Why You Should Always Save Your Shrimp Shells and Tails

August 26, 2022

When you’re peeling delicious wild-caught American shrimp for your next meal and end up with a bowl full of shrimp shells, the first thing you probably think of is to throw them away as soon as you can. After all, they’re just an extra layer keeping you from the mouthwatering flavor inside, right?


Don’t throw out those shells!

Truth be told, you may be surprised by how much use you can get out of those leftover shrimp shells, which is exactly why we’re writing this today!

Shrimp shells are known to contain similar delicious flavors and nutrients to the ones found in shrimp. The easiest way to utilize your shrimp to the fullest is by using your leftover shrimp shells to make shrimp stock!

For the uninformed, shrimp stock (or shrimp broth) is essentially a homemade shrimp soup perfect for dishes like seafood soup or risotto. And – with enough shrimp shells, and even the heads and tails if you have them – it’s incredibly easy to make!

First things first. The next time you cook a meal involving shrimp: take all your shrimp shells (and/or heads and tails, depending on the type of wild-caught shrimp you’ve purchased), put them in a plastic bag or container and store them in a freezer. You’ll need shells from one to two pounds of shrimp to make a satisfying stock, so if you don’t have enough after one meal, accumulate them over time!

Once you have one to two pounds (at least eight cups) worth of shrimp shells, you can start making your stock.

This simple recipe from Epicurious involves putting the shells in a medium saucepan with around one quart of water, bringing it to a boil, straining the stock, discarding the shells and adding salt and pepper to taste: that’s it! For extra flavor, Chef Emeril Lagasse recommends incorporating chopped onions, celery, carrots and cloves!

You can either use it immediately, refrigerate it for a few days or freeze it for up to a month! Try utilizing your fresh shrimp stock in this recipe for scrumptious Shrimp Stew, also from Chef Emeril Lagasse!

So, the next time you plan on throwing out your unused shrimp shells, get the most out of your wild-caught shrimp by turning your shells into tasty shrimp stock!

As always, be sure to visit our Recipes Page for even more wonderful wild-caught shrimp dishes and our Buy Our Shrimp page to order wild-caught American shrimp shipped anywhere in the country!