How to Butterfly Shrimp the Right Way

A photo of the Professional Kitchen Scissors 420J2 Japanese Stainless Steel | Dalstrong with shirmps and a sliced lemon in half on top of a Dalstrong wooden board.Professional Kitchen Scissors420J2 Japanese Stainless Steel Dalstrong

Quick Overview: How to Butterfly Shrimp the Right Way

  1. Rinse the shrimp.
  2. Hold the shrimp by the tail and carefully slice along the center of the shrimp from its head down to the tail.
  3. Devein the dark line running down the back of the shrimp.
  4. Gently spread the shrimp open, revealing its beautiful butterfly shape, and press it flat with the palm of your hand.
  5. Ta-da! You're officially a shrimp-butterflying wizard.

Butterflying shrimp involves carefully slicing along the back and pressing it flat. With the right tools and a little patience, you can make restaurant-quality butterfly shrimp right at home. Keep reading for all the deets.

1. Why We Love Fresh Shrimp

A Close-up Shot of a Shrimps on Water

Ah, shrimp. What's not to adore? Let's dig deeper into why shrimp (all kinds, but especially jumbo shrimp) are the unsung heroes of the seafood world. You can do a lot with them – perfect for grilling shrimp on a hot summer's day, frying the shrimp for a cozy dinner, or creating an exotic coconut shrimp dish that would make any vacation envious.

Shrimp are versatile

Shrimp recipes come in a dazzling array, making them the ultimate go-to for home cooking enthusiasts and professional chefs alike (check out our 20-minute homemade keto shrimp recipe here). You can sauté them, fry them, grill them, or even throw them in some spicy cocktail sauce. You're never limited in your culinary creativity when shrimp are involved. And speaking of variety, how about those flavors? From the sweet and tangy tastes of tropical coconut shrimp to the deep, smoky flavors of grilled shrimp, the sky's the limit.

Shrimp cook quickly

One of their advantages is the cook time. They cook quickly! Whether you're a busy parent or just someone who doesn't want to spend all evening in the kitchen, shrimp are a time-saving delight. A couple of minutes on each side, and you have a dish that looks like it took hours to make.

Shrimp is good for you

And let's talk nutritional information. Shrimp are a great source of protein without a lot of fat, making them a fantastic addition to your diet. And let's face it, the aesthetics of a shrimp dish are always Instagram-worthy. So, the next time you're flipping through your recipe index, don't skip over those easy shrimp recipes; dive right in. Whether it's a weekday dinner or a special occasion, shrimp will elevate the meal from good to wowza.

2. How to Pick Fresh Shrimp

Close-Up Photo of Pile of Freshly Caught Prawns

Selecting the right shrimp isn't as easy as swinging by the grocery store and grabbing the first bag you see. First thing's first: always aim for peeled and deveined shrimp. It saves you a whole lot of time and hassle later on. 

Look and feel

When inspecting the shrimp, look for flesh that's firm to the touch. You don't want anything that's mushy or showing signs of deterioration.


Smell is another big indicator. Fresh shrimp should have a clean, salty scent, almost like the ocean breeze. If it smells fishy, or worse, has a hint of ammonia-like odors, put it back. You want shrimp that smells as fresh as it looks.

Frozen shrimp?

They're an acceptable Plan B. Just be aware that you'll need to set aside some extra time for thawing them out. The quick way is to place them in a bowl of cold water and let them sit for about an hour. If you have more time, you can let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Either way, don't rush the thawing process; patience is key here.

Remember, the quality of the shrimp you pick will directly influence the flavor and texture of your final dish, whether you're making fried butterflied shrimp or a simple shrimp cocktail. So, take your time and pick wisely. Your taste buds will thank you later.

Read about how to store fresh shrimps, here

3. How to Butterfly Shrimp: Step-By-Step

Cooked Food on White Ceramic Plate

Ready your cutting boards, folks! We're diving into the scrumptious world of how to butterfly shrimp. Whether you're a newbie or a seasoned home cooking expert, you'll find these steps straightforward and easy to follow. So let's break down the steps to create the perfect butterfly shrimp:

  1. Rinse the shrimp: Before you go all Gordon Ramsay on those shrimp, give those jumbos a good rinse under cold water to remove any lingering dirt or grit. Trust me, you don't want to skip this step. Once you've given them a good rinse, pat them dry with paper towels. It's crucial to pat dry; otherwise, you'll have a hard time getting a light coating of batter to stick later on.
  2. Preparation: Now, for the main event. Hold the shrimp by the tail, and here's where that sharp paring knife from Dalstrong comes into play. With surgical precision, carefully slice along the center of the shrimp from its head down to the tail. However, be cautious with the tip of your knife, keeping it shallow so as not to cut right through. We're butterflying, not bisecting!
  3. Deveining: So you've made your lengthwise incision and you spot a dark line running down the back of the shrimp. That's the digestive tract, and you'll want to remove it because nobody wants to discover that kind of 'extra crunch' in their meal. Simply lift it out with the tip of your knife.
  4. Spread and flatten: You're almost there! Gently spread the shrimp open, revealing its beautiful butterfly shape. Now, press it flat with the palm of your hand. At this point, you're ready to create some breaded butterfly shrimp, fried butterflied shrimp, or whatever your heart desires. Ta-da! You're officially a shrimp-butterflying wizard.

4. Dalstrong Tools You'll Need

1. Paring Knife 3.5" Shogun Series ELITE Dalstrong

Paring Knife 3.5" Shogun Series ELITE | Dalstrong

This knife is a must-have for all serious about their time in the kitchen, and it'll come especially handy for butterflying shrimp. Designed for precision tasks like peeling, mincing, and trimming, the Shogun Series ELITE 3.5" paring knife features an ultra-premium Japanese high-carbon AUS-10V steel blade with 66-alternating layers of SUS410 damascus cladding. Nitrogen cooled and hand-finished in the traditional Honbazuke 3-step method, the blade offers scalpel-like sharpness. Complementing the blade is an ultra-premium G-10 Garolite handle designed for ergonomic comfort.


  • With its 3.5” precision forged blade and ultra-premium Japanese AUS-10V 'super steel' core, this knife is designed for tasks that require extreme accuracy, such as peeling, mincing, and trimming.
  • Nitrogen-cooled and precision forged, the blade boasts an exceptional edge retention at a staggering 8-10 degrees per side, thanks to its 62+ Rockwell hardness.
  • The meticulously crafted G-10 Garolite handle offers military-grade strength and life-long durability, ensuring superior hand control, agility, and comfort.
  • Featuring Dalstrong’s exquisite 'Tsunami Rose' blade pattern and a beautifully crafted copper mosaic pin in the center rivet, this knife is as beautiful to look at as it is functional.


  • Crafted from ultra-premium materials, the knife sits at the higher end of the price spectrum, which might not be ideal for budget-conscious shoppers.
  • While exceptionally good at precision tasks, it's not designed for heavy-duty cutting, making it less versatile than some other knives in your collection.

2. Paring Knife 4" Valhalla Series Dalstrong

Paring Knife 4" Valhalla Series | Dalstrong

Don't let its small stature fool you – this 4” Valhalla Series paring knife packs a heroic punch. Crafted with 5-layer stainless steel and a hand-honed edge, it's a fierce, versatile weapon in the kitchen. Perfect for detail-oriented tasks such as peeling, deveining, and seed removal, its 60+ Rockwell Hardness ensures durability and strength. The celestial resin handle reinforced with stabilized wood, along with a stainless steel bolster, adds both durability and elegance. This knife comes with a Valhalla-embossed leather sheath for protection and style, proving that even small tools can bring big glory to your culinary adventures.


  • With its 4” precision-forged blade, this knife offers a bit more length compared to the Shogun Series 3.5" for tasks like skinning and peeling, adding to its versatility.
  • The celestial resin and stabilized wood handle not only offers structural sturdiness but also brings a unique, artistic flair that stands out.
  • Dishwasher safe, making it very suitable for busy kitchens.
  • The included Valhalla-embossed leather sheath adds a touch of grandeur, making it an eye-catching addition to your kitchen.


  • This knife is at a slightly lower Rockwell Hardness than the Shogun Series (60+ vs. 62+).
  • The handle's celestial resin and stabilized wood may feel different in hand compared to the G-10 Garolite handle of the Shogun Series, which could be a matter of personal preference.

3. Paring Knife 4" Delta Wolf Series Dalstrong

Paring Knife 4" Delta Wolf Series | Dalstrong

Crafted from high-carbon stainless steel and honed to a razor-sharp 8-12 degrees, this knife is your versatile partner for detailed kitchen tasks like coring, mincing, and peeling. Enhanced by a friction-reducing, corrosion-resistant onyx-black Titanium Nitride coating, it combines efficiency with durability. The midnight camouflage G10 handle offers both robust stability and sleek style, perfectly complementing the blade. Complete with a leather sheath and snap closure, this knife is a reliable and stylish addition to any kitchen.


  • This blade features a special coating that reduces friction and provides extra corrosion resistance.
  • The groove near the spine lightens the blade for faster, more agile cutting.
  • The camouflage G10 handle offers a different aesthetic, appealing to those who prefer a more rugged look in their kitchen tools.
  • Very easy to clean and take care of.


  • The onyx-black Titanium Nitride coating, while functional, may not suit everyone's aesthetic tastes, especially if they prefer a more traditional stainless steel appearance.
  • While the knife comes with a leather sheath, this type of material may require more upkeep compared to a polymer sheath to maintain its quality and appearance.

4. Paring Knife 3.5" Frost Fire Series NSF Certified Dalstrong

Paring Knife 3.5" Frost Fire Series | NSF Certified | Dalstrong

The Frost Fire 3.5” paring knife is an exquisite tool that perfectly balances form and function. Ideal for intricate tasks like coring, mincing, and peeling fruits and vegetables, the Frost Fire series offers a symphony of craftsmanship and high-quality materials. Its 7-layer high-carbon steel blade glides through produce, while the ergonomic white resin handle ensures a comfortable grip. Make delicate incisions in herbs, garlic, or even score patterns on your dishes with this eye-catching, NSF-certified knife that promises not just to be a showpiece but also a workhorse in your kitchen.


  • The 7-layer high-carbon, high-chromium 10CR15MOV steel is both stunning and functional, ensuring the blade retains its edge over prolonged use.
  • The premium quality white resin handle, enclosed in aluminum mesh, is not just visually appealing but offers an ergonomic grip for fatigue-free slicing and dicing.
  • The sandblast finish not only provides a unique frosted look but also adds to its non-stick properties, making food preparation even more efficient.
  • This knife is NSF certified, assuring you that it meets solid standards for public health protection.


  • Given the high-quality materials and craftsmanship, this knife sits in a higher price range which may not be suitable for casual home cooks on a budget.
  • The precision blade with its sandblast finish may require specialized care to maintain its unique appearance and performance over time.

5. Lionswood Teak Cutting Board Medium Size Dalstrong

Lionswood Teak Cutting Board | Medium Size | Dalstrong

When butterflying shrimp, you're gonna need a good cutting board. Dalstrong’s medium-sized Teak Cutting Board is a fantastic choice. Crafted from sustainably sourced, end-grain Tropical Teak wood, this board is as striking as it is resilient. The board is enriched with natural oils that resist water and bacteria, while its end-grain construction ensures minimal wear on your knives. Enhanced with satin-finished steel handles and additional features like a curved cut-out and lasered measurement lines, it's the cutting board that truly elevates your kitchen experience.


  • The cutting board is crafted from 100% sustainably sourced Tropical Teak wood, which is naturally resistant to water, bacteria, and staining, ensuring a long-lasting and hygienic cutting surface.
  • Designed with end-grain wood, the board minimizes gouges, thereby preserving the sharpness of your knives.
  • With its steel handles and a cut-out for a side plate, this board can effortlessly transition from a chopping board to a stylish serving platter.
  • The board comes with lasered measurement lines, making it easier to make precise cuts and section your ingredients effectively.


  • Some folks prefer plastic or fiberglass cutting boards rather than wood.
  • The medium-sized board is traditionally thicker due to its end-grain construction, making it potentially heavier and more cumbersome to store for those with limited kitchen space.

5. Delicious Butterflied Shrimp Recipe

Close-Up Photograph of Shrimps on White Flour

Okay, so you've butterflied your shrimp like a pro. Now what? Let's cook those beauties up! This is an easy and delicious fried butterflied shrimp recipe that you'll want to add to your recipe index. Don't forget to rate this recipe after you try it!


  • 1 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, and butterflied
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Lemon wedges for garnish
  • Tartar sauce or cocktail sauce for dipping


  1. Preparation- Pat dry the butterflied shrimp with paper towels. Make sure they're super dry to help the coating stick better.
  2. Season- In a bowl, mix the all-purpose flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Give it a good stir.
  3. Egg wash-  In another bowl, whisk the eggs until well-beaten.
  4. Breadcrumb mixture- In a third bowl, place the panko breadcrumbs.
  5. Coating- Hold the shrimp by the tail and dip them first into the flour mixture, then into the beaten eggs, letting the excess egg drip off. Finally, roll them in the panko breadcrumbs for that golden brown, crunchy exterior we all love.
  6. Set aside- Put the coated shrimp on a baking sheet and set them aside as you heat the oil.
  7. Heat oil- In a skillet, heat about 2 inches of canola oil over medium-high heat. To test if the oil is hot enough, drop in a breadcrumb; if it sizzles and floats to the top, you're good to go!
  8. Frying time- Correctly place the shrimp into the hot oil and fry until they're golden brown. This shouldn't take more than 2-3 minutes since shrimp cook quickly.
  9. Drain and serve- Remove the fried shrimp and drain them on paper towels. Serve hot with tartar sauce or cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.
  10. Enjoy- Relish your perfectly fried, butterflied shrimp, knowing you did all the hard work to make them just right!

Cooking tips:

  • You can use vegetable oil if canola oil is not available.
  • Feel adventurous? Add some heat with a pinch of cayenne in the flour mix.
  • If you're a fan of air fryer recipes, you can use the same coating and cook the shrimp at 375°F for about 8 minutes. Just remember to spray them with a bit of oil before air frying.

6. Frequently Asked Questions

Can I fry my butterflied shrimp?

Fried butterflied shrimp recipes usually involve dipping the shrimp in a bowl whisked with some eggs, coating them with panko bread crumbs, and then frying them in hot vegetable or canola oil until golden brown.

Can I use an air fryer?

Air fryer recipes work really well with shrimp. Adjust the cooking time, and your shrimps will come out juicy.

What sauce goes best with shrimp?

A classic cocktail sauce or tartar sauce pairs wonderfully with shrimp. Or get creative with sauce and lemon wedges.

How long should I cook the shrimp?

Shrimps cook quickly. Just watch for them turning pink and getting that crunchy-on-the-outside texture.

How is a shrimp butterflied?

A shrimp is butterflied by carefully slicing along the back and pressing it flat.

What is the purpose of butterflying shrimp?

Butterflying shrimp allows for quicker cooking time and helps the shrimp to soak up flavors or coatings more effectively.


Written by Jorge Farah
Born on the coast of Colombia and based in Buenos Aires, Jorge is a cooking enthusiast and kitchenware obsessive with a tremendous amount of opinions.

How to Butterfly Shrimp the Right Way

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