How to Tell if Shrimp is Bad | Quick Tips & Tricks

Learn how to tell if cooked shrimp has gone bad with quick tips and tricks. Look for a strong fishy odor and check the appearance of the shrimp - it should be bright pink or white, firm, and moist. Discover more helpful advice on identifying bad cooked shrimp.

As a seafood lover and home cook, I always want to make sure that the shrimp I buy and consume is fresh and safe for me and my family. But how can you tell if your shrimp has gone bad?

In this article, I’ll share some quick tips and tricks on how to recognize whether your shrimp is still good or has spoiled.

Shrimp is a versatile seafood that can be cooked in many ways. However, eating bad shrimp can cause food poisoning and other health issues. So, it’s essential to know how to tell if your shrimp is fresh or has gone bad.

When we say “bad shrimp,” we refer to shrimp that has spoiled and is no longer safe to eat. Spoiled shrimp can have harmful bacteria, viruses, and toxins that can cause foodborne illnesses such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, among others.

What Does a Bad Shrimp Look Like?

One of the most apparent signs that your shrimp has gone bad is its appearance. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Foul smell: Fresh shrimp usually has a distinctive smell that is briny and sometimes sweet and salty. If your shrimp smells extremely strong and unpleasant, it’s a sign that it’s time to dispose of it.
  • Slimy texture: A fresh shrimp should feel slightly slippery to the touch but not slimy. If your shrimp feels slimy or sticky, it’s likely that it’s past its prime.
  • Off in color: A healthy shrimp should be translucent with a pinkish-orange hue. If your shrimp appears grayish, opaque, or faded, it may have gone bad.
  • Black Dots: If your shrimp has black spots or dots, it could be a sign that it has started to decompose.
  • Dry or Shrunken Eyes: The eyes of a fresh shrimp should be wet, clear, and bulging. If the eyes appear dry or shrunken, it indicates that the shrimp is no longer fresh.

How To Know If Shrimp Is Fresh?

The freshness of shrimp can impact its taste and texture. Here are some quick tips on how to determine if your shrimp is fresh or not:

  • Check the Best by Date or Sell by Date: When buying fresh shrimp, always check the best by date or sell by date on the packaging. However, not all shrimp have expiration dates, so make sure to buy from a reliable source.
  • Smell the Shrimp: As mentioned earlier: fresh shrimp should have a distinct smell that is not overpowering. The aroma should be refreshing, slightly fishy, and without any ammonia or sour notes.
  • Inspect the Appearance: Fresh shrimp should be pinkish-orange in color, have firm flesh, and the shell should be intact. Avoid buying shrimp with discolored shells, soft bodies, or an off smell.

How To Tell If Frozen Shrimp Is Bad?

Boiled Shrimps, Peeled For Cooking
how to tell if shrimp is bad

Frozen shrimp is convenient to have on hand for quick meals, but how do you know if it’s still safe to eat? Here are some indicators that your frozen shrimp may have gone bad:

  • Discoloration: If the color of the shrimp is off or has turned grayish or brown, it might have gone bad.
  • Texture: Frozen shrimp should have a firm texture when thawed. If it feels mushy, slimy, or has a soft consistency, it’s not safe to eat.
  • Smell: Frozen shrimp should not have any fishy odor. If it has a strong ammonia-like or sour smell, it could indicate spoilage.

Differences between Fresh and Frozen Shrimp

Fresh ShrimpFrozen Shrimp
Freshness can be determined by smell and appearance.Expiration dates are helpful.
Needs to be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within two days.Can be stored in the freezer for up to six months.
More delicate and flavorful.Less expensive and convenient.

How To Tell If Cooked Shrimp Is Bad?

Leftover cooked shrimp can still go bad and become unsafe to eat. Here are some signs that your cooked shrimp has gone bad:

  • Discoloration: Cooked shrimp should have a vibrant pinkish-orange color. If it appears grayish or white, it’s an indicator that it has gone bad.
  • Slimy Texture: Cooked shrimp should not have a slimy or sticky texture.
  • Odor: Cooked shrimp should not have any off odors.

Pros and Cons of Cooking Shrimp

Cooked shrimp is easier to use in recipes.Overcooked shrimp becomes tough and rubbery.
It is less perishable than raw shrimp.Can lose some of its flavor during cooking.
Cooking can help eliminate potential bacteria and toxins.Care needs to be taken to avoid overcooking.

How To Tell If Thawed Shrimp Is Bad?

Thawing frozen shrimp incorrectly can also lead to spoilage. Here’s what to look for when checking if your thawed shrimp has gone bad:

  • Discoloration: Thawed shrimp should be pinkish-orange in color. If it appears gray or has dark spots, it may have gone bad.
  • Slimy Texture: Thawed shrimp should not have a slimy or sticky texture. If it does, it’s an indicator that it’s no longer safe to eat.
  • Odor: Thawed shrimp should not have any off odors, such as a fishy or ammonia-like smell.

How Long Does Shrimp Last?

Knowing how long shrimp lasts can help you avoid eating spoiled seafood. Here are some general guidelines on how long different types of shrimp can last:

  • Uncooked fresh shrimp can last up to 2 days in the fridge.
  • Cooked shrimp can last up to 4 days in the fridge.
  • Frozen shrimp will last up to 6 months in the freezer.

Is There A Difference Between Fresh And Frozen Shrimp When Determining If It’s Bad?

Yes, there is a difference between fresh and frozen shrimp. Fresh shrimp should be consumed within two days, while frozen shrimp can be stored in the freezer for up to six months. However, both fresh and frozen shrimp can spoil and become unsafe to eat. Always check for signs of spoilage regardless of whether you’re using fresh or frozen shrimp.

Are There Any Safe Ways To Store Fresh And Frozen Shrimp So They Don’t Go Bad Quickly?

Storing shrimp properly can help extend its shelf life and prevent spoilage. Here are some tips on how to store fresh and frozen shrimp:

  • Fresh shrimp should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Make sure that it is properly sealed to prevent contamination from other foods.
  • Frozen shrimp should be stored in airtight containers and placed in the freezer immediately after purchase. Avoid leaving it at room temperature for too long.

What Happens If You Eat Bad Shrimp?

Eating bad shrimp can cause food poisoning, which can lead to unpleasant symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. Other symptoms include diarrhea, fever, headaches, and dehydration. In severe cases, bad shrimp can cause abdominal pain and even organ failure. If you suspect that you’ve eaten bad shrimp, seek medical attention immediately.

You May Like To know also about How to know if salmon is bad.


Knowing how to tell if shrimp is bad is essential for ensuring that you’re consuming safe and healthy food. Looking out for signs such as discoloration, sliminess, foul odors, black spots, and dry eyes can help you determine whether your shrimp has gone bad.

Additionally, always check the best by date or sell by date on fresh or frozen shrimp before cooking or eating it. Properly storing fresh or frozen shrimp can also help keep them from spoiling quickly. Finally, consuming bad shrimp can cause food poisoning, so it’s important to know how to tell if it’s bad before eating it. Stay safe and enjoy your next shrimp dish!


How can you tell if shrimp are still good?

There are several ways to tell if shrimp are still good. Signs that cooked or raw shrimp have gone bad include a slimy texture, an off smell, and a darker color than usual. Cooked shrimp can last for three to four days in the fridge, while raw shrimp can last for one to two days. When purchasing fresh shrimp, it’s best to buy them over the counter so you can smell them before buying.

How long will shrimp last in the fridge?

Raw shrimp can last in the fridge for one to two days, while cooked shrimp lasts for three to four days. If you want to store raw shrimp for a longer period, you can freeze them for three to six months. When storing raw shrimp in the fridge, it is recommended to keep it on the bottom shelf. To check if your shrimp has gone bad, look out for signs such as a sour smell, dull color, and slimy texture. If you notice any of these signs, discard the shrimp immediately.

How can you tell if thawed shrimp is bad?

There are several signs that can indicate if thawed shrimp is bad. These include a strong, fishy or sour odor, slimy texture, discoloration, soft or mushy consistency, and the presence of mold. Additionally, if the shrimp has pink or yellow spots, it may be contaminated with bacteria that could cause food poisoning. It is also important to note that consuming bad shrimp can result in food poisoning symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and even numbness or paralysis in extreme cases.

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Jennifer Smith
Jennifer Smith

Jennifer Smith is a respected kitchenware expert with over 10 years of experience in product development, sourcing, and quality control. She creates innovative and practical products for leading brands and retailers, helping people cook with ease. Jennifer's passion for cooking and helping others has made her an influential figure in the kitchenware industry.