Ohh Christmas Tree, Ohh Christmas Tree! How lovely are your…shrimps? Yes, you heard me right! Shrimp cocktail is such a holiday staple, I don’t think I have gone a Christmas without it (except that one year that I ate about 8 shrimp before I realized they were bad…). This shrimp Christmas tree appetizer is a great way to turn regular shrimp cocktail into a festive and easy shrimp appetizer! And it all takes less than 15 minutes to make!
How Do These Shrimp Differ From Regular Shrimp Cocktail?
In this Christmas shrimp recipe, we use raw frozen shrimp instead of purchasing pre-cooked shrimp. This allows you to cook the shrimp in the flavors you want the shrimp to absorb.
Regular shrimp cocktail is usually boiled in water, where this recipe calls for the shrimp to be pan seared in lemon and butter for the added benefit of flavor AND a crispier texture. You know when you pan sear shrimp and you get those brown bits stuck to the shrimp that are chock-FULL of flavor?
THAT’S the difference.
Is This A Make Ahead Christmas Appetizer?
Yes, you can absolutely make this 15 minute holiday appetizer the night before serving! However, if you don’t plan on re-heating the shrimp tomorrow, don’t add butter to the pan when cooking the shrimp, as it will gelatinize in the fridge and won’t taste very good cold. If you plan on re-heating the shrimp, than you can still use the butter.
After you assemble the shrimp into a Christmas tree on a serving platter, wrap the platter in plastic wrap. Store the shrimp in the refrigerator overnight, and serve them when your guests arrive!
When Should I Serve This Christmas Tree Appetizer?
You can’t go wrong serving this as a quick and easy Christmas party appetizer! It’s such a simple recipe, and you probably have most of the ingredients already. Christmas party food doesn’t always have to be all sweets and chocolate, and I’m sure people will appreciate your creativity and holiday spirit!
How cute is this 2 Tier Sleigh Server?!
Other Frequently Asked Questions:
|Do the shrimp have to be frozen?
|This recipe calls for medium-sized shrimp that are peeled and deveined. This save a LOT of time, and the medium size is perfect for arranging into a Christmas tree!
|What size shrimp should I get?
|This recipe calls for medium sized shrimp that are peeled and deveined. This save a LOT of time, and the medium size is perfect for arranging into a Christmas tree!
|Do I HAVE to thaw the frozen shrimp before cooking?
|Yeah, I would. If you toss them in the pan frozen, they will absorb the water that melts, making them spongy. Yuck!
|What if I want to make a bigger tree?
|If you want to go all out and make a larger tree, just purchase more shrimp! You also have the option to purchase larger shrimp, just be aware that you will need a much larger serving dish.
|Can I use regular shrimp cocktail?
|Yeah, you definitely can. Just remember that shrimp cocktail is already cooked, so it will not have as much flavor as the shrimp that was cooked in butter and lemon. Those brown bits that stick to the shrimp are KEY, in my opinion.
|Should I serve them hot or cold?
|You can really do either! Traditional shrimp cocktail is typically served cold, but they taste great right off the pan too! See ‘TIPS’ section at the bottom of the recipe to see how the recipe is adjusted if you plan on making them ahead and serving them cold (hint, skip the butter).
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Shrimp Christmas Tree Appetizer
- 1 12 oz bag of medium raw peeled and deveined shrimp
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/8 tsp granulated sugar
- pinch of salt, pepper
- a piece of celery for the stem
- cocktail sauce
- piece of lemon, cut into a star
- See TIPS Section below if planning on making the night before. If the shrimp are frozen, properly thaw them. This can be done by placing the frozen bag in the refrigerator overnight, or by placing the bag in a bowl and letting the faucet run cold water into the bowl while the excess water goes down the drain for about 15 minutes. Flip the bag once.
- Rinse the shrimp and devein if veined. Keep the tails on. Pat dry and place in a bowl.
- Sprinkle with a pinch of salt/pepper and 1/8 tsp of granulated sugar. Toss to coat.
- Heat a large skillet over high heat until fairly hot. Pour in 2 tbsp's of olive oil and let the oil get hot, without smoking.
- Pour the shrimp into the hot pan and cook on one side for about 2 minutes, then flip and cook for about 3 minutes. When done, the shrimp should be opaque.
- Remove the pan from the heat and toss in the butter and lemon juice, stirring until melted and the shrimp are fully coated.
- Once the shrimp have cooled enough to handle, carefully assemble them into a Christmas tree. You will want to have the base of the tree have the most shrimp in a row, and the next row 1 shrimp less, until you reach the top, which should have only 1 shrimp.
- Garnish as you like, and serve! You can also store these cooked shrimp overnight in the fridge covered in plastic wrap.
- To Make Ahead: You can absolutely make this 15 minute holiday appetizer the night before serving! If you don’t plan on re-heating the shrimp tomorrow, don’t add butter to the pan when cooking the shrimp, as it will gelatinize in the fridge and won’t taste very good cold. If you plan on re-heating the shrimp, than you can still use the butter. After you assemble the shrimp into a beautiful Christmas tree on a serving platter, wrap the platter in plastic wrap so no air can get in. Store the shrimp in the refrigerator overnight, and serve them when your guests arrive!
If you are still looking for Christmas gifts, check out my ‘19 Christmas Gifts For A Foodie In 2020‘ list!
Check out this list of Christmas gifts for foodies! Believe it or not, Christmas is right around the corner. And trust me, it isn’t always easy getting that perfect gift for your loved ones! So I have comprised the best 19 Christmas gifts for a foodie to help those home cook taste testers out there …