Blackening-Seasoning Pickled Shrimp


In my new cookbook, Insane in the Brine: The Official Cookbook, I wrote a blackening-seasoning (aka blackening-spice) pickled egg recipe that I love. I decided a similar approach to pickled shrimp – a somewhat obscure southern gem – would also yield delicious results. And it did!

Blackening seasoning has a great combo flavor of piquant, smoky, savory and tangy. Blackened shrimp is a favorite and as a pickle it’s equally satisfying! The veggies that go with it are also really tasty. This is delicious as an appetizer, side, or as a snack on its own. It’s also a winner added to tomato soup, Bloody Mary, atop salads, and more.

Let me know what you do with yours.

The flavor and texture are both at their best on around days 2-4. After that, the freshness of the herbs is a little dulled, and the texture of the shrimp gets tougher. However, these can last a long time, like other refrigerator pickles. I’ve eaten them after a couple weeks in the fridge and it’s been perfectly good and tasty, with no sign of spoilage (and the texture not a deal breaker, at least for me).

This recipe uses 2 lbs. of shrimp for a half gallon jar. However, for a smaller quantity, cut everything in half and use a quart jar.

And with no further ado, let’s do this!

You will need:


For the pickling brine:

  • 3 cups white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup reserved water from boiling the shrimp
  • 1 TBSP smoked paprika
  • 1 TBSP black peppercorns
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp basil flakes (or 8-10 fresh basil leaves)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or several sprigs fresh)
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp thyme flakes (or several sprigs)
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Optional: 1 TBSP sugar

For cooking the 2 lbs. shrimp:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 TBSP salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Large bowl of ice water

For packing the jar:

  • 2 lbs. shrimp, tails on & deveined, thawed
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 medium red or Vidalia onion (or other onion), sliced
  • 1-2 stalks celery, thick sliced or diced
  • 1-2 jalapenos (to taste), sliced
  • 2 TBSP capers
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 2 tsp lemon zest

When serving (optional): garnish with fresh lemon wedges and extra-virgin olive oil


1.) Combine the pickling brine ingredients in the saucepan and bring to a rapid boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat and allow to completely cool (room temperature). (This step can be expedited, if desired, by transferring the contents of the saucepan into refrigerator storage.)

2.) Meanwhile, thaw the shrimp, peel (but keep the tail on) and devein as needed. Once the pickling brine (Step #1) is cooled, it is time to cook the shrimp. In saucepan, combine the 4 cups water, salt, black pepper, and garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the shrimp and simmer for 1.5 minutes, or until shrimp is opaque and lightly pink. Immediately strain out the shrimp (saving the shrimp boiling liquid) and place the shrimp in the bowl of ice water to stop further cooking.

3.) Prepare the jar ingredients according to the details above (e.g. dice the red pepper; slice the onion; squeeze the lemon; etc.). In the jar, add the cooled, drained shrimp and all the jar ingredients. Next, stir and add all of the cooled pickling brine, including all solids, spices and herbs in the pickling brine. Lastly, top the jar off with the seasoned water that the shrimp was cooked in (this can be up to about a cup of liquid). Fill jar to about 1/2″ from the top.

4.) Seal the jar tightly and place in refrigerator at least overnight before eating. Best to wait 2-3 days and finish within a week. When serving, transfer some to a bowl with some of the vegetables and brine; you may opt to dress it with more fresh lemon juice and several dashes of olive oil for a great texture and added flavor.

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