Prawns are a great addition to many meals, including curries, stir-fries, and salads. You can purchase both fresh and frozen prawns from most UK supermarkets, but frozen prawns seem to be the preferred option. They’re cheaper, can be bought ready cooked, and don’t expire for months.
However, many people don’t know how to correctly cook frozen prawns. In this article, we look specifically at whether you can fry frozen prawns.
The quick answer is yes—frying frozen prawns is safe. But you need to do it the right way to get the most out of the recipe.
Get ready to make delicious seafood stir-fries and other wok-cooked dishes using these top tips!
Do You Need to Defrost Prawns Before Frying?
Frying is an excellent way to cook frozen prawns. But before you add them to your dish, you need to defrost them. This is not from a safety aspect, but rather it is easy to overcook frozen prawns when using them straight from the freezer.
Thawing the prawns first means you’re guaranteed perfectly cooked seafood for the most delicious meal yet.
How Can I Defrost Prawns Safely?
The best way to defrost frozen prawns before frying is in cold water brine. To do so, follow these simple steps. The whole process only takes around 20 minutes, so you can do this on the day ahead of cooking:
- Put the frozen prawns into a large bowl
- Submerge the prawns in cold water and stir in 2tbsp of salt
- Let the prawns soak for 15-20 minutes until thawed
- Drain the water from the prawns and fry in the pan
Another option is to put the frozen prawns in a colander and let cold water run over them for around 15 minutes. However, this does result in a lot of water wastage.
If you have time, you can also place the frozen prawns in an airtight container and let them defrost overnight in the refrigerator. Make sure you rinse the thawed prawns before cooking with them.
Can I Defrost Prawns in the Microwave?
It might be tempting to blitz your frozen prawns in the microwave for a couple of minutes before frying. However, this is not recommended. The prawns won’t defrost evenly and the inner layer may still be frozen.
When adding the prawns to the pan, this results in uneven cooking. You don’t want chewy, rubbery prawns, so take the time to defrost the prawns in cold water rather than rushing ahead.
Can You Cook Prawns From Frozen in a Wok?
You can cook frozen prawns in a wok or frying pan. In fact, frying or sauteing prawns on a high heat is one of the best ways to cook this seafood. It gives the prawns a juicy and tender texture.
But always defrost the prawns first before doing so! Cooking them directly from the freezer means it is easy to overcook them, but thawing your prawns first means they’ll be soft and delicious.
Frying Pre-Cooked vs Raw Prawns
You also need to pay attention to whether the prawns are raw or pre-cooked. Ignoring this fact can also lead to under or overcooked prawns!
Pre-cooked prawns just need to be reheated, so only have these in the pan for around two minutes.
If you’re making a stir-fry, they should go in after the vegetables but a couple of minutes before the noodles and sauce.
On the other hand, raw prawns should be cooked on a high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side. You’ll know they’re done as the prawn will turn an opaque pink colour.
Pay particular attention to the crevice where the vein was removed as this is the thickest part of the prawn. If this part is opaque, you know your prawns are ready to devour.
Can You Get Food Poisoning from Frozen Prawns?
The main concern people have about frying frozen prawns is over food poisoning. However, cooking frozen prawns straight from the freezer doesn’t pose a health risk.
Instead, it means that your prawns will be overcooked and rubbery. Therefore, you’re better off thawing the prawns and then frying them.
That being said, that doesn’t mean you cannot get food poisoning from frozen prawns. One study found that 20% to 60% of frozen prawns in the US contain bacteria like E. coli which can lead to food poisoning.
These bacteria will be killed when frying and heating the prawns, but you must be careful and defrost frozen prawns the right way.
If left at room temperature for too long, the bacteria will multiply, and the more bacteria present the more likely some will survive the cooking process.
Also, be careful when refreezing frozen prawns. Raw prawns should never be refrozen, whereas pre-cooked prawns can be as long as they were stored correctly.
However, the quality of the seafood deteriorates with each thawing and refreezing cycle, and will not cook as well next time. Consider only defrosting as many frozen prawns as you need for your recipe to avoid waste.
Hannah is a freelance content writer and self-proclaimed foodie. When Hannah isn’t sitting tapping at her laptop, you’ll probably find her in the kitchen. As an ex-chalet host, she’s used to cooking four-course meals for 10+ people and loves feeding friends and family whenever possible.