Easy pickled shrimp is the recipe you never even realized you were missing. Sweet, juicy shrimp soak up a bright, lemony brine and transform into the best summer snack you’ve ever had.
This recipe was originally published on June 8, 2018. It has been updated with new photos and content. Enjoy!
Remember when summer vacation was a thing in your life? If it is still is…well either you’re a teacher (thank you) or you’re still young enough to enjoy beverages served out of a funnel (why did anyone ever think that was a good idea? What’s wrong with a cup?). But as for the rest of us…working all seasons, forever and ever, until we die (a little too dark?), we gotta grab our summer vibes where we can.
A day trip to the beach, working by the pool, a weekend barbecue with friends – all great choices. But the beach can be a hassle, not everyone has access to a pool, and actually scheduling time with friends on weekends in your 30’s…well, you know. So basically I need something that gives me all those summer picnic vibes while capitalizing on minimal pockets of time between conference calls, grocery trips, and endless loads of laundry.
Easy Pickled Shrimp
These little guys are the answer. They’re sweet, juicy, briny, tart, and if food could be sunshiney, well they are sunshiney AF. Even better? If you have ten minutes, a jar, and a refrigerator, you’re more than halfway there. Then every time you open your fridge and spy them out of the corner of your eye, you’ll feel your shoulders un-clench and your mind clear with breezy thoughts of beachy days and bonfire nights. Or if not, you’ll at least be reminded that you have a bright and tangy snack just waiting to be plucked from the jar. And that seems pretty great.
How to make pickled shrimp
Pickled shrimp is mostly hands off, but there are a few things to know before going in. Firstly, there is a bit of time commitment involved. There’s unfortunately no way around it. You just need time to let that beautiful brine sink deep into the shrimp, so they’re delicious all the way through. The rest is easy peasy – deets to follow.
First things first you need to procure your shrimp. I’ve talked about it before, but I personally think that unless you live where freshly caught shrimp is readily available, frozen is your best bet. You can read more about it here, but the takeaways are basically: buy individually quick frozen shrimp. If you can get them peeled and de-veined too, that’s even better. And defrost them under cold, running water for about 10 minutes.
Once you have your shrimp thawed, you’ll pop them into some boiling water for barely enough time to listen to the newest Shawn Mendes joint and then plunge them into a jar full of sweet, salty, tart, and herby brine that will soak deep in, making each bite a bright and tangy delight.
A good brine strikes a balance between salt, acidity, and sweetness – with a few background flavors tossed in for good measure. It should be pretty strong to taste, as it will be naturally diluted by whatever it’s flavoring. This brine is especially easy because it doesn’t have to be pre-cooked or heated at all. You just stir it together to dissolve the sugar and salt, add some herbs and spices, and tuck your shrimpies in for the night. When you pop open the jar the next day you have a beautifully tart, slightly sweet, mouthwatering snack.
That’s all there is to it. You can feel free to experiment with the herbs, spices, or vinegars of your choice, but just remember to strive for bright, clean, punchy flavors, to make this the summer snack of your dreams. Because we all need a little moment of vacay, even if it comes from a cold jar in the fridge. But if you have a pool and you want to invite me over…I’m not turning that invite down like ever. I promise I’ll bring you a jar.
Easy Pickled Shrimp
This takes about 10 minutes of actual work. Maaaaaaaaaybe 15 if you’re very distracted by the glorious spectacle that is the Bachelorette this season. Just put it all in a jar and then stick it in the fridge for at least 24 hours and wait for the magic to happen. Then eat it all – lemons, onions, and of course the shrimp. Put it on a salad, pile it on some crusty bread, toss it in hot pasta, or just pluck those juicy guys right outta the jar.
- Prep Time: 10 Minutes (plus chilling time)
- Cook Time: 5 Minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 4 Servings 1x
- Category: Appetizer
- Cuisine: American
1 lb large shrimp peeled and de-veined*
½ C apple cider vinegar
½ C unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 T canola or vegetable oil
1/2 C water
¼ C capers with brine
1 tsp kosher salt
1 T sugar
½ tsp chili flakes
½ tsp old bay
½ tsp brown mustard seeds
¼ C parsley, roughly chopped
¼ C dill, roughly chopped
½ red onion, sliced thin
1 lemon, sliced thin
Bring 4-6 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
Place all remaining ingredients in a glass jar or container with a tight fitting lid. Stir to combine and dissolve sugar and salt completely.
Add shrimp, pushing them down into the liquid so all of them are covered with the brine. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Serve lightly chilled or at room temperature.
* You can ask your fish monger to do this for you, or if you buy them frozen you can usually find them this way – it should say on the package.
Take your shrimp out of the fridge about 10 minutes prior to eating – they taste better when they’re not icy cold.
These will keep for a week (possibly longer) in the fridge so long as the shrimp are submerged in the brine. Personally I think they’re best on day three.
Keywords: easy pickled shrimp, cold appetizer, summer snack
Flavors are fantastic, only thing I did not like was the texture of the shrimp. They were a little tough and rubbery. Is there something I did wrong?
Debra, I have run into that problem a couple times myself, especially when using smaller shrimp. A couple things I’ve found that help: 1. Cook your shrimp until they’re just barely done (maybe 30 seconds less than the time allotted in the recipe) They should be opaque and just starting to curl. 2. Plunge them into an ice water bath immediately after cooking and before submerging in your brine. Hope that helps!
I have raw shrimp. I have lotsa leftover pickle juice. Can I pickle the shrimp without cooking, AND just using pickle juice as the liquid/acid?
Thank you for your time.
You should cook the shrimp before pickling. It just needs a couple minutes in boiling water. You can definitely sub in the pickle juice. I would also add the oil called for in the recipe as well though.
How much canola/vegetable oil should be added? 2 tablespoons or 2 cups (!?!)?
Whoops! 2 tablespoons is correct. Sorry for that and thank you for the heads up!