You won't be able to stop eating these easy Cucumber Shrimp Appetizers! Seared shrimp sit atop herb cream cheese and cucumber slices. Serve them up at your next holiday party or game day get-together.
Cucumber shrimp appetizers are the ultimate tasty, healthy and refreshing appetizer recipe for your next cocktail party or holiday gathering. bite-sized treats are not only delicious, but they are also easy to make and are sure to be a hit with your guests.
When it comes to making cucumber shrimp appetizers, the key is to use fresh, high-quality ingredients. Start by selecting firm, crisp cucumbers and fresh, plump shrimp. You will also want to make sure to whip the cream cheese, as it is much easier to spread than regular cream cheese.
Once your cucumber shrimp appetizers are assembled, you can either serve them immediately or chill them in the refrigerator until ready to serve. They are best enjoyed within a few hours of being made, as the cucumbers will begin to lose their crispness over time.
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Ingredients for Shrimp Cucumber Appetizers:
- SHRIMP: Large shrimp are often labeled as “31-35”, which means there are 31-35 shrimp per pound. Use raw, peeled shrimp without the tails.
- CUCUMBER: Use an unpeeled English cucumber.
- CREAM CHEESE: I used Neufchâtel cheese for this recipe, which is typically found next to the other cream cheeses in most grocery stores. Alternatively, you can use ⅓-less fat cream cheese.
- HERBS: Fresh dill and chives are mixed into the cream cheese. Mince extra chives for an easy garnish.
- SEASONING: Season the shrimp with dried rosemary (I prefer crushed rosemary), garlic powder and salt.
- LEMON ZEST: Grate the lemon peel with a zester. Take care to grate only the yellow part, not the bitter white layer underneath.
- OLIVE OIL: A little olive oil for adhering the spices to the shrimp and stopping it from sticking to the skillet.
See recipe card below for full ingredients list & recipe directions.
How to make the best cucumber shrimp appetizers:
PAT DRY: Remove any shells and tails from the shrimp. Pat them dry with a paper towel. You want to dry the shrimp for two purposes: 1) It helps the olive oil and spices adhere to the shrimp and 2) It allows the shrimp to sear (and brown!) rather than steaming in the skillet.
SEASON THE SHRIMP: Toss the shrimp with the olive oil, rosemary, garlic powder, salt and lemon zest until coated.
COOK THE SHRIMP: I suggest using either a nonstick skillet or an enamaled cast iron for cooking the shrimp, If using a stainless steel skillet, use additional olive oil to stop the shrimp from sticking to the pan.
Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Sear for about 1 minute per side. The shrimp should be just cooked through. Take care not to overcook the shrimp, which causes it to be rubbery.
Transfer the shrimp to a plate and cool to room temperature. Speed this up by popping the shrimp into the refrigerator.
WHIP THE CHEESE: Place the Neufchâtel or cream cheese in a large bowl. Use a hand mixer to whip the cheese until it’s light and fluffy. Start the mixer on low so the cheese doesn’t splatter out of the bowl (spoken from experience). It should take 2 to 3 minutes to get the cheese to a light and fluffy stage.
Add the minced dill and chives, and quickly whip to combine.
ASSEMBLE: Start by spreading one teaspoon of the cheese mixture on each cucumber slice. Either a butter knife or offset spatula work well for this.
Top each cucumber bite with a shrimp and sprinkle the appetizers with the remaining minced chives.
SERVE: Serve the cucumber appetizers right way or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions:
While you can assemble the cucumber shrimp appetizers ahead of time, it is best to serve them within a few hours of being made to ensure that the cucumbers retain their crispness. They tend to “weep” if left for too long.
If you need to make them in advance, it is a good idea to store the assembled appetizers in the refrigerator and then let them sit at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.
You can use regular cream cheese in these appetizers, but it may be more difficult to spread on the cucumber rounds and may not give the appetizers the same light and fluffy texture as whipped cream cheese. Or you can swap Greek yogurt for the cream cheese.
Cucumber shrimp appetizers are incredibly versatile and can be customized to suit your taste. In addition to dill and chives, you can also try adding other herbs such as parsley or basil. or seasoning the shrimp with paprika and black pepper. You can also try adding other ingredients such as avocado or swapping smoked salmon for the shrimp, like I do in these appetizers.
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Cucumber Shrimp Appetizers
- 16 (6 ounces) peeled, raw large shrimp (See Note 1)
- 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 ounces Neufchatel cheese or ⅓-less fat cream cheese room temperature (See Note 2)
- ¾ teaspoon minced fresh dill
- ¾ teaspoon minced chives plus more for garnish
- 16 (½-inch thick) English cucumber slices not peeled
- Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel.
- In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, olive oil, lemon zest, rosemary, garlic powder and salt. Toss to coat the shrimp.
- Heat a large nonstick or enamaled cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp. Cook for 1 minute. Flip the shrimp and cook for 1 more minute. The shrimp should be just cooked through. Transfer to a plate to cool.
- Place the room temperature Neufchatel cheese or cream cheese in a large bowl. Use a hand mixer to whip the cream cheese until it is light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Start on a low speed so the cheese doesn’t splatter out of the bowl.
- Add the dill and chives. Blend again to combine.
- Using an offset spatula or butter knife, spread about 1 teaspoon cheese on each cucumber slice. Top each with a cooked shrimp.
- Garnish with extra chopped chives. Serve.
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