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Choosing The Best Shrimp Deveiner (The Ultimate Guide)

By colm
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It’s a job no cook enjoys.

Your hands can get wet, slimy, and soar.

And if you’re faced with a mountain of shrimp that need deveining, it can seem like it takes forever.

You could even end up with little cuts and lacerations on your hands, having peeled and deveined a couple of kilos of hard-shelled shrimp.

But if you love cooking and eating the sweet-tasting flesh of shrimp and prawns, then that little black thread has got to go.

There’s a couple of ways you traditionally devein shrimp.

You can pull off the head, hope the vein is sticking out, and gently ease it out that way.

best shrimp deveiner

The middle part of the tail shell is connected to the vein, and sometimes if you twist and pull it, the vein will slide out too…if you’re lucky.

The most common way is to remove the head and shell around the tail. Run a knife along the back and poke around for a vein that may or may not be visible depending on when the little critters last ate.

There is an easier way….

Enter the shrimp deveiner.

Depending on the design, this handy little gadget that works like a knife or scissors can save shellfish lovers a ton of time in the kitchen.

The best shrimp deveiner can peel, remove the vein, and butterfly the shrimp for a beautiful presentation all in one easy motion (more on this in a minute)

Below are a few examples of shrimp peelers/deveiners.

Norpro 1EA shrimp peeler/deveiner

Scissor-like design with curved steel blades. About half a foot in length and weighs 0.17 pounds.

Frogmore shrimp cleaner by Toadfish.

Knife type design. Long curved stainless steel blade with a pick on the underside for removing the vein. 4.6 ounces in weight.

Shrimp butler.

Knife type design. Long curved stainless steel blade with a pick on the underside for removing the vein. 4.6 ounces in weight.

Lamson shrimp deveiner knife.

Knife type design. Long curved stainless steel blade with a pick on the underside for removing the vein. 4.6 ounces in weight.

Oxo good grip shrimp cleaner.

Knife type design. Long curved stainless steel blade with a pick on the underside for removing the vein. 4.6 ounces in weight.

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What Is A Shrimp Vein Any way?

The so-called vein (a bit of a misnomer) does not carry blood. It’s just the animal’s digestive tract; eating it won’t harm you or make you sick.

And all though shrimp are bottom feeders, all they tend to eat are plankton and other little sea creatures. So odds are you’d find far worse things in a sausage.

If the shrimp had a last meal, the vein would be a dark colour, easy to spot, and filled with sand and grit. If, however, the poor thing dies hungry, the digestive tract will be clear and difficult to see.

If you’re preparing farmed shrimp, be aware that some producers starve the shrimp for a couple of days before harvesting to minimize the tract.

Unfortunately, shrimp deveining is a job your fishmonger won’t do. And if he does, he’ll charge for the work accordingly. (buying freshly deveined shrimp can be ridiculously expensive)

The only real way to avoid the job or cost altogether is to buy the farmed, frozen ones, which often come deveined but aren’t very sustainable.

All this can leave you wondering if you should bother deveining shrimp in the first place.

What difference does it make?

Why You Should Consider Removing The Vein

So, here’s the deal….

It will make no difference most of the time, and your shrimp will look and taste just fine.

Sometimes, you’ll come across a rogue shrimp that doesn’t taste quite right and can have a slightly bitter, sour, or muddy taste.

Even worse is the sandy or gritty texture you can find in your mouth having eaten a shrimp that hasn’t been deveined. And no sauce or dressing can cover this up.

But, Is It Really Necessary?

No, It’s not…

Whether or not to remove the vein often comes down to your personal preference and how much time you have on your hands.

If you are working with small to medium shrimp, you can forgo the deveining. A teeny digestive tract means you probably won’t taste anything amiss. And they’d be far too fiddly to devein without mangling the flesh anyway.

If you’re cooking large shrimp, it’s always best to devein. Your guaranteeing they’ll look and taste great.

With some species of shrimp, the vein can become visible through the flesh once cooked, and it just looks all wrong. The last thing anyone likes to see is an unsightly small black strand in their garlic prawns, shrimp cocktail, scampi, or prawns pil-pil.

By using a good shrimp deveiner, you’ll also be cutting an incision right down the back of the crustacean’s tail.

So, once it hits a heat source, it will curl up into a butterfly shape for a beautiful presentation ideal for any dish, whether appetizer, entree, pasta or salad.

Shrimp and prawns are expensive ingredients. You want them to taste their best, and to do your cooking justice, it’s best to get rid of the vein.

How The Best Shrimp Deveiner Work.

There are two types of deveiners. You can either go for one that looks similar to a knife or a scissor-like design.

Both feature curved blades that mirror the arc of a shrimp tail and work great as shrimp peelers.

The knife design tends to work better when taking out the vein.

The Shrimp Knife

To use it, slide it halfway along the tail, between the shell and meat. Then push the shrimp along the blade, and off pops the shell, vein and all. Leaving a beautifully butterflied shrimp ready to be cooked.

It’s not foolproof, and using it can be a little tricky the first few times, but once you find a rhythm, you’ll be amazed at how easy it becomes.

The Shrimp Scissors

On the other hand, the shrimp scissors can be a bit hit and miss when it comes to deveining.

It works just like you’d expect. You cut along the top of the tail and remove the shell. Sometimes it will hook the vein and remove it. Sometimes it won’t.

Every so often, you’ll miss and have to pull the vein out old school with a knife or rinse it out with some running water.

What Is The Best Shrimp Deveiner?

Having peeled lots of shrimp in my day and used a few different deveiners, I.’d say that the type of deveiner you choose will come down to how you want to prepare and cook your shrimp. (check out the F.A.Q. at the end of this post for a little more on this)

Below we’ve chosen five different models for you to compare. Take a look through the pros and cons to find one that’s a good fit for you.

Here at Cockles n Mussels, we hope you enjoy the products we recommend, but we need to let you know that if you decide to purchase something through the links on this page, we get a small commission. It helps keep the lights on around here…..Thanks.

Norpro 1EA Shrimp and Prawn Peeler

The Norpro 6518 Shrimp and Prawn Peeler is a scissor-style shrimp deveiner. A little over half a foot in length with curved steel blades, this peeler quickly and neatly snips through shrimp shells, making it very simple to hook and pull out the vein.


  • The simple scissor form is super intuitive and forgiving of mistakes and requires very little finesse or manual dexterity, unlike knives. If you know how to use scissors, you know how to use these!
  • Thin steel blades slide right into the shell without mangling the meat the way thicker kitchen shears tend to.
  • The curve of the blades matches the natural curve of the shrimp, which also helps to prevent unintentional damage to the meat.
  • Simple operation makes it easy to get a rhythm going, which is great if you’re trying to process a lot of shrimp simultaneously.
  • Very affordable.


  • The blades could be sharper out of the package. If you have any knife sharpener, a little bit of love will go a long way to make them cut better.
  • The plastic grips are a little bit wimpy. More of a nitpick, but a more robust set of grips would improve the feel and ergonomics while cutting.

Frogmore Shrimp Cleaner by Toadfish

The Frogmore Shrimp Cleaner by Toadfish is an odd-looking gadget that’s a long, curved stainless steel pick with a small blade on its underside.

To use it, you insert the tip of the pick into the top of the shell and slide the shrimp towards the handle.


  • Deveins, butterflies, and peels the shrimp all at once, which streamlines the process.
  • Retains the shell and vein of the shrimp for easy disposal.
  • Easy and quick to use once you get the hang of it.
  • Very solid, robust feeling tool. No part of the device feels flimsy or poorly made.
  • Excellent for deveining large amounts of shrimp quickly. Once you have the technique down, you can process each shrimp in one smooth motion.
  • The ergonomic grip makes it very easy to maintain a hold on the tool, even when your hands are slippery and wet.


  • Butterflies the shrimp as it peels them. Convenient if you want butterflied shrimp, but if you don’t, you’re out of luck.
  • Extremely tricky to preserve the tails of the shrimp if you want to keep them on. Doing so makes the otherwise straightforward process much fiddly than other methods.

Shrimp Butler

The Shrimp Butler is an automatic shrimp peeling and deveining device.

To use it, you place a whole shrimp in the compartment on top and pull the lever. An internal blade splits the shell and cuts out the vein for easy removal.


  • Extremely simple to use, requiring virtually no manual dexterity.
  • Let’s you decide how much of the shell to keep on the shrimp. The device doesn’t remove the shell or the tail. Instead, it simply splits them and lets you remove whatever parts you want, which is excellent if you want to keep the tails on for a shrimp cocktail or if you prefer cooking them in their shells.


  • Very bulky. The device is much larger than other deveining tools like scissors or lances. It’s nearly as large as a coffeemaker and takes up a ton of counter space, which isn’t great for a super specialized, single-function device.
  • Flimsy construction. The Shrimp Butler is made almost entirely out of plastic and feels like a toy rather than a serious cooking device. That lightweight construction also means it’s prone to move around a lot with use.
  • Won’t work for small shrimp.

Lamson Shrimp Deveiner Knife

The Lamson Shrimp Deveiner knife features a curved, stainless steel blade and a riveted handle in natural walnut.

To use it, you insert it at the top of the shrimp’s shell and cut just deep enough to scour next to the vein, then use the tip to pick it out.


  • Extremely well made. Lamson makes very high-quality knives, and this is no exception.
  • Very handsome, professional-looking tool. The natural walnut handle is gorgeous.
  • Sharp enough to cut right through shrimp shell right out of the package, with no aftermarket sharpening required
  • The thin, curved blade is much easier to use on shrimp than the relatively thick, straight blade on a paring knife, which can mutilate them if you’re not extremely careful.
  • It can double as a paring knife in a pinch. It’s made for processing shrimp, but it’s still workable for most purposes that call for a small, sharp knife. Definitely more versatile than other, more specialized shrimp deveining tools.
  • Compact and easy to store.


  • Natural walnut handle requires more maintenance than synthetic alternatives. The manufacturers recommend treating it with mineral oil after every cleaning.
  • Slightly pricier than other deveining knives. It’s a premium product that works straight out of the box, but you could probably get similar performance out of a much cheaper knife if you’re willing to put in some work sharpening it.

OXO Good Grips Shrimp Cleaner

The OXO Good Grips Shrimp Cleaner is a curved, serrated plastic spike on a soft rubber handle.

To use it, you insert the spike into the shrimp and pull, taking the shell and vein out in one smooth motion.


  • Very comfortable non-slip handle. It’s made of soft, slightly tacky rubber, so it’s straightforward to get a comfortable hold on it that won’t slip off even when your hands are oily or wet.
  • Very safe. The ‘blade’ is made of plastic, so there are no sharp metal parts to stab or cut the unwary user.
  • Easy and quick once you get the hang of it.
  • Dishwasher safe with no moving parts, making it extremely easy to clean.
  • Very compact, fits easily in a drawer when not in use
  • Shells and deveins at the same time


  • It can be trickier to use than knives or scissors and requires a specific technique to remove both the shell and the vein cleanly.
  • Not as sharp as some other tools, making it more challenging to get it neatly into the shell of the shrimp.
  • A translucent plastic blade is a little less sturdy than metal-bladed alternatives. As a result, it’s not a viable tool for anything other than deveining and shelling shrimp.

A Quick Shrimp Deveiner F.A.Q.

Q. Do shrimp deviners work on cooked shrimp?

A. Short answer. No. Once a shrimp tail is cooked, the vein loses elasticity and becomes brittle, so there’s no way to pull it out. If you’re going to devein, do it while your shrimps are raw.

Q. I’ve got some shrimp that have already been shelled, Will a deveiner work on these?

A. Most designs will work, but to be brutally honest, once they’re out of the shell, you’d probably be just as quick using a regular knife

Q . Do they leave the end of the tail on for presentation?

A. The knife-type shrimp deveiner isn’t designed to do this. You’d have far more success with shrimp scissors, although you might initially find it a little fiddly.

Q. I want to grill my shrimp whole. Can a deveiner remove the vein and leave the shrimp in one piece?

A. No. A shrimp deveiner will be useless in this situation. But not to worry. There is a simple way to remove the vein from a whole shrimp without using any knife or gadget; all you need is a toothpick.

grilling deveined shrimp

The Toothpick Method Of Deveining Shrimp

Grilling crustaceans whole on the bbq is undoubtedly one of the tastiest ways to cook them. The shell protects the delicate flesh from the fierce heat of the coles, and they steam away in their juices, leaving a smokey, moist, and succulent result.

Then you have to leave them cool a little before shelling and dipping them in your favourite sauce. My favourites are Chimichurri, garlic butter, or good saffron aioli.

If you’re going to use large shrimp or prawns, then make sure to remove the vein. It’s speedy and easy to do with just a toothpick.

Here’s how it’s done….

Bend the tail and poke a toothpick in between the shell and the meat at the top of the tail. Then gently hook the vein and pull.

Occasionally the vein might break, or you might not get it all, but you can always attack it from another part of the tail to remove the rest.

Check out the quick video below to see how it’s done.

Wrapping Up

Peeling and deveining shrimp can be tedious, repetitive and frustratingly time-consuming. You could be forgiven for not bothering with it at all when in a hurry.

Luckily the best shrimp diviners are affordable and can cut the amount of time it takes in half.

And if it’s speed, presentation, and a cleanly prepared shrimp you’re after, then go with the Frogmore.

Its unique design makes it the most accurate and user-friendly deveiner at the minute. That is, of course, until some genius comes up with something else.

One last thing. After you’ve peeled all those shrimp, don’t dump the shells. Pop them in the freezer for later use. Here are a few cool recipes for using them up.

shrimp heads

Shrimp cocktail, anyone?


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3 thoughts on “Choosing The Best Shrimp Deveiner (The Ultimate Guide)”

  1. “If your going to devein than do it while your shrimps are raw.”
    The proper usage is “then” rather than “than”.


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