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How to Cook Spicy Boiled Shrimp

Updated on March 15, 2011

I have spent most of my life near the Gulf of Mexico. Until a few years ago, both of my older brothers owned shrimp boats and spent a great deal of their leisure time shrimping. As a result, shrimp has always played a major role in my family's meals. For us, shrimp dishes are staples for regular family meals as well as for special occasions.

Boiling is one of the easiest ways to prepare shrimp. Just bring water to a boil in a large stockpot, add raw fresh or previously frozen shrimp (with heads on or off) to the water, and boil until they turn pink. It doesn't get much easier than that!

However, if you like your boiled shrimp nice and spicy, there is a secret to getting the results that you want. You probably know that you need to add some type of seasoning to the water, such as crab boil or old bay seasoning, to have any chance of ending up with shrimp that have a spicy kick.

Just adding seasoning isn't enough to really make your shrimp spicy. The secret to making spicy boiled shrimp is related to what you do once the shrimp are cooked. Many people drain the water off their shrimp as soon as the shrimp turn pink. This is the best way to make sure that your boiled shrimp are not spicy.

The best way to make sure that your boiled shrimp have a good kick is to leave them in the water after they are cooked. Remove the pot from the stove burner, and let the shrimp sit in the water for a while. As the shrimp and the water cool down together, they will pick up additional flavor from the seasoning in the cooking water.

The longer cooked boiled shrimp sit in the seasoned water, the more flavor they will absorb. If you like your shrimp ultra hot, let them sit for an hour or longer. In my house, we like things really spicy. Sometimes we actually let the shrimp sit in until cool enough to refrigerate, and then chill them overnight, still in the cooking water. This technique results in some of the spiciest shrimp you will ever taste!

If you only want a little bit of kick, drain the water after 15 minutes or so. It may take a few times to get the exact results that you want. Once you determine the right length of time for your taste preferences, you'll be able to make perfectly seasoned spicy boiled shrimp every time!


Submit a Comment
  • Thelma Alberts profile image

    Thelma Alberts 

    6 years ago from Germany and Philippines

    Yummy! I love shrimps. You make my mouth watery. Thanks for sharing.

  • zatalat profile image


    7 years ago from Global

    Allen is right

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    That's Wrong. If you allow shrimp to soak in the hot liquid you will not be able to peel them. The shells will stick to the shrimp and you can throw them out with the trash.

  • mgwhite profile imageAUTHOR

    Mary White 

    11 years ago from Mobile, AL

    I've never had a problem with them getting tough. The key is moving them off the fire. It's not just being in the water that makes the flavor soak in. Part of the reason this works so well is the fact that the flavor really blends in as the shrimp and water cool together.

  • profile image

    Kim Knight 

    11 years ago

    The only problem I see with your shrimp boiling - soaking technic is the extended cooking of your shrimp will rendered them tougher than most people would like. I agree that the soaking is the best way to spice your shrimp but I beleive as soon as they are cooked, take them from the fire and dump enough ice into the pot to cool the water and then let the shrimp soak as long as you like to achieve the desired spiciness.


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