How to Make a Quick Shrimp Stock

Quick shrimp stock with shrimp shells and water in a cast iron pot with a wooden spoon

The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 12 mins
Total: 27 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 1/4 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
556 Calories
18g Fat
36g Carbs
58g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 556
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 24%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 479mg 160%
Sodium 2744mg 119%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 58g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 225mg 17%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 432mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Before you throw away all of those shrimp shells, consider making a shrimp stock with them. Shrimp stock adds extra flavor to your seafood dishes, maintaining a seafood flavor (vs. the addition of chicken or vegetable stock)—at no extra cost. So, next time you're peeling shrimp, save the shells and make this quick and easy stock. The recipe is for using shells from one pound of shrimp, but it can be adjusted depending on the weight of your shrimp.

If you don't have time to make the stock when you are using the shrimp, don't discard the shells. Put them in a heavy-duty freezer bag or container and freeze them for later use. If tightly closed, they'll keep for about three months until you're ready for them.

And if you're a gardener, the shrimp shells are great for the soil. So 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.

"I never thought of sautéeing the shells before boiling them, but it totally makes sense. Caramelizing before boiling enhances the shrimp stock's flavor even more. I put the shells in my compost pile after making the stock." —Diana Andrews

Plastic container of shrimp stock
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

  • Shells from 1 pound of shrimp

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • Kosher salt, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Quick Shrimp Stock ingredients gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the shrimp shells and toss well.

    Shrimp shells browning in a cast iron pan with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Allow the shells to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often.

    Shrimp shells being stirred in a skillet

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Add the water to the shells. Bring to a simmer, pressing down on the shells with a spatula or large spoon to extract maximum flavor. Simmer 5 to 7 minutes.

    Shrimp shells cooking with water in a cast iron pan

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Pour the stock through a mesh strainer into a saucepan, pressing down on the shells until all the liquid is extracted.

    Shrimp stock strained through a mesh sieve into a saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  6. Taste and add a pinch of salt if necessary.  

    Pinch of salt added to quick shrimp stock in a saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi


Shrimp stock is great to use in paella, bisque, gumbo, and risotto.

Recipe Variations

  • Use flavored oils such as garlic, basil, or sun-dried tomato oil to sauté the shells.
  • Use aromatics like fresh rosemary, celery leaves, allspice berries, or citrus rinds in the cooking water.
  • Substitute 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white wine or light chicken stock for an equal amount of the cooking water.

How to Store

• Shrimp stock will last in an airtight container for up to four days in the fridge.

• You can freeze the stock in an airtight container for up to 4 months.