Classic Shrimp Salad Recipe

By: Melissa Guevara

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This bright shrimp salad is made with the freshest ingredients and is the perfect entree for an easy summer meal or at your next outdoor BBQ!

Glass bowl of shrimp salad with wooden bowl of lemon wedges in the top left corner.

Easy Shrimp Salad Recipe

I LOVE a good shrimp dish (shrimp scampi, shrimp fried rice, shrimp tacos), and this shrimp salad is my favorite go-to when I want something cool and refreshing. This classic shrimp salad recipe is simple to make, yet complex in flavor and is so delicious served in a variety of ways (wrapped in butter lettuce, atop a cracker, on a toasted piece of sourdough bread) or on its own, by the spoonful.

What kind of shrimp to use for shrimp salad

There are a few things I like to prioritize when buying shrimp to make sure you get the best flavor and texture.

  • Wild-Caught: I like to buy wild-caught shrimp when possible.
  • Shell-On: I know it creates an extra step in the process (to peel and devein the shrimp), but cooking shrimp in the shell results in the best flavor and helps protect the texture and cook of the shrimp.  
  • Size: Larger shrimp have more flavor, so my favorite choice for this salad is shrimp in the 26-30 (per pound) size. 
  • Color: Did you know that the color of the shrimp impacts the flavor? Since shrimp get their color from what they eat, pink and white shrimp will generally be sweeter, while brown shrimp have a more mineral flavor. A sweeter shrimp is the tastiest in this recipe. 

In a pinch, you can use frozen or thawed cooked shrimp, but you won’t get the same flavor or texture in each bite.

White bowl with cooked, peeled shrimp.

How long do you cook fresh shrimp?

The best part about shrimp is that they cook up in mere minutes! I mean it, 2 minutes simmering in a pot is all you need! 

How to peel shrimp

If you’ve never peeled shrimp before, don’t be intimidated! It is really an easy process. Simply remove the legs, then peel the shell away and pinch off the tail. If your shrimp have not been previously deveined (you can ask the fishmonger at the grocery store to do this for you with the raw shrimp), you'll want to devein them after peeling. Use a paring knife to make a small cut down the back of the shrimp and use the tip of the knife to pull it out.

Best Shrimp Salad Ingredients

Shrimp salad ingredients in bowls on a gray and white marble surface.

To Cook the Shrimp:

  • Water – you’ll need 4 quarts of water to cook the shrimp.
  • Lemon – the juice of 1 lemon plus the lemon itself adds flavor to the water. 
  • Black Peppercorns – roughly 10 black peppercorns (or a small palmful) bring a little spice. 
  • Bay Leaf – 1 bay leaf enhances the spice of the peppercorns and helps develop the flavor of the cooking liquid. 

For the Shrimp Salad:

  • Shrimp – what would shrimp salad be without shrimp!? You’ll use 2 pounds of large, raw, shell-on shrimp.
  • Mayo – ½ of a cup of mayo adds just the right amount of creaminess to the salad.
  • Celery – a ½ cup of diced celery adds a delicious crunch.
  • Red Onion – a ¼ cup of finely diced red onion adds a beautiful color and just the right amount of bite.
  • Dijon Mustard – 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard gives a tangy flavor to the mix. 
  • Lemon Juice – 2 tablespoons of lemon juice adds brightness and acidity.
  • Fresh Dill – 2 tablespoons of finely chopped, fresh dill adds a really tasty herbaceous flavor. You can substitute 2 teaspoons of dry dill, but I highly recommend using fresh for the flavor! 
  • Salt – 1 teaspoon of salt highlights all of the flavors of the ingredients. 
  • Celery Seed – a ½ teaspoon of celery seed adds extra aromatics and a savory, earthy flavor. 
  • Ground Pepper – a ¼ teaspoon of ground pepper gives just the right counterpoint to the salt and citrus. 

Ingredient Modifications

This classic shrimp salad hits on every traditional flavor for a super balanced meal, but it is also super versatile. Here are some ways to change things up:

  • Make it spicy – to the mayo mixture, add spice by way of cayenne pepper, chipotle chili powder, or a squeeze of sriracha. 
  • Use different herbs – instead of fresh dill, try fresh tarragon, cilantro, parsley, or chives. 
  • Add hard-boiled eggs – finely chop a couple of hard-boiled eggs to add extra texture and flavor.  

Supplies Needed to Make this Shrimp Salad 

How to Make Healthy Shrimp Salad Recipe

Plate of shrimp with shell on held over a boiling pot of water.
White bowl with ice cubes and cooked shrimp combined.
Two hands peeling cooked shrimp.
Glass bowl with ingredients sectioned in the bowl.
Shrimp salad mayo ingredients whisked together inside a glass bowl.
Shrimp salad in a glass bowl with a spatula.

Here’s how you’ll make this shrimp salad recipe:

  1. Boil water – add 4 quarts of water to a large pot over high heat. Juice the lemon and add the juice plus the lemon wedges, peppercorns, and the bay leaf to the water and bring to a boil. Prep a large bowl with ice to cool your shrimp after cooking. 
  2. Cook the shrimp – reduce the heat to a simmer and add your shrimp. Simmer for 2 minutes. 
  3. Remove and cool the shrimp – drain the shrimp and cool them covered with ice in a large bowl. 
  4. Peel the shrimp – once cooled, peel your shrimp by removing the legs, then peeling the shell off and removing the tail. Using a small paring knife, make a small cut alongside the back of the shrimp and remove the dark-colored vein if needed.
  5. Make the mayo mixture – in a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients, and whisk to combine. 
  6. Add the shrimp – add the shrimp to the mayo mix and stir to coat the shrimp.
  7. Serve and enjoy! Chill the shrimp salad in the fridge or serve immediately and enjoy!

Ways to Serve Shrimp Salad

There are so many great ways to enjoy this shrimp salad, in addition to by itself. Here are some ideas:

  • Romaine Lettuce – wrap your shrimp salad in a piece of romaine lettuce.
  • Toasted Bread – enjoy it spread on top of or in between two slices of toasted bread or on a roll.
  • Crackers – spoon a mouthful onto a cracker, or better yet, dip your cracker to scoop up your shrimp salad for the perfect, crunchy bite. 
  • Cucumber – top on slices of cucumber with a tiny scoop of shrimp salad and a garnish of dill for a really tasty appetizer. 
Hand squeezing lemon juice over the top of romaine lettuce leaves topped with shrimp salad.

Shrimp Salad Recipe FAQ

Is shrimp salad healthy?

I consider this shrimp salad healthy because it is made with the freshest of ingredients and a quality mayo. It’s also a good source of protein and healthy fats.

Can you freeze shrimp salad?

This shrimp salad is best served fresh. I do not recommend freezing the shrimp salad because the texture would not withstand defrosting again, resulting in mushy shrimp. 

Do you have to devein shrimp?

The dark line that runs down the back of the shrimp is their digestive tract and is not harmful to eat. For aesthetic and texture purposes, if you are working with larger shrimp and the vein is more apparent, I suggest removing it. Use a paring knife to make a small cut down the back of the shrimp and use the tip of the knife to pull it out. 

How long can you store raw shrimp in the refrigerator?

Once defrosted, shrimp are good in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. 

How to Store Shrimp Salad

Store your shrimp salad in a covered container in the fridge and consume it within 3-5 days. 

Side view of lettuce leaves filled with shrimp salad on a plate.

More Favorite Salad Recipes

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Classic Shrimp Salad Recipe

This bright shrimp salad is made with the freshest ingredients and is the perfect entree for an easy summer meal or at your next outdoor BBQ!

  • Author: Cassy Joy Garcia
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 22 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Seafood Recipes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 lemon
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 pounds shrimp, shell-on
  • ½ cup mayo
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped (or 2 tsp dry)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Add 4 quarts of water to a large pot over high heat. Juice the lemon and add the juice plus the lemon wedges, peppercorns, and the bay leaf to the water and bring to a boil. Prep a large bowl with ice to cool the shrimp after cooking.
  2. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the shrimp. Simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Drain the shrimp and cool them covered with ice in a large bowl.
  4. Once cooled, peel the shrimp by removing the legs, then peeling the shell off and removing the tail. Using a small paring knife, make a small cut alongside the back of the shrimp and remove the dark colored vein if needed.
  5. In a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients and whisk to combine.
  6. Add the shrimp to the mayo mix and stir to coat the shrimp.
  7. Serve and enjoy! Chill the shrimp salad in the fridge or serve immediately and enjoy.

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