5 Delicious Shrimp Appetizer Ideas for the Holidays

Nov 24, 2023

Yes, you can buy cooked shrimp, tail-on, and a jar of any brand of cocktail sauce and call it a day.

No one will complain, no one will say you weren’t a good host. Thumbs up. You did the expected.

But maybe, maybe you’d like to do something different, do the UN-expected?

Be original. Be memory making.

We, can make that happen.

So, we’ve five, rather easy recipe ideas for your consideration.

Before begin, just a few tips.

  1. Keep in mind one important thing, most everyone tends to overcook shrimp. Honestly, in a hot pan, less than a minute on both sides is about all it takes to cook a large size 16/20 shrimp and the same size, only about 2 minutes in a simmering broth or acidified (lemon) water.

It’s also why a hot oven is called for. A 400 F oven cooks shrimp quickly while allowing the other ingredients the heat they need to brown, (like bacon).

  1. Shrimp are sold by the count per pound. As such, a 16/20 size on the bag means that there somewhere between 16 and 20 shrimp in a 1-pound bag. The higher the number, the smaller the shrimp.
  2. All of these recipes are best with a 16/20, raw, tail-on, peeled & de-veined shrimp. Do not begin any of these recipes with a pre-cooked shrimp.
Let’s get started.

Shrimp DeJonge was been around forever. It began its fame in a Chicago restaurant run by the DeJonge brothers.

This appetizer is prepared in a casserole dish and served with tongs or a fork for your guests to serve themselves.

Classic Shrimp DeJonge

Makes a casserole dish with approximately 36 shrimp

1 Cup                 Italian Bread Crumbs

½ Cup               Sherry Wine

2 Sticks                     Salted Butter, Melted

2 teaspoons             Fresh Garlic, Minced

1 teaspoon        Sea or Kosher Salt

1 teaspoon        Dried Tarragon

½ teaspoon              Crushed Marjoram, or Oregano

2 Pounds           16/20 Raw, Peeled & De-veined Shrimp

1 teaspoon        Chopped, Fresh Italian Parsley

  1. Thaw shrimp, then cook 2 to 3 minutes ONLY, in approximately 1 quart of simmering water to which the juice of ½ lemon is added. Drain well.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  3. Mix bread crumbs, sherry, butter, garlic, salt, tarragon, and marjoram (or oregano), together in a bowl.
  4. Place shrimp into a lightly buttered baking dish. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over top of the shrimp, then garnish with the chopped parsley.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Shrimp Scampi is another classic dish whose roots began in Europe. It’s typically served over pasta (linguine or vermicelli) but in this rendition, we’ve added the pasta as a cheese stuffed tortellini on a skewer, right alongside its shrimp partner. These skewers can be made up well ahead of time and then placed in a casserole dish, with the sauce to cook just before serving.

Shrimp Scampi Skewers

Makes approximately 2 dozen shrimp

1 Pound                    Cheese Tortellini (Small)

As Needed        Salted Water (Afterwards, reserve ¼ Cup)

1 1/2 Pounds           16/20 Raw, Peeled & De-veined Shrimp

½  Cup                      Extra-virgin Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons         Fresh Garlic, Chopped

1/2 teaspoon            Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

1/3 Cup                     White Wine (Chardonnay or Similar)

1/2                      Lemon, Juiced

4 Tablespoons Butter, Cut Into ½” Pieces

¼ Cup                Chopped, Fresh Italian Parsley

½ Cup                Grated Parmesan Cheese

2 Dozen                    8” to 9” Bamboo Skewers

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cheese tortellini and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain and cool the tortellini.
  2. Skewer the raw shrimp and the tortellini on the bamboo skewers, you can have as few as one shrimp and 1 tortellini or more if you wish. Finish the skewers and set them aside
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is just golden, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the shrimp skewers and cook, turning over once or until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side at the most. Remove the shrimp skewers to a serving dish. Add the wine and lemon juice to the skillet’s liquids and simmer until slightly reduced, 2 minutes.
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and slowly whisk in the chunks of the butter and about 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water from the tortellini.
  5. After the last of the butter has been added, season with salt; stir in the parsley and pour over the shrimp skewers.
  6. Finish this appetizer by sprinkling the grated Parmesan cheese evenly over all the skewers.

This next appetizer combines two popular ingredients. Bacon, and shrimp. It’s an easy appetizer and can be served with a mustard sauce, or the Boom Boom dipping sauce shown in the recipe following.

Bacon Wrapped Lemon Pepper Shrimp

Makes approximately 2 dozen shrimp

1 1/2 Pounds           16/20 Raw, Peeled & De-veined Shrimp

½ teaspoon       Granulated Garlic

2 teaspoons             Lemon Pepper Seasoning

1 Pound                    Hickory Smoked Bacon, Regular Sliced

2            Limes, Cut into Wedges

For Garnish:  Chopped Parsley

  1. Thaw shrimp, then toss with the garlic and the lemon pepper seasoning. Set aside.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 400 F
  3. Cut the bacon strips in half and lay out, side by side on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake the strips in the oven until slightly less than half way done. They should be somewhat rendered of their fat but have no color and be flexible/pliable.
  5. Allow the bacon strips to cool, then wrap 1 of the ½ cut strips of bacon around the thickest part of each shrimp, securing the strip with a tooth pick.
  6. After all are wrapped and secured with the toothpicks, arrange them on a baking sheet (do not crowd them), and return them to the oven for 3 to 4 minutes, or, until the bacon is fully cooked and the shrimp are fully opaque and cooked through.
  7. Sprinkle with chopped parsley then serve a squeeze of lime and  your choice of a dipping sauce or, enjoy them just all on their own!

There are a number of restaurants who have some kind of Boom or Bang shrimp on their appetizer menu. This recipe is kind of a hybrid and we think you’ll love it!

Boom Boom BBQ Shrimp

Makes approximately 2 dozen shrimp

For the shrimp:

1 1/2 Pounds           16/20 Raw, Peeled & De-veined Shrimp

2 Cups               Panko Bread Crumbs

1 Cup                 All Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon        Ground Black Pepper

2 Ex. Large        Eggs

½ Cup                Milk or Water

2+ Cups                    Vegetable Oil, for Frying

  1. Place the panko crumbs, the flour, and the eggs beaten together with the milk or water, in three separate bowls to prepare a breading procedure.
  2. To bread the shrimp, hold each one by its tail and first dredge in flour, then dip in the egg mixture, the roll in the panko bread crumbs. Repeat for all of the shrimp and place them on a plate to reserve.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a medium size sauce pan, and heat to 350 F then deep-fry the shrimp, a half dozen at a time, until golden brown. This should only take 2 to 3 minutes for each batch. As each batch is finished, rest them on a piece of absorbent paper towel to absorb any excessive oil.

For the Boom Boom Sauce:

Stir together the following:

½ Cup                Mayonnaise

1 tablespoon            Honey

1 Tablespoon           Yellow mustard

2 teaspoons             Sweet Baby Ray/s BBQ sauce

½ teaspoon              Liquid Smoke

½ teaspoon              Paprika

¼ teaspoon       Cayenne Pepper

Pinch                  Sea or Kosher Salt

Serve this dish with a bowl of the Boom Boom sauce surrounded with the shrimp.

Our last shrimp appetizer recipe idea can be prepared / assembled either hot or cold. We like it best served cold which will allow you to prepared them slightly in advance.

Cattleman’s has a number of Cajun Seasoning blends to choose from, it is also called “Cajun Blackening Seasoning”.

Cajun Shrimp & Guacamole Crisps

Delicious sauteed shrimp with cajun seasoning and lime on a maple plank.

Makes approximately 2 dozen shrimp

1 1/2 Pounds           16/20 Raw, Peeled & De-veined Shrimp

¼ Cup                Vegetable Oil or Melted Butter

3 Tablespoons         Cajun Seasoning Blend

1 ½ Cups                  Prepared Guacamole

¼ Cup                Sour Cream (to Garnish)

1 Dozen                    Grape Tomatoes. Halved (to Garnish)

1 Bunch                    Cilantro (to Garnish)

2 Dozen                    Carr’s Table Water Crackers

  1. In a medium size mixing bowl, toss the raw shrimp in the vegetable oil and the Cajun seasoning blend. Remove the tails from the shrimp first.
  2. Heat a medium size non-stick fry pan on high heat, when VERY hot, add the shrimp to the pan, spacing them apart from one another by 1 inch. Caution, it WILL CREATE A GOOD DEAL OF SMOKE. Cook for 1 minute on each side and then reserve them on a plate or platter. You will need to do this in a couple of batches.
  3. Chill the shrimp and reserve a bit of its resulting juices which you can stir a tablespoon or so into the guacamole later if you wish.
  4. To assemble, begin with a cracker, then a mounded tablespoon of guacamole on which you will place 1 shrimp.
  5. Place a teaspoon size dollop of sour cream on top of the shrimp, then a half grape tomato and a small sprig of cilantro.

Serving shrimp during the holidays can be a time for creativity with delicious results. We hope you’ll try one of these recipes and enjoy!


From all of us at Cattleman’s, we wish you and your family and joyous holiday season!
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