrimp can be used in a wide range of dishes, from stir-fries and pasta dishes to salads and soups.

Another benefit of cooking shrimp is that it can increase its digestibility. Raw shrimp contains enzymes that can make it difficult for some people to digest. Cooking shrimp breaks down these enzymes and makes it easier for the body to absorb the nutrients. This is especially important for people with digestive issues, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

Common dishes made with cooked shrimp include shrimp scampi, shrimp fajitas, and shrimp stir-fry. Shrimp scampi is an Italian-American dish that involves sautéing cooked shrimp in butter, garlic, and white wine. Shrimp fajitas are a Mexican-inspired dish that involves grilling or sautéing cooked shrimp with peppers and onions, and serving them on warm tortillas. Shrimp stir-fry is a Chinese-inspired dish that involves stir-frying cooked shrimp with vegetables and seasonings, and serving it over rice or noodles.

Differences between Raw and Cooked Shrimp

There are several differences between raw and cooked shrimp, including texture, flavor, nutrient content, and digestibility.

Texture: Raw shrimp has a softer and more delicate texture compared to cooked shrimp. When raw shrimp is cooked, its texture becomes firmer and chewier. The cooking process can also cause the shrimp to shrink in size, making it denser and more compact.

Flavor: Raw shrimp has a milder and sweeter flavor compared to cooked shrimp. When cooked, shrimp develops a savory and slightly salty flavor, which can be enhanced by seasoning and spices. The cooking process can also cause the shrimp to caramelize, creating a browned and crispy exterior that adds depth and complexity to the flavor.

Nutrient content: Raw shrimp and cooked shrimp have similar nutrient content in terms of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. However, the cooking process can alter the nutrient content of shrimp in different ways. For example, boiling or steaming shrimp can cause some of the nutrients to leach out into the cooking water, while grilling or broiling can cause some of the nutrients to be lost due to the high heat. On the other hand, cooking shrimp can increase the bioavailability of certain nutrients, such as astaxanthin, which is a powerful antioxidant.

Digestibility: Cooking shrimp can improve its digestibility by breaking down the enzymes that can make it difficult to digest. Raw shrimp contains enzymes that can cause digestive issues, especially for people with sensitive digestive systems. Cooking shrimp can help to alleviate these issues and make it easier for the body to absorb the nutrients.

Overall, the choice between raw and cooked shrimp depends on personal preference and dietary requirements. While raw shrimp may offer some nutritional benefits, it is also associated with certain risks, such as foodborne illness. Cooked shrimp, on the other hand, is generally safer to eat and offers a range of nutritional benefits. When cooking shrimp, it is important to choose a cooking method that preserves its nutritional value and enhances its flavor and texture.

Is it Better to Buy Cooked Shrimp or Raw Shrimp?

This depends on the individual. Although many people prefer pre-cooked shrimp because it saves them time, the flavor and texture of shrimp cooked from scratch are generally superior. Raw shrimp cooks better and it takes just a few minutes to cook shrimp, so it isn’t time-consuming. Also, you should ask about where your shrimp is from, because shrimps from Vietnam and China have been flagged for food safety negligence.

However, when it comes to evening meals, last-minute appetizers, or late-night snacks, frozen cooked shrimp dishes are a great option. It goes nicely with cold meals like shrimp cocktail and shrimp salad, and it gives a sophisticated touch to spaghetti, pizza, and stir-fries.

Which One Should You Choose?

When it comes to choosing between raw and cooked shrimp, there are several factors to consider, including personal preferences, cultural traditions, and health considerations.

Personal preferences

Some people prefer the milder and sweeter flavor of raw shrimp, while others prefer the savory and slightly salty flavor of cooked shrimp. Texture can also be a factor, as raw shrimp has a softer and more delicate texture compared to cooked shrimp. Ultimately, the choice between raw and cooked shrimp comes down to personal taste and the specific dish being prepared.

Cultural traditions

In certain cultures, raw shrimp is a popular ingredient in traditional dishes, such as sushi and ceviche. In these cases, raw shrimp may be an essential part of the culinary tradition and cannot be substituted with cooked shrimp. However, in other cultures, cooked shrimp is more commonly used in dishes, such as shrimp scampi, shrimp fajitas, and shrimp stir-fry.

Health considerations: From a health perspective, cooked shrimp is generally safer to eat than raw shrimp, as cooking kills harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites that may be present in raw seafood. People with weakened immune systems, such as pregnant women, young children, and the elderly, should avoid consuming raw shrimp and other raw seafood due to the increased risk of foodborne illness. However, for healthy individuals, raw shrimp can be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

How Healthy is Raw Shrimp?

Shrimp is a highly nutritious food. It has a low-calorie count and a high protein and healthy fat content, as well as a range of vitamins and minerals.

The liquid within their skulls is considered a delicacy in various parts of the world. Fresh sashimi composed of raw shrimp is eaten in Japan, whereas this mollusk is sometimes eaten live in China after being marinated in a strong liquor called baijiu.

Eating them uncooked, on the other hand, is not advised because it may raise your risk of food illness. Cooking shrimp and other seafood are mostly done to eliminate microorganisms. Although raw shrimp may appear appealing, you have every reason to be cautious. They can cause serious food poisoning, and your seafood dinner night could end in the emergency room. So, if you have to pick between raw vs cooked shrimp to eat, I’ll advise you to go for the cooked one.

Is Frozen Shrimp Precooked?

No, not all frozen shrimp comes store pre-cooked but a large percentage does. Depending on what you want to do with it, you can buy any you want. It is better to buy raw if you want to make a dish and also don’t want your shrimp overcooked. Pre-cooked shrimp, on the other hand, is a good option if you need an emergency shrimp salad or shrimp cocktail.

Read also: How Long Can Cooked Chicken Be Out of The Fridge Before It Goes Bad?

Is It Safe to Eat Raw Shrimp?

No, it is not safe to eat raw shrimp. Shrimp may be contaminated with germs, viruses, and parasites, which can cause food poisoning or illnesses. Anaphylactic reactions to shrimp are fairly prevalent. In severe situations, some people may experience severe skin problems, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, and even loss of consciousness. Others may just have minor symptoms such as tingling in the mouth or swollen lips. If you have a history of shrimp allergies, you should avoid eating raw shrimp.

Read also: Does Honey Mustard Need to Be Refrigerated?

What Does Raw Shrimp Taste Like?

Raw shrimp has a sweet and salty taste with a tender or firm texture depending on the variety. It isn’t, however, something that is typically consumed uncooked. It’s mainly because it poses a health concern. Although, there are people who see it as a delicacy and would possibly pick it between raw vs cooked shrimp.

Why is cooked shrimp cheaper than raw?

In general, cooked shrimp is cheaper than raw shrimp because the processing and packaging costs for cooked shrimp are lower. Raw shrimp requires careful handling and storage to ensure its freshness, as it is highly perishable and can spoil quickly if not kept at the right temperature. This means that the cost of handling and transporting raw shrimp can be higher than that of cooked shrimp.

On the other hand, cooked shrimp has a longer shelf life and can be stored at refrigerated temperatures for a longer period of time. This makes it easier and more cost-effective to handle and transport. Additionally, the process of cooking shrimp can help to preserve its quality and freshness, which can reduce waste and lower costs.

Another factor that can influence the price of cooked shrimp is the availability and demand for different sizes and grades of shrimp. Some sizes and grades of raw shrimp may be more in demand than others, which can affect their price. However, once the shrimp is cooked, the size and grade become less of a factor, and the price can become more standardized.

It is important to note that the price of shrimp can also vary based on geographic location, seasonal availability, and other factors. Therefore, the price difference between raw and cooked shrimp may not be consistent across all markets and regions.

Why are shrimp only pink when cooked?

Shrimp turn pink when they are cooked due to a chemical change that occurs in their pigments. Raw shrimp have a grayish-green color due to the presence of a pigment called astaxanthin, which is covered by a protein called crustacyanin. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that is found in many types of seafood, including shrimp, and is known for its antioxidant properties.

When shrimp are cooked, the heat causes the crustacyanin protein to denature and release the astaxanthin pigment. As a result, the pigment becomes more visible, giving the shrimp a pink or reddish color. This change in color is a visual indication that the shrimp has been cooked thoroughly and is safe to eat.

The degree of pinkness in cooked shrimp can vary depending on the cooking method and the length of cooking time. Overcooked shrimp can turn a darker shade of pink, while undercooked shrimp may still have some gray or translucent areas. It is important to ensure that shrimp are cooked to the appropriate internal temperature to ensure their safety and quality.

In conclusion, shrimp turn pink when cooked due to a chemical change in their pigments. The pink color is a visual indication that the shrimp has been cooked thoroughly and is safe to eat. The degree of pinkness can vary depending on the cooking method and time.


In summary, the difference between raw vs cooked shrimp is mostly the color. Other things like shape can also be taken into consideration. Also, looking at which is healthier to consume, it is better to go for cooked shrimp. While raw shrimp can be a delicacy, it is unhealthy and preferably will be better if cooked. Therefore, cooked shrimp is the best option to go for.

By Luong Tan

Luong Tan, the creative and passionate founder of Bourbono, is a multi-talented individual with a deep love for the culinary arts. An accomplished food blogger, cookbook author, and former Ambassador of US cuisine in Vietnam (2015-2016), Luong has been on a mission to share his appreciation for food with the world.

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