Pickled Shrimp

These pickled shrimp are a Southern staple made with poached shrimp and a spicy lemon, garlic, and dill brine.

Two jars of pickled shrimp on a wooden cutting board.

Making pickled shrimp is essentially as simple as boiling water—and then patiently waiting. The flavors of this Southern entertaining staple are eminently customizable, as author Toni Tipton-Martin explains, by tossing in some Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper along with the veggies, pickling spice, and aromatics to make it more like Jamaican “pepper shrimp.” Or squeezing in some lime along with jalapeno and cilantro to lend it a more Texan flair. The shrimp are equally adept at sating guests before dinner or elevating even an everyday salad to the realm of memorable.–Jenny Howard

Pickled Shrimp

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 35 M
  • 8 H, 40 M
  • Serves 6
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In a large saucepan over high heat, combine 2 quarts well-salted water, the celery, onion, bay leaves, and lemon slices and bring to a boil.

Add the shrimp and cook until just pink and opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a colander and rinse under cool running water to stop the cooking.

Tester tip: Don’t let that shrimp cooking liquid run down the drain! You can save it for shrimp stock. Note that you can further intensify the shellfish smack by simmering the shells that you later remove from the shrimp in the reserved liquid for 20 or so minutes.

When the shrimp are cool enough to handle, peel and devein them. Let them cool completely, about 5 minutes.

In a large glass bowl or a very large, wide-mouthed Mason jar with a tight-fitting lid (or 2 to 3 smaller jars), whisk or shake together the lemon juice, vinegar, pickling spice, dill, chile pepper, garlic, tarragon, oil, and 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste) until well blended. Add the red onion and shrimp.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or seal the jar(s) tightly. Refrigerate the shrimp for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. The longer you wait, the more infused with pickling spice the shrimp will be.

To serve, briefly stir the pickled shrimp and onions in the bowl or give the jar a good shake to blend the brine evenly. Use a slotted spoon or fork to lift out a few onion slices with each serving of shrimp, making sure to avoid any hard pickling spices.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This is a really fabulous pickled shrimp recipe. The ease of preparation belies a really flavorsome recipe. The hardest thing to do was to leave it to marinate overnight! They have a wonderful acidity that’s tempered by the olive oil and the spices that are added.

These shrimp can be served as nibbles with drinks, as a starter on salad, and they would work really well as part of a mezze spread.

Please note: Don't overcook the shrimp as they "cure” in the marinade overnight so have the potential to toughen. I will be adding these to our rotation as they are so easy to make and will be great to have as a quick and very tasty snack.

Would I make this again? You bet!! It was easy, tasty, and a definite winner in my books.

Where I live, fresh shrimp are unavailable but frozen are. After talking to my “fish guy,” I got some pointers for using frozen shrimp that should work for this recipe. He told me to place the frozen shrimp in a colander and trickle cold water over them. By keeping them out of the ice and water while they defrost, it keeps them firm and only takes about 15 minutes. But the best would be to allow them to defrost overnight in the fridge if you can.

Using a very large pot I prepared the poaching water as directed and poached the shrimp for 3 minutes before placing them in cold water to stop the cooking. I put the shrimp in a large glass bowl with a lid to marinate overnight before packing the jars the next day. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but what came out of the bowl was a firm shrimp that had a bit of bite to it and was delicately pickled. The jalapeno pepper had mellowed but still had a little heat and there were hints of the tarragon and lemon. I LOVED it.

The fact that I couldn't get any liter jars meant that I had to use 500 ml wide mouth jars. I used 3 jars but could probably have used only 2 if I had packed them more tightly.

I can't wait to take some of these to have on my salad again tomorrow.


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    1. Michael, as long as you keep the shrimp submerged in liquid, they should be good for about 4 days.

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