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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!

Close up side shot of shrimp dip in a white bowl

Cream Cheese Shrimp Dip

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, seasonings, and plenty of little bites of tender shrimp. Chili sauce 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!

Overhead shot of a platter of shrimp dip with potato chips

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!
Mixing cream cheese mayo and other ingredients for shrimp dip

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a bowl of cream cheese shrimp dip. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Cream cheese: use full-fat block-style cream cheese for the best flavor and texture.
  • Mayonnaise: I prefer Duke’s brand.
  • Chili sauce: We use Heinz brand. This is like “kicked-up” ketchup — sweet tomato flavor with added garlic, sweet peppers, and spices.
  • Green onions: for savory, mild onion flavor.
  • 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.

How to Quickly Bring Cream Cheese to Room Temperature

If you forgot to leave your cream cheese out to soften, you can bring the block of cream cheese to room temperature quickly with either of these two methods:

  • 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!
Adding shrimp and green onions to a bowl

How to Make Shrimp Dip

This throw-back recipe will instantly transport you to cocktail parties of the 50s, 60s, and 70s! There’s a reason that it was so well loved: the cream cheese shrimp dip is flavorful, easy, and affordable!

  1. Use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings.
  2. Fold in the green onion, chopped shrimp, and parsley.
  3. Cover the dip and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or overnight) before serving.
Side shot of shrimp dip with chips and crackers on a table with wine

Hot 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! Transfer the dip to an oven-safe dish and bake at 350°F until bubbly and heated through (about 15-20 minutes). You can even add cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, and/or Parmesan cheese on top, and then pop it under the broiler. Keep an eye on the dish and broil just until the cheese is melted and brown on top (it can burn quickly). Yum!

What to Eat with Shrimp Dip

On the side, offer a handful of options for dipping, such as:

  • Ritz crackers or Townhouse crackers (perfect flaky, buttery texture and flavor)
  • Wheat Thins (a nice sweet-and-savory flavor profile; try the “big” size for dipping)
  • Carr’s Table Water Crackers (my grandmother’s favorite!)
  • Triscuits (thick and sturdy — perfect for scooping)
  • Potato chips
  • Bagel chips
  • Pita chips
  • French baguette slices or other toasted bread
  • Vegetables, such as carrot sticks, celery sticks, and cucumber rounds

Make Ahead

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!

Storage

Properly stored in an airtight container in the fridge, 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.

Overhead image of a hand dipping a Ritz cracker in old fashioned Southern shrimp dip recipe

Recipe Variations

  • In lieu of the chili sauce, substitute with an equal amount of cocktail sauce or ketchup.
  • Chopped fresh chives are a nice alternative to the sliced green onion.
  • Use the dip to make small tea sandwiches or to fill phyllo cups.
  • Shrimp and Crab Dip: Substitute 1 cup of jumbo lump crab meat for 1 cup of the shrimp.
  • 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. Alternatively, add a dash of cayenne pepper or crushed red peppers for extra spice.
  • A squeeze of fresh lemon juice would be a nice addition to brighten up the dip.
  • Use sour cream in lieu of some of the mayonnaise for a dip with more tang.
  • Old Bay seasoning is a classic addition to many seafood recipes, and would work well in this dip.

Tips for the Best Shrimp Dip Recipe

  • Make sure that the cream cheese is softened at room temperature. This will ensure that all of the ingredients blend smoothly together.
  • Any variety of cooked shrimp will work here. I use “salad shrimp” or small cooked, peeled, and deveined 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 they’re quick and easy to chop. You can also use canned shrimp or larger shrimp that you boil at home.
  • 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 one 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.
Hands holding a white plate with potato chips and cream cheese shrimp dip

More Appetizers that You’ll Love

Square overhead shot of dipping potato chip in shrimp dip

Shrimp Dip

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6 – 8 people
Calories 201 kcal
My grandmother's old-fashioned shrimp dip is a retro classic that has been enjoyed at social gatherings and holiday parties for decades!

Ingredients
  

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon seasoned salt
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 cups finely-chopped cooked shrimp (about 8 ounces total)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Optional garnish: additional chopped fresh parsley or chopped green onion; small shrimp; a dash of paprika
  • Optional, for serving: crackers, celery sticks, potato chips, French baguette

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to blend together cream cheese, mayonnaise, chili sauce, garlic powder, seasoned salt, and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Fold in green onions, shrimp, and parsley.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until ready to serve. Garnish with extra parsley, additional green onion, small shrimp, or a dash of paprika.

Notes

  • Make sure that the cream cheese is softened at room temperature. This will ensure that all of the ingredients blend smoothly together.
  • Any variety of cooked shrimp will work here. I use “salad shrimp” or small cooked, peeled, and deveined 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 they’re quick and easy to chop. You can also use canned shrimp or larger shrimp that you boil at home.
  • 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 one 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.
  • In lieu of the chili sauce, substitute with an equal amount of cocktail sauce or ketchup.
  • Chopped fresh chives are a nice alternative to the sliced green onion.
  • Use the dip to make small tea sandwiches or to fill phyllo cups.
  • Shrimp and Crab Dip: Substitute 1 cup of jumbo lump crab meat for 1 cup of the shrimp.
  • 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. Alternatively, add a dash of cayenne pepper or crushed red peppers for extra spice.
  • A squeeze of fresh lemon juice would be a nice addition to brighten up the dip.
  • Use sour cream in lieu of some of the mayonnaise for a dip with more tang.
  • Old Bay seasoning is a classic addition to many seafood recipes, and would work well in this dip.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 of the dipCalories: 201kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 9gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 116mgSodium: 599mgPotassium: 92mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 448IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 78mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: cream cheese shrimp dip, shrimp cream cheese dip, shrimp dip, shrimp dip with cream cheese
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in December, 2020. The photos were updated in June, 2022.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Have been making a similar recipe for years just never added the cocktail sauce. Carr’s Water crackers are my favorite to serve with this too. Thanks for posting.

  2. 5 stars
    How can this be bad??? I’m doubling the recipe for Thanksgiving recipe. Using fresh-frozen shrimp, will use equal parts mayo and sour cream, and a dash of Old Bay — I’m from Maryland, I can’t help myself. Wink.

    I almost wonder if this could be adapted to a hot dip? I might add some shredded cheese if I try that. If there are a leftovers, I’ll give it a shot and report back!

    I’m serving with a trio of round “Entertainment” crackers, English cucumber slices and Endive, because it’s such a great dipping vegetable.

    Thanks for the recipe! I’ll send photos.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Happy Thanksgiving, Heidi! Yes, I think it would probably work well as a hot dip with some cheese. Please let me know if you try that! Hope your holiday is a great one. 🙂