Master the Art of Smoking Shrimp at Home

Learn how to make smoked shrimp with amazing flavor. This healthy recipe with 15 minutes prep makes a stunning presentation.

Even though I didn’t eat smoked meat as a child, I’ve grown to love our Traeger pellet smoker in the two years we’ve had it. There’s nothing better than a smoked dinner, whether it’s pulled pork, meatloaf, or a whole chicken.

Today we’re talking all about how to smoke shrimp. It’s a fun way to use the smoker, and it would be great for a date night or as a tasty appetizer for guests. Table of Contents.

Smoking shrimp is a great way to add rich, smoky flavor to these succulent seafood treats. When done right, hot smoked shrimp turn out tender and juicy on the inside with a wonderfully aromatic exterior from the smoking process. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the step-by-step process for smoking shrimp at home, along with tips and tricks for success.

Getting Started – Equipment and Ingredients

Smoking shrimp is easier than you might think, as long as you have the right gear and ingredients:


  • Electric smoker – This provides consistent low heat and smoke without constant monitoring. Propane or charcoal smokers work too.

  • Smoking wood chips – I recommend hickory or apple wood for bold flavor. Avoid mesquite, which can be overpowering.

  • Grill grates or smoking trays – These hold the shrimp up above dripping juices and allow smoke circulation.

  • Meat thermometer – This helps monitor the temperature inside the smoker.


  • Raw jumbo shrimp, shells removed – Go for sustainably-caught wild shrimp if you can.

  • Olive oil or vegetable oil – Adds a nice sheen and allows smoke and seasoning to adhere,

  • Dry seasoning – Smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper are great options

  • Fresh herbs like parsley, dill, or chives (optional) – Brightens up the flavor.

That’s really all you need for deliciously smoky shrimp. Now let’s get to the fun part – firing up the smoker!

Step-By-Step Smoking Process

Once you have your ingredients and equipment, follow these steps:

  1. Prep the shrimp – Peel, devein, and pat the shrimp dry. Lightly coat in oil and desired seasonings.

  2. Preheat the electric smoker – Set it to 225-250°F. Soak wood chips in water for 30 minutes, then add to the smoker box.

  3. Load up the smoker – Place shrimp on grill grates or trays, being careful not to overcrowd.

  4. Monitor the temperature – Maintain your target temp of 225-250°F. Add more soaked wood chips if needed.

  5. Smoke the shrimp – After about 30-45 minutes, shrimp should be opaque and have a rich, caramelized exterior.

  6. Rest and serve – Allow shrimp to rest 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy as-is or in tacos, salads, pasta, and more!

It’s that simple to smoke crowd-pleasing shrimp at home. Now let’s get into more detail on each step.

Step 1 – Prepping the Shrimp

You’ll want to start with raw, shell-on shrimp. The shells help protect the delicate meat during smoking. Look for “colossal” or “jumbo” shrimp for the best texture and moisture.

Then, peel off the shells, leaving the tails intact if you wish. Use a paring knife to slice along the back and remove the digestive vein. Rinse briefly and pat very dry, which will help them brown and caramelize during smoking.

Next, drizzle the shrimp lightly with oil – just enough to make them glisten. This helps the smoke and seasoning adhere. Sprinkle them generously with the dry seasoning blend of your choice. Toss gently to coat evenly.

Finally, set the seasoned shrimp aside on a tray or plate while you get the smoker heated up.

Step 2 – Preheating the Smoker

Electric smokers are great for hot smoking shrimp because they steadily maintain the low temperature you need without constant fiddling.

Plug in the smoker, load the wood chip box with pre-soaked chips, fill the water pan, and set the temperature dial to between 225-250°F.

Leave the door ajar for the first 10-15 minutes so it heats faster. The temperature should climb steadily to your target range within 30 minutes or so.

Close the door, adjust the vent caps, and let the internal temperature stabilize. Add more water or wood chips if needed. Once it’s holding steady, you’re ready for the shrimp!

Step 3 – Loading the Smoker

Gently place the oiled, seasoned shrimp directly on the smoker racks, spreading them out evenly. Try not to overcrowd them.

The shrimp need exposure on all sides to absorb maximum smoke. If your racks are small, use a smoking tray to hold them in a single layer.

Resist opening the smoker repeatedly or you’ll prolong the cooking time. Get the shrimp situated, close it up, and let the smoke do its job!

Step 4 – Maintaining the Temperature

Throughout smoking, peek at the thermometer display regularly to ensure your 225-250°F target is maintained.

Electric smokers normally hold temperature quite well. But if it starts to drop, add more hot soaked wood chips to provide sustained smoke and heat.

Don’t let it dip below 200°F, as that can cause bacteria growth. Vent caps can be adjusted to control airflow and temperature too.

Shoot for thin, steady billows of blue smoke. Thick white smoke means ventilation needs adjustment.

Step 5 – Checking for Doneness

So how long does it take to smoke shrimp? About 30-45 minutes is perfect, depending on size. But always go by temperature and appearance, not just time.

Use tongs to peek at a thicker shrimp piece – the meat should be opaque throughout when they’re done. A meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a shrimp should read 145°F.

Externally, finished smoked shrimp will have a rich caramelized reddish-orange tint from the spices and smoke reaction. Smell for bold, smoky aroma.

If needed, close the smoker for 5-10 minutes more to finish up. But be careful not to overdo it or they’ll be tough.

Step 6 – Resting, Serving and Storage

Once smoked to tender, juicy perfection, remove the shrimp from the smoker and let them rest for about 5 minutes.

This allows juices to reabsorb so they don’t dry out. Then dig in while hot! Smoked shrimp also hold well for 3-4 days refrigerated and are great added to pastas, tacos, and more.

Alternatively, smoked shrimp can be tossed in your favorite barbecue sauce and then vacuum sealed and frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw and reheat gently before serving.

Tips for Perfectly Smoked Shrimp

Here are some handy tips and troubleshooting to help ensure shrimp smoking success:

  • Choose shrimp labeled “colossal”, “jumbo”, or “extra large” for best texture. Smaller shrimp oversmoke quickly.

  • Get the driest shrimp you can, or pat off excess moisture so the smoke penetrates better.

  • Keep your seasoned, oiled shrimp chilled in the fridge until the smoker is hot and ready.

  • If shrimp are crowding the racks, use a perforated smoking tray to hold them in a single layer.

  • Add a sprinkle of sugar to your seasoning rub for enhanced caramelization and char.

  • Soak wood chips at least 30 minutes before adding to the smoker box for clean smoke.

  • Use natural lump charcoal in a charcoal smoker for subtler flavor compared to wood logs.

  • Skewer shrimp instead of using racks if your smoker’s grates have wide gaps.

  • Brush on sauce only during the last 5-10 minutes or it will burn.

  • Let shrimp rest before digging in so they absorb all the juices and moisture.

Unique Smoking Wood Flavors to Try

While hickory and apple are classic smoking woods, feel free to get creative:

  • Alder – Sweet, mild, fruity

  • Cherry – Mildly sweet with a hint of fruitiness

  • Pecan – Rich and nuanced with nutty hints

  • Oak – Strong yet balanced with a touch of vanilla

  • Maple – Subtly sweet, earthy, and almost floral

Mix up your shrimp smoking by blending woods or alternating types during the process. Each imparts its own unique flavor profile.

Delicious Ways to Serve Smoked Shrimp

Aside from eating smoked shrimp straight as an appetizer, here are some tasty ways to put them to use:

  • Tacos with lime wedge, avocado, and pico de gallo

  • Linguine in creamy white wine sauce

  • Skewered in a shrimp and veggie kabob platter

  • Mixed into seafood jambalaya or dirty rice

  • Tossed with butter lettuce, tomato, and caesar dressing

  • Piled high on crusty bread for shrimp bruschetta

  • Scattered across thin crust pizza with red sauce and peppers

  • Served over grits with poached egg and hollandaise

  • Blended into seafood chowder or bisque

  • Rolled in fresh rice paper wraps with herbs and lettuce

  • Added to stuffed avocados or baked potatoes

The possibilities are practically endless when you have hot smoke

how to smoke shrimp

How to Season Shrimp

I wanted to season this shrimp with seasonings that I knew you’d have on hand. You’ll need chili powder, garlic powder, salt and black pepper. You can adjust the heat with the amount of pepper and chili powder you use.

  • A touch of Italy can be added to the shrimp with oregano, basil, and garlic powder.
  • It also tastes great with rosemary, garlic, and lemon juice (or lime juice).
  • Cajun seasoning is delicious on shrimp.
  • You can also add smoked paprika to make the smoke flavor stronger.

how to smoke shrimp

Why you’ll love this smoked shrimp recipe:

  • a unique way to use your smoker
  • simply flavored with healthy spices and olive oil
  • only 6 ingredients
  • 15 minutes prep time

how to smoke shrimp

Smoked Shrimp Recipe | Barbecue Shrimp Smoked on Ole Hickory Smoker

Can you smoke shrimp?

Smoking shrimp is easy and before you get started, you need to make sure that you peel the shrimp. Leaving the shell on the shrimp would limit how much of the smokey flavour is infused into the shrimp, so peeling is the best idea. If desired, you can also devein the shrimp as well!

Can I eat raw shrimp?

Eating raw shrimp is not recommended. Raw shrimp can contain bacteria that can cause food poisoning. It is also a good source of purines, which can trigger gout attacks. If you want to eat shrimp, cook it thoroughly to reduce the risk of food poisoning and to help prevent gout attacks. Cook shrimp until it is opaque and pink to ensure that it is safe to eat.

How do you make smoked shrimp?

Smoked Shrimp are easy to make, absolutely delicious, & versatile. Over pasta, in a taco, or off the skewer, they are the best shrimp ever. Peel and devein the shrimp. Pat dry with a paper towel. Place the shrimp in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Then add the salt and smoked paprika. Mix until all shrimp are thoroughly coated.

How long do you smoke shrimp in a smoker?

Heat up smoker to 250°F and add a couple of bits of hickory wood to your coals. Place the shrimp pan on your smoker grates, close the lid, and cook for 20-30 minutes. Toss the shrimp with tongs at around the 10-minute mark. At around the 30-minute mark, the shrimp should have developed a beautiful pink color and a smokey flavor.

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