This marinated shrimp recipe will take your shrimp cocktail to the next level. Marinated overnight in an Old Bay lemon dressing, they’re so good you won’t even need cocktail sauce.
Whether it’s hot outside and you don’t want to turn on the oven, or you’re having friends over and want an appetizer that will get their attention, give this marinated shrimp recipe a try.
It’s simple to make and marinates all night so the flavors seep into the shrimp. You’ll have a no fuss healthy dinner or a delicious appetizer. It’s especially great on those scorching summer days when you want a cold dinner. Throw in some simple homemade biscuits or a loaf of Irish soda bread and that’s all you need.
If you love the flavors in an Old Bay seafood boil, then you’ll also like this recipe for marinated shrimp, they both have my favorite Old Bay seasoning.
The marinade is mostly lemons, you’ll need 6 of them. Added to the lemon juice is Old Bay seasoning or you can use crab boil seasoning. You can find them both on the spice aisle in the grocery store.
The marinated shrimp are lemony but not spicy. If you want a spicy kick, then add some cayenne to the marinade or some sliced jalapenos.
While no sauce is needed, a little cocktail sauce is always great for a boost of flavor to cold shrimp.
When the weather starts to get a little cooler, try you hand at making crawfish etoufee using frozen crawfish, it’s great when you have a crowd.
What’s the best way to cook shrimp for shrimp cocktails
The easiest way to cook shrimp for shrimp cocktails without over cooking them is to add them to boiling water for about two minutes, if using medium to large shrimp. Smaller shrimp will take less time.
When you roast or saute the shrimp, it seals them so that the marinade will not absorb into the shrimp as well.
You can save a little time and buy shrimp that has already been boiled, but it really doesn’t save you that much time and it costs quite a bit more. When I’m in a hurry or just don’t feel like peeling the shrimp, I’ll get raw shrimp that has been peeled. For me, it’s worth the extra money not to have to peel them.
What is cocktail sauce
Shrimp is frequently served with cocktail which is made up of ketchup, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce and Lemon juice, but the distinct flavor of cocktail sauce comes from horseradish. You can find it pre-made in the ketchup section of the grocery or it’s easy to make your own. This shrimp cocktail sauce looks pretty good.
Why you’ll love marinated shrimp
- By marinating it overnight, it adds more flavor to the shrimp
- Cold shrimp on hot days is a great meal!
- They make the best shrimp cocktails
- It’s a make ahead meal that just gets better in the fridge
- Great for cookouts or picnics
What you’ll need
- Shrimp – fresh or frozen, any size you choose. If using small shrimp, then you won’t need to cook it as long. You’ll need to peel and devein the shrimp first, I like to leave the tails on for easy eating.
- Old Bay or crab boil seasoning – These are similar, so use what you have on hand, for me there is always Old Bay in my cabinet.
- Lemons & Lemon juice – this is a lemon marinade so you need lots of them, about 6, but it doesn’t have to be exact. You will squeeze out the juice first and then put about half of the squeezed lemons in the bowl with the shrimp.
- Vidalia onion – in the South we love Vidalia sweet onions, but you can use any type of onion.
- Parsley – this is not just for decoration as in most dishes, it actually adds flavor to the marinade.
- Bay leaves – you need a bunch, about a half a jar or about 18 bay leaves, again it doesn’t need to be exact.
- Pantry staples – olive oil and Garlic
Step by step directions
First boil the shrimp. They only need to be in the boiling water about 2 minutes and then chill them in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Be sure to drain the shrimp thoroughly.
In a medium bowl, whisk olive oil with lemon juice and old bay seasoning.
In a large glass bowl, layer the shrimp, garlic, onion, bay leaves parsley and 6 of the lemon halves. Pour the lemon dressing over the top and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap.
Place the bowl in the fridge to marinate overnight or up to 24 hours. Just drain and serve.
Pro tip: This shrimp with lemon has so much flavor that you won’t need cocktail sauce, although it’s still a nice addition. If you want to make it a bit more interesting, add some cayenne, hot sauce or fresh jalapeños to the onion, lemon mixture.
I love cold food on hot summer days, especially when you can make dinner the day before.
FAQs and Tips
What goes well with shrimp salad
Can you pan fry the shrimp instead of boiling it?
For marinated shrimp, it is best to boil the shrimp so that the marinade can seep into the shrimp. Pan fried shrimp will not absorb as much of the flavor from the marinade.
How long will marinated shrimp cocktail last?
You can keep marinated shrimp in the fridge for about 3 days. It’s best to freeze any leftovers. You can freeze in an airtight container or freezer bags where they will stay fresh for about 3 months.
MORE seafood recipes
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- 1 ½ lb shrimp shelled and deveined
- 1 ½ cups olive oil
- 1 cup lemon juice and lemons from 6 lemons
- 4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 1 medium vidalia onion thinly sliced
- 18 bay leaves
- ½ cup parsley
- ¼ cup Old Bay seasoning
- In a saucepan, boil 8 cups of water with a handful of salt. Add shrimp and boil for about 2 minutes until cooked. Drain and put the cooked shrimp into an ice bath. Drain again and place in a very large bowl.
- Cut the lemons in half and squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl. You should get at least ¾ cup of lemon juice. Save the lemon halves.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and Old Bay seasoning. To the shrimp, add garlic, onion, bay leaves, parsley and 6 of the lemon halves. Pour the lemon dressing over the shrimp. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
- Drain the shrimp prior to serving.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- If using smaller shrimp, you won’t need to cook them for 2 minutes, take them out when they are pink.
- Make sure to drain the shrimp before adding the marinade and also before serving.
- If you want to make them spicy, add a little cayenne pepper to the dressing or some jalapeno slices.