Best Ways to Smoke Shrimp – Bubba Would be Proud

by Top Geek  

Last Updated: April 5, 2022



Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. There’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, … pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp …  shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.

Although Bubba Blue has a good point, shrimp IS the fruit of the sea, we think he missed a huge culinary opportunity while expounding on all the many ways you can eat it and that is, obviously …. smoked shrimp. And in case you were wondering, yes, yes you can, and it’s amazing!

Not only will it delight your [culinary] palate to the fullest extent but it is also easy and quick. Quick is not usually a word we associate with smoking but in this rare instance, it’s true. Think of how you cook shrimp now; throw them in a pot and they’re done in 3 minutes. While smoking takes a little longer, you could be grubbing on a hickory smoked jumbo kabob in less than 25 minutes.

smoked shrimp on grill

To get started pick up some deveined, and peeled shrimp, we like jumbo but that will take a little longer to cook. As always the fresher the better, but if you have to resort to a frozen bag full of them suckers don’t worry about. Just do it and make sure you thaw them properly before smoking.


How-to Smoke Shrimp

Top Geek
Smoking shrimp is fairly straightforward. Add some butter and toss it on the smoker. If you prefer something a little more sweet, savory, or spicy, add one of the marinades we've featured at the bottom of the page.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 30 kcal


  • Smoker or Grill (set for indirect cooking)
  • Hickory or pecan wood
  • Pan


  • Butter
  • Shrimp


  • Pick a method:
    Option 1: Grab a pan and put a bunch of butter in the bottom. Then line the shrimp up in a single layer, a little overlap is okay. This is our least favorite way, the pan and butter don’t allow the smoke to circulate very well, which means it cannot coat the shrimp all the way around. But they are covered in butter and butter is never bad.
    Option 2: Make shrimp kabobs. Fill up a skewer but leave a bit of room in between each piece for the smoke to circulate.
    Option 3: Use a grilling basket. These handy little dudes are perfect for this sort of thing. Plus you don’t have to take the time to skewer them.
  • Now choose your wood. Since the smoking process is going to be quick you will want to use a strong wood. The best options are hickory or pecan. They will produce a lot of flavor in a just a little bit of time. Try to avoid the urge to create great white billows of smoke; it will not add to your smoked shrimp experience.
  • Warm up your smoker to around 200°F, if it’s hot outside you might find it difficult to keep the temperature low. That just mean you will have to pay more attention during smoking.
  • Like we said these guys cook fast, and they will overcook in a heartbeat. Don’t leave the smoker, stick around and pay attention. We’ve all heard the age old advice “if you’re looking you’re not cooking.” Well, don’t stick too close to that one while working with shrimp. An overcooked shrimp is not edible, don’t ruin all your hard work now. Stay and keep an eye out.
  • Once you put them in the smoker leave them for about 10 minutes, then you need to start checking on them every few minutes.
    At around 200°F the shrimp should be done in about 15 - 18 minutes if you have jumbo shrimp it may take longer. But check the shrimp as it smokes, you will be able to tell when they are done because the exterior will be light pink and the flesh will be pearly or white, and opaque. Cooking by temperature and not time is always recommended so 120°F is the done temperature right before things start going south and you end up with chewy shrimp.


Don't have a smoker? No worries, here's some ways you can still get a tasty smoky shrimp without one.
Keyword smoked shrimp, smoking shrimp

Marinades to Use for Smoked Shrimp

Feel free to whip up any of these tasty marinades to baste the shrimp in before smoking.

If you like to cook by feel instead of following recipes, try this;

Mix together some salt pepper, garlic, parsley, and cayenne. Toss the shrimp with a little olive oil to coat them and then add the rub. You can just throw the shrimp and the mix in a large ziplock bag and dredge it the easy way.

Another good mix is a little salt, lemon juice, garlic, and Cajun seasoning. The point is you can just mix together the stuff you know you like, you’re not a novice, you know what you’re doing.

Here are some other tested marinade blends you can try as well:

spicy shrimp marinade recpie

Spicy Shrimp Marinade

Good for about 2 dozen shrimp, This is more of a rub than a marinade.
Total Time 1 hour 21 minutes
Course Rub
Cuisine Thailand
Calories 143 kcal
  • 5 Tbsp Sxtra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp Smoked paprikia
  • 2 Tbsp Garlic salt
  • 4 Tbsp Tapatio or Cholula (or whatever hot sauce you like)
Sweet Shrimp Marinade recpie

Sweet Shrimp Marinade

Good for about 2 dozen large shrimp, Marinade for an hour or two
Total Time 1 hour 26 minutes
Course Rub
Cuisine Thailand
Calories 244 kcal
  • ½ Cup Brown
  • 3 Tbls Minced garlic
  • 2 Tbls Seasoned salt
  • 1 Tbls Paprika
  • 1 Tbls Black pepper
  • 2 Tsp Chili powder
  • 1 Tsp Dry mustard
  • ¼ Tsp Cayenne pepper
  • ½ Ground ginger

Margarita Shrimp Marinade

Good for about 2 dozen large shrimp
Marinate shrimp for about 2 hours. You will be able to use the leftover sauce (after bringing it to a boil) for a dipping sauce or to pour over the smoked shrimp.
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Course Rub
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 213 kcal
  • ¼ Cup Tequila
  • ¼ Cup Chopped cilantro
  • ¼ Cup Olive oil
  • 2 Cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 Minced jalapeno
  • 2 Tbls Triple sec
  • 2 Tbls Lime juice

About the author Top Geek

I have always been a believer: “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. I’ve been lucky enough to use my professional experience in the meat industry over the past 20 years to create a business where I love to go to work.

Smoking Meat Geeks is all about bringing people together that enjoy food as much as I do. We provide a place for everyone to share thoughts, ideas, and recipes; to be a go-to spot for cooking inspiration. Feel free to leave a comment, say hello, or provide any tips. There is no right or wrong input, as long as you’re engaging, you’re a Meat Geek!

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