How to Tell if Cooked Shrimp is Bad? Here are the Signs

If you’ve ever eaten fresh shrimp, then you know that it’s a delicious treat. However, if cooked shrimp has gone bad, it can be dangerous to eat. 

The signs of spoilage aren’t always obvious with cooked shrimp, so knowing what to look for will help you keep yourself healthy and avoid any unnecessary trips to the doctor’s office or urgent care clinic. 

In this article, we’ll cover the tell-tale signs of spoiled cooked shrimp so that you know which ones are safe to eat and which ones should be tossed out immediately!

Good shrimp will be dry to the touch and smell salty, while spoiled shrimp will be discolored, slimy or mushy, and smell fishy and sour.

How Do You Know When Cooked Shrimp Has Gone Bad?

When you’re trying to figure out if cooked shrimp has gone bad, the first thing to do is look for signs that it may have spoiled. Even stored in the fridge, you should check for signs of spoilage. These include:


Good shrimp has a white meat with a slight transparency. Some species will have slightly pink or gray casts to the meat. 

Good shrimp will have a firm texture and no softness. Fresh and good shrimp may feel wet from condensation, but never slimy. 

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Shrimp that has gone bad may have a slimy texture. This slime can appear on top of or under the shell. This slime is caused by the buildup of bacteria that can make you very sick. 

Any blemish to the color of your shrimp is another red flag. Any spots or discoloration should be considered a warning not to eat it. Mold is an obvious indicator of spoilage.


The smell of shrimp is not a reliable indicator of spoilage. The odor of cooked shrimp can be affected by many factors, including the way it was cooked and stored. Even if your nose detects an unpleasant odor when you open up your package of shrimp, there’s no guarantee that it’s spoiled; sometimes bad smells are just part of what makes seafood so delicious!

Fresh shrimp smells salty only. If your shrimp is still good, you’ll smell the salty ocean, not a fishy smell or sulphuric notes. 

Any smell other than salty should be considered suspect. If your shrimp smells sour, fishy, or odd, don’t eat it. It’s time to toss it. 


The best way to tell if cooked shrimp is bad is to taste it. If your shrimp tastes off, don’t eat it. If it doesn’t taste bad and you’re not sure if it’s safe to eat or not, follow these steps:

  • Put some cooked shrimp on a plate and let them sit for about 10 minutes. If they look slimy or have an odor when you come back after 10 minutes, throw them away immediately!
  • If the cooked shrimp looks fine after sitting for 10 minutes (no slime or smell), then enjoy your meal!
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If your shrimp no longer feel firm to the touch, but mushy or soft, it’s time to throw them out. 

This mushy or soft texture is a sign that the internal structure of the meat has started to decompose from age. 

The texture of the meat should be analyzed alongside at least one of the other signs mentioned earlier. Shrimp that was frozen for a long time may have a softer texture and still be good. 

Can You Eat Cooked Shrimp That Has Gone Bad?

No. Some think that since you heat meat to kill bacteria, then you can heat the shrimp again and just kill off the bacteria a second time. That’s not the case.

Many bacteria exude a toxic substance as they multiply. While heating the shrimp to the proper temperature will kill off most of the bacteria again, the toxic substance is heat resistant and will still make you sick.

What Happens When You Eat Spoiled Cooked Shrimp?

If you eat spoiled cooked shrimp, the symptoms can include:

  • Food poisoning. This is the most common symptom of eating spoiled food. It’s caused by bacteria that grow in your body after consuming certain types of food. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. The severity of these symptoms depends on how much bacteria was ingested and how quickly your body reacts to it.
  • Dehydration. The other symptoms can cause dangerous dehydration even if you’ve moved past the general food poisoning.

Symptoms of food poisoning from eating spoiled shrimp can appear as early as 4 hours after consumption to as late as 48 hours. 

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What to Do with Cooked Shrimp That Has Gone Bad?

If you’ve already cooked some shrimp but aren’t sure if they are still safe to eat, don’t try salvaging them! 

Once cooked food goes bad, there’s no way to save it without throwing away all of its ingredients and starting over from scratch! 

Instead of trying this risky experiment with food safety in mind: just throw away any questionable items immediately so no one suffers from eating something that could make them sick (or worse!).


If you want to know how to tell if cooked shrimp is bad, then all you need to do is look at its appearance, smell, and taste. 

If these three things don’t seem right, then chances are that your cooked shrimp has gone bad and should not be eaten. However, if they do seem fine then there should be no problem eating them!