When you want to serve perfectly cooked shrimp, it doesn't get much easier than using this sous vide shrimp recipe. You can also use the same cooking method to make shrimp for shrimp salad, shrimp pasta salad, shrimp scampi dip, and so many more!
One of the great things about using the sous vide method to cook your shrimp, besides that they will be perfectly cooked, is it's fast! 15 minutes in the water bath and they are done. It's also hands off, which I love AND you can infuse flavors into the shrimp as they sous vide cook.
One of my favorite uses for sous vide shrimp is shrimp cocktail. There is something so elegant about shrimp cocktail, however it's success really depends on how well the shrimp are cooked. They have to be firm, yet tender and not rubbery. Sous vide is the answer!
In my opinion, shrimp sous vide is the perfect way to avoid overcooked and rubbery shrimp. It's better than steaming, poaching, or grilling because the lower temperature cooks the shrimp perfectly every single time!
Frequently Asked Questions
I have read that baking soda does help keep the shrimp firm, but when I tried it I had to spit them out. Even after they were rinsed, the overpowering flavor of baking soda was still there and it was not pleasant. So, I do not recommend using baking soda. Instead, I found when you cook the shrimp at 140℉/60℃ for just 15 minutes they are plump and firm with the slightest bite, and very tender. Simply put, they are perfect. So, skip the baking soda and only cook them for 15 minutes.
Jumbo shrimp or extra Jumbo are my top choices. About 15 count per pound is what I look for. Anything smaller and it isn't that impressive for shrimp cocktail, anything larger and they tend to be tough.
Tips & Tricks for Making the BEST Shrimp Cocktail
Choose the Best Shrimp
Shrimp is the star of the show in shrimp cocktail and the best shrimp cocktail starts with the best quality shrimp you can find.
This varies from region to region, but here are the guidelines I use when buying shrimp for shrimp cocktail.
We want large shrimp for shrimp cocktail, but how large? Jumbo shrimp or extra Jumbo are my top choices. About 15 count per pound is what I look for. Anything smaller and it isn't that impressive for shrimp cocktail, anything larger and they tend to be tough.
Buy wild caught shrimp over farm raised, if you can. There is a difference in quality and you can tell by the shells and the flesh of the shrimp. Farm raised tend to have paper-thin shells and the flesh is usually a little softer. These are fine to use in some dishes, but shrimp cocktail is best with a firm fleshed shrimp. Farm raised are also milder flavored than wild caught and when the shrimp is the star of the dish, you want it to taste like shrimp.
Don't Let the Shrimp Sit in the Sous Vide Bath Too Long
One of the things about sous vide cooking is even when you leave the food in the water bath longer than the required time, it will not overcook.
However, it does change texture and, as delicate as shrimp is, I've found that texture change happens in a short window of time. To avoid experiencing these texture changes, I recommend limiting the cooking time to 15 minutes.
Correct Positioning of Shrimp
Position your shrimp in a single layer in the sous vide bag and position them how you want them to cook.
This means that you want them to be slightly curled and not stretched out because they will cook exactly how you place them. When making shrimp cocktail, you usually want to put your shrimp on the edge of a glass to serve and this trick really helps them sit nicely on the glass.
If your shrimp won't sit correctly on the rim of the glass, make a tiny slit in the underside and the rim of the glass will nestle into the groove and the shrimp will sit perfectly for you.
Flavor the Shrimp Before Sous Vide Cooking
You can do this many ways, but I like to keep it pretty simple with butter and salt. I find that cooking the shrimp in butter gives them a great flavor and the salt helps bring out the shrimp flavor even more.
Other ingredients you can use are roasted garlic or sautéed garlic. White wine and butter is another option.
You can also use any type of dry spice you like. Old Bay is very popular with shrimp, but isn't traditionally used when making shrimp cocktail.
To season the shrimp before cooking, lightly toss the shrimp in the seasoning and then place them in the bag you are using for cooking.
Any wet ingredients (or butter) can be put directly in the bag.
*It is not recommended to sous vide with raw garlic because botulism spores can grow in an anaerobic environment. While the short cook time of shrimp probably wouldn't create a problem, raw garlic isn't going to cook and you aren't going to get the flavor you want from it, so make sure to cook it first for the best results.
Homemade Shrimp Cocktail Recipe
Skip the store bought cocktail sauce, making your own is super easy and only requires a few ingredients. You also tailor the ingredients exactly how you want. Here is my basic recipe for cocktail sauce that makes enough for about a dozen or so shrimp.
You can always double, triple, or quadruple the recipe when entertaining a crowd. I bet this quickly becomes your favorite cocktail sauce!
One thing I want to point out is that prepared horseradish is different from creamy horseradish and you want to use prepared horseradish in cocktail sauce. Prepared horseradish sauce is always kept in the refrigerator section of the grocery store.
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish
- squeeze of lemon if desired (¼ teaspoon)
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until serving.
Do I Need a Sous Vide Cooker or the Sous Vide function on the Ninja Foodi to Sous Vide Shrimp?
For the most accurate results, I really suggest investing in a sous vide machine, you'll be amazed with what you can do with it. I just bought a second sous vide circulator so I can have multiple things going at once. I really love the Anova brand circulators. My second one is small enough to fit in a kitchen drawer! Here is the link if you want to check it out: Anova Nano precision cooker.
However, unlike other cuts of meat, precise temperature control is not as important with shrimp because they cook so fast.
So, if you do not have a sous vide appliance, you can absolutely follow the same steps to prepare the shrimp and seal them in a bag, making sure to get as much air out as possible. Bring a pot of water to a low simmer on the stove and adjust the stove temperature until the water is simmering at about 140℉/60℃.
Place the bag of shrimp into the water and make sure it is completely covered with water. Keep an eye on the temperature and, if it starts getting above 140℉/60℃, lower the heat or remove the pot from the stove. Cook for 15 minutes and remove. Chill and serve.
If you have the Ninja Foodi, but don't have the sous vide function, for this recipe I would heat 10 cups of water on the keep warm function and measure the temperature. When it reaches 140℉/60℃ put the bag with the shrimp into the water bath. Check the temperature every 5 minutes and if it's getting. hotter than 140℉/60℃, remove the inner pot from the Foodi and set it on the counter for the remaining cook time.
Prepare the Shrimp for Sous Vide Cooking
No matter which appliance you use to sous vide your shrimp, the prep will be the same.
Completely thaw your shrimp, if they are frozen. Choose shrimp that have a firm texture and a strong shell.
Remove the legs and the shell, leaving the tail on.
Take a sharp knife and make a shallow slit into the back of the shrimp to remove the vein that runs down the shrimp. Sometimes you won't see one, sometimes they are dark in color and other times they are yellow to orange. When you see the vein, remove it and discard.
When sous vide cooking shrimp for shrimp cocktail, I also like to cut the flap off of each side where the vein was removed. They look prettier that way, but it is completely optional.
Here is a quick video showing you how to peel and devein the shrimp
Choose the bag you want to use to sous vide in. This can be a sous vide bag, a freezer ziplock bag, a vacuum bag, or any heavy duty zipper-lock bag. You don't want to use regular plastic bags because they tend to spring leaks too easily, and then the water will get into the bag and dilute your seasoned shrimp.
In a large bowl, toss the shrimp in sea salt or kosher salt. You only need about ½ teaspoon or you can use whatever spices you want.
Place a tablespoon of butter into the bag (if you are using butter) and place each of the cleaned shrimp in a single layer and make sure they are slightly curled so they are easy to place on the glass for serving.
Remove the air from the bag using the water displacement method or a vacuum sealer. The water displacement method means that you use the water in the pot to press against the bag and remove the air as you lower the bag into the water. Make sure you keep the open end of the bag out of the water until as much of the air has been removed as possible, and then seal the bag with the ziplock or zipper.
How to Make Sous Vide Shrimp Cocktail
Sous Vide Shrimp Cocktail using the Ninja Foodi Sous Vide Function
Fill the liner pot with 10 cups of water. Put the pressure lid on and turn the valve to vent. Select the sous vide function, set the temperature to 140℉/60℃ and allow the pot to heat the water.
Meanwhile, prepare and bag the shrimp so they are ready when the pot has preheated. See section above for how to prepare and bag the shrimp.
Once the pot is done preheating it will prompt you to add food and start a 30-second timer. Don't worry if you aren't done prepping your shrimp yet. Just let the Foodi start the cooking countdown because we will set that time once the shrimp is in the water bath.
When you are ready to add your bag of shrimp and the Ninja Foodi has preheated, open the pressure lid. Lower the bag (sealed by vacuum or water displacement method) into the water.
The shrimp should be completely submerged in the water. If they are too light and floating, use a bowl with some water in it or a plate to weigh the shrimp down. If the bag keeps wanting to pop through the surface, then there is probably still too much air in it and you will have to remove that before you can continue.
Once the shrimp is in the water and submerged, put the pressure lid back on and turn the valve to vent. Set the cook time for 15 minutes.
When the 15 minutes is up, remove the bag with the shrimp and place each shrimp on a plate and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes or until cold.
If you didn't use butter, you can also pop the bag into an ice bath for about 15 minutes and then serve. If you do this with butter in the bag, the butter will solidify and deposit onto the shrimp, which would be great flavor, but not very appealing visually.
Sous Vide Shrimp Cocktail using a Sous Vide Circulator
Fill your sous vide container with water as directed by the maker of your sous vide circulator.
Prepare the shrimp as stated in the section above.
Set the circulator temperature to 140℉/60℃ and allow the water to heat up. When the sous vide water bath is up to temperature, put your sealed bag with the shrimp in the water and make sure it is completely submerged under the water. Use a weight, if needed.
Sous Vide for 15 minutes and immediately remove the bag of shrimp from the water bath. Put the shrimp on a plate in a single layer and into the fridge for 30-60 minutes so they can chill.
Serving Shirmp Cocktail
You can choose to get as fancy as you want or keep it super simple.
If you want to keep things really simple, just throw the sous vide shrimp onto a platter and serve with a bowl of cocktail sauce and some lemon wedges.
I always think of shrimp cocktail as a bit more elegant, so I like to use either a martini glass or a frozen margarita glass to serve them in.
Fill the bottom of the glass about ¼ of the way up the glass with the cocktail sauce. You want the person eating the shrimp cocktail to be able to easily reach the sauce with their shrimp, but you don't want the shrimp touching the sauce when they are resting on the rim of the glass.
Once the cocktail sauce is in the glass, place as many of the shrimp as you want to serve to each person along the rim of the glass. If you run into an uncooperative shrimp, use the tip of cutting a little groove into the shrimp that will allow it to sit on the glass perfectly.
Don't forget to leave room for a lemon wedge! Not only is it great to serve with the shrimp cocktail, it gives a splash of color.
Serve & Enjoy!
Sous Vide Shrimp Cocktail
- Sous Vide Circulator
- Ninja Foodi or IP with Sous Vide function
- 8 Jumbo Shrimp
- 1 Tablespoon salted butter
- ½ teaspoon fine grind sea salt
- 2 lemon wedges for garnish
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ Tablespoon prepared horseradish
- squeeze of lemon
- Fill the Ninja Foodi Inner pot with 10 cups of water or your sous vide container with enough water that the shrimp can be fully submerged during the cooking process.
- Set the sous vide circulator temperature to 140°F/60°C and allow the water to heat up. If using the Ninja Foodi, put the pressure lid on and turn the valve to vent. Select the sous vide function and set the temperature to 140°F/60°C
- Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tail on. Lightly toss in salt. Place butter into the bag and lay the shrimp in the bag in a single layer and slightly curled. Seal the bag using a vacuum sealer or the water displacement method.
- When the water is heated to the correct temperature, lower the bag into the water and sous vide cook for 15 minutes. If the bag is floating, use a bowl or a plate to weigh it down. The shrimp need to be completely submerged in the water.
- When the time is up, remove the bag and open it. Remove the shrimp and place on a plate. Put the plate in the fridge to cool for 30-60 minutes. If storing longer, make sure the shrimp are in an airtight container so they don't dry out.
- When chilled, serve with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.
Homemade Cocktail Sauce
- Combine the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish and lemon in a small bowl and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
She published her first cookbook in the Fall of 2018 and is very interested in writing several more.
Louise is also the creator of an online Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooking Course with over 100 instructional step-by-step videos. People absolutely rave about the course and all the value they have received from it.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can. Get more Information about Louise & contact information
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