Potted Shrimp

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British potted shrimp are a classic appetizer, usually served on bread or crackers, that is easy to make, delicious and it keeps at least a week in the fridge. I make mine with tiny pink cocktail shrimp, which are one of the most sustainable shrimp you can buy. Easy and tasty!

British potted shrimp on slices of rye toast.

You can actually buy canned potted shrimp, but I’m not a fan. Better to make them from scratch. I love the recipe from the great book The British Cookbook by Ben Mervis, and this recipe is basically his.

The dish is popular in the north of England around Yorkshire, and is made there with what they call brown shrimp. Brown shrimp are cousins of the boreal shrimp we can get here in the United States.

Boreal shrimp, Pandalus borealis, are the tiny “cocktail” or “salad” shrimp you get precooked and preshelled, often frozen. They’re amazing for a recipe like potted shrimp, because their small size makes them good on bread or crackers.

You can buy these little pink shrimp — not to be confised with royal reds, or Key West pink shrimp, which are different — in most supermarkets in the freezer section. I got some from my friends over at E-fish.

A cool thing about these shrimp is that they are sustainably harvested in the US and Canada, so you can feel good about buying them.

Shelled and cooked pink salad shrimp in a bowl.

If you can’t find pink shrimp, use the smallest frozen shrimp you can find, ideally cooked and shelled, or you can buy larger shrimp and chop them roughly. The idea, as you can see from the picture, is an array of shrimps and butter on your bread.

Once you have your shrimp, it couldn’t be easier: They’re already cooked, so just let the shrimp swim in your spiced butter for a while, then either serve or “pot up” in a jar (I prefer glass Mason jars), with a layer of butter covering the shrimp and it will keep at least a week in the fridge. I’ve kept them for three weeks with no problem.

Serving and Storing Potted Shrimp

You can serve your potted shrimp cool, room temperature or warmed up. Each has its own thing going on. Cool, on hot toast, is fun because the heat of the toast melts the butter. I prefer to leave my shrimp out on the counter an hour, then toast the bread, so the cooler shrimp/butter mix melts fast and doesn’t chill your toast.

Some people prefer to warm the potted shrimp in a small pot before serving, but I don’t love this because the butter gets everywhere.

I urge you to serve your shrimp on good bread. (It’s homemade rye in the picture.) Good toast + potted shrimp = amazeballs. But crackers are OK, too, and I suppose you could serve these over rice or grits if you wanted to.

For storing, if you make sure that the top of the jar of shrimp is covered with butter, the potted shrimp will keep at least a week, and maybe a month at the most. It’ll mold if any shrimp are exposed.

If you liked this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below; I’d love to hear how everything went. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture and tag me at huntgathercook.

British potted shrimp on slices of rye toast.
5 from 1 vote

Potted Shrimp

This is a classic, super easy British appetizer made with sustainable shrimp. What's not to love?
Course: Appetizer, lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine: British
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup ghee or butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 18 ounces small shrimp
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Black pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Melt the butter over low heat and add the mace and cayenne. Let this steep gently for 10 minutes, then add the shrimp and mix well. Cover. If the shrimp are pre-cooked, turn off the heat. If not, cook on the lowest setting until they all turn pink. Mix in the lemon juice.
  • Serve over good bread or crackers, with black pepper on top.
  • Potted shrimp are better the day after they're made, so if you want to do that, pack them into a jar, then pour the butter over them and refrigerate. If the butter doesn't cover the shrimp, it's OK if you're going to eat them all in a day or three. If you want to store them for up to a month, you need to make sure the shrimp are totally covered by the butter.

Nutrition

Calories: 250kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 141mg | Sodium: 544mg | Potassium: 82mg | Fiber: 0.03g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 850IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 0.2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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4 Comments

  1. have not tried this recipe, but I do want to ask: are you going to share your ryebread recipe?

  2. Love the recipe. Love Boreal shrimp. However, an update on the Gulf of Maine Shrimp fishery.
    There has not been a commercial shrimp fishery in Maine and New Hampshire since 2017 , except foe some research set asides in 2018 and 2019. The shrimp have moved North off Labrador and far Northern Quebec to cooler waters, where they still have a sustainable fishery. The shrimp population is cyclical and Maine Fisherman hope to have a limited season in the future but its complicated because National Marine Fisheries Service is refusing to do research surveys and with out data – no season. The State of Maine may be able to have a state run season. Very best , I buy the frozen Borealis all the time.

  3. Hank,
    The photo of the potted shrimp on toast had me salivating immediately.
    Do you know about ‘The War of the Roses’, the competing claims in medieval times to the throne of England by the Houses of Lancaster and York? It continues in a good-humoured way to this day. Even though I live in North Yorkshire, I have to concede that potted shrimp is more of a Lancastrian than a Yorkshire dish as the potted shrimp we buy come mainly from Morecambe Bay off Lancashire.
    I continue to enjoy your posts.