How Do I Make Pickled Shrimp?

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  • Written By: C. K. Lanz
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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Pickled shrimp is a staple of American Southern cuisine made by marinating shrimp in a mix of vinegar, oil, and spices. Preparing this shellfish dish is simple but time consuming. Once pickled, the shrimp will keep for approximately two weeks in the refrigerator but should be brought to room temperature before serving. Typically served as a warm-weather appetizer, pickled shrimp is a versatile garnish for everything from salads to martinis.

Preparing pickled shrimp is a process that varies slightly between regions and even households. Typically, peeled and deveined shrimp are added to boiling water in a stockpot. In some regions, crab boil seasoning is added to the water. The stockpot is then removed from the heat, and the shrimp stews in the water for approximately four minutes or until just pink. Although the shrimp may still be raw, it will continue to cook in the marinade.

Once the shrimp has been prepared, it is added to a glass jar with a tight lid. Some recipes call for the shrimp to be layered with Vidalia onions, turnips, or carrots. Others require hard-boiled eggs, dried chili or jalapeno peppers, or lemon slices. Capers are the most universal of these added ingredients that will influence the flavor of the shrimp.


The marinade can vary widely, but almost always includes vinegar and oil. The vinegar can be red, white, or the cider variety. Sometimes the marinade is diluted with a little water. Bay leaves, garlic, and whole peppercorns are fairly common spices added to the marinade, but there are many possible combinations. Some recipes include pickling spice, sugar, and red pepper flakes.

The shrimp and other solid ingredients should be layered until the jar is two-thirds full. The marinade is then poured into the jar until it is nearly but not completely full. There should be sufficient space left at the top of the jar to allow for it to be shaken in order to remix ingredients. Once the jar is tightly sealed, the shrimp should pickle at least overnight or up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Ingredients should be remixed every other day by turning the jar upside down.

Although pickled shrimp is usually served as a summertime appetizer, it has many culinary and social uses. Pat Conroy, a novelist, has described how he relies on pickled shrimp as funeral food, the Southern tradition of taking food to the family of the departed. It is common to find pickled shrimp on the picnic blanket or in a sandwich. The shrimp also makes a tangy topping for salad, a novel martini garnish, or shrimp cocktail.


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Post 2

@heavanet- Yes, you can adjust the amount of sugar, and any other ingredients, that you use in your pickled shrimp recipe. Just make sure that you add enough vinegar to keep the dish fresh in the refrigerator.

Post 1

Does adding sugar to the pickled shrimp marinade make it very sweet? Can I adjust the pickled shrimp recipe so the flavor has more sweetness? I prefer that over a strong acidity flavor.

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