Are you looking for an easy and delicious salad recipe? This shrimp salad is the perfect option! Protein-packed with succulent seafood, crunchy vegetables, and a creamy citrus dressing. This refreshing dish is a crowd-pleaser for any occasion.
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This creamy shrimp salad is the perfect dish to pack for a summer gathering or to whip up for a seafood-inspired dinner. The chilled shrimp are gently cooked for succulent bites. It’s paired with crisp celery and red onions, then tossed in a velvety lemon dill dressing.
It’s easy to overcook the delicate crustaceans, but don’t worry! I’ll show you my foolproof poaching method that only takes a few minutes on the stovetop. Say goodbye to tough and rubbery shrimp! Serve as a sandwich or wrap, or piled in a bun or croissant, or even lettuce wrapped for a low-carb meal.
- Shrimp: You can use fresh shrimp or frozen shrimp. Precooked shrimp is a good option for quicker prep. The best size to buy is large 2-bite pieces for a hearty salad. I use the 16/20 count size, which is pieces per pound. If serving with crackers or toast, use smaller shrimp.
- Vegetables: To add an exciting contrast in texture, chop up celery and red onion for the salad.
- Dressing: A combination of sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, fresh dill, minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
Prepare the shrimp
If using frozen shrimp, defrost in the refrigerator overnight or with cool water until no longer icy. Peel and devein the thawed frozen shrimp or fresh pieces before cooking. This ensures that the digestive tract is removed and cleaned.
Poach the shrimp
Cooking the shrimp using the poaching method is the most gentle technique to cook the pieces thoroughly. Heat salted water to about 180°F (82ºC); this is when you can see movement in the water with bubbles forming. Do not boil the shrimp!
The proteins cook quickly, turning the texture tough and rubbery if not monitored. Poaching only takes about 2 ½ to 3 ½ minutes. It’s quick! The shrimp will turn bright orange, opaque, and loosely curled. Immediately transfer to an ice water bath the stop the cooking process.
Make the shrimp salad dressing
This recipe for shrimp salad is one of my favorite summer salads because of the cool and creamy dressing. It’s straightforward to prepare! Whisk together equal parts of mayonnaise and sour cream for a rich emulsified base.
Add freshly chopped dill, Dijon mustard for tanginess, fresh lemon zest and juice, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. That’s it! The recipe makes about 1 cup. It’s also great to serve with cooked lobster to make a salad or roll.
How to make shrimp salad
Once the shrimp is chilled, drain well and add to the creamy lemon dressing. Add the chopped celery and onions, then toss well to combine. The dressing is thick so that it clings to the shrimp. Enjoy right away, or refrigerate until ready to serve. It stores well for 3 to 5 days.
There are various ways to switch up the flavor of this shrimp salad recipe. Try these delicious ideas:
- Seasoning: Add cajun seasoning for smokiness and heat, Old Bay seasoning, lemon pepper, smoked paprika, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, or taco seasoning. Vinegar will add extra tanginess.
- Herbs: Sliced green onions, chives, basil, oregano, tarragon, cilantro, or parsley; these add fresh herbaceous notes.
- Mayonnaise Substitute: For a lighter dressing, use low-fat mayonnaise. Add plain Greek yogurt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil for extra protein and probiotics. Use vegan mayonnaise or dairy-free sour cream.
- Citrus: Instead of lemons, try lime or orange to flavor the dressing or a combination.
- Spicy: Make it spicy with hot sauce, chipotle chili powder, cayenne, red chili flakes, or freshly diced hot peppers.
- Vegetables: Add cucumber, carrots, red bell peppers, corn, beans, diced tomatoes, or avocado.
- On a bed or romaine lettuce or iceberg for a light salad
- On top of butter lettuce leaves to make low-carb wraps
- On a bun, roll, or toasted white or whole wheat bread
- Serve it in flour, corn, or cassava tortillas to make a wrap
Frequently asked questions
Yes! This is a great way to make a quick meal. Remove the shrimp tails and rinse with cold water. Drain well before adding to the dressing.
The shrimp and dressing can be prepared 1 to 2 days in advance. Once mixed, it tastes best served within the same day for the creamiest consistency. The dressing starts to thin out as the salt draws out some of the juices from the shrimp. Just mix again before serving. The salad can be refrigerated for 3 to 5 days.
How to tell when shrimp is done cooking
Shrimp proteins denature and cook within minutes! There are various cues to look for to tell when it’s ready. The color will change to pink due to a pigment called astaxanthin released when the internal temperature hits 120ºF (49ºC). It will make a loosely curled “C” shape. If it becomes a very tight “O,” it may be overcooked. Test the internal temperature of the shrimp. It should reach 140ºF (60ºC).
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- 2 pounds shrimp, 16/20 count, peeled and deveined
- 3 quarts cold water, divided
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 4 cups ice
- Defrost the Shrimp – If using frozen shrimp, defrost in the refrigerator overnight, or about 24 hours. For quick defrosting, place them in a colander and run cold water over them until they are no longer icy.
- Prepare the Ice Bath – In a large bowl, add ice and 4 cups of cold water. Set aside.
- Poach the Shrimp – Heat 8 cups of water in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons of salt. Heat until the surface is just beginning to move but not bubbling, about 180°F (82ºC). Add the shrimp to the pot, stir, and cook until opaque, loosely curled, and the thickest part reaches 140ºF (60ºC), about 2 ½ to 3 ½ minutes.Immediately transfer to the ice water bath. Chill until cool, about 5 minutes. Drain using a colander.
- Make the Dressing – In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, dill, mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper.
- Mix the Shrimp Salad – To the dressing, add the drained poached shrimp, celery, and onion. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To Serve – Serve as is, with crackers to dip, toast for sandwiches, or on top of lettuce leaves.
- Serving Size: 4 to 5 shrimp
- Make ahead: Refrigerate cooked shrimp 1 day in advance. The dressing can be made 2 days in advance.
- Storing: Store the salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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