Classic Cold Shrimp Salad Recipe | Renee's Kitchen Adventures

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Classic Cold Shrimp Salad Recipe

Craving a refreshing yet satisfying dish to welcome the warmer days ahead? Look no further than this tantalizing simple recipe for cold shrimp salad made with mayonnaise, featuring fresh shrimp, crisp celery, zesty red onion, and a bright burst of citrusy lemon. Whether you're planning a light lunch, a picnic in the park, or a gathering with friends, this easy shrimp salad is sure to steal the spotlight and leave your taste buds happy. 

cold shrimp salad on lettuce leaves and plated ready to eat

As the weather gets warmer, I love to serve cold salad with seafood for the perfect lunch or a light dinner. Another great cold salad is this easy recipe for creamy tuna pasta salad recipe with peas and cheddar cheese. But today, let's set our attention on shrimp and this delicious salad. It is a winner and one that is frequently enjoyed by my family. 

It's simple preparation and ingredients make putting it together a breeze. We love this creamy shrimp salad served as lettuce wraps, over lettuce with saltine crackers on the side, stuffed into half of a fresh avocado for a quick and easy avocado & shrimp salad, or in buttered and toasted hot dog buns for a meal that won't heat up your kitchen. 

The stand out ingredient in this cold shrimp salad is the simple dressing. The creamy dressing in this recipe is super easy to make because it's simply two ingredients: mayonnaise and fresh lemon juice. It makes the perfect dressing because it's light flavors don't overpower the delicate flavor of the cold shrimp. Make sure you use real mayonnaise and not Miracle Whip in this recipe. There is a big difference in flavor. 

Cold shrimp salad recipe on white plates with lettuce leaves ready to eat

Let's talk shrimp!

What kind of shrimp is best for cold shrimp salad?

Variety: You can use many different kinds of shrimp in this simple shrimp salad, but choose one that you love the flavor of. I'm partial to white gulf shrimp but other varieties work well in this recipe too. White, pink, brown or red shrimp will also work.

Size: Any size shrimp will work as well. Shrimp sizes are generally sold as follows:
Colossal (16-20): Colossal shrimp average about 16 to 20 shrimp per pound.
Jumbo (21-30): Jumbo shrimp average about 21 to 30 shrimp per pound.
Large (31-40): Large shrimp average about 31-40 shrimp per pound.
Medium (41-60): Medium shrimp average about 41-60 shrimp per pound.
Small (71-90); Small shrimp average about 71-90 shrimp per pound.
For this cold shrimp recipe, I prefer to use either Colossal, Jumbo, or large shrimp. But any size will work. The smaller the size the less you need to chop the shrimps or you may want to just leave the shrimp whole. I like to use the larger shrimp because it gives you more shrimp flavor in each bite.

Frozen or Fresh: You can choose shrimp that is either frozen or fresh. Keep in mind, that fresh shrimp has most likely been previously frozen.

Fully-cooked or Raw: You can choose shrimp that is fully cooked or raw shrimp. If using fully cooked shrimp, it will most likely have been peeled and deveined already. It will need to be defrosted and have the tails removed if they aren't off already. If using raw shrimp, it will need to be cooked and chilled and peeled and deveined and the tail removed before using in this recipe. Sometimes you can find it labeled as "EZ Peel". This means it's been deveined and cut to easily peel once cooked. For this recipe I prefer to purchase "EZ peel" raw shrimp and cook it myself, chill, and peel and remove the tail. I think this give you the best tasting shrimp with so much flavor.

Ingredients needed for cold shrimp salad recipe

Do I need to devein the shrimp for this recipe?

Some say you do not need to devein shrimp in order to eat it. Although there is controversy regarding deveining shrimp, I would definitely recommend using deveined shrimp for this recipe. Otherwise you may get a gritty texture and that isn't pleasant. You can devein shrimp with the tip of a paring knife.

How do I cook raw shrimp?

For this recipe, the best way to cook thawed and deveined raw shrimp is to boil it with shells on. (The shells impart flavor to the shrimp as it cooks.)

To boil shrimp, bring a large pot of water that has been seasoned with salt (as much as you would use for pasta - so the water "tastes like the sea") Add raw shrimp to boiling water and boil for 3 -4 minutes, stirring occasionally. The shrimp will turn from grey to pink. While shrimp is cooking, prepare an ice water bath by filling a large bowl with ice and cold water. Once shrimps are done cooking, plunge them into the ice bath until chilled. Peel and remove tails from shrimps. Place shrimp in a single layer on a clean, dry paper towel to absorb excess water.

If you are using pre-cooked shrimp for this shrimp salad recipe, defrost according to the package instructions. Peel and remove tails. Place shrimp in a single layer on a clean, dry paper towel to absorb excess water.

How to make a simple cold shrimp salad

Once your shrimp is all prepped and ready to go, gather all the other ingredients. 

Overhead view of shrimp in a white bowl and other ingredients for cold shrimp salad recipe

Chop shrimp, celery, and onion so that they are all about the same size. If you are using smaller shrimp for this salad, you might not want to chop them at all. 

Process photo of ingredients for cold shrimp salad in bowl

In large mixing bowl, gently toss the shrimp, celery, onion, and mayonnaise. Add in fresh lemon juice and stir gently to combine. Taste for salt and black pepper and season as desired. Garnish with a sprinkle of old bay seasoning if you like. Store in an airtight container if not serving immediately and eat within 3 days. 

process image of cold shrimp salad recipe salad mixed up in bowl with spatula

Variations and Substitutions

  • Shrimp can be expensive. You can substitute the shrimp with imitation crab meat.
  • Kick up the lemon flavor by adding some lemon zest to the dressing. 
  • Spice it up!  Add in cayenne pepper, hot sauce, or finely diced jalapeno peppers. 
  • Add in fresh herbs for more personality. Chopped fresh dill, fresh parsley, or fresh cilantro will work! 
  • Garnish with sliced green onion or fresh chives. 
  • Lighten the dressing up by substituting half the mayonnaise whole milk Greek yogurt.
  • Get more crunch going by adding chopped red or green bell pepper or diced cucumber. 

How to serve cold shrimp salad

Place a spoonful of this chopped shrimp salad over tender butter lettuce or with butter lettuce on the side to make lettuce cups or lettuce wraps.

Pile this cold shrimp salad atop halved and pitted avocados for the best shrimp avocado salad.

Toast buttered rolls such as hot dog buns or sausage rolls and stuff this cold shrimp salad recipe inside for shrimp salad sandwiches.

I hope you enjoy this simple shrimp salad recipe as much as I do. It's truly one of my favorite salads. It's so simple, but so delicious. This classic shrimp salad makes an easy lunch for me especially during a busy work week. I really think it is the best shrimp salad recipe out there!
cold shrimp salad, cold salad with shrimp, cold shrimp salad recipe, shrimp salad cold
main dish, seafood, salad
Yield: 4 servings
Author: Renee Paj
Easy Cold Shrimp Salad Recipe

Easy Cold Shrimp Salad Recipe

Prep time: 10 MinTotal time: 10 Min
This simple and delicious cold shrimp salad made with creamy mayonnaise, crunchy celery, zesty red onion, and a hint of lemon is a delightful way to enjoy seafood any time of the year.


  • 1 pound fully-cooked shrimp
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Old Bay seasoning for garnish, if desired


  1. Peel, devein, and remove tails from shrimp if not already done.
  2. Chop shrimp to the size of the celery and onion dice so all pieces are similar in size.
  3. In a large bowl, add in shrimp, celery, onion and mayonnaise. Stir gently to coat.
  4. Add in lemon juice and stir gently.
  5. Taste for salt and pepper and add as you like.
  6. Top with a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning, if you like.


This cold shrimp salad is delicious served over greens like butter lettuce or stuffed into buttered and toasted buns or hot dog rolls, or halved pitted avocados.

You can substitute the shrimp with imitation crab meat.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

21.6 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

3.43 g

Cholesterol (grams)

194.33 mg

Carbs (grams)

2.91 g

Fiber (grams)

0.61 g

Sugar (grams)

1.25 g

Net carbs

2.3 g

Protein (grams)

23.43 g

Sodium (milligrams)

372.25 mg

Nutritional information is only provided as a courtesy and is an estimate.

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