Pickled Shrimp

In search of a simple and unique make-ahead appetizer? Our pickled shrimp recipe adds a zing to your celebration.

Pickled Shrimp in Bowl with a Spoon

Simply Recipes / Prerna Singh

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.

Pickled Shrimp in a Bowl with a Spoon on the Side

Simply Recipes / Prerna Singh

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

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Pickled Shrimp

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 6 servings

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


  1. 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.

    Bowl of Shrimp Added to Pot of Lemon and Onions

    Simply Recipes / Prerna Singh

  2. 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).

    Cut Fennel on Cutting Board for Pickled Shrimp

    Simply Recipes / Prerna Singh

  3. 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.)

    Pickled Shrimp with Fennel and Onions

    Simply Recipes / Prerna Singh

  4. 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.

  5. Cure the shrimp:

    Seal the jar tightly and refrigerate for at least one day or up to three days.

  6. 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!

    Bowl of Pickled Shrimp with Bread and Glasses of Wine in Background

    Simply Recipes / Prerna Singh

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
238 Calories
19g Fat
18g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 238
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 21mg 7%
Sodium 279mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 6%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 74mg 371%
Calcium 62mg 5%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 335mg 7%
*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.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.