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Seasoned Boiled Shrimp

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Delicious boiled shrimp make the perfect peel and eat shrimp recipe for making right at home. Seasoned with bay leaves and caraway seeds, the flavorful shrimp can be served with your favorite cocktail sauce.

A serving dish filled with boiled shrimp with caraway seeds.

My mom made this easy 3-ingredient boiled shrimp recipe every single Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember.

The smell of the caraway seeds immediately tells my memory that it is time for a celebration.

This year, she finally taught me her easy recipe. I always thought it was more complicated and that's why she saved it for the holiday, but in truth it takes just 3 minutes to make! Unbelieveable!

Serve the delicious peel and eat shrimp alongside your favorite cocktail sauce or shrimp dipping sauce for an easy meal or appetizer.

Jump to:


This whole recipe has just THREE ingredients!

  1. Raw Shrimp: Buy the "easy peel" shrimp that has the tail on, head removed, shell still in place. Can be fresh or frozen shrimp.
  2. Bay leaves
  3. Caraway seeds

That's it! Easy peasy.

The ingredients to make boiled shrimp are on the counter.

Season the Water

The secret to the most delicious boiled shrimp is seasoning the boiling water before you add the shrimp to cook.

In my largest pasta pot, I fill it about 2/3 full with water.

Sprinkle in the caraway seeds and bay leaves and bring the water to a boil.

Caraway seeds and bay leaves have been added to a large pot of water for boiling.

The Proper Boil Method

The hardest part of this recipe is finding your patience to wait for the water to properly boil. You cannot rush this step or the shrimp will not cook properly.

The water should be at a full, raging, rolling boil with large bubbles breaking the surface of the water like this:

The picture shows how hard the water should be boiling before adding the shrimp.

Add the shrimp to the water and cook for just 3 minutes.

A Note on Frozen Shrimp

BUT if you are using frozen shrimp for this boiled shrimp recipe, please know that the cold shrimp will reduce the temperate of the water and stop your boil:

The shrimp are floating at the top of the boiling water.

DO NOT start the cooking timer until the water has reached another full raging boil and looks like this:

The water should be heavy boiling again before you set the timer for the shrimp.

Strain the Shrimp & Chill

Once the shrimp are pink all the way through and floating at the top of the water, you can strain them in a colander.

Scrape all the caraway seeds from the pot onto the shrimp and keep them together. You can remove and discard the bay leaves.

The shrimp have been strained into a colander in the kitchen sink.

Serve the shrimp immediately or place them in a container and chill them in the fridge.

The shrimp can be boiled up to 24 hours in advance but then should be eaten immediately.

Serving Suggestions

Place the boiled shrimp in a pretty bowl for serving. Make sure to also set out a second empty bowl for your family to place the discarded shrimp shells in. It is a nicer way to enjoy them than piling the shells on your dining plate.

The caraway seeds will get in and around the shrimp as you peel and eat them. They add a delicious crunch to the dish.

These boiled shrimp are utterly delicious as is, but you can serve them with your favorite cocktail sauce or one of these yummy recipes:

๐Ÿ“– Recipe

A serving dish filled with boiled shrimp with caraway seeds.

Boiled Shrimp

5 from 43 votes
Caraway seeds and bay leaves season the boiling water for the most delicious boiled shrimp. This method makes easy peel and eat shrimp for serving with shrimp cocktail.
TOTAL TIME 13 minutes
PREP TIME 10 minutes
COOK TIME 3 minutes
YIELD 6 servings


  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 1 pound shrimp with heads removed but shells and tails intact


  • In a large pot filled 2/3 full with water, add the bay leaves and caraway seeds. Bring the water to a rolling boil.
  • Add the shrimp to the boiling water and give a gentle stir. Cook the shrimp for 3 minutes or until pink through and floating at the top of the pot.
  • NOTE ON FROZEN SHRIMP: If using frozen shrimp directly, it will reduce the temperature of the water and stop the boil. Do not set the 3-minute timer until the water has reached a roiling boil again. See photos in post above for visual details.
  • Drain the boiled shrimp in a colander. Remove the bay leaves but leave the caraway seeds. Transfer to a container serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.


Recipe Notes

Serving Suggestions

These boiled shrimp are delicious served either hot or cold with one of your favorite shrimp dipping sauces.

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A photo collage shows a strainer of boiled shrimp on top and the pot of boiling shrimp on bottom.

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