Flavor and smoking go hand in hand. In fact, it is hard to pick another method that layers flavors quite as nicely, especially when you think about the complex combination of shrimp, seasoning, and wood. But despite that, many people, even those with smokers, do not immediately think of shrimp. They should.
Infusing a smoky flavor will take shrimp to the next level, and that is especially true if you are already working with delicious, fresh shrimp. Moreover, it is incredibly easy to do, so you can have some of the best shrimp you will ever taste without spending much effort. So if you want delicious smoked shrimp, check out the recipes below.
Smoking Basics for the Road Ahead
While it might not be your first time smoking something, there are some things you can keep in mind to make the experience better. Some of them are general, such as making sure that you always preheat your smoker before you start cooking your shrimp, or anything else for that matter. Also, make sure to keep the type of wood you use in mind.
The type of wood you use will ultimately affect the flavor, and some wood compliments certain recipes and spice mixes more than others. Additionally, when you are smoking shrimp, make sure to get them as dry as possible before starting to cook them. Excess moisture can be problematic in a few ways, so it is best to avoid it.
Prep Ahead of Time
You might also want to consider preparing everything beforehand so you can get from thawed shrimp to smoked shrimp as quickly as possible. The moment you finish thawing, drying, and prepping your shrimp, you want to start cooking for the best taste.
That means you should try to preheat your smoker, get your spices or sauce ready, and have anything else you need ready before taking care of the shrimp prep. Doing these things ahead of time will make the process smoother and more successful.
The temperature is another important aspect of smoking shrimp. Different recipes will call for different cooking temperatures, but you will see temperatures around 225-250°F. The rule of thumb is to cook shrimp no longer than 30 minutes, though it can vary. Also, ensure an internal temperature of 120°F, and watch for overcooked (constricted) shrimp.
Smoked Shrimp Recipe Ideas
Now that some of the basics are out of the way, it is time to discuss the shrimp recipe ideas you can take some inspiration from. The recipe ideas below cover a variety of flavors, allowing you to see just how versatile shrimp and smoking are and, hopefully, realize just how tasty smoked shrimp can be.
Basic Smoked Shrimp
This idea is called basic smoked shrimp because it only uses a few ingredients and focuses on the shrimp itself. All you have to do for this recipe is take some fresh shrimp, coat it with oil, and add oregano, basil, and garlic powder. Olive oil works well, and dried herbs are ideal for this simple recipe. And, of course, make sure to use salt.
Once you have your shrimp prepped, coat them in the above oil and spices, then place them in the smoker. Once again, a great temperature is around 225°F, and you can watch them closely until they turn pink, which might take around half an hour.
There are a few types of wood you can use for this recipe, but apple is a great choice. Feel free to experiment with the wood, or simply use your favorite herbs and see what you can make. It will surely be delicious as long as you have fresh, tasty shrimp as the foundation.
Butter Smoked Shrimp
Butter is the name of the game, and it makes this one incredibly rich shrimp recipe. The ingredient list is short, but each packs a punch, from the stick of butter to the minced garlic, rosemary, and lemon. Then you can put any other seasonings you like to adjust it to fit your tastes. Just do not go too heavy since the butter and shrimp are the stars.
The butter means you have to use a foil pan to cook the shrimp, allowing them to sit in the garlic and rosemary-infused melted butter. While it does pull back on the smoke, it is worth it for the extra flavor. That being said, you might want to consider a powerful wood with an intense flavor for this recipe. A good choice would be pecan wood.
This recipe only takes around twenty minutes to cook, but it requires a higher temperature of around 275°F, which means you have to watch things closely. If you are not careful, this shrimp can go from delicious to rubbery in an instant.
Cajun Smoked Shrimp
Cajun spices are delicious, and they can bring out some real flavor from shrimp. In this case, you want to go with a mix of paprika, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. You can also buy a cajun mix, and it will work just as well. It will also benefit from thyme and some lemon to give it a nice hit of citrus.
However, the real name of the game is thorough coating. Make sure to get plenty of spice on the shrimp and prepare for a flavor explosion when it is done. Of course, if you do not use all of the rub, it can be used for another batch once you fall in love. Regardless, get them ready and throw them in the smoker.
The ideal temperature is around 225°F for about half an hour. While you can use multiple methods for this recipe, a pan works quite well. However, if you do use a pan, make sure to include some butter or oil.
Greek-Style Smoked Shrimp
It might not sound like the usual dish, but Greek-style shrimp with ingredients like feta cheese and plenty of oil and butter is luxurious and delicious. The central ingredients are olive oil and butter, lemon, plenty of garlic, oregano and parsley, and feta cheese. And it really is the more, the better.
Mixing everything but the feta cheese is the first step, ensuring you get an even coat on the shrimp. Then you toss it all into a 225°F smoker, which should absolutely be preheated beforehand. Then, about halfway through the 30-minute cook time, toss in the feta cheese on top, which means it needs to be in a pan.
When the shrimp is cooked, pull it out of the smoker. You should have pink, delicious shrimp with plenty of herbs, melty feta, and tons of flavor. You can add more olive oil and lemon to taste as needed. This recipe goes great with a salad or light side dishes.
Caribbean Jerk Smoked Shrimp
Jerk seasoning is fantastic, but it can be a bit difficult to perfect. Cayenne, peppercorns, allspice, cumin, and red pepper flakes are a must. You also need to include garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and sugar. There is even lime and herbs, including parsley and thyme. Of course, you can buy it already mixed, so do not be intimidated.
If you find a good jerk seasoning, you can use it on almost anything, but shrimp is particularly delicious with the combination of flavors. The cooking time should not vary much from other recipes, so going for about 225-250°F is perfect. Additionally, strong-flavored wood is recommended, such as pecan or hickory.
The heat and spices of this dish make it absolutely fantastic flavor-wise, but you might want to pair it with something creamy or something that can soak up some heat. If all goes well, this is a recipe that will deliver a sweet and spicy flavor profile that you will crave constantly.
Tips to Elevate Any Smoked Shrimp Recipe
There are tons of amazing recipes out there for smoked shrimp, and considering the many combinations of spices and wood, you might just find a recipe all your own. However, there are a few things that might help you achieve some early success, such as ensuring you have a temperature probe small enough for shrimp.
In addition, it is best to pick larger shrimp, not going any smaller than medium shrimp. If you go with small shrimp, they will not smoke as well, partially because they do not hold up as well under high temperatures.
You also want to make sure you use the freshest shrimp possible. The freshness of the shrimp will directly impact the flavor. If you do not plan on using it straight away, buy frozen shrimp from the grocery store. Alternatively, Sun Shrimp harvests and ships shrimp daily, and the packaging helps ensure freshness.
You can also rest assured that Sun Shrimp has not been frozen and thawed multiple times before arriving at your door. Regardless of what you decide, look for fresh ingredients and great spices, and pick your wood carefully. If you do that, you are sure to have some incredible shrimp in the near future.