Smoking shrimp with a stovetop smoker creates a thrillingly addictive, fun-to-eat cocktail-hour food that’s also a great appetizer.
Yes, there is such a thing as a stovetop smoker. If you don’t already own one (Camerons, and Nordic Ware are top brands), you can make one in a pinch as long as you have a stainless steel or aluminum roasting pan and a flat wire roasting rack that fits inside it. The smoking chips that you use in a stovetop smoker are like coarse sawdust. They’re made from a variety of hardwoods—apple, cherry, and hickory are common—and you can buy them at stores such as Target or from cookware retailers such as Williams-Sonoma. Learning your way around a stovetop smoker (see Notes on Successful Stovetop Smoking, below) adds a new vector of creative exploration to your repertoire.
Serve these smoked shrimp with one or all three dipping sauces.–Matt Lee and Ted Lee
LC To Smoke or Not to Smoke Note
As lovely and easy as smoking is, the real oomph in this shrimp recipe is the assortment of not one but three (three!) dipping sauces. Don’t get us wrong, the smoking part is nice, though not essential—not by a long shot, not when you have dipping sauces this swell. You can instead simply grill or steam your shrimp and set them out with the dipping sauce—whether one, two, or all three.
Shrimp with Three Dipping Sauces
For the shrimp
- 1 pound large shell-on shrimp
For the Garlic Buttermilk Dip
- 1/4 cup buttermilk (either low-fat or full-fat)
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or more to taste
- 1/4 large clove garlic grated
For the Lemon Chive Mayo Dip
- 1/2 cup store bought or homemade mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped or snipped chives
- 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
For the Sriracha Buttermilk Dip
- 1/4 cup buttermilk (either low-fat or full-fat)
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons store-bought or homemade Sriracha sauce plus more to taste
- Prepare the shrimp as desired, whether smoked*, grilled, or steamed.
- Prepare any or all of the dipping sauces by whisking the ingredients together in a small bowl.
- When the shrimp are done, you can serve them immediately, warm from the smoker or grill or steaming basket, or let them cool to room temperature and then refrigerate them until ready to serve. Serve the dipping sauces alongside. (The cooked shrimp and sauces can be refrigerated for up to a day.)
*How To Smoke Shrimp On The StovetopSure, you can smoke shrimp outside in the smoker or on the grill. But you can also smoke shrimp inside on the stovetop. Although we can tell you from experience that a darn good ventilation system is essential unless you want all your worldly belongings to be perfumed with the waft of wood. If using a stovetop smoker: Place 1 tablespoon applewood chips in the center of a stovetop smoker pan. Lay the shrimp on their sides on the rack of your smoker. Slide the smoker lid in only partly. Turn the burner to medium and center the pan above it. When you see the first wisp of smoke rise from the smoker, cover it completely and continue to smoke until the shrimp are pale orange, firm, and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. (Resist the urge to place your face directly over the pan when you uncover it.) If using a roasting pan: Be aware that your roasting pan will discolor. If you prefer your roasting pan nice and shiny, you may want to buy a stovetop smoker or a second inexpensive roasting pan to devote exclusively to smoking. Place 1 tablespoon applewood chips in the center of a 9-by-13-inch stainless steel or aluminum roasting pan. Wrap the roasting rack in aluminum foil, then place it in the pan. Place the shrimp on their sides in a even layer on the rack. Cover the roasting pan with a large sheet or two of heavy-duty aluminum foil, crimping the edges tightly but leaving one corner uncrimped. Turn the burner to medium and center the pan above it. When you see the first wisp of smoke rise from the pan, cover it completely and continue to smoke until the shrimp are pale orange, firm, and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. (Resist the urge to place your face directly over the pan when you uncover it.)
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Thunderstorms thwarted my plans to cook these shrimp outdoors, so I had to adapt to the situation. I broiled them for three minutes instead of smoking. So my review focuses mainly on the three sauces. I made all three — why not? They’re easy enough. They were all good and went well with the shrimp. I guess I should confess here that I am a person who prefers tartar sauce over cocktail sauce on shrimp or other seafood. The Lemon Chive Mayo Dip was the unanimous favorite at my house, largely due to its texture, which was like tartar sauce and clung to the shrimp. This sauce would be good as an alternative anywhere you would normally use tartar sauce. The other two sauces were also very good, but were a bit runnier (more sauce-like) in consistency. I thought the Garlic Buttermilk Dip was a tad too salty (easy to fix next time). The amount of garlic was plenty, assuming you grate it as instructed. The Sriracha Buttermilk Dip, on the other hand, needed a pinch of salt. That may be because I was using a homemade sriracha, which might be less salty than the bottled variety. If you make all three sauces, you’ll have a lot more than you need for a pound of shrimp. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing…you could use the leftovers as a dip for veggies, crackers, potato chips…the thinner dips could even be used as a salad dressing. If you make only one sauce, the amount is probably spot on for the amount of shrimp.
I made the grilled shrimp on a hickory plank and did not use the procedure in the recipe. For the sauces, I made the Garlic Buttermilk and the Lemon Chive. Both came together easily and were just great. After the sauces were made, they seemed a bit salty; I even checked the measuring spoon to see if I’d used the wrong spoon. However, as a dipping sauce with the shrimp, used as the recipe was intended, the sauces were just fine and not at all salty. Both were delicious, but we both seemed to be dipping more into the Garlic Buttermilk. I intend to use the leftover sauce for chicken tonight.
We grilled large shrimp and enjoyed the Sriracha Buttermilk Dip. The dip had just enough zing to add some excitement to the shrimp.
I opted to boil my shrimp and make all 3 dipping sauces. Boy, I’m sure glad I did. I enjoyed all the sauces, but the Lemon Chive mayo was my absolute favorite. It went so well with the shrimp, and I bet it’d be great with fish. My second favorite was the Garlic Buttermilk. Not only was it good on the shrimp, it was also delicious on my baked potato and as a dipping sauce for baby carrots. I liked the Sriracha Buttermilk dip too, but only after I added a bit more Sriracha than the 2 teaspoons called for. The Sriracha was hubby’s favorite after adding about triple the amount called for. He loves spice. He also liked the Garlic Buttermilk, but didn’t care for the Lemon Chive. These 3 just got added to my dipping sauce favorites to make again and again.
This recipe recommends smoking the shrimp but we grilled them with their shells on, which kept them sweet and succulent. Whilst we enjoyed all three dipping sauces, my husband and I both enjoyed the Lemon Chive the best, as it seemed to complement the shrimp the most. We went through that one in a hurry! The Garlic Buttermilk was our second favourite (how could you go wrong with garlic and shrimp?). The Sriracha Buttermilk dipping sauce was good and flavorful, but we didn’t go wild over it paired with the shrimp…it might be better with homemade fries. It was fun trying and comparing the different dips. This could instigate lively discussion and conversation amongst family and friends.
I didn’t have a stovetop smoker, so I boiled my shrimp using crab boil and Old Bay. I then chilled them in the freezer while I made the sauce. I made all 3 sauces. My favorite was the Garlic Buttermilk. It was so creamy and garlicky! My husband said it was a tie between the Garlic Buttermilk and the Sriracha Buttermilk. He loves spicy things, and couldn’t resist the cool and creamy, yet spicy sauce. For us, the Lemon Chive mayo dip was just too lemony. I would still make it again, though, and would just scale back on the lemon. These were rediculously easy to make, and are perfect for a party. There is a little something for everyone.
As chief chef for myself, a husband, and 2 young kids, I often feel like a short-order cook. There are not enough recipes in the universe that seem to satisfy everyone! I did discover a few weeks ago that everyone likes shrimp and had to give these recipes a try. My husband can’t stop putting hot sauce on anything he eats. He loved the spicy pow of the Sriracha dip. We both liked the garlicky punch of the Garlic Buttermilk Dip. My sons went crazy for the Lemon Chive Dip and even went so far as to dip their carrots into the leftovers the next day. As for me, I loved feeling like a rockstar chef when everyone came away satisfied and it only took a few ingredients that I had in my pantry and refrigerator and a few minutes to assemble.
Originally published August 28, 2011