Shrimp Salad

Southerners know this is an essential seafood recipe.

Southern Living Shrimp Salad on a platter to serve with a glass of beer and lemon wedges

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
20 mins

Succulent shrimp combine with a creamy, herb-y, lemon-y dressing for an unforgettable Southern specialty: shrimp salad.

A classic shrimp salad is fresh and juicy with a creamy, light dressing that balances the shrimp's delicate sweetness, not overpowers it. Here, we brighten it up with a bit of lemon zest and lemon juice, and it's served on lettuce leaves, but we also offer some of our other favorite ways to eat Southern shrimp salad.

Why Do Southerners Love Shrimp Salad?

To Southerners, a great shrimp salad recipe is as important as cornbread or gravy. That's because there's very rarely a time when a perfectly-made shrimp salad can't be deployed. Last-minute lunch for you and a friend? Serve shrimp salad with a fresh salad or fruit salad. Hosting some neighbors for a game night? Bring out the shrimp salad and croissant or hot dog buns for a quick shrimp salad roll.

Of course, shrimp salad is also a quick way to instantly transport yourself back to the beach, where the fresh shrimp os plentiful and the sun's rays beat down on you while you scoop up succulent shrimp after succulent shrimp and rinse them down with a sudsy beer.

Shrimp Salad in lettuce cups - Southern Living

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Ingredients for Shrimp Salad

Another great thing about Shrimp Salad is how easy it is to pull together with fairly basic ingredients. Beyond good-quality shrimp, most everything is either in your pantry or fridge:

  • Shrimp: You want high-quality shrimp to start this recipe. If you live by the ocean, great! You know what to buy. If you're landlocked, make sure the shrimp is fresh and never frozen. If you aren't sure, buy frozen shrimp, and thaw it overnight in the fridge before you make the salad. Most frozen shrimp is flash-frozen right after coming out of the water.
  • Mayonnaise: Because there's no salad in the South without mayo.
  • Creole mustard: This condiment adds just a hint of tang and brightness without making the final dish sour or vinegary.
  • Dill: Fresh dill adds a bit of citrusy, grass-like tang. You can use dried dill if that's all you have. Just scale it back as dried herbs are more potent.
  • Lemon: You'll use the zest and juice of a lemon to brighten up the dressing. The zest is especially lovely because it provides a more round flavor versus the one-note juice.
  • Celery: Add some crunch and contrast with bits of celery.
  • Scallions: This rounds out the dish with freshness and a delicate onion bite.
  • Bibb lettuce: We're wrapping this shrimp salad in lettuce wraps for a hand-held lunch or dinner, but we also offer ideas below for how to serve shrimp salad if the lettuce wrap isn't your thing.
Southern Living Shrimp Salad Ingredients

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

How To Make Shrimp Salad

Making homemade shrimp salad is quite easy. Follow the detailed recipe at the bottom of the page. For now, here's a brief outline:

  1. Cook the shrimp. You will boil shrimp just to done and then immediately drop it in an ice bath to stop the cooking and chill the shrimp. After the shrimp is fully cooled, remove it from the ice water, and pat dry each piece.
  2. Make the dressing: Combine the mayonnaise, mustard, dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, pepper, and salt. Let it sit while the shrimp cooks and chills.
  3. Dress shrimp: Combine shrimp, dressing, and celery, stirring to coat the shrimp.
  4. Prepare to serve: Whether you're planning to eat it on lettuce cups or a croissant, scoop the shrimp salad, and top with a sprinkle of chives.

Ways To Serve Shrimp Salad

A light and refreshing way to serve shrimp salad is on lettuce leaves or atop a bed of lettuce for a classic salad. But if you you're looking for other ideas, consider these:

  • in tortilla wraps
  • between pieces of bread for a sandwich
  • on a croissant
  • on a slice of toast
  • with crackers
  • in a slider bun
  • in a hot dog bun for a quick shrimp salad roll

How To Store Shrimp Salad

Shrimp salad is best immediately after it's made, but if you have leftovers, you can store it for another day. Keep these steps in mind:

  • Be sure to put any leftover shrimp salad in the fridge within 2 hours of putting it out to serve so bad bacteria doesn't begin to grow.
  • Store shrimp salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is shrimp salad made of?

    Classic shrimp salad is made of fresh, chilled shrimp and a creamy dressing that usually has mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, and celery.

  • How long is shrimp salad good?

    Shrimp salad is best immediately after it's made, but you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Do not freeze shrimp salad. It will not thaw well; the dressing will likely separate.

  • What goes with shrimp salad?

    Shrimp salad is a wonderful, light lunch or appetizer on its own, but you can also serve it with other luncheon-style recipes, including fruit salad, salad with citrus and radishes, and cucumber salad.

More Shrimp Recipes

Craving more ways to cook shrimp? Consider these ideas:

Additional reporting by Kimberly Holland.


  • 2 qt. water

  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided

  • 2 lb. large peeled, deveined raw shrimp

  • 1 cup mayonnaise

  • 2 Tbsp. Creole mustard

  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill fronds

  • 4 tsp. grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)

  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

  • 4 celery stalks, chopped (1 cup)

  • 2 large (1 oz. total) scallions, chopped (1/4 cup)

  • Bibb lettuce or butter lettuce, to serve (optional)


  1. Prepare to boil shrimp:

    Fill a large pot with water; add 1 tablespoon of the salt. Bring to a boil over high.

    Southern Living Shrimp Salad bringing the water up to a boil

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

    Fill a large bowl halfway with ice, and add enough cold water to make ice float.

  2. Cook shrimp:

    Place shrimp in boiling water, and turn off heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes.

    Southern Living Shrimp Salad cooking the shrimp

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

    Using a slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to ice water; let stand 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

    Southern Living Shrimp Salad letting the shrimp cool in ice water

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

    Coarsely chop shrimp, if desired.

  3. Make dressing:

    Combine mayonnaise, Creole mustard, dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; stir to combine.

    Southern Living Shrimp Salad mixing together the dressing ingredients

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  4. Combine shrimp and dressing:

    Stir shrimp, celery, and scallions into mayonnaise mixture; refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Southern Living Shrimp Salad stirring together the shrimp and dressing

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  5. Serve:

    Spoon portions of shrimp mixture evenly into lettuce leaves (if using); arrange on a platter or individual salad plates.

Additional reporting by
Kimberly Holland
Kimberly Holland
Kimberly Holland is a writer and editor with 15 years of experience in food, lifestyle, health, and nutrition content. She has been published in Southern Living, Real Simple, Allrecipes, EatingWell, Cooking Light, and other publications.
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