It goes without saying that cream cheese appetizer dips are always a party favorite. Who can turn down a baguette slice loaded up with a creamy, cheesy, hot dip?
Not I, and not you, I’m willing to bet. Which is precisely why we’re here.
For the love of baked dips.
Baked dips that include seafood, to be exact.
If you are in love with delicate, buttery shrimp, this is the recipe for you. It’s going to make its way to every party you attend, every holiday gathering, and every ‘I just need some comfort food for dinner…and I’m calling this dinner’ night.
It’s easy to make with a handful of simple ingredients – but it’s not basic in any sense.
No, it’s rather quite elegant with the combination of colorful red bell pepper (hey, the crunch, too!), sauteed shrimp, mildly bright green onion, and a little hint of cocktail sauce to really jazz things up. There’s no mayonnaise or Old Bay seasoning here, either.
It’s not your usual shrimp dip, and I think you’re gonna love it. Let’s get to it!
A Few Ingredient Notes
When it comes to making this recipe, I have a few key ingredient notes for you. As always, be sure to check the full recipe card below for details.
- Shrimp: you can use fresh or frozen shrimp (prawns). Either way, it is *highly* recommended that you use raw shrimp. You’ll also want them to be peeled and deveined.
- Sauteing raw shrimp with the veggie mixture in a little bit of butter infuses flavor into the shrimp and keeps the texture juicy and delicate. I found that using pre-cooked shrimp, even without sauteing, resulted in chewier, tough shrimp.
- Lemon: both the zest and a hint of juice bring brightness to the dip, so please use fresh lemons for the best flavor.
- Cocktail Sauce: using just two teaspoons of cocktail sauce gives the dip a subtle tang and brings a beautiful color to the dip.
- Keep in mind that the quality of the cocktail sauce used will impact the flavor. If it is sweeter, with the addition of sugars or high-fructose corn syrup, your dip could be sweeter rather than having the pop of horseradish. Use what you like!
- Cream Cheese: important to note that it needs to be softened to room temperature so that it can easily incorporate into the mixture.
- White Pepper: an ingredient I often use to add a hint of spice and to give recipes that flavor that you can’t quite put your finger on. Sub with black pepper or even try cayenne pepper if you’d like.
How to Make Hot Shrimp Dip
There are three steps to making this baked shrimp dip. One: saute. Two: mix. Three: bake.
If you like to save on dishes, use a small oven-safe skillet that you can bake the dip in!
Prep the Vegetables
First, dice the red bell pepper. You’ll use approximately half of one large red bell pepper to equal 1/2 cup.
To make this process easiest, and keep the seeds intact (and not all over your kitchen), stand the red bell pepper up on its bottom. Then, use a sharp knife to slice down on each side of the red bell pepper. This will leave you with a large plank of the good stuff, with the ribs still inside.
Slice the plank into approximately 1/2-inch sticks. Then, turn them perpendicular to your knife and dice them into small pieces, approximately 1/2 inch as well. This doesn’t have to be exact, just keep in mind small, bite-sized pieces that will incorporate throughout the dip.
For the green onions, finely chop the white and light green parts of the stalks. Reserve the top dark green parts for garnish (which you will thinly slice if using).
Saute the Veggies and Shrimp
As mentioned, using raw shrimp is going to provide the best texture and taste in the dip, because it won’t be overcooked. And while we saute it, the shrimp soak up all the flavors, which is hard to do if it’s already cooked.
Note: if you are using pre-cooked shrimp, simply dice them and add them later on. Don’t saute them to preserve the texture.
Start by melting 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Don’t use more butter – we are keeping the ‘liquid’ to a minimum so we don’t end up with a watery dip. And butter…because it’s butter! You know shrimp and butter are a match made in heaven.
Add the red bell pepper, finely chopped scallions (i.e. green onions), and garlic to the skillet. Saute for just a minute or two until fragrant (you’ll be able to smell that garlic!) and slightly softened.
Then, add the shrimp. A few key notes on the shrimp:
- Make sure the shrimp is dry! Especially if you’ve thawed frozen shrimp. Pat it super dry and remove any excess moisture.
- Salt and pepper the shrimp before sauteing to start infusing flavor.
- Do not overcook.
Saute the shrimp for about 1-2 minutes per side until they are just pink. They will continue to cook while they bake in the oven, so it’s extra important to not saute them too long.
Remove the mixture from the heat – take it off the burner, too, so it doesn’t keep cooking from the heat! And…get ready for this kitchen hack.
Dice the Shrimp
Could you remove the shrimp from the pan and cut them on a cutting board? Sure!
But if you’re looking for a quick kitchen tip that will ideally save you time and hassle, use kitchen shears.
That’s right, take those scissors and cut the shrimp into bite-sized pieces. Easily make them the size you’d like to eat, keeping in mind what you’ll be serving the dip with. You want the shrimp to be able to fit on your cracker/bread/etc.
Kitchen scissors are one of the tools I turn to when I need to chop something quickly and don’t really care what it looks like – and that doesn’t need to be exact. For example, in this caramelized onion dip.
Mix it Together
In another bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, sour cream, shredded mozzarella cheese, lemon, cocktail sauce, white pepper, and paprika. If you don’t want to use a little elbow grease, grab a hand mixer and let it do the work for you.
Once the cheese is combined, stir in the shrimp and veggie mixture until combined. Be sure to taste test and adjust for salt levels.
Bake for 20ish Minutes
Once it’s combined, spread the dip in a small oval baker (around 9 inches or so). If you’d like, give it a sprinkling of extra mozzarella or even parmesan cheese.
Bake for around 20-25 minutes until the edges are bubbly and golden brown. If you are using a larger baking dish, it will need less time to cook. Just keep an eye on it.
Serving the Dip
Definitely serve this dip with a vehicle hearty enough to scoop! I love serving it with homemade crostini, or even warm baguette slices (who can argue with cheesy dip and bread?!).
Other excellent options are tortilla chips, pita chips, or another hearty cracker.
Make Ahead and Storage
Easily make this dip ahead of time by assembling to the point of spreading it in the pan. Then, cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake it to bubbly perfection. You can make the dip up to a day in advance.
You definitely do want to serve it nice and hot, so be sure to save the baking step until you’re ready to serve.
To store leftover dip, place it in an airtight container in the fridge. It should keep for 3-4 days if properly stored. Reheat in the microwave or in an oven-safe container until heated through.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe 30-Minute Baked Shrimp Dip
- 12 ounces raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup scallion (green onions), white and light green parts finely chopped, green reserved for garnish (2-3 onions)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup red bell pepper, diced
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons cocktail sauce
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided, or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Fresh Parsley, chopped, for garnish
- Crostini, baguette slices, or crackers for serving
- Prepare shrimp by patting them dry and sprinkling each side with salt and pepper. If frozen and thawed, make sure to really pat well.
- Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped scallions, garlic, and red bell pepper. Bring out the flavor with a pinch of salt. Saute for 1-2 minutes until fragrant and slightly softened. Add the dried and seasoned shrimp in an even layer. Saute for 2 minutes, flip, and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until just pink. They will continue to cook while baking and we don’t want them overdone and chewy.
- Remove the pan from the heat and either transfer the shrimp to a cutting board or (my preference) use kitchen shears to cut the shrimp into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, mozzarella, lemon juice and zest, cocktail sauce, white pepper, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. To make this easier, feel free to use a hand mixer.
- Stir the veggie and shrimp mixture into the cheese mixture until completely combined. Feel free to taste test and adjust salt levels as needed.
- Spread the mixture in a small baker. Optional: top with a sprinkle of additional mozzarella cheese (or even grated parmesan) before baking.
- Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and slightly golden brown. Garnish with sliced green scallions and fresh parsley as desired. Serve with crackers, tortilla chips, pita bread, or crostini as desired. Enjoy!
- Pre-cooked Shrimp: roughly chop and mix in the dip without sauteing.