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How Long to Marinate Shrimp

How Long to Marinate Shrimp

Cooking shrimp can be a hit or miss. Sometimes shrimp will come out perfectly succulent and juicy, and other times they will come out tough and chewy.

One way to ensure your shrimp remains nice and juicy is to marinate them. However, you don’t want to leave the shrimp in the marinade for too long, or it can ruin them.

This is why you must know how long to marinate shrimp in the oven.

Why Do You Marinate Shrimp?

In short, marinating shrimp will enhance its texture and flavor. You can settle for seasoning your salt with salt and pepper.

However, why would you settle for basic shrimp when marinades contain multiple flavorful ingredients.

For example, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs can infuse the shrimp with flavor.

Since shrimp is so easy to marinate, they will absorb the flavor of any ingredients you add to them.

They have a sweet, salty flavor that works well with most types of marinade, including acidic marinades, herb marinades, and spicy ones.

Furthermore, since shrimp are small in stature, you don’t have to work extra hard to get the seasoning into hard-to-reach places. 

Simply add the marinade to the shrimp and toss to coat the shrimp in the marinade.

Nevertheless, marinating shrimp also makes them juicer and more succulent.

Shrimp have a short cooking time, so they also have a short marinating time.

So, you do not have to wait for hours just to cook the shrimp.

However, marinating shrimp is not always sunshine and rainbows.

There are some disadvantages of marinating shrimp.

Shrimp are vet easy to overcook. This is why most people avoid cooking shrimp altogether. After all, no one wants to eat tough, rubbery shrimp.

Leaving the shrimp in the marinade for too long can also change the texture resulting in unpleasant shrimp. 

How Long to Marinate Shrimp

In general, seafood like shrimp can absorb the marinade’s flavor in as little as 15-30 minutes.

It is not like chicken that needs to marinate in buttermilk for 12-24 hours.

The USDA suggests shrimp should be marinated in the fridge for up to 2 hours.

However, this timeline is flexible depending on a few factors.

For example, how strong your marinade is can drastically impact shrimp marinating time. 

For this reason, you should only recommend shrimp in an acidic marinade for 30 minutes. 

Therefore, if the marinade contains lime juice, vinegar, lemon juice, or another acidic ingredient, only marinate your shrimp for 30 minutes. 

In contrast, shrimp can marinate in milder marinades that contain buttermilk or non-acidic ingredients like herbs, garlic, and herbs for up to 1 hour.

Furthermore, the size of the shrimp can also affect the marinating time. 

For example, large shrimp will need to spend more time in the marinade.

Since they are large, the marinade needs more time to infiltrate the shrimp’s flesh.

In contrast, smaller shrimp will absorb the marinade in no time. Small shrimp are not as visually appealing as large shrimp.

However, small shrimp may be the better option if you need to quickly get dinner on the table.

Nevertheless, the recipe should specify whether you need to use small or large shrimp and how long to marinate them.

If it does not contain this information, marinate large shrimp for 30 minutes to an hour.

In contrast, marinate small shrimp for 15-20 minutes.

This will take allow the shrimp to absorb the flavors of the marinade and help them retain their texture and flavor.

Can You Marinate Shrimp Too Long?

Just like you can marinate chicken and shrimp for too long, you can marinate shrimp for too long. 

If you marinate your shrimp for over 2 hours, the shrimp may start to cook. 

The shrimp will definitely start to cook if you add white vinegar, lime juice, or lemon juice to the marinade, and you will end up with ceviche.

In addition to this, the shrimp will develop a mushy texture the longer they sit in the marinade.

Should You Remove Shrimp Tails Before Marinating?

The shrimp recipe will tell you whether or not to remove the shrimp tails.

Nevertheless, leaving the tails on or removing them will not drastically impact the cooking process.

However, if you marinate your tail-on shrimp, it may be difficult to remove the tails once you have marinated them. 

The tails will be extremely slippery, making them harder to remove.

Can You Marinate Frozen Shrimp?

Technically, you can freeze marinated shrimp. However, freezing marinated shrimp is not worth the trouble.

Typically, raw shrimp freezes really well. If you marinate your shrimp and your plans change, it may be better to cook them than freeze them, as frozen marinated shrimp are extremely difficult to handle.

The marinade will change the texture and flavor of the shrimp even if the shrimp is frozen. 

Over time, the shrimp’s texture and flavor will change so much that it will be unappealing.

Furthermore, the shrimp will discharge liquid as they defrost. This liquid will dilute the marinade’s flavor.

Additionally, the water will act as a repellent, preventing the marinade from penetrating the shrimp.

When marinating shrimp, they should always be dry so the marinade can penetrate the shrimp.

Therefore, it’s best to freeze raw non-marinated shrimp. You can always thaw the shrimp and then marinate them.

Place the shrimp in the fridge one day before and let them thaw overnight.

If you need to speed up defrosting, you can thaw the shrimp in cold water.

Simply place the shrimp into a ziplock bag and submerge it in a container of cold water. 

The shrimp should thaw within 30 minutes. 

However, if they do not, drain the water, add a new batch of water to the shrimp, and let them sit for another 30 minutes.

Final Thoughts

Marinating shrimp is an easy way to add flavor to them.

However, you should not marinate your shrimp for too long, or they will develop a mushy texture and could even start to cook.

Therefore you should always marinate your shrimp for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

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