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Grilled shrimp with spiked slow cooker bloody mary dipping sauce, aw yeah

The shrimp cocktail and bloody mary get a millennial mashup makeover using a slow cooker and your grill. The prep time on your part is minimal, and it takes only a couple of hours for the slow cooker to do its work, meaning you can get up in the morning, toss it together, and it will be ready in time for brunch.

The best part of this recipe is how flexible it is. Just make the basic bloody mary dip, and add any additional garnishes you like: green olives, bell pepper slices… you can even serve little cubes of cheese on the side. If it’s good in a bloody mary, it will be great in this. You can also use your own homemade pasta sauce, or save yourself the time, and buy a jar. Just remember that if your pasta sauce has some heat to it, you might back off on the Tabasco.

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First, you’ll whisk together the pasta sauce, vodka, tomato paste, Tabasco, horseradish and Worcestershire sauce. Now you’ll want to taste it. You can add more horseradish or Tabasco if you like it spicy, and you’ll need to season it with celery salt, black pepper and kosher salt to taste. I mixed it in a glass bowl so you can see, but really, you can just dump everything straight into the crock of the slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker to low, cover it, and let it cook for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally.

ingredients for bloody mary dipping sauce
Image: Heather Barnett/SheKnows

Now you’ll want to prepare your lemons. One should be cut into wheels, which are then cut into half-moons with slits in the bottom for garnish later. Another should be zested and juiced, and the other two just need to be juiced. I actually always zest at least one of the lemons I’m juicing in case I realize later it would make a good garnish or realize I need a bit more lemon flavor but I’m out of juice. You’ll use the juice to make the marinade and reserve the zest and half-moons for later.

lemons being zested, juiced and cut
Image: Heather Barnett/SheKnows

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After your shrimp are marinated, you’ll cook them. Be careful to stick with medium heat here so the shrimp cook all the way through. They should be nice and pink when they’re done, with no clear or translucent parts inside. When you pull them off the grill, lay them out in a single layer, and sprinkle a bit of lemon zest on them. Just make them look pretty. You don’t have to use all the zest.

grilled shrimp topped with lemon zest
Image: Heather Barnett/SheKnows

Before you put it all together, put a little spicy salt on the outside for those who like it a bit spicier than you do. Just sacrifice a lemon wheel to wet a small area of the glass (not the whole rim), and dip that into a mixture of kosher salt, Tabasco salt and celery salt. If you want to omit one or both of those, just make sure you use another ingredient to make up for it. Sub flavored salt for kosher salt if you prefer. I like to use little shot glasses with an individual shrimp to keep the cocktail theme, and give each guest their own sauce cup (so they can double dip to their heart’s content).

shot glass with spicy salt
Image: Heather Barnett/SheKnows

Then put a little of the bloody mary dip in each glass, put a single shrimp on the outside, away from the spicy salt (just like a shrimp cocktail), and garnish the glass with a lemon moon and julienned celery. Pour the leftover dip into a small bowl, and line it with more shrimp so people can take more if they want.

shot glass of bloody mary sauce garnished with a grilled shrimp, lemon and celery matchsticks
Image: Heather Barnett/SheKnows

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Grilled shrimp with slow cooker bloody mary dipping sauce recipe

individual shot glass of dipping sauce with larger dipping sauce and shrimp
Image: Heather Barnett/SheKnows

To make this even faster the day of, you can mix (but not cook) the bloody mary sauce and the marinade (with no shrimp) the night before.

Serves 6 – 8

Prep time: 30 minutes | Inactive time: 2 hours | Cook time: 7 minutes | Total time: 2 hours 37 minutes


  • 14 ounces pasta sauce (nothing too chunky)
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish (or more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Celery salt
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco salt
  • 1 small lemon
  • 3 large lemons
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried celery flakes
  • 24 jumbo or colossal shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails on)
  • 2 celery stalks, cut thick and/or julienned
  • Other garnishes and dippables as desired


  1. In the crock of a 1-quart (minimum) slow cooker, whisk the pasta sauce, vodka, tomato paste, Tabasco, horseradish and Worcestershire sauce. Add salt, pepper and more horseradish if desired, to taste.
  2. Cover, and cook on low for 2 – 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, in a gallon-size zip-close bag, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, Old Bay, celery flakes and 3 teaspoons of pepper. Zip it closed, and shake to combine the ingredients.
  4. Reopen the bag, drop the shrimp in, and gently toss them to ensure they’re all coated. Reseal it, getting most of the air out. Put the bag in a dish in the fridge, and let it marinate for 1 – 2 hours, flipping it every once in a while.
  5. While the dip cooks and the shrimp marinate, prepare the lemons and the rim seasoning. Mix 2 teaspoons of kosher salt with the Tabasco salt and 1 teaspoon of celery salt, and pour it into a mound on a small plate.
  6. Slice the small lemon into wheels, cut those wheels in half to make half-moons, and then cut a slit halfway through each wheel in one place so they will sit on the glasses. Wipe a small (about 1-inch) area of the outsides of 6 – 8 shot glasses (1 at a time) with 1 of the half-moons to wet them, and dip the glasses into the spicy salt. Reserve the remaining lemon moons for garnish.
  7. Zest 1 of the large lemons, and juice all 3. Set the zest aside.
  8. When the sauce is done, spoon equal amounts into each shot glass. The rest can be poured into a small bowl.
  9. When the shrimp are done marinating, heat a grill pan spritzed with cooking spray to about 350 degrees F (medium heat).
  10. Remove the shrimp from the marinade, and discard the marinade.
  11. Grill the shrimp for 5 – 7 minutes, turning the shrimp halfway through, until they’ve turned a healthy pink color on the outside and the meat inside is white (not clear or translucent). Remove them from the heat, place them in a single layer on a platter, and sprinkle them with a little lemon zest.
  12. Serve 1 shrimp on the rim of each of the shot glasses containing the bloody mary dip, with a half-moon of lemon and 2 or 3 pieces of julienned celery. Pour the rest of the dip into a small bowl, and line it with the remaining shrimp.

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