Pickled shrimp is one of those party dishes that has everyone rushing into the kitchen to see how you made it. In fact, you didn’t do very much at all, which is what makes pickled shrimp such a great choice for cocktail parties and holiday gatherings.
The shrimp look so amazing packed into a jar. You can see the pink curls against the glass, with spices and herbs swirling around them.
Pickled shrimp is an easy, make-ahead appetizer that never fails to impress.
All you do to make it is to poach some shrimp and then pack them into a big crock or canning jar with simple pickling spices, vinegar, and olive oil. Let this sit in the fridge for a day or two, and pull out the jar just before the party starts.
It’s all very colorful, especially if you use a clear glass jar: pink shrimp, bright yellow slices of lemon, mustard seeds, thyme leaves, red onion, and fronds from a bulb of fresh fennel. (The fennel gives the mix some crunch in addition to being pretty!)
Make-Ahead Pickled Shrimp
The pickling liquid is a combination of cider vinegar and olive oil. As long as the shrimp are submerged in liquid, they’ll keep well for a few days in the refrigerator.
When it’s party time, tip the contents into a bowl—spices and all—and hand out toothpicks. Part of the fun is letting guests go fishing.
Pickled Shrimp: A Southern Favorite
This is a popular recipe in the South, especially near the coasts where shrimp are prevalent. Texans sometimes add cilantro and lime to add that Southwestern flavor. Jamaicans add Scotch bonnet peppers (cousins of the habanero) for that extra fire.
The way the shrimp are pickled in vinegar with lemon and spices echoes the way escovitch is made. Originally from Spanish cuisine, escovitch is a dish made by cooking a variety of small fish or sliced fish, and then pickling them in a vinegar with thinly sliced vegetables, onions, lemon, and spices. Popular throughout the Caribbean, this way of pickling seafood most likely made its way to the American South by way of Jamaica and the slave trade.
Some say American Gulf or Georgia white shrimp are the best for this recipe, but any shrimp will do.
What to Serve With Pickled Shrimp
- Your favorite crackers
- Cocktail rye crackers
- Set out some Boursin or good salted butter for spreading on the bread, if you like
- Serve on a salad
- Set out with a flavorful aioli for dipping
- Serve on the side with some spreads and baguette slices
- Spread some tapenade on a baguette slice and top it with a pickled shrimp
- Chop some fresh herbs and toss on top just before serving
More Easy Party Appetizers
- Smoked Salmon Crostini
- Vietnamese-Style Sticky Chicken Skewers
- Curried Chicken Salad With Endive
- Gouda and Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms
- Baked Stuffed Jalapenos
You'll need a 1-quart canning jar or crock, or any combination of smaller jars equaling 1 quart. You can double or triple this recipe as needed, as long as you have extra jars.
1 rib celery, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced, divided
1 lemon, sliced into very thin rounds, divided
Salt, to taste
4 cups water
1 pound (12 to 20 count) raw shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails intact
1/2 bulb fresh fennel
Few sprigs fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, halved
2 tablespoons capers and their juices
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil, or more if needed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Cook the shrimp:
In a large saucepan, combine the celery, half the red onion, half the lemon slices, a large pinch of salt, and the water. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the shrimp, and immediately remove the pan from the heat and cover again. Set aside for 5 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink.
Prepare the fennel:
Trim the fronds from the fennel (save a handful). Cut the bulb in half again through the root. Set the pieces, cut sides down, and slice the fennel as thinly as possible (you can use a very sharp knife or a mandoline for this).
Pack the shrimp into a jar:
In a 1-quart canning jar or crock, layer the cooked shrimp, remaining lemon slices, remaining red onion, sliced fennel and a few fennel fronds, thyme sprigs, garlic, capers, and mustard seeds. (Discard the cooking liquid.)
Pour in the vinegar and oil:
Combine the vinegar and oil in a measuring cup; it's fine if they separate. Pour the vinegar and oil into the jar to cover the shrimp. If the liquid doesn’t quite cover the shrimp, add more olive oil to cover.
Cure the shrimp:
Seal the jar tightly and refrigerate for at least one day or up to three days.
Serve the shrimp:
Remove the jar from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you plan to serve the shrimp. The olive oil may congeal in the refrigerator and will liquefy at room temperature.
Carefully spoon the mixture into a big bowl. Serve with toothpicks on the side or in individual stemmed glasses as an appetizer or first course.
Did you love this recipe? Give us some stars below!
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 19g||24%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||13%|
|Total Carbohydrate 18g||6%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||16%|
|Total Sugars 7g|
|Vitamin C 74mg||371%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|