Spiced Citrus Pickled Shrimp

Super Bowl is but a few days away and there are recipes galore out there for everything from overloaded nachos to kajillion-layer dips. But around these parts we’re sticking to the healthier eating habits of last month and are lightening things up for game day too.

My latest finger food obsession hails from the South but dispels all the Southern food stereotypes because it’s really light and quite healthy.  Pickled shrimp are a classic in the Carolinas but, seeing as I’ve never been around those parts, I hadn’t heard of them until recently. Seeing as I have more than a mild obsessions for all things pickled and fermented, I had to try this the minute I came across it. After a few rounds of pickling and some tweaks (inspired largely by an overzealous citrus tree), I came up with this really easy but ridiculously flavorful recipe.

I know, I know, it strays from Super Bowl food tradition and isn’t cheesy, chip-centered, or laden with bacon, but it’s pickly, spicy, and seriously addictive. And the added bonus is that you won’t risk a food coma onset come the forth quarter.

Not that you’re going to have them, but leftovers of these pickled shrimp are very versatile: they’d be great in a salad with some avocado and mango, layered on a sandwich with some Dijon, mayonnaise, and fennel, or stand-ins for the fish in my ahi tostadas.

Before we start in on the recipe, I wanted to share a few other quick healthy recipe ideas for game day:

Spiced Boiled Peanuts

Spiced Chickpea Snackers

Sweet-Spicy Harissa Almonds

Toasted Garlic Edamame Hummus

Roasted Miso Kale Chips

Chicken, White Bean, and Poblano Stew

Pickled Shrimp marinating

Spiced Pickled Shrimp Recipe

  • Makes: 10 to 15 servings as finger food
  • Total Time: 15 minutes plus 2 to 12 hours for pickling
  • Hands-On Time: 15 minutes


  • For the cooking liquid:
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp, tails on
  • For the pickle:
  • 2 red onions, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 3/4 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh Italian parsley, for garnish
  • Crackers or chips, for serving


  • For the cooking liquid:

Place 8 cups water in a large pot, add everything except the shrimp, and bring to boil over high heat. When it boils, remove from heat, add shrimp, and cook until they’re bright-pink and firm, about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse to prevent further cooking.

  • For the pickle:

Place shrimp in a large nonreactive container or bowl. Add the remaining ingredients (use more red pepper flakes if you want it spicy), except the parsley and crackers or chips toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours to overnight.

Just before serving, fold in parsley. Serve with toothpicks or on crackers or chips. (Pickled shrimp are best eaten within 4 days.)

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