Shrimp Shells

Can You Eat Shrimp Shells – The Crunchy Question

I adore shrimp for many reasons. They can be prepared in so many different ways, from grilled and sautéed to steamed and stir-fried, offering a world of possibilities. But a couple of months back, my friend was talking about how he tried shrimp shells.

While it wasn’t shocking to me because I’ve heard about it before, it certainly was an interesting thing to consider. That is why I tested it myself and did a little bit of research on the side.

Are They Edible?

The answer is yesdefinitely! You see, shrimp shells are primarily made up of a fibrous substance called chitin. Interestingly, chitin is not only found in shrimp shells but also in other fascinating things like insects, mushrooms, and the exoskeletons of various crustaceans.

While chitin itself may not be easily digestible by humans, rest assured that consuming shrimp shells is completely safe. In fact, the culinary world has recognized the potential of shrimp shells for centuries. They have discovered that these shells can add a rich depth of flavor to stocks, broths, and sauces, infusing them with a delightful seafood essence.

They also contain a plethora of nutrients. Per 85 gram, they include:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 84.2
Protein 20.4 g
Iron 0.433 mg
Phosphorus 201 mg
Potassium 220 mg
Zinc 1.39 mg
Magnesium 33.2 mg
Sodium 94.4 mg

Some of my favorite recipes with shrimp shells

Rich Shrimp Stock


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 cups shrimp shells (from 2 pounds of shrimp, fresh or frozen)
  • 1 unpeeled red onion, sliced
  • 1 organic carrot, sliced
  • 1 organic celery, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (or 1/4 cup leftover rich tomato sauce)
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 sprig parsley
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig chives
  • 1 sprig oregano
  • 1-2 bay leaf
  • 1/8 teaspoon fennel see
  • Black pepper
  • 6 cups water (or enough to cover)


  1. In a stockpot, heat olive oil. Add shrimp shells and cook until they turn pink, up to 10 minutes to intensify the flavor.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients except for the water. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes. The longer you can draw this process out, the more natural juices will be released, adding awesome flavoring. Add just a pinch of salt to speed up the process.
  3. Cover with water, bring just to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Strain into a container, extracting all the goodness from the scraps.
  5. Cool completely and freeze or use as desired.

Shrimp Butter


  • Shells from 1 pound of shrimp (cleaned)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt, to taste


  • Rinse the shrimp shells thoroughly to remove any grit or residue.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Add the minced garlic and cook for about 1 minute until fragrant but not browned.
  • Add the shrimp shells to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 to 8 minutes. The shells should turn pink, and the butter should have a rich, orange hue.
  • Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer gently for another 10 minutes. This allows the flavors to meld and intensify.
  • Set a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. Carefully pour the butter and shell mixture through the sieve to remove the solids. Press on the shells with a spoon to extract as much butter as possible.
  • Taste the strained shrimp butter and add salt as needed.
  • Allow the shrimp butter to cool to room temperature. If not using immediately, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate. It should keep well for up to a week.

Potential Health Benefits

Health Benefits of Eating Shrimp Shells

They Support Weight Loss

Shrimp shells are low in calories, which means you can enjoy them without worrying about consuming excessive calories. But that’s not all. They also happen to be packed with lean protein and beneficial fats, making them a fantastic addition to a healthy diet.

Protein-rich foods have a remarkable ability to keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer periods of time. This means that including shrimp shells in your meals can help curb hunger pangs and reduce the temptation to overeat.

Not only can shrimp shells contribute to shedding those extra pounds, but they can also play a role in maintaining a healthy weight once you’ve achieved your goals. Their combination of low-calorie content, high protein content, and beneficial fats make them an excellent dietary option for anyone striving to lead a balanced and nutritious lifestyle.

These could definitely be a smart and satisfying choice.

Promote Heart Health

You’ll be glad to know that shrimp shells have some incredible benefits for promoting heart health. Within those shells, you’ll find a wealth of essential nutrients that are known to be beneficial for your heart. One notable component is omega-3 fatty acids, which are highly regarded for their heart-protective properties.

These fatty acids, found abundantly in seafood like shrimp, have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease by reducing inflammation in the body. But that’s not all. Shrimp shells also contain a good dose of vitamin B12, which plays a crucial role in maintaining heart health.

Consuming sufficient amounts of vitamin B12 helps regulate homocysteine levels in the body. Elevated levels of homocysteine have been associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease. By keeping those levels in check, shrimp shells can contribute to a healthier heart.

Rich in Immune-Boosting Nutrients

One of the standout nutrients found in shrimp shells is zinc, a mineral that plays a vital role in the development of immune cells. By consuming shellfish, including shrimp shells, you can increase your intake of zinc and give your immune system a valuable boost.

This boost, in turn, enhances the performance of your immune system, empowering your body to better defend itself against infections and illnesses. Zinc is known for its ability to support various aspects of immune function, such as promoting the production and activity of immune cells.

By ensuring an adequate supply of zinc through the consumption of shrimp shells, you are equipping your body with the tools it needs to maintain a robust immune system.


Not only that shrimp shells are safe to eat, but adding them to your diet can be beneficial. I already did it, and I must say I loved experimenting with dishes that include these.

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