Smoked Shrimp

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I have been wanting to do an article on smoking shrimp for a while and that time is finally here. You will find lots of folks telling you that these should only be grilled or cooked in a very hot stove or grill but I beg to differ.

These are so simple to do and so very good.. the only trick is to not overcook them. Thankfully, shrimp have a tail-tale sign to let us know when they are perfectly done.. they usually turn bright pink.

What to Purchase

I used the jumbo sized shrimp.. I recommend you do the same but then that's entirely up to you. Here in Oklahoma, about the only thing we have access to is the previously frozen seafood but if you can get the fresh stuff then go for it. The fresher the better. Be sure to purchase raw shrimp, deveined, peeled and tail on for best results.

Thawing them Out

If the shrimp are frozen like the ones I used, just put them in a colander and run cold water over them until they are thawed out. This usually only takes about 5 minutes. Drain the water when you are finished and proceed.

Frozen Shrimp Thaw frozen shrimp with water

Marinating the Shrimp

Obviously, my rub recipe is the absolute best option in my opinion. The flavor is beyond amazing and perfectly compliments the flavor of the smoke. Put the shrimp in a large ziploc bag and pour enough olive oil over them to fully coat them on all sides. I had 3 lbs of shrimp and used about 1/4 cup of oil. Once the shrimp are coated with oil, pour on about 1/4 cup of my rub recipe per lb of shrimp. I used about 3/4 cup of the rub recipe on mine.

Feel free to use more or less of the rub recipe depending on how seasoned you want them to be. The rub is not “salty” so you can use more than you would almost all other seasonings.

2-1/2 gallon ziploc bag Shrimp into bag

Shrimp with oil and rub mixed in

Zip up the bag and shake and roll it to completely coat the shrimp with the oil/rub mixture. Once you are satisfied that they are fully covered, place them in the fridge for about 2 hours.

Note: the rub can easily be adjusted to be just as spicy or mild as you like by reducing or increasing certain key ingredients. I have some notes in the recipe on how to do this and/or I can help via email at your request once you order.

Preparing the Shrimp for Smoking

This recipe is so simple you might wonder why I haven't written about it before and that simply because I had never documented the process which is what is required in order for me to tell you how to do it. It is extremely easy and after marinating them, I simply melted a stick (1/4 lb) of butter and poured it into the bottom of a 9 x 13 disposable pan. I then laid the shrimp neatly into rows overlapping them just a little on top of the tails.

Butter into pan Shrimp into pan

Getting the Smoker Ready

As you may have noticed in my most recent articles, I have been using my propane smoker a lot and that is no coincidence. We have had over a month of 100-114 degree days with no rain and having any kind of open fire is very dangerous due to the dryness of everything.

Propane or electric is my only option right now and I have even had to be extremely careful with that. Fortunately this Great Outdoors Smoky Mountain of mine does a great job and everything has worked out like a charm.

Getting this smoker ready consists merely of turning on the propane, filling the water pan with cold water, lighting the burner for preheating, and filling the chip box with dry wood chips or chunks and setting it aside.

Note: I like to wait until about 5 minutes before adding the meat to place the chips/chunks in the smoker. This allows me to get the meat into the smoker and get some pictures if needed before the smoke starts flowing too heavy.

In the gas smoker, I leave the knob set on HIGH until I put the shrimp into the smoker since I need to get the chips/chunks going quickly. Once I place the shrimp in, I watch for smoke then turn it down to a more medium setting to maintain my goal temperature.

Smoking the Shrimp

Place the pan(s) of shrimp into the smoker and DON'T go anywhere for long. These things will be done faster n' you can imagine as is the way with these little, great tasting buggers.

I was unable to maintain less than 235 degrees in this smoker due to the 113 degree Oklahoma heat even with cold water in the water pan. The smoker was not in the shade and that's just the best that could be done under the circumstances. For this reason, I used pecan knowing that it would be able to impart some good flavor in a relatively short amount of time.

15-20 minutes and the shrimp were starting to turn a bright pink.. a sure sign that they are perfectly done. You can successfully smoke them at a lower temperature to add some extra smoking time just don't take your eyes off of them for long. Some folks cook them as low as 180 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour to get the extra smoke flavor.

Using a stronger smoking wood such as mesquite, hickory or pecan will ensure that you are able to get a nice smoke flavor in the small amount of time that they are in the smoker.

We usually say “if you're looking you ain't cooking” but that does not apply to shrimp. Use a good flashlight (or torch if you're in the UK) and after about 8-10 minutes start checking them every 3 minutes, crack the lid or door just a wee bit and shine the light onto the pan to check for that bright pink color. Once you have bright pink, get them out of the heat so they don't overcook and get rubbery on you.

Shrimp are done perfectly

Serve the Shrimp

Many times at my house, the food from the smoker never makes it to the table. I bring it in and set it on the cabinet and it's a contest to see who can grab the most.. the fastest. Such was the case with these shrimp.

These were great right out of the smoker, they would also be great on skewers, laid on top of a bed of noodles or even served cold on a salad.

My wife ate some cold the next day and said they were some of the best cold shrimp she had ever eaten with a very nice hint of smokiness.. no cocktail sauce needed due to my tasty rub being on them however, if you really, really love cocktail sauce, I have the perfect recipe below:

Jeff's Barbecue Cocktail Sauce

Seems to simple? It is simple but you will love it and folks will want the recipe. I recommend keeping an air of mystery about it for a while before divulging your secret;-)


  • I really like horseradish, if you don't like it as much as I do, you might want to start with 1 TBS, taste it, then add more to taste.
  • You can use another barbecue sauce however, I cannot vouch for the ingredients or the flavor. My list of ingredients just happen to work really well for the sauce, others may not.

Here's some of the smoked shrimp reheated with a side of steamed broccoli for your viewing pleasure:

Shrimp with steamed broccoli

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  1. Hi Jeff,
    Just new to smoking, and have a Bradley Smoker, purchased your rub recipes and followed your instructions. With being from Scotland used langoustines instead of shrimp, turned out absolutely amazing.
    Thank you

  2. WOW! I just made a batch of these and they didn’t last long. I used the smaller shrimp (31-40 per lbs). Because I wasn’t sure how much room they would take up, I used a cookie sheet lined with HD foil. Set my RECTEC to 205 and checked the shrimp temp at 30,45, & they hit 165 at 60 minutes. I have used a lot of different rubs and my wife always asks when I’m going to use the rub I make. (Jeff’s rub…..of course I take credit for it) This recipe made the keeper list.

  3. Have you ever tried using a table umbrella to shade your smoker? It makes a huge difference in temperature regulation for me even when the air temp is around 100.

  4. I made these last Friday at camp for a little gathering and they were great. The only thing I would suggest is to leave a piece without any rub and put it in a strategic location in the pan. It was tough to tell when the shrimp turned pink when they were already red from the seasoning going in the smoker.

  5. I made this using three pounds of fresh, deveined shrimp, which I peeled myself. I was serving this as an alternate to the Dr. Pepper Smoked Pulled Pork at a party for eight.

    It was delicious! It was also very easy to make and quick to fix, so that I could pull it hot off my BGE as my guests arrived.

    The only problem I encountered was telling when the shrimp were done. I had maybe over rubbed them, so that I couldn’t tell, when they turned pink. My solution, starting at about 15 minutes, was to pull one every three minutes or so and cut it in half to test it – I also ate the test specimen. Worked great and they were all done at the 20 minute mark.

    1. These shrimp sound good I think u need to buy a rec tec grills so u can maintain a low temperature & they have flavored pellets & makes everything awesome I have one & haven’t had anything not taste good u can bake, smoke, & bbq on it…..?

  6. I am using the BGE for my smoking. From your comment, I assume I should set it up for indirect cooking and cook at about 200 degrees to give it some time for the smoke to work its magic?

    The suggestion for serving cold is great.

    BTW, I am going to try this recipe for a party we are giving in a weeks time, and I plan to use one of your pulled pork recipes, so I have sent you a separate question on that.

  7. Jeff… you are a rock star on the smoker my man! I made this shrimp recipe… so easy and the taste is phenomenal! I’ll serve them cold on skewers with the horseradish sauce on the side to my guests at Easter as an appetizer with the pig candy. I should have doubled the batch because I don’t see them lasting very long! Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Jeff, I freaked out when I saw you are in Oklahoma. I’m in Tulsa. You ask last week how I liked your rub since I recently ordered. I replied from my work e-mail that I had not tried it yet. Today is the day! I am smoking brined, pork shoulder steaks with red onions and whiskey. As Robert E. Lee said, and this may not be a direct quote but close, “I like whiskey, that is why I don’t drink it”. Also doing a few shrimps for “orderves”, as we Okies say. Will use rub on both. Cooking on a Classic Joe.

  9. I really like your rub and sauce along with recipes.We are going to do the smoked shrimp for a party and will cook them about and an hr. ahead of time…should we keep them warm like in a crock pot, or chill them and serve them cold with sauce. I am afraid if we try to keep them warm, they will get overdone and rubbery.

    1. You are correct in that if you try to keep them warm for an hour, they will end up tough and not very good to eat. We love them cold around here and I think that might be your best option for this event. Just as soon as they are done smoking, put them on ice and keep them nice and cold. Serve them with some cocktail sauce and you’re eating good!

      1. Jeff!!
        I am sooooo looking foward to wrapping my taste buds around these shrimp. My problem with grilling/smoking shrimp is over cooking, have been planning to smoke them in our CHARBROIL 3-1 infared smoker. So I hope this doesn’t make a difference in the way we cook them however, my plan was to cook them TODAY. I’ve never clicked on the “my rub” link in the recipe because I thought it was a recipe, too busy to realize it was for purchase. If I place my order for the rub right now, once you get the confirmation, can you PLEASE send me the recipe by email?? Really looking forward to making these today. I am excited to buy the book because this year I plan to use the smoker more.

        1. The purchase you are wanting to make is for the recipes only.. once you order, you are immediately giving the opportunity to download the recipes to your computer or device as PDF files. You can also download them to dropbox directly. Please let me know if you need further help with this.

          1. Thank you Jeff for responding. Ok, I did not realize that. I was willing to puchase the seasoning. I will purchase the recipes, however, I was hoping to be able to obtain the seasoning that day to prepare for a gathering. I will keep you posted on how I like the items.

  10. do you have a book with all this info i can purchase. i have a smoky ntn. gas smoker. have only used for ribs. would like to expand out to other things including the prawns. i have 3 lbs in the freezer rat now. from alaska, wild and native, peeled and deviugned. i think i will get them put now cuz it's gonna be sunny all weeek. luuuuuv the news letter. by the way my dad (passede  away 1967) would enjoy this. native okie.   ken rice

    1. Cold smoking is smoking at very low temperatures (usually less than 90 degrees F) in order to smoke the item without applying too much heat. Some things which are often cold smoked are cheese, bacon, sausage, etc.

      One way to cold smoke is to use a hole in the ground or perhaps a small barrel with coals and wood for smoke. The smoke is directed into a long pipe which carries the smoke to another box or unit which contains the meat or cheese. The smoke cools down while it travels through the pipe and delivers all of the flavor without the heat.

  11. Jeff, I enjoy using your news letter and have used your bbq sauce and dry rub recipes for the last 4 years. The combined spice are proportions for a great taste! I sometimes add some other spices, fruits, or bourbon to the mix but always have a great place to start. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences! Buying your book today. You have made my smoker experiences taste great. Thanks again , Lynn

  12. Lived in OK. For 4 years,your food is THE WORST and unsanitary. Stick to your cheap steaks and potatoes and leave the real cooking to us southern folks

    1. Carl,

      I lived in the southern part of the US for 5 years and I liked some of the food and some of it, I did not. I would never be so naive as to make a general statement about all southern food based on my few bad experiences.

      I am sorry you did not like the food here in Oklahoma.. sounds like you made the right decision to vacate the premises;-)

  13. I know you have posted recipes on smoking salman befor I lost my copy can you send me the bacic recipe I use a electrict smoker thanks in advance robert rasmussen