This old-fashioned Shrimp Dip is a retro recipe that has been enjoyed at social gatherings and holiday parties for decades! My grandmother loved to serve a cold shrimp dip made with cream cheese and chili sauce with cocktails, and I've continued the tradition in my own home as well. Pair it with crackers, celery sticks and potato chips for a crowd-pleasing, easy appetizer that's ready in just 10 minutes!
The Best Shrimp Dip Recipe
When my aunt gave me my grandmother's old recipe box with all of her handwritten notecards a few years ago, there was definitely a common theme throughout: easy, party-friendly appetizers and dinners that would "wow" her guests. My grandmother loved to entertain, so most of her treasured recipes were those that she served to her family and friends on a regular basis. Some of her favorites included salmon mousse, Jell-O molds, bourbon balls, and of course -- a classic shrimp dip recipe.
This easy shrimp dip can be served hot or cold, and is full of flavor thanks to a savory combination of cream cheese, mayonnaise, herbs and seasonings, and plenty of little bites of tender shrimp. Chili sauce is a secret ingredient that gives the dip a subtly sweet taste, as well as some zip from the spices. You can substitute with ketchup or cocktail sauce if you prefer, and you can always make it spicy with the addition of Cajun or Creole seasoning, a little bit of cayenne pepper, or a dash of hot sauce. Take the base recipe and make it your own. My grandmother would totally approve!
Why This Recipe Works
- This Southern shrimp dip is just one of those great appetizers that's appropriate year-round -- hot or cold -- and it disappears in a flash.
- You can prep the dip in advance and just pull it out when your guests arrive.
- It's quick to stir together, and it's absolutely perfect with a glass of wine on Christmas, a cold beer at a 4th of July picnic, or a fancy champagne cocktail on New Year's Eve!
How to Make Shrimp Dip
This throw-back recipe will instantly transport you to cocktail parties of the 50's, 60's and 70's! There's a reason that it was so well loved: it's flavorful, easy and affordable! With this quick two-step prep, it's a simple appetizer that you'll turn to again and again.
- Cream cheese: use full-fat block-style cream cheese for the best flavor and texture
- Mayonnaise: I prefer Duke's brand
- Chili sauce: I like Heinz brand. This is like "kicked-up" ketchup -- sweet tomato flavor with added garlic, sweet peppers, and spices.
- Minced onion, garlic powder and seasoned salt: for tons of flavor!
- Worcestershire sauce: for a savory, umami taste.
- Cooked shrimp: salad shrimp, canned shrimp or fresh boiled shrimp are all good!
- Fresh parsley: a bright, colorful touch that my grandmother always included.
Step 1: Blend
Use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Fold in the parsley and chopped shrimp.
Step 2: Chill
Cover the dip and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or overnight) before serving.
How to Serve Southern Shrimp Dip
We typically serve this dip cold, but I've included the baking instructions for hot shrimp dip below, too. It's delicious either way! On the side, offer a handful of options for dipping, such as Ritz crackers, potato chips, bagel chips, pita chips, sliced French baguette or toasted bread, carrots and celery sticks.
The best party appetizers are those that you can make ahead, and this shrimp dip is no exception. Mix it up at least one hour in advance (or even the day before), cover it tightly, and store it in the refrigerator until your guests arrive. There's no last-minute stress or fuss!
Properly stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, your shrimp dip will stay fresh for about 2-3 days. I do not recommend freezing the dip, since the cream cheese base will "break" or develop an undesirable texture when thawed.
- In lieu of the chili sauce, substitute with an equal amount of cocktail sauce or ketchup.
- Any variety of cooked shrimp will work here. I use "salad shrimp," which I find in the frozen seafood section at my grocery store. They're already cooked (great shortcut) and they're really tiny, so you don't have to spend too much time finely dicing them. You can also use canned shrimp or larger shrimp that you boil at home.
- Shrimp and Crab Dip: Substitute 1 cup of jumbo lump crab meat for 1 cup of the shrimp.
- Hot Shrimp Dip: Transfer the dip to an oven-safe dish and bake at 350 degrees F until bubbly and heated through (about 15-20 minutes).
- Spicy Shrimp Dip: Add ½ teaspoon - 1 teaspoon of Cajun or Creole seasoning to the dip. If the seasoning mix has salt in it, you will likely want to omit the seasoned salt so that your dip isn't too salty. You can also mix in a few drops of hot sauce to really kick it up a notch.
Tips for the Best Shrimp Dip
- Make sure that the cream cheese is at room temperature. This will ensure that all of the ingredients blend smoothly together.
- To quickly bring cream cheese to room temperature, you can:
- Remove cream cheese from packaging, cut it into small cubes, and allow the cream cheese to sit out on a plate for 15-20 minutes; OR
- Remove cream cheese from packaging and place on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave in 10-second increments, flipping the cream cheese over after each 10-minute segment, for a total of about 30 seconds (or until the cream cheese softens). Be careful that you don't completely melt the cream cheese!
- Use an electric mixer instead of a simple whisk. The electric mixer makes the base of the dip nice and smooth.
- Pat the shrimp dry before adding it to the dip. You don't want wet shrimp to thin or water-down your cream cheese mixture.
- Allow at least 1 hour for the dip to chill before serving. It will firm up and "set" in the fridge, and the flavors will come together.
- Use fresh parsley, if possible. It adds a bright color and taste to balance the rich dip. In a pinch, you can sub with 1 teaspoon of dried parsley flakes. Chopped fresh chives or sliced green onions would also be a nice addition.
More Appetizers that You'll Love
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon seasoned salt
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups finely-chopped cooked shrimp* (about 8 ounces total)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Optional, for serving: crackers, celery sticks, potato chips, French baguette
- In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to blend together cream cheese, mayonnaise, chili sauce, onion, garlic powder, seasoned salt and Worcestershire sauce. Fold in parsley and shrimp. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until ready to serve.