What is a Shrimp Roll? A Delicious New England Seafood Sandwich

A shrimp roll is a delicious New England-style sandwich made with shrimp salad served on a toasted split-top bun It is essentially a simpler, more affordable version of the classic lobster roll that is popular in coastal New England For seafood lovers, shrimp rolls offer a tasty way to enjoy tender, sweet shrimp in a handheld sandwich.

A Brief History of the Shrimp Roll

The shrimp roll traces its origins back to the lobster roll, which became popular in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries Lobster was plentiful in New England, and the lobster roll provided a simple way for people to enjoy it

Since fresh lobster was expensive, restaurants and home cooks started experimenting with using more affordable shrimp to create a similar sandwich. The shrimp roll was born! It quickly emerged as a budget-friendly alternative to the lobster roll that maintained the delicious flavors of the original.

While the lobster roll remains an iconic New England specialty, the shrimp roll has become beloved in its own right. From seaside seafood shacks to backyard barbecues, shrimp rolls are a staple menu item across New England and beyond.

What Goes Into a Shrimp Roll?

While recipes can vary slightly, shrimp rolls generally contain the following simple ingredients:

  • Shrimp – The star of the show! Chopped cooked shrimp make up the bulk of the filling.

  • Mayonnaise – Binds the ingredients and adds richness and moisture.

  • Celery – Thinly sliced or diced celery provides crunch.

  • Green onions – Sliced scallions add color and mild onion flavor.

  • Fresh herbs – Chopped chives, dill, parsley, or tarragon give brightness.

  • Lemon juice – Brightens the flavor and cuts through the mayo.

  • Salt and pepper – Seasons the shrimp salad.

  • Hot dog or sandwich buns – Toasted split-top buns keep the filling secure.

The secret is poaching the shrimp just until pink and cooked through, then chilling them quickly on ice to stop the cooking. This prevents them from becoming tough or rubbery, yielding tender poached shrimp perfect for shrimp salad.

How to Make a Shrimp Roll

Making shrimp rolls at home is easy, requiring just a few simple steps:

  1. Cook the shrimp: Boil or poach medium shrimp for 1-2 minutes until just cooked. Transfer to an ice bath.

  2. Make the salad: Chop the chilled shrimp and combine with mayo, lemon juice, celery, herbs, and seasonings.

  3. Toast the buns: Melt butter in a pan, then fry split-top hot dog buns cut-side down until golden brown.

  4. Assemble: Mound the shrimp salad into the toasted buns and enjoy!

The shrimp can be cooked and salad prepped a day in advance. When ready to serve, simply toast the buns and assemble.

Why Shrimp Rolls are Delicious

There are several reasons shrimp rolls have become a beloved sandwich:

  • Tender, sweet shrimp – Properly cooked shrimp are delicately flavored and tender.

  • Rich, creamy filling – Mayo, lemon, and herbs give the salad a cool, creamy base.

  • Satisfying crunch – Diced celery adds crisp texture and freshness.

  • Toasted bun – Butter-toasting buns until golden brown adds so much flavor.

  • Portable meal – Shrimp rolls pack neatly into a bun for an easy, handheld meal.

The interplay of flavors and textures is what makes the humble shrimp roll so craveable. Each bite bursts with the sweetness of shrimp, creaminess of the dressing, and crunch of celery tucked into a warm, buttered bun.

Shrimp Roll Variations

While the classic creamy shrimp salad is iconic, cooks have come up with fun new twists on shrimp rolls:

  • Spicy shrimp rolls – Add sriracha or other hot sauce to the dressing.

  • Bacon shrimp rolls – Top with crumbled cooked bacon for crunch and smokiness.

  • Chipotle shrimp rolls – Use chipotle mayo for a smoky, spicy kick.

  • Old Bay shrimp rolls – Season the shrimp with Old Bay seasoning for Chesapeake-inspired rolls.

  • Fried shrimp rolls – For indulgence, use fried popcorn shrimp or shrimp cakes.

  • Vegan shrimp rolls – Omit mayo and use mashed avocado and vegan butter.

There are endless ways to customize shrimp rolls to your tastes. Play with global flavors, mix in veggies, or add cheese – anything goes!

Where to Find the Best Shrimp Rolls

Since shrimp rolls originated in New England, this region still offers some of the best around. Iconic shrimp roll destinations include:

  • Clam Shack in Kennebunkport, Maine
  • Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier in Kittery Point, Maine
  • Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, Maine
  • Flo’s Clam Shack in Middletown, Rhode Island
  • Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale in Madison, Connecticut

Of course, great shrimp rolls can be found across the country. Ask locals for the best spots in your area or make them yourself at home!

How to Eat and Serve Shrimp Rolls

Shrimp rolls are perfect portable sandwiches for casual meals. They pair well with classic summertime sides:

  • French fries or potato chips
  • Coleslaw or potato salad
  • Corn on the cob
  • Watermelon slices
  • Iced tea, lemonade, or beer

For parties, cut shrimp rolls into bite-sized pieces and serve them as passed appetizers. They also work nicely as a light lunch or dinner entree.

Pair shrimp rolls with creamy clam chowder or seafood bisque for a classic New England-style meal.

Storing and Reheating Shrimp Rolls

To make ahead, prepare the shrimp salad up to 3 days before serving and store chilled. Toast the buns just before assembling.

Leftover assembled shrimp rolls keep well for 1-2 days stored in the refrigerator. The bun will soften, so crisp it up by either:

  • Wrapping in foil and heating in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes

  • Pressing in a panini press

  • Quickly pan-frying the cut sides of the bun in butter

The shrimp roll filling also makes an easy weeknight dinner spooned over greens for a shrimp salad entree when you don’t have buns on hand.

Why Make Shrimp Rolls at Home?

Here are some of the benefits of making shrimp rolls at home:

  • Customize the flavors – Make it exactly how you like it!

  • Control the quality – Use high-quality ingredients like sustainable shrimp.

  • Save money – Shrimp costs a fraction of what lobster does.

  • Fun weekend project – Teach kids to cook by making it together.

  • Impress guests – Great for summertime gatherings and parties.

While going out for shrimp rolls is fun, being able to enjoy this sandwich anytime at home is extremely convenient. Kids especially love assembling their own shrimp rolls!

The next time you feel like an indulgent seafood sandwich, give shrimp rolls a try. They offer a way to experience those wonderful lobster roll flavors you love for a fraction of the cost. Fresh, tasty shrimp packed into a crispy, buttered bun – what’s not to love?

what is a shrimp roll

Shrimp Rolls (New England–Style Seafood Sandwiches) Recipe

  • 1 1/4 pounds (565g) shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (optional; see notes)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) mayonnaise
  • 1 rib celery (2 ounces; 55g), finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, divided
  • 4 top-split hot dog buns (preferably Pepperidge Farm)
  • Put the shrimp in a medium bowl and sprinkle them with 1 tablespoon (12g) of salt and baking soda. If you want to marinate the shrimp first (see notes), do so now. Refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes. If not marinating, proceed to step 2. Serious Eats / J. Kenji Lopez-Alt .
  • Prepare an ice bath. Put shrimp in a medium-sized saucepan with cold water. If you marinated the shrimp with baking soda, you don’t need to rinse them. Place over medium-high heat and stir it around a few times a while. Cook until an instant-read thermometer reads 170°F (77°C) and the shrimp are just cooked through. If the temperature rises above 170°F, lower the heat.
  • Drain shrimp and add to ice bath to chill. Remove from ice bath, then cut shrimp into chunks. Put it in a medium bowl and coat it well with mayonnaise, celery, and chives. Season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Shrimp filling can be refrigerated until ready to serve. Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik .
  • In a large skillet with a heavy bottom, melt 1 tablespoon (15g) of butter over medium-low heat. Swirl to coat pan. Add buns with one cut side down. Move the buns around the pan and gently press on them while cooking until the first side is golden brown. Take the buns out of the pan and add the last tablespoon of butter. Do this again on the other side of the buns. Divide shrimp filling evenly among buns and serve immediately. Serious Eats / J. Kenji Lopez-Alt Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik .

Fried Shrimp Rolls | Vietnamese Recipe | Easy Holiday Appetizer Hors D’oeuvres

What is a shrimp roll sandwich?

Shrimp Roll is a wonderful summer sandwich made with buttery warm rolls packed with flavorful shrimp salad. This shrimp salad hits all the right spots with shrimp cooked with lemon and herbs and mixed with celery, herbs, and creamy mayo mixture. If you’re a fan of Lobster Rolls, you will love this Shrimp Roll as well!

What are New England style shrimp rolls?

New England style shrimp rolls are made with plump, juicy shrimp coated in a creamy dressing. The dressing is made from fresh dill, parsley, lemon, mayo, and capers. The shrimp filling is then stuffed into warm brioche buns and served with a squeeze of lemon juice.

How do you make shrimp rolls?

Here’s the architecture of these shrimp rolls: Buttery, garlicky buns (split top please!) 1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined with the tails removed Olive oil, for cooking ½ tablespoon Old Bay (approx) Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste 6 split top hot dog buns

What makes the best shrimp roll around?

Sweet, tender, succulent nibbles of shrimp are dressed with a light, lemony mayo sauce, add the subtle crunch of celery, and serve it up in a warm, butter-toasted bun for a little bite of heaven! What makes this the BEST Shrimp Roll around? One simple step. Sauté those shrimp morsels in butter and seasoning. Everyone else braises theirs.

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