Photo by Alisha VargasCreative Commons License.

To devein (pronounced “de-vein”) is to to remove the dark dorsal vein from shrimp or prawns. A fork can be inserted in the back of the shrimp to pull out the vein, or a knife can be used to cut a slit down the length of the shrimp. A special deveining tool can be purchased (Recipe Tips, nd).


Difficulty to learn: Medium/Hard

Some Thoughts For You:

Deveining is a bit of a lesser known preparation technique. It can also be complicated if you have never attempted it before. But, people who devein their shrimp before cooking and consumption claim that it improves the taste. You can certainly buy pre-deveined shrimp, but they might cost a little more money.

Deveining can be done with just a sharp knife, although it is possible to buy a special deveining tool to both cut the shell off of the shrimp and devein it at the same time.

What You Will Need:

Deveining shrimp can be messy. Always work with a clean area and use proper hand protection when using knives.

All you really need for deveining shrimp is a cutting board to protect your kitchen surface, a knife or deveining tool, and a cloth for easy cleanup. If using a knife, it should be thin and sharp, such as a pairing knife.

Basic Steps:

The following steps assume you are working with just an average kitchen knife. The knife should be thin and sharp. Always use care when working with sharp objects.

  1. With your fingers, carefully peel the shell off of the shrimp and discard.
  2. Carefully cut from the head to the tail of the shrimp, pushing the knife about halfway through the shrimp.
  3. Look for a thin dark line going down the shrimp. This is the vein. With your knife, carefully hook the dull side of the knife under the vein and lift, this pulling the vein out. You can use your fingers if necessary.
  4. Discard the vein and wash the shrimp before cooking.

Tips For You:

  • A deveining tool is not necessary to devein shrimp, but it makes the job a little easier by freeing the vein during the initial cut!

Some Links To Help With Preparation: