How to Make Shrimp Stock (Start to Finish in 30 Minutes)

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

beautiful pink shrimp stockOne of the worst things that can happen to a traditional cook is to plan a wonderful dinner menu only to open the freezer and discover (gasp!) there is no stock available to make the soup or sauce!

This has happened to me more times than I care to count. The thought of resorting to stock in a can or carton in a pinch, however, just makes me cringe. Fortunately, even if it’s 4pm and you have no stock in the house, you can still continue with dinner as planned because shrimp stock can be made in only 30 minutes.

Shrimp stock is not only fast, it is amazingly flavorful and as you can see from the photo, it is a very rich orange-pink color as well. In fact, the batch I made shown in the photo is the exact color of fresh squeezed guava juice!

If making fish stock has not been something you’ve been able to bring yourself to try, start with shrimp stock as it is a more agreeable task to many.  In addition, sourcing wild shrimp with the heads on is easier in some locations than non-oily fish heads for fish stock.

Whatever you do, skip the farmed shrimp and pay extra for the truly wild ones.  The conditions farmed shrimp are raised in is nothing short of horrific in many instances and much of farmed shrimp comes from third world countries with little to no regulations of any kind.

For Cajun cuisine lovers, feel free to substitute crawfish for the shrimp as desired.

Shrimp Stock

Makes 1 quart


1 pound wild shrimp (or crawfish) with heads on

1 quart filtered water

1/8 cup apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

1 organic carrot, chopped

Other chopped organic veggies (optional)


Remove heads, shells, and tails and place in a 1 gallon pot.   Add 1 quart filtered water and chopped carrots.  Stir in vinegar of choice.

Bring the pot to a boil on the stovetop, skimming off any white foam as it rises to the top.

Once the stock is boiling, turn down to a very low simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes.  The stock is ready as soon as it turns a rich pink color.  You may simmer the stock longer to improve the flavor if desired – up to 3 hours.

Strain the stock, cool and use immediately or store for several days in the refrigerator in a glass jar. Freeze what you will not use in a few days.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


Sources and More Information on Stocks and Bone Broth

My Youtube playlist of over ten videos on all aspects of making stock and bone broth

How to Make Turkey Broth and Clear Stock

The Healthiest and Best Bone Broth

How to Make Duck Stock

How to Make Beef and Chicken Stock

5 Reasons Why Your Stock Won’t Gel

Confused about Stock versus Bone Broth?

The Perfect Simmer on Your Bone Broth


Comments (55)

  1. Question – have you ever made Shrimp Stock w/ dried shrimp? I believe Sally Fallon has a recipe for this. OR Bonito flakes? I bought dried shrimp (refrigerated at an Asian market) once to do this – but it stunk so badly, my husband said to throw them out. I’ve never tried the bonito flakes either. THANKS for ALL your great help!

  2. How fresh does the crawfish need to be? I am wanting to ask for the crawfish which will be thrown out and considered “old” in the seafood department of my grocery store.

  3. I’d never heard of scallops in soups! Isn’t it funny how different cultures view an ingredient … to my Italian way of cooking, it would be an absolute ‘waste’ of a scallop to ‘ruin’ it in a soup. Very expensive for a start! Does this mean that scallops are fairly cheap in the States … or are they thought of as something quite ‘special’ there too? Whatever … your soup sounds delicious!

  4. Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook December 16, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    You can make shrimp stock with just the shells and tails and no heads … it won’t be as flavorful or colorful though.

  5. Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook December 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Never even made it before. Just odds and ends from the refrigerator and freezer. Real Food can be very simple and blows away anything at a gourmet, high end restaurant.

  6. Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook December 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Never even made it before. Just odds and ends from the refrigerator and freezer. Real Food can be very simple and blows away anything at a gourmet, high end restaurant.

  7. My mother use to save all the shrimp shells from wrapping won ton and add it to stock for extra flavor. But from what I remembered, it was only boiled for a few minutes after the stock had already simmered for hours and it did make the stock sweeter and more flavorful. My concern is the oil in the shrimp heads. By the color, I assume it is omega 3 and I heard that it’s best not to cook Omega 3, or at least not for long or in high heat. The Chinese do eat shrimps with heads on, but usually in a quick saute quick boil in soup. They would saute the entire shrimp and slurp out the juices in the head. If you pull the shell off of the head, you’ll see that there is meat there too, and also a lot of nutrition, that is not found in any other part of the shrimp. When I first started adding shrimp heads to my stock, I noticed that it did make the stock richer, but if I left it in for the entire bone broth process, it would lose it’s sweetness and impart an off taste after simmering for a day, which left me with the quandary that perhaps cooking fish and shrimp so long might actually be oxidizing the omega 3 and if it is, what would be the optimal amount of time and heat needed to cook the broth long enough to get the minerals out without degrading the oils? Maybe the answer is no longer than 3 hours. If anyone has an answer to that please let me know.

  8. I have several pounds of crab shells in my freezer from a crab feed a couple of months back. I’ve never made shell stock before. Would crab shell stock be made the same way as shrimp shell stock? Maybe I should simmer it longer because the shells are heavier?

  9. I am from Brazil and my grandmother would make this shrimp broth all the time and use it in native dishes from the north of Brazil. it’s pretty tasty. This is how she did it though: after boiling the shrimps’ heads (after washing them with lemon) she would blend the shrimp and water. Then pass the juice through a colander covered with a cheese cloth. The broth would be shrimpy, reddish and perfect for those seafood recipes.

  10. Thanks for this, I’ll pin it for later. I actually just made a vat of chicken stock and put several quarts in the freezer. that way, I can just defrost it in about 10-15-minutes (seems kind of long typing it out when a microwave probably does it in 2 minutes– oh well).

  11. Penelope Paisley via Facebook October 16, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    oops! I just saw the video and it makes sense now. before I saw the video, I was just going by your written recipe which sounded like you remove the heads etc and use the meat to make the stock. But no!

  12. Penelope Paisley via Facebook October 16, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Sarah- why remove the heads, tails and shells? Seems like they might have goodies in them as do the heads, tails, trotters etc of other stock animals we use?

  13. @Katie we all need to come to grips with the fact that we live in a toxic soup world. Perfectly clean food is not possible really anymore unless you live on an isolated farm somewhere and the truth is that it hard to be healthy without seafood as the soils are so depleted so even though grassfed is awesome, you need food from the sea to fill in the gaps.

  14. What I would like to know is…can you still eat the shrimp after you boil it for so long? Or is it nasty? and what kind of recipe would you use it in?
    Also, could you just do this with shrimp “scraps”, after you’ve eaten the shrimp?

    • Sarah pealed the shrimp and twisted the heads off. I believe she then said she was going set aside the shrimp to cook in butter and garlic later.

      I know she then took the heads and shells and prepared her stock.

      So you don’t have to worry about eating shrimp that’s been boiling for 30 minutes.

      I was curious if she was going to de-vein the shrimp since she did not mention it….

  15. My 11 year old walks by as I am watching this video and says, ” Mom, don’t even think about it!!”


    Thanks, Sarah, for this video. Guess I am going to have to sneak this one into their food :)

  16. I have asked my fishmonger this question: Is the nutritional value of shrimp high and could it be compared to other fish or seafood? My fishmonger did not know so I don’t purchase shrimp. Do you think the shrimp stock has particular benefits like fish head stock benefits the thyroid?

    A second question, can the stock produced from boiling squid be consumed? My husband says it can’t be due to the black die the squid releases.

    Thank you!

  17. Katie Ward Chiasson via Facebook October 16, 2012 at 11:33 am

    But where can you get healthy shrimp from at this point? The Gulf of Mexico is hopelessly polluted after the BP spill and all the chemicals that were used to make the oil “disappear”, and there were a ton of stories out last week about shrimp farmers in Asia using pig feces to feed their shrimp because their normal feed sources have become too expensive.

  18. We started doing shrimp stock awhile back and love it. Our freezer has so many jars of different stocks that we never worry about running out (all bones are saved in this house).

    I think the trick to not having jars breaking during freezing is leave head room in each jar and leave the lid off till the stock is frozen. With most stocks we condense them down, and use one cup jars for the most part.

    Another quick fish stock is the bonito flakes the Japanese use.

    As always Sarah your video is wonderful. Thanks

  19. I live in a land locked area and have a really hard time finding wild shrimp. Are there any places you could recommend that sells dehydrated whole wild shrimp? I have seen this at the Asian markets but I am nervous about buying a package I cannot read.

    Thanks for the info on quick broth, hoping I can find something to use to make it.

  20. Thanks for this video! The last time we had shrimp I had thought about making some stock but ended up not having to much (no heads, just shells and tails). I think my husband thinks I’m crazy. I made rabbit stock a couple of weeks ago–really good!

    • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama October 16, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      Funny that you say that. My 4-year-old does love anything pink. Including pink fish (salmon) and shrimp. She does not like stock but I *might* be able to talk her into eating it if I made pink stock! Just have to find something to do with it. A sauce for a stir-fry, perhaps? Use some to cook the rice for the stir-fry? (I get stock into kids better if I hide it that way.)

  21. Can I just substitute shirmp stock for any other stock? Can you recommend some recipes ideas to compliment the flavor. I had this exact delimmea the other day! I have yet to figure out a way to freeze larger amounts of stock without the jars breaking :( so I never have stock handy.

    • Val – re jars breaking, first, and foremost, use canning jars and you have to give a good inch or more of airspace at the top of the jar for expansion as the broth freezes. If the broth has no place to go in the jar as it expands, then it pushes outwards and the jar breaks. I’ve also found that if I first cool the broth a bit and then place it in the refrigerator overnight so it is pretty cold, and then put the jars in the freezer, they don’t break. I have to compensate a bit as each quart jar has only 3 1/4 cups of broth, but it is worth it to not lose the broth, and the jar, to breakage.

      • There’s a new size and shape of Ball jar called Pint & Half, which are tall, slender and perfect for freezing broth since the insides are completely smooth and vertical with no “shoulders” or ridges whatsoever. I’ve found them at Ace Hardware. The label says freezer safe and they have a fill line for freezing.

    • Val–
      I also had a hard time with with my quart jars breaking while freezing, but I then I saw on the side of the box that the quart jars are not recommended for freezing. Now I freeze all of my stock in wide mouth pint jars that are approved for freezing. Plus, now I am more willing to defrost a jar full when my recipe calls for less than a cup. Hope that helps.

    • Hi Val,
      Refrigerating the jars overnight before putting them in the freezer works! I have found that if I do that, breaking isn’t a problem, even if I accidentally fill the jar too full and it over flows.

      • Val,
        I, too, used to have jars of stock break. I read somewhere to use pyrex containers, so I invested in them. Works great! Way easier to get the stock out of, even when still pretty much frozen. I also sometimes first refrigerate the stock to cool it, and then measure it out in 2 cup portions into freezer bags, and freeze the bags laying down flat on a cookie sheet. Once the bags are frozen, remove them from the cookie sheet and stack. What you have then is a thin bag of stock that is easily used by cutting the bag off the frozen block of stock.

  22. Hi Sarah, thank you for this post. Just one question: Why you need to buy shrimp with the head on if later you will remove it?. Thank you.


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