Here’s a simple shrimp salad that’s ready in minutes and can be enjoyed on toasted buns or in lettuce cups. Perfect for a light dinner or delicious lunch.
For me growing up, Shrimp Salad was always the shell macaroni, mayonnaise, and tiny canned shrimp variety. Which don’t get me wrong, Shrimp Macaroni Salad is still delicious! But for this version, I wanted a chunky, deli type simple Shrimp Salad with a fresh dressing and ingredients that compliment the shrimp without overpowering it. I found a dressing base adapted from America’s Test Kitchen with a few changes of my own that gave the sauce zing that wouldn’t get lost when served as a sandwich. Also important was to add the right textures for crunch and flavor.
A simple Shrimp Salad is super quick to prepare especially if you buy pre-cooked (but fresh) shrimp. If you buy from the meat counter, ask to smell the shrimp and if it’s fresh, it won’t smell fishy at all. If you want to cook your own shrimp, I give you directions in the recipe for how best to do that too.
Rinse your cooked shrimp in a colander, picking out any left behind tails, shell, and veins. If you’re using shrimp you cooked yourself, make sure the inside isn’t translucent anymore but not so overcooked that the shrimp becomes rubbery. In the recipe notes, I offer a cooking method that makes perfect shrimp foolproof.
The dressing is super easy and fresh without being sour. The base starts with mayo and a little Greek yogurt, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and fresh dill. Then the flavor gets deepened with Worcestershire and hot sauce. Celery (be sure to use some of the leaves for nice flavor and excellent texture), red onion and some minced radish. The radish is optional but adds the perfect bite and crunch that I highly recommend. Plus it’s nice to have some color variety in any salad.
Good Side Dishes to Serve with Shrimp Salad
Simple Shrimp Salad is excellent served on some toasted, buttered, buns or by itself on lettuce cups. If making the sandwich option, I recommend any soft ranch or Hawaiian-type buns, buttered and then toasted under the broiler just until the edges start to brown. Toasted buns ensure a nice crunch, more flavor, and the dressing doesn’t sop into the bread.
Before adding the shrimp to the dressing, I cut them in half lengthwise, then cut each piece into thirds. Depending on the size of your shrimp and preference for the size of bite you want, you can of course cut them smaller, or even dice them. And if you’re craving that classic, Shrimp Macaroni Salad like I mentioned at the first of the post, you can adapt this recipe to accommodate that. Just double the dressing, increasing the mayo a bit for a thicker base, then mix with some cooked shell macaroni for huge success.
Simple Shrimp Salad
- Medium bowl for mixing dressing
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cups
- 1 pound large shrimp, 31 to 35 per pound pre-cooked, peeled, deveined, tails removed
- 1/2 tsp hot sauce Tabasco or similar
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tbsp fresh dill minced
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp Greek yogurt, plain or sour cream
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 celery rib minced, with leaves
- 1/4 cup red onion diced
- 3 radishes chopped, optional
- Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- Ranch or Hawaiian-type rolls optional
- Bib lettuce for serving
- Rinse pre-cooked shrimp in a colander (see notes if cooking the shrimp yourself) under cold water, removing any shells, veins, or tails as necessary. Cut shrimp in half lengthwise and then cut each half into thirds. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, add all the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust salt and pepper or add more of any ingredients you want to, like hot sauce or mustard.
- Add the shrimp to the dressing, tossing until all the shrimp is covered.
- Serve the shrimp salad either on bib lettuce cups as a salad main dish, or on toasted, buttered buns (see next step) with the lettuce also on the bun for a sandwich.
- If serving as sandwiches, slice the buns and lightly butter. Place the buns under a broiler, butter side up until just starting to turn golden around the edges.
- If you can't find pre-cooked shrimp or want to cook it yourself, do this:
Combine shrimp, 2 cups cold water, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar to medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until shrimp are pink and firm to touch and centers are no longer translucent, 8 to 10 minutes (water should be just bubbling around edge of saucepan). Meanwhile, fill a large bowl halfway with ice and water.
Remove saucepan from heat, cover and let sit for 2 minutes. Drain shrimp, discarding peppercorns, and transfer to ice bath to cool, about 3 minutes. Transfer shrimp to triple layer of paper towels and dry well. Continue with recipe, making the dressing and adding the cooled shrimp to it, cut as indicated above.