How To Make A Quick Shrimp Stock

Don't let those shells just lie there -- put them to work for you!
Want to add extra flavor to your seafood dishes at no extra cost? Next time you're peeling shrimp, save the shells and make a quick stock.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 10 minutes

Here's How:

Heat about 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-low heat.

  1. Add the shrimp shells and toss well. Allow the shells to cook 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
  1. Add 1 1/2 cups of water to the shells from each pound of shrimp (3 cups for the shells from 2lbs, etc.)
  2. Bring to a simmer, pressing down on the shells with a spatula or large spoon to extract maximum flavor. Simmer 5-7 minutes.
  3. Pour the stock through a mesh strainer into a saucepan, pressing down on the shells until all liquid is extracted.
  4. Taste for salt, adding a pinch if necessary and you're done! You now have a quick and flavorful basic stock that you can use for sauces, soups, etc.


  1. Some Easy Variations:
    • Use flavored oils such as garlic, basil, or sundried tomato oil to saute the shells
    • Use aromatics like fresh rosemary, celery leaves, allspice berries, or citrus rinds in the cooking water
    • Substitute 1/4 - 1/2 cup of white wine or light chicken stock for an equal amount of the cooking water
  2. Pro Tip: Don't discard the shells even if you don't have the time or the need to make stock right away. Put them in a heavy-duty freezer bag or container and freeze them for later use. If tightly closed, they'll keep for about 3 months until you're ready for them.
  1. Extra Bonus Tip for Gardeners: After you've made the stock, add the mineral-rich shells to your compost pile or work them directly into the soil for the ultimate in recycling efficiency!