Chef Ramsay - How to prepare fresh prawns

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How to Prepare and Cook Prawns

Four Methods:

Despite a few anatomical differences, prawn are virtually interchangeable with shrimp in any recipe. Prawns can be prepared and cooked using a variety of methods, and many people don't even clean them before cooking, claiming it leads to better flavor.


Cleaning and Preparing Whole Prawns

  1. Remove the shells and heads to make eating prawns easier after cooking.You can cook the prawns in their shells as well, removing them later, and this often helps them retain moisture as they cook, But if the prawns are part of a larger dish (like a soup) you don't want to search for scales with your spoon. Luckily, cleaning prawns is easy before cooking.
    • If you are grilling or pan frying your prawns, you should leave at least the shells on.
    • You can leave the heads on the prawns, as they will lead to a stronger flavor, but many people remove them to make eating easier.
  2. Remove the heads by pulling and twisting.They should come off with ease. Grab around the eyes and firmly twist to pull the head off. You can discard these, or save them to make seafood stock.
  3. Pull off the legs.Simply use your hand to pinch off the small dangling legs and pull them away.
  4. Peel off the shell with your thumbs.Starting at the larger end, work your thumb under the shell and slide it down to the tail, pulling off the shell as you go. It may come off in pieces. You can either leave the tail on, usually as a "handle" when eating by hand, or remove and discard it if you're cooking the prawns into another dish.
  5. Use a small knife to create a slit down the back of the prawn.You're looking for the long black vein that runs through the entire prawn. It is easiest to see near the tail, where there is a small valley in the prawn.
  6. Remove the vein from the prawn.Pull the end of the vein up with the tip of the knife then grab it with your fingers to pull it off. This is not strictly necessary, but the vein has a bitter taste that is best removed now.
    • You can still remove the vein while leaving the shell on. To do so, clip the shell with scissors and pull the vein out, closing the shell back up. You can also pull the entire vein out in one piece if you break the head off and locate it.
  7. Rinse under running water and pat dry with paper towels.Moisture on the outside of the prawn will make the cook unevenly. Give them a quick rinse with cold water and then dry them off.
    • If you don't plan on cooking them yet, keep the prawns on ice or in the refrigerator.

Pan Frying Prawns

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter or olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.If cooking a lot of prawns, add enough butter to cover the bottom. You should have enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet, but you don't need the prawns to be covered.
  2. Add any flavors or aromatics.Aromatics are basically spices that cook with the oil, imparting their flavor on the prawns. Some good additions are:
    • 1/2 cup chopped shallots.
    • 3-5 cloves of garlic, smashed.
    • 1-2 tablespoons chopped ginger.
  3. Add a single layer of shelled prawns and cook until the underside turns pink.This usually takes 3-4 minutes. As the first side cooks, stir in your flavorings.
  4. Add seasoning and stir the prawns up once as they cook.Make sure you stir enough to coat the outside of the prawns in your seasonings, then leave them until the first side is cooked. some seasoning options include:
    • Mexican Prawns:Salt, lime juice, red pepper, cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder (if not using fresh)
    • Mediterranean Prawns:Salt, lemon juice, black pepper, oregano, garlic powder (if not using fresh) Cook in olive oil.
    • Cajun Prawns:Salt, paprika, cayenne, thyme, red and black pepper, chili powder, onion/garlic powder (if not using fresh). Cook in butter.
  5. Flip the prawns and cook until the entire outside is pink.Prawns lose their moisture quickly, so you just want to get the outsides nice and pink and then turn off the heat. There will be deep streaks of pink, not just white, when they are done. Serve in the hot pan so that they don't cool too quickly.

Boiling Prawns

  1. Boil enough water to just cover the prawns.Add half of a lemon, sliced or cut in chunks, 1-2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning, 1 minced garlic clove, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Let this mixture boil for 1 minute before adding the prawns.
  2. Add the prawns and lower the heat.Leave the tails on, and make sure they are covered in water. Simmer for approximately 3 minutes or until the prawns turn pink. Remove from heat.
    • You can leave the shells and head on, or remove them before cooking. Leaving them on will lead to a stronger flavor.
  3. Plunge prawns into a bowl of ice water to stop cooking.As soon as they come off, drain the hot water and plunge the prawns in a cold water keep them from cooking.
    • You can use that water as the base of a soup stock if you want to save it.
  4. Serve the prawns chilled.These prawns are a nice addition to a buffet table, often placed on a large platter and served with a variety of sauces, such as cocktail sauce, tartar sauce or drawn butter.
    • These prawns also work well in a prawn salad with a mayonnaise-based dressing, either served on a bed of greens or in a bread roll.

Grilling Prawns

  1. Preheat your grill at high heat.Prawns need to be cooked quickly to retain their moisture and still cook all the way through, so you want good high heat. This leads to wonderfully browned, crispy skins with succulent prawn meat underneath.
    • Generally, leaving the skins and tails on his best for grilling. However, it is not essential.
  2. Try out a baking soda bath for the crispiest prawns.If you like crispy, well-browned prawns, soak the prawns in 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and 1 cup water for 15 minutes before moving on. The baking soda alters the pH slightly, promoting caramelization.
    • Pat the prawns dry after removing them, but don't rinse them and get rid of the baking soda.
  3. Skewer the prawns.You can mix them with vegetables as well, threading them one after the other on your skewer. Whatever you do, thread them tightly together, with no spaces between each prawns. This helps the interiors retain moisture as the outsides brown.
    • Soak wooden skewers in water until thoroughly soaked through. Soaking the wooden skewers ahead of time prevents them from drawing moisture out of your prawns while they cook.
  4. Coat the prawns in olive oil.Use a brush to coat all the sides of prawns with olive oil, which helps them cook evenly. Add a dusting of garlic powder, if you love garlic, and a light sprinkling of salt.
  5. Arrange the skewers on the grill without touching each other.Press them lightly down into the grill so that the prawns are touching the hot grate.
  6. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, turning when the side is pink.Remember that prawns cook quickly, and you only need the outsides to be pink to move on. With a very hot grill you should get char lines quickly, and then the prawns are ready to turn. Cook for 1-2 minutes on the opposite side before removing.
  7. Season the prawns after the come off the grill.Take the prawns, shells and tails still intact, and toss them with some olive oil or melted butter, salt, and pepper. You can then add whatever other flavors you desire:
    • Mexican Prawns:Lime juice, red pepper, cayenne, chipotle, chili powder, garlic powder.
    • Mediterranean Prawns:Lemon juice, black pepper, oregano, garlic powder, parsley.
    • Cajun Prawns:Salt, paprika, cayenne, thyme, red and black pepper, chili powder, onion/garlic powder.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Can prawns labeled as cooking prawns be used for cold dishes?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, as long as you cook them first. Once they're cooked, refrigerate and serve them within 3 days.
  • Question
    Are cooked prawns softer than cooked shrimp?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    It depends on the prawn. Langoustines are usually best, but cooking any of them right is the key - overcooking can make both prawns and shrimp tough. Cooking them separately from other ingredients makes getting it right easier.
  • Question
    How long will boiled prawns keep?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    In the refrigerator, prawns will keep for three to four days, and in the freezer they can last up to three months.
  • Question
    Do I need to cook raw prawn meat first before adding it to anything else?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    I always cook prawns first so they are tender. That way you only need them to heat through (thoroughly) when you add them to something and they won't lose their flavor.
  • Question
    Do I need to defrost the prawns before cooking them?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes. Allow the prawns to thaw out in salt or well-salted water for the best results (and taste).
  • Question
    How can I tell if my prawns are cooked?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    The prawns will turn from translucent to white when they are cooked. Don't overcook them -- they can become tough or chewy.
  • Question
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
  • Question
    Can I make fried rice with prawns?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes! That's a fantastic idea.
  • Question
    Do I always need to remove the head and shell of prawns before cooking them?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You can leave them on if you like. Leaving them on produces a stronger flavor.
  • Question
    How do we know prawns are correctly cooked or not?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    They are cooked when they turn am opaque white.
Unanswered Questions
  • I just purchased some frozen raw, de-veined, tail on prawns. The package reads: "not suitable for boiling." How do I cook them then if I want them for a prawn cocktail?
  • How do you know it is cooked inside
  • Can I crumb and deep-fry green raw prawns
  • I have peeled raw green banana prawns and I want to crumb and deep fry these can I do this from there raw stage?
Ask a Question
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  • Leaving the prawns in the fridge uncovered for 1 hour prior to cooking helps dry out the surfaces, but still leaves the inside moist. Try this if you like extra-crispy browned prawns.
  • Always be careful with grills, broilers, or stove (tops).


  • Prawns cook quickly, in a matter of minutes, so don't leave them cooking unattended.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper towels
  • Skillet
  • Grill, broiler, or stove
  • Knife

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Quick Summary

To prepare and cook prawns, twist and pull the heads from the bodies, thenpinch off the legs. Next, work your thumb under the shell and slide it down to the tail, pulling off the entire shell as you go. Then, use a small knife to cut a slit down the back of each prawn and remove the dark colored vein. Rinse the prawns under running water, pat them dry with paper towels, and use them in your favorite recipe!

Success Stories

Graham Debling

Apr 26, 2019

"I bought some large wild prawns from a local fishmonger, and wanted some further guidance on cooking them. We hadrecently had some at a Spanish restaurant in Folkestone which were very good, and I wanted to recreate something similar. The article is very comprehensive, thanks."
Rated this article:


Oct 3, 2019

"It was good to know what seasoning to put in. I am always unsure of this, so this was a great help for me. Thanksfor your advice, I will now go and enjoy them."

Jane Wood

Aug 9, 2019

"Very clear instructions, thanks. My first time to cook prawns for a party. Will let you know how they turn out!"
Rated this article:

Eva Taylor

Aug 22, 2019

"You made it all sound very simple. Also, the images were extremely helpful, especially the finished product."

Amit Karun

Mar 8, 2019

"Gives a solid base to cook prawns and can be taken to any level depending on taste. Fabulous post!"


Mar 30

"Although very helpful, a short video would have helped even more. Still grateful for all. Thanks."

Jan Rich

Aug 14, 2019

"I hadn't cooked or prepared fresh prawns before so this article was very clear and helpful."

Anna Truter-Atkins

Sep 7, 2019

"Straight forward illustrated instructions for the novice. Loved it. Thanks!"

christabella Mathew

Aug 7, 2019

"Really helped me so much! Love it. Should put more on prawn recipe."
Rated this article:


Aug 31, 2019

"Explained a simple and easy way to understand the topic. Thank you."

Nektarios Avramidis

Sep 4, 2019

"Step-by-step, fantastic instructions. The prawns tasted delicious."

Vincent Hill

Sep 16, 2019

"Great article, thanks. Great fried prawns with garlic and onion."

Khuthadzo Nedzharata

Sep 13, 2019

"It helps me a lot because now I know how to cook the prawns!"


Sep 1, 2019

"The method was very easy to do and was very easy to follow."


Mar 10, 2019

"Don't skip the peeling and prep part. Good article, thanks."

Paul Felix

Jun 7, 2019

"I thought I was wrong cooking them with shells."

Pieter Nel

Apr 17, 2019

"I made a nice meal for my family, thanks."
Rated this article:


Sep 19, 2019

"The different variety of cooking helped.

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Date: 07.12.2018, 22:30 / Views: 33541