Old Bay Shrimp with Homemade Cocktail Sauce


This Old Bay Shrimp can be made on the grill or stove top (recipe instructions for both), served hot or cold and is super simple to make!  Most of the prep time is marinating then its a quick cook and serve!  Old Bay Shrimp can be served as an appetizer with my fabulous homemade Cocktail Sauce or add some sides and call it dinner.

I am sooo in love with shrimp for not only its juicy delish factor but because its the quickest, easiest protein to make on the planet!  Some of my favorite shrimp recipes include Sheet Pan Shrimp  ScampiCilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos with Mango SalsaLemon Garlic Shrimp FettuccineKung Pao Shrimp and now this Old Bay Shrimp!  All we do is toss shrimp in some Old Bay Seasoning, butter, and garlic and you have fresh, hot, plump, dynamic can’t stop-eating shrimp that tastes gourmet with minimal effort!

quick and easy Old Bay Shrimp (Grill or Stove top) is so juicy and flavorful and the homemade Cocktail Sauce is amazing!  Serve it as an appetizer or add some sides and call it dinner! 



Old Bay Shrimp is shrimp cooked with Old Bay seasoning.  If you aren’t familiar with Old Bay Seasoning, its a world famous, top secret spice blend of rumored 18 herbs and spices that pairs deliciously well with seafood.

It is produced in the  Chesapeake Bay area where it was developed by German immigrant Gustav Brunn in 1939 and was later purchased by McCormick in 1990 (and no, this is not a sponsored post, I just love Old Bay seasoning).  It is named for the Old Bay Line, a passenger ship that sailed between Baltimore and Norfolk Virginia at the time.

During the 1930s, crabs were so plentiful in Baltimore, Maryland that bars actually offered them for free!  In order to not only season the crabs, but to encourage patrons to purchase more beverages, several salty crab seasonings were created, including Old Bay Seasoning.  Old Bay is one of the surviving spice mixes of that era.  Who knew?!

Old Bay Shrimp Recipe

Often Old Bay Shrimp is boiled/steamed in its shell along with Old Bay Seasoning, beer and water but I wanted to create a quick stir fried or grilled version to minimize the work and maximize the freshness, and a recipe that doesn’t require your family and guests to have to “peel and eat.”

Instead, I used large shrimp that has been peeled and deveiened to cut down on prep time.  And bonus, by using defrosted frozen shrimp, you can make this Old Bay Shrimp whenever the cravings strike!  Or whenever you want a 30 minute dinner, in which only 20 minutes of that time is hands off marinating!

top view of easy Old Bay Shrimp in a large stainless steel skillet


This Old Bay Shrimp isn’t called Old Bay Shrimp for nothing -it is ALL about the complex spice blend!  There are many “copycat, do it yourself” Old Bay seasoning mix recipes out there, but Old Bay survived since 1939 for a reason.  In my opinion, Old Bay seasoning isn’t like making your own taco seasoning, after all, it does boast 18 different herbs/spices such as paprika, celery salt, bay leaves, thyme, cayenne, dry mustard, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, etc.

So if you don’t own the bright yellow can with a bold blue stripe, then I suggest investing in some.  Not only does it go great with anything seafood and produce stellar Old Bay Shrimp, but add a sprinkle to French fries, chicken, hamburgers and sandwiches, dips, potatoes, veggies, pizza, popcorn, eggs, soups and immediately delishify your plate!

showing how to make  Old Bay Shrimp by mixing shrimp with seasonings in a bowl


For this Old Bay Shrimp recipe, you will want to use defrosted (or fresh), peeled and deveined shrimp.  There are two options for defrosting your shrimp:

  1. To quickly defrost shrimp: place the frozen shrimp into in a fine-mesh sieve or colander. Place this sieve in a large bowl of cold tap water for 10 minutes.   After 10 minutes, replace the water in the bowl with new cold tap water and resubmerge the shrimp.  Let shrimp sit an additional 10- 20 minutes.  At this point the shrimp should be completely defrosted.
  2. To defrost shrimp overnight:  The easier way to defrost your shrimp (if you remember in advance) is to remove your frozen shrimp to a covered bowl and let them defrost in the refrigerator overnight.

Whatever you do, resist the urge to defrost your shrimp using warm tap water (and definitely NOT the microwave) as this will cause the shrimp to defrost and cook unevenly.


To make this Old Bay Shrimp on the stove top, it starts with the best ever homemade cocktail sauce that also becomes part of your quick marinade.  Once you try this homemade cocktail sauce, you will never be tempted to buy the store version again!  Its a quick whisking of chili sauce (NOT the Asian sweet chili sauce I use all the time but the tomato based by Heinz), ketchup horseradish sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce to taste.

Add one tablespoon of this Cocktail Sauce to your shrimp along with olive oil, fresh garlic and Old Bay seasoning and let marinate 20-30 minutes.  Next, saute your shrimp in some butter for literally 3 MINUTES and you have the quickest, easiest, tastiest appetizer in minutes OR add some veggies and rice/potatoes and you have a complete meal.  Thank you Old Bay Seasoning, thank you.

showing how to  make Old Bay Shrimp by cooking in a skillet


You can turn this Old Bay Shrimp recipe into a complete meal by serving it with some stir fried veggies and rice or serving it with some of these sides:

top view of Old Bay Shrimp (Grill or Stove top) in a skillet garnished by lemons

How do you make old bay shrimp salad?

This Old Bay Shrimp can also easily transform into a salad!  To Make Old Bay Shrimp Salad, cook shrimp according to directions then cut shrimp into bite size pieces.  Mix shrimp with:

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to tastes
  • pinch of cayenne
  • Old bay seasoning to taste

Cover and chill Old Bay Shrimp salad for at least two hours.  The chilled salad is perfect for a light lunch or appetizer,  It can be served over lettuce, in a lettuce wrap, or scooped onto crackers.

Looking for more shrimp recipes?

showing how to serve Old Bay Shrimp by dipping in cocktail sauce

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

quick and easy Old Bay Shrimp (Grill or Stove top) is so juicy and flavorful and the homemade Cocktail Sauce is amazing!  Serve it as an appetizer or add some sides and call it dinner! 

Old Bay Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce (Grill or Stove Top)

Old Bay Shrimp is is juicy, flavorful and on your table in less than 30 minutes! It can be made on the grill or stove top, served hot or cold and is super simple to make!  Old Bay Shrimp can be served as an appetizer with homemade Cocktail Sauce or add some sides and call it dinner!
Servings: 4 servings
Total Time: 25 minutes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes

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  • 1 1/2 pounds uncooked large shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon butter

20 Minute Marinade

Cocktail Sauce



Cocktail Sauce

  • Add all of the Cocktail Sauce ingredients to a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Remove one tablespoon to a large bowl or freezer bag (for your shrimp marinade). Store the remaining Cocktail Sauce in the refrigerator.


  • Add all marinade ingredients to 1 tablespoon cocktail sauce and whisk to combine. Add shrimp and stir until evenly coated. Marinate at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.


  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add shrimp and cook just until opaque, about 3 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Remove shrimp to a plate. NOTE: You will need to work in 2 batches unless you have an extra large skillet (as pictured in video) or your shrimp will steam instead of sauté.


  • NOTE: Soak wooden skewers for at least 30 minutes in water before grilling or broiling.
  • Thread shrimp onto skewers.
  • Grease grill and heat to medium high heat. Grill shrimp for 3-5 minutes on each side or just until shrimp has become pink and firm being careful to not overcook.
  • Remove shrimp from grill and generously brush with 1-2 tablespoons melted butter. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste if desired.

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  1. Danielle M. says

    I have some some Old Bay in the spice drawer and I’ve been looking for things to do with it! This is perfect, and it looks SO delicious – I’ll have to try it soon!!

    • Jen says

      Awesome Danielle, I hope you love it! Its the perfect meal to dust off that Old Bay seasoning for!

      • Connie Catucci says

        Can you do shrimp cocktails with this recipe?

  2. Ruth says

    I made this the other night and it was so amazing. My daughter reheated leftovers the next day and said how good it was.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Ruth, I’m so happy it was such a hit and that even the leftovers were tasty!

  3. Laurie Miller says

    I made this tonight and it was fantastic! It’s the first time I’ve cooked shrimp (I’m 65…go figure). This recipe was so tasty and easy. I paired it with creamy cheese grits, and it was soooooo good. My husband’s taking the leftovers to work for lunch tomorrow.

    Thank you, Jen! Every recipe I’ve made from your website has been perfect (and, apparently, foolproof!).

    • Jen says

      Welcome to the world of shrimp Laurie, I’m so pleased (and relieved) your first experience was a delicious success! Your old Bay Shrimp sound fantastic with creamy cheese grits – mmmmm! Thank you for your kind words – I’m honored you’re enjoying my recipes!

  4. Lauren says

    I’m a Maryland girl now living in Montana who loves Old Bay and this recipe! Relatively easy to put together and super flavorful. This time around, the shrimp will be the main course with a side of cheddar bay biscuits. Great recipe, thanks!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Lauren! I’m so pleased this could bring a taste of home!

  5. Sharon says

    We really loved it. My husband said always make this way. We enjoyed with rice and green beans.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Sharon, I’m so pleased it was a hit!