This succulent Old Bay steamed shrimp is fast and easy to make! Here’s how to steam shrimp until it’s tender and full-flavored.

Steamed Shrimp

Here’s a fun way to cook shrimp without all the hassle of a shrimp boil: try Old Bay Steamed Shrimp! Truth be told, this method is a combination of boiling and steaming: but it results in beautifully succulent, seasoned shrimp. Get this: the cook time is only 2 to 3 minutes! This easy preparation is fun to do and results in a seriously easy dinner recipe. Pair it with cornbread and sauteed peppers and you’ve got a meal!

The type to buy for steamed shrimp

When buying shrimp for this steamed shrimp recipe, you’ll want to look for a few things. There are loads of options when you go to the store, so here’s what to look for:

  • Shell on is best. The shell locks in moisture and flavor when you’re steaming. The con? You have to remove it when you’re eating, which can be difficult and messy. But it’s worth it for the flavor!
  • Look for shell on deveined shrimp. Try to find shrimp that’s already been deveined but still has the shell on.
  • Tail on also works. Refer to the notes below on how to steam shrimp with the shell off.
  • Wild caught is a sustainable choice. Fish that is wild caught in your country is usually a sustainable choice. There are also quality options in well-regulated farms; see Seafood Watch Consumer Guide.
Steamed Shrimp

How to steam shrimp

This method for Old Bay steamed shrimp is a combination between boiling and steaming. You don’t even need a steamer basket! You’ll use less liquid than a traditional shrimp boil, but you’ll still flavor the water to impart zesty, savory flavor into the shrimp. Here’s what to do (or jump right to the recipe below for quantities):

  • Boil 2 cups water with seasonings: In a large pot, add water, butter, apple cider vinegar, Old Bay and lemon wedges. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
  • Cook 2 minutes: Add the shrimp, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until shrimp is cooked and opaque, stirring occasionally. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon. Serve immediately!

Steamed shrimp with the shell off

One rule about shrimp: cooking shrimp with the shell on makes for perfectly moist shrimp! It makes this recipe most like a shrimp boil where you peel off the shells before eating. But if you prefer to cook with shell off, this works too. Here’s what to know:

  • Making steamed shrimp with the shell off makes it easier to eat, especially for kids. It’s also easier to find shell off deveined shrimp at the store.
  • Watch the cook time as the shrimp may be done slightly sooner than with the shell on. If you overcook them, you run the risk of a rubbery texture. They won’t turn out quite as moist, but this method works too!
Old Bay

More about Old Bay

Old Bay is an American seasoning blend invented in Maryland that’s used to season shrimp, crab, clam chowder, and other seafood dishes. You can make steamed shrimp without Old Bay, but this classic seasoning blend really makes the dish (in our opinion!). The ingredients in Old Bay are a proprietary secret, but the strongest flavors are paprika, celery salt, and black pepper.

  • Where to find Old Bay? In the US, you can find Old Bay most grocery stores in the spices aisle. Or, you can buy Old Bay online.
  • Is there a substitute for Old Bay? Yes: you can make it at home! Try our Homemade Old Bay Seasoning. You’ll need paprika, celery salt, celery seed, dry mustard, black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and cayenne.
Old Bay Steamed Shrimp

Got leftover shrimp?

Leftover steamed shrimp lasts in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. We prefer making leftover shrimp into a recipe. Try this Shrimp Salad or these tasty Classic Shrimp Rolls!

Sides to serve with Old Bay steamed shrimp

What to serve with Old Bay steamed shrimp to make it into a meal? There are lots of choices that complete this meal. Here are a few options:

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Steamed shrimp

Old Bay Steamed Shrimp


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 13 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

This succulent Old Bay steamed shrimp is fast and easy to make! Here’s how to steam shrimp until it’s tender and full-flavored.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, shell on and deveined (or tail on and deveined)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced into wedges

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, add the water, butter, apple cider vinegar, Old Bay and lemon wedges. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
  2. Add the shrimp, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until shrimp is cooked and opaque, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon. Serve immediately, with a bowl for the shells*. Leftovers last up to 2 days refrigerated.

Notes

*Cooking with the shell on makes for perfectly moist shrimp and is most like a shrimp boil. But if you prefer to cook with shell off, this works too and makes it easier to eat (especially for kids). Watch the cook time as they may be done slightly sooner: overcooking you run the risk of rubbery shrimp. They won’t turn out quite as moist, but it works.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Steamed
  • Cuisine: Seafood

Keywords: Steamed shrimp, How to steam shrimp, how long to steam shrimp, Old bay steamed shrimp

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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