Old Bay Shrimp are the perfect appetizer for your summer party. Tons of Old Bay seasoning flavor on perfectly cooked shrimp, served with a creamy dip.
As a Maryland native, I think I was born with a taste for Old Bay Seasoning. Come summer, it’s everywhere in the D.C. area, from steamed crabs to Utz’s Crab Chips to Flying Dog Brewery’s Dead Rise beer. While I love to sit down to a newspaper-covered table with a pile of Old Bay-covered steamed crabs, sometimes I want to get my Old Bay fix in an easier (and slightly less messy) way. Enter this Old Bay shrimp recipe!
Why Make This Recipe
- Spicy and Delicious: This is a super tasty dish, and you'll love the combination of the spicy Old Bay with the creamy dip.
- Perfect Summer Appetizer: Put this on the table (don't forget the napkins), and watch your guests peel-and-eat their way to peak summer happiness.
- So Easy: Shrimp cook in very little time, and the dip needs minimal chopping before you stir it together. Super fast for a showstopper appetizer!
You just need 5 ingredients for the shrimp itself.
- Shrimp: This recipe calls for shell-on shrimp, and yes, it would be less messy and less work to use shelled shrimp. But the shells help ensure your shrimp don’t overcook—and, getting a little messy and licking your fingers after peeling your shrimp is all part of the fun.
- Beer: Look for a lager, a wheat beer, or even an ale that's on the lighter side. I used Flying Dog Brewery’s Dead Rise beer since it's brewed with Old Bay and was introduced to support the True Blue Maryland blue crab initiative. (Go Maryland blue crabs!)
As for the dip, this is a take on a classic remoulade.
- Mayonnaise: I like Hellman's mayo for this recipe, buy you can use whatever you like.
- Tomato Paste: If you don't have tomato paste, you could substitute with a little bit of ketchup.
- Dill Pickle: You can substitute relish (either sweet or dill) for this recipe.
🥣 Step-by-Step Instructions for Old Bay Shrimp
Start by making your dip. Just stir together ½ cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon tomato paste, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons minced dill pickle, and ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, and chill for 1 hour.
To make the spiced shrimp, toss 2 pounds of unpeeled shrimp (deveined) with 2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning and let marinate for 10 minutes.
Then bring 1 c. water, ½ cup apple cider vinegar, and 12 ounces beer to a boil in a large pot. Add shrimp and a thinly sliced lemon and cover. Steam for 3 minutes. Uncover and stir shrimp. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Shrimp will turn pink when done.
Drain and sprinkle with Old Bay, as desired. Serve with dip.
🧐 Recipe FAQs
Definitely. Make the dip at least an hour in advance so that the flavors have time to meld. And the shrimp can be served hot or cold. They will hold for several hours or more in the fridge if you want to make them in the morning and serve them later in the afternoon. (But best to eat them the day you make them.)
My favorite method is to put the shrimp into a colander and put the colander in the sink. Turn your faucet to the spray mode (if possible), and run cold water over the shrimp for several minutes. The spray mode allows the water to hit more of the shrimp at once, but it's not essential. Just move the shrimp around every minute or so, so that the frozen ones get their turn under the cold water. Pat dry with paper towels when you are done. It should take only 5 minutes or so to do 2 pounds of shrimp.
👩🍳 Expert Tips
This recipe cooks extremely quickly, so make sure to have all of your ingredients ready to go when you start. Making the dip in advance is recommended, since it will only taste better if you leave if for a few hours in the refrigerator. If you don't have time to make the dip, regular jarred cocktail sauce is a great complement as well. Pro tip: add a ½ teaspoon of fresh horseradish to your cocktail sauce to punch up the flavor a bit.
A note about deveining shrimp: you can sometimes find shrimp that has been deveined but the shells have been left on. That makes this recipe super fast! But if you have regular shelled shrimp, it's worth it to go to the extra effort to devein them.
All you do is cut through the back of the shrimp shell without removing it, then use your fingers or a knife to remove the vein. This process is infinitely easier with a set of curved seafood scissors. I promise, the effort will be worth it, as the shrimp won't overcook, and the seasoning will penetrate through the shrimp shell.
Now that you're hooked on this shrimp boil recipe, try this crab boil recipe next! The perfect way to celebrate summer.
More About Old Bay Seasoning
Old Bay Seasoning was originally introduced over 75 years ago by a German immigrant who started the Baltimore Spice Company. His blend, called “Delicious Brand Shrimp and Crab Seasoning,” was created to support the nearby seafood market in Baltimore, MD. It was later renamed Old Bay Seasoning after the Old Bay Line, a passenger ship that traveled the Chesapeake Bay between Baltimore and Norfolk, VA. The spice company McCormick bought the rights to Old Bay Seasoning in 1900 and has produced it ever since.
Old Bay is a proprietary blend of 18 herbs and spices that feature red pepper, celery salt, and paprika. In Maryland, Old Bay Seasoning is a long-standing tradition, used for tossing steamed crabs in as well as seasoning crab cakes and other seafood items. Old Bay fans are also known to top popcorn, french fries, potato chips, bloody marys, and more with their favorite spice.
Other Delicious Appetizer Recipes
If you're looking for other great party appetizers, be sure to check out my Appetizers archive for lots of ideas. Some of my favorites are:
If you try this Old Bay Shrimp recipe, I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below—I read them all, and your feedback is invaluable to me. And please follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook or subscribe to my newsletter. I'd love to inspire you with more delicious, healthy, and seasonal recipes!
- 2 pounds large shell-on shrimp (deveined)
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 12-ounce lager beer or wheat beer
- 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning, plus more for garnish
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons minced dill pickle
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- ½ teaspoon tomato paste
- Make dip: stir together mayonnaise, dijon mustard, dill pickle, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, and tomato paste and chill for 1 hour before serving.
- Toss shrimp with Old Bay Seasoning and let marinate for 10 minutes.
- Bring 1 c. water, cider vinegar, and beer to a boil in a large pot.
- Add shrimp and cover. Steam for 3 minutes.
- Uncover and stir shrimp. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes until just done. Shrimp will be curled and will turn pink.
- Drain and garnish with more Old Bay seasoning, if desired. Serve with dip.
Make-Ahead Instructions: Make the dip at least an hour in advance so that the flavors have time to meld. And the shrimp can be served hot or cold. They will hold for several hours or more in the fridge if you want to make them in the morning and serve them later in the afternoon. (But best to eat them the day you make them.)
Best Way to Defrost Shrimp: Put the shrimp into a colander and put the colander in the sink. Turn your faucet to the spray mode (if possible), and run cold water over the shrimp for several minutes. The spray mode allows the water to hit more of the shrimp at once, but it's not essential. Just move the shrimp around every minute or so, so that the frozen ones get their turn under the cold water. Pat dry with paper towels when you are done. It should take only 5 minutes or so to do 2 pounds of shrimp.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 322Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 668mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 8g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.