Prawns are a delicious type of shellfish that is popular in many cuisines around the world. Their sweet, succulent meat makes them an excellent addition to various dishes and recipes.
Many people wonder if they can freeze prawns to have them on hand or buy them in bulk when on sale to save money. The good news is, yes, you can absolutely freeze prawns!
How to Freeze Prawns
Freezing prawns is actually quite simple. Here are some tips to properly freeze prawns:
- Buy fresh prawns. It’s best to start with fresh, raw prawns when freezing. Frozen, pre-cooked prawns or shrimp do not freeze as well. Look for prawns that smell fresh and are firm to the touch.
- Peel and clean prawns. Unless you want to freeze prawns with the shells on for cooking purposes later, it’s best to peel and devein the prawns first. Remove the head, shell, tail, legs, and the digestive tract, or “vein,” running along the back.
- Rinse under cold water. Once peeled and cleaned, rinse the prawns under cold running water. This washes away any dirt or debris.
- Pat dry. Lay the peeled prawns in a single layer on a paper towel. Pat them completely dry with additional paper towels. Any excess moisture can cause freezer burns.
- Prepare prawns for freezing. Prawns can be frozen, cooked, or raw. To freeze raw, simply place them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put them in the freezer until firm. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag or airtight container. To freeze cooked prawns, boil, grill, or sauté them first before freezing. Allow to cool completely before transferring to bags or containers.
- Exclude air and seal. Place prawns in freezer bags, making sure to remove as much air as possible before sealing. You can also use airtight, rigid, freezer-safe containers. Avoid overstuffing containers, as this can damage prawns when frozen.
- Label bags or containers. Write the type and amount of prawns and the date they were frozen on each bag or container. This makes it easy to identify and track.
- Freeze quickly: For the best quality and texture, frozen prawns must freeze rapidly. Place bags or containers flat in a single layer on freezer shelves until solidly frozen. Avoid stacking or overcrowding bags while freezing.
Following these simple steps will allow you to successfully freeze fresh prawns for long-term storage.
How long do frozen prawns last?
Frozen properly, prawns can be kept frozen for quite some time without compromising quality or taste.
- Raw prawns in the shell will last for 9–12 months in the freezer.
- Peeled, uncooked prawns can be frozen for 3-6 months.
- Pre-cooked prawns can be frozen for 3–4 months.
The freezing process greatly slows down bacteria growth and enzymatic activity, which can lead to spoilage. Maintaining an ultra-cold, consistent freezer temperature at 0°F or below and avoiding freezer burn by excluding air in packaging helps preserve prawns even longer.
For best quality and flavor, use frozen prawns within the recommended time frames above. Properly stored, they remain safe to eat beyond these times but may suffer more deterioration in texture and taste.
Tips for Freezing Prawns
Follow these handy tips for the best results when freezing prawns:
- Freeze prawns in ready-to-cook sizes or portions you will realistically use at one time. Avoid large bulk packages if you won’t use them up quickly after thawing.
- Prepare a marinade or sauce. Mix the prawns with some olive oil, lemon juice, herbs, and spices or a sauce before freezing. This infuses them with extra flavor.
- Avoid freezing previously frozen prawns. Don’t refreeze prawns that have been frozen before. Refreezing can damage the texture and recipe.
- Prevent freezer burn: Use airtight packaging when freezing prawns, squeezing out excess air before sealing bags or containers. Freezer-burned leaves and prawns dried out.
- Freeze in a single layer: Spreading prawns in a single layer on sheets or pans when first freezing prevents them from sticking together in clumps.
- Don’t thaw before refreezing. Once thawed, prawns should be cooked immediately rather than refrozen for safety reasons. Freeze the leftovers separately.
Following proper methods for preparing, packaging, and quickly freezing prawns results in the best quality and taste when you go to use them.
How to Store Frozen Prawns
Storing frozen prawns properly is key to maintaining quality. Here are some frozen prawn storage tips:
- Place bags or containers of frozen prawns in the coldest sections of the freezer, away from the door. The back-top area tends to be the most consistently cold.
- Avoid temperature fluctuations. Don’t open the freezer frequently or place unfrozen items next to frozen prawns. Temperature spikes can lead to thawed edges or freezer burns.
- Keep frozen prawns covered. Use opaque, airtight freezer bags or containers with secure lids. This protects against freezer burn and the absorption of odors from other foods.
- Don’t overcrowd the freezer. Allow for air circulation by leaving some space between items. An overstuffed freezer causes temperature fluctuations.
- Organize older items up front. Arrange bags and containers with older prawns towards the front to make them easier to access and use first.
Following proper frozen storage guidelines ensures your frozen prawns stay in optimal condition and retain good flavor, texture, and quality.
How to Thaw Frozen Prawns
Thawing is an important step before cooking previously frozen prawns. Here are some safe ways to properly thaw frozen prawns:
- In the refrigerator, place frozen prawns in a bowl or container to catch drips and thaw overnight in the fridge. This is the safest method for preventing bacterial growth.
- In cold water: Seal frozen prawns in a plastic bag and submerge in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes. Prawns should be thawed within 1-2 hours.
- In the microwave, microwave frozen prawns on the defrost setting based on the amount. This thaws them quickly but can cook prawn edges.
- As you cook: For stir-fries or other quick cooking recipes, you can add frozen prawns directly to the hot pan. Just increase the cooking time slightly.
No matter which thawing method you use, cook thawed prawns immediately rather than refreezing. This prevents the bacterial growth that can occur as they thaw.
Different Types of Prawns and Their Freezing Attributes
There are many varieties of prawns that can be frozen, each with their own unique textures and tastes.
- Tiger prawns have a large, firm texture with a mild flavor. Their size makes them excellent for butterflying.
- King prawns: similar to tiger prawns but even larger. Have a sweet, lobster-like flavor. Great for grilling.
- Black tiger prawns are named for their dark black stripes. Firm, meaty texture, and robust flavor. Good for sautéing.
- Pink prawns are smaller and more delicate but pack a sweet, succulent taste. Ideal for salads and appetizers.
- Spot prawns have a firm, crunchy texture with a mildly sweet flavor. Used in a variety of dishes and cuisines.
- Rock shrimp are tiny in size but boast a juicy, salty seafood flavor. Used in breaded shrimp dishes or sauces.
- Banana prawns are medium-sized with a tender, flaky texture. Mild, delicious flavor for pastas and stir-fries.
All these prawn varieties freeze well for long-term storage using the proper methods. Adjust cooking times as needed for larger versus smaller shrimp when preparing recipes using frozen prawns.
Top Recipe Ideas Using Frozen Prawns
Frozen prawns liven up all kinds of recipes. Here are some tasty ideas:
- Garlic butter prawns: Sauté thawed prawns in garlic butter sauce. Serve over pasta or rice.
- Prawn tacos: spice up tacos with crunchy breaded frozen prawns, salsa, cabbage, and Mexican crema.
- Prawn fried rice: Toss frozen prawns with rice, vegetables, and soy sauce for an easy weeknight meal.
- Prawn curry: Simmer frozen prawns in an aromatic Thai red or Indian yellow curry sauce.
- Cajun prawn pasta: Boil frozen prawns and bell peppers in Cajun-seasoned tomato sauce and serve over linguine.
- Prawn spring rolls: Wrap thawed prawns and julienned vegetables in rice paper for handheld appetizers.
- Prawn ceviche: partially thaw prawns and marinate in lime juice, onion, peppers, and cilantro.
Frozen prawns are extremely versatile. They add tasty protein and texture to simple sautés, stir fries, pastas, tacos, curries, and more!
Tips for Cooking Previously Frozen Prawns
Cooking frozen prawns is easy, but keep these tips in mind:
- Pat prawns dry after thawing to prevent splattering if sautéing or frying.
- A little olive oil or cooking spray helps prevent thawed prawns from sticking to pans.
- Adjust heat and cooking time for larger prawns like king or tiger shrimp, which take longer to cook through.
- Add any sauces or seasonings the last 2-3 minutes of cooking to avoid overcooking the prawns.
- Undercooking is better than overcooking. Prawns will continue to cook a bit more once removed from the heat source.
Following proper thawing and cooking methods, frozen prawns taste just as delicious as fresh in recipes. Their convenience and versatility make meals quick and easy.
Common Questions About Freezing Prawns
Freezing prawns offers convenience, saves money by buying in bulk when on sale, and reduces food waste. Here are some frequently asked questions about properly freezing prawns:
Can you freeze cooked prawns?
Yes, cooked prawns can be frozen successfully. Allow cooked prawns to cool fully, then package in an airtight container or freezer bag before freezing. They will keep for 3–4 months in the freezer.
Can you freeze raw prawns in the shell?
Prawns can be frozen raw and in their shells. Discard any cracked or damaged shells first. Place in freezer bags with air removed or in airtight containers. They will last frozen this way for 9–12 months.
Is it safe to refreeze thawed prawns?
No, thawed prawns should never be refrozen for food safety. Refreezing thawed seafood like prawns can increase the risk of bacterial growth. Cook thawed prawns immediately or discard any leftovers.
Can you bread prawns before freezing?
Yes, it’s fine to bread prawns with breadcrumbs or batter before freezing. Simply bread them first, then place them in a single layer on a baking sheet to freeze solidly before packing. Fry breaded prawns straight from frozen.
How do you prevent freezer burn on frozen prawns?
Freezer burn is avoided by packaging prawns in an airtight manner in bags and containers that remove air and moisture. Also, freeze prawns quickly in a single layer before storing them long-term to avoid overcrowding the freezer.
Properly freezing prawns allows you to enjoy their delicious taste conveniently for months without waste. Follow these guidelines for storing prawns in the freezer and thawing them for the best quality and safety.
Hi, I’m Julie, the passionate foodie and founder of Juliesfamilykitchen.com. I created this blog out of a drive to prove someone wrong, and then I realized how much I truly enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. In my free time, when I’m not running around after my kids or spending quality time with my partner, you can usually find me in the kitchen experimenting with new dishes.