Marinated Lemon Shrimp

IMG_7713 Call it what you want: marinated lemon shrimp, pickled shrimp, or simple marinated shrimp… but whatever name you give it, you will undoubtedly call it delicious. Each bite is sharp, briny, and mouthwatering, and it’s one of my favorite warm weather appetizers; perfect for get-togethers and cookouts.


Original recipe

I was first introduced to this recipe by my high school friend, Kara, at one of our river cookouts. The first bite of this pickled shrimp was so amazingly delicious, I immediately asked her to send me the recipe. She gave me fair warning that her recipe was loosely followed, and she had made many changes to over the years, but happily agreed to send it to me nonetheless.  Upon receiving this photo of the original recipe, I could tell that it was well loved; one that she had perfected over the years.

Since preparing the recipe may times myself, I can attest to the fact that I also stray from the original ingredients. My husband, Todd, always says that no matter what I always have to “doctor up” a recipe to make it my own.. (which in this case is true, but not always so… see Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Spicy Sausage) As a general rule of thumb, one ingredient that I always add is shaved fennel, as well as the fennel fronds (the dill- like green stalks on the top of the fennel bulb). And although I always follow the same basic ingredients,  I tend to taste and adjust as I go, which makes for a slightly different result each time I make it.

When you first take a look at the ingredients together, it looks like a bit of a jumbled mess. It has so many different ingredients thrown together that it’s sometime hard to make heads or tails of exactly what was put in. However, those ingredients work together to make a dish that I truly crave every time that I make it. Since all the ingredients need to be thinly sliced, it’s also a great use for my mandolin, which basically sits unused for the remainder of the year.  I like to serve the shrimp family style in a large serving platter alongside crusty bread for dipping in the sharp pickled juice. IMG_7709

If you plan to serve this dish, my suggestion is to prepare it the night before, and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator overnight. A few times the next day, gently stir and mash it around a few times before serving. This way you ensure that all the shrimp touch the marinade, and that the ingredients like onions and lemons are able to fully release their natural flavors and juices. Additionally, make sure that you do not overcook the shrimp in the beginning. I remove them from the boil as soon as they change color to pink, which is only about 1-2 minutes.

If you plan to make this recipe, or if you’ve made it with great success, please share a comment below and let me know how it turned out and what (if any) changes you made to the recipe yourself!  Enjoy :)


Marinated Lemon Shrimp
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 15
  • 2 lbs shrimp
  • 3 cup beer
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup tarragon vinegar
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • Dash of tabasco (alternately, I've used a bit of pickled jalapeno juice, and a few pickled jalapenos)
  • 2 red onions, sliced very thin*
  • 5 lemons, sliced very thin*
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced very thin*
  • Fronds from fennel bulb, stalks removed, and dill-like fronds chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1½ tsp celery seed
  • 5 cloves thinly sliced garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp capers with liquid

  • *To shorten prep time, slice with a mandolin, if available.
  1. Boil shrimp gently in beer, water, and salt until just pink, approximately 1-2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to ice water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, drain and peel shrimp. Set aside.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, tabasco (or jalapeno juice), celery seeds, parsley, and fronds.
  3. In a large baking dish, alternate layers of shrimp, onion, fennel, lemon, garlic, and capers.
  4. Pour the oil and vinegar mixture over the shrimp and stir gently to combine. Tilt the dish back and forth to ensure the marinade is in and around all the shrimp.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings. adding more oil, lemon, vinegar, salt, or herbs as necessary. The marinade should cover at least ½ or more of the shrimp and additional ingredients. Press down gently with the back of a spoon or fork to submerge as many of the ingredients as possible.
  6. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  7. The next day, remove cover and stir gently, allowing the shrimp on top of the marinade to settle to the bottom. Press down gently with the back of a fork to release juice from the lemons and submerge as many shrimp as possible in the marinade. Recover and continue to marinate until serving.
  8. Serve family style in a large bowl or platter with toothpicks and crusty bread.


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