Learning how to devein shrimp is a necessary cooking tip for those who love to cook with shrimp. It’s the final step to make sure that your finished dish looks clean and restaurant quality.
Sometimes this may have been done for you by the retailer where you purchased them but more often, you will need to do the job yourself, especially if the shrimp still have the shells on.
Shrimp don’t actually have veins, since their circulatory system is open. But they do have a long line down their back which looks like a vein, which is a bit unsightly.
Fortunately for us, cleaning this is easy. Keep reading to find out how to do it.
There is nothing quite like the look of a plate of grilled shrimp with the back open and the vein removed.
Any good restaurant knows that presentation of shrimp means de-veining them prior to serving. This plate would not look any where near as appealing if the dark vein were showing on the shrimp.
Use these tricks to devein shrimp perfectly every time.
There are two “veins.” One is a white vein which is on the underside of the shrimp. It is white because a shrimp has clear blood.
There is no real food safety reason to remove this one (I don’t) but you may do so if it bothers you.
The main “vein” is the one which runs along the top of the body. This is the is the alimentary canal, or the “sand vein,” and is where the body wastes such as sand pass through the shrimp.
You remove it, partly because it’s unappetizing, but also so you don’t bite down on the sand and grit.
How to devein shrimp easily
To devein shrimp, just follow these steps:
- Peel the shrimp first and keep them in a bowl of icy water. This keeps them fresh while you work on the other shrimp to remove the vein.
- Use a very sharp paring knife. ( I have also done it with a very sharp pair of kitchen shears. This method works best with the extra large shrimp. If you have small ones, the paring knife is better.)
- Cut a 1/4 inch deep slit down the back of the shrimp. I start at the fattest part of the shrimp and cut towards the tail. You don’t have to go all the way to the end. The vein will be easily seen at this stage.
- Use the tip of your knife to remove the “vein” and then rinse the shrimp in cold water.
This picture shows the shrimp when it was peeled.
This step shows the slit in the shrimp with the vein showing.
This shows the slit cut into the shrimp and the vein removed.
The final picture shows all of the shrimp that I cleaned. It took me about 3 or 4 minutes tops.
You get better at it as you work your way through them.
I used these shrimp in my new Shrimp Alfredo recipe with broccoli. You can view the recipe here.
For more cooking tips, please visit my Facebook page, The Gardening Cook.
Sunday 23rd of August 2020
Why do you and others say the white vein/line under the shrimp by its' legs is "white"? What I see is a black line on the bottom. thank you for your help.
Tuesday 26th of July 2022
@Mike, agree 100%. The ones I buy are already deveined (slit open along the back, vein is gone) but the one "inside the C" shape is always black.
I get that one too, just using a fingernail to pick it out/pull it out under slowly running cold water.
Tuesday 10th of August 2021
@teri, I know what you mean. I've got some already deveined shrimp and the back is clear and opened as expected. Though there is still another 'vein' on the inside and it's definitely black on these, too.
Tuesday 25th of August 2020
There are two types of vein lines in shrimp. The one most people notice is the black one which should be removed.