Shrimp Rolls (New England–Style Seafood Sandwiches) Recipe

These shrimp rolls combine the light mayo dressing and buttery bun of a lobster roll with easier prep (and lower cost) for the home cook.

Side view of two New England shrimp rolls

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Starting the shrimp in cold water and gently bringing them up to no more than 170°F (77°C) guarantees perfectly cooked results every time.
  • An optional marinade with baking soda and salt gives the shrimp a snappier texture.

Context is everything. When I'm ordering out at a seafood shack, I inevitably settle on ordering a lobster roll, despite the slightly more appealing price of a shrimp roll. But if I'm going to make a shellfish roll at home, it's the inverse.

The reason is twofold. First, I simply love lobster too much to abstemiously reserve even part of my haul for later—I much prefer eating it whole, in one sitting.

Second, picking lobster meat for a roll is a lot of work, especially when that delicious, delicate meat isn't going straight into your mouth to sustain you as you go. Shrimp rolls make a lot more sense to me in a home cooking environment, since preparing the meat is a relative breeze.

That said, there's certainly an art to making great shrimp rolls, and it's as simple as cooking the shrimp perfectly. You have a couple options for this.

You could go the sous vide route, which yields shrimp that are incredibly tender and concentrated in flavor. To be honest, though, I rarely have the patience for that. (If I'm unwilling to shell a lobster or two without eating the meat right away, what are the chances I'm willing to set up an immersion circulator?)

Instead, I generally opt for our basic poaching technique, which offers up roll-ready shrimp in no time. Most recipes for poached shrimp call for adding them to already-simmering water and cooking them until they're done. While this technically works, it tends to toughen them up and increases your chances of accidentally overcooking them, given how quickly shrimp cook through at high heat.

A thermometer displaying a temperature of 170 degrees F in the pot of cooked shrimp.

Serious Eats / Debbie Wee

To combat those issues, we start the shrimp in cold water, then gradually bring them up to about 170°F (77°C), which is just about where they hit their perfectly cooked state. By not letting the shrimp go beyond that temperature, you leave very little chance of overcooking them.

When I poach shrimp, I usually add aromatic vegetables to the liquid, along with white wine, lemon juice, and herbs, to infuse the shrimp with even more flavor. Here, I consider that step optional, since the shrimp are eventually coated in a flavorful dressing. Those extra flavors in the liquid won't hurt, but they're not as noticeable in the finished roll, and therefore not as important.

Similarly, in this recipe, I also diverge from our frequently called-for technique of marinating the shrimp with baking soda first. The baking soda alters the shrimp's texture, leading to a snappier bite once they're cooked. But in a shrimp roll, I don't think snappiness is an important characteristic—if anything, I'd rather have the shrimp be more tender, like lobster. Once again, it's an optional step. Do it if you want the snappiness; skip it if you don't.

Cutting up poached shrimp for shrimp rolls

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Once the shrimp are cooked, cooled, and cut into pieces, the rest follows standard lobster roll procedure: Fold the seafood with mayo, finely diced celery, chives, and lemon juice, then pack the mixture into buttered and toasted top-split buns.

And be generous with the amount of shrimp you scoop into each bun. You've already saved time and money by using shrimp, so you deserve a little something extra.

Front view of two New England shrimp rolls

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

October 2017

Recipe Facts



Active: 30 mins
Total: 30 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 1 1/4 pounds (565g) shrimp, shelled and deveined

  • Kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (optional; see notes)

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) mayonnaise

  • 1 rib celery (2 ounces; 55g), finely diced

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, divided

  • 4 top-split hot dog buns (preferably Pepperidge Farm)


  1. If marinating the shrimp first (see notes), toss shrimp with 1 tablespoon (12g) salt and the baking soda in a medium bowl until evenly coated. Refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes. If not marinating, proceed to step 2.

    Shelled and tailed shrimp in a bowl with sprinkling of baking soda on top.

    Serious Eats / J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

  2. Prepare an ice bath. Add shrimp to a medium saucepan of cold water (no need to rinse if you marinated the shrimp with baking soda). Set over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until temperature reaches 170°F (77°C) on an instant-read thermometer and shrimp are just cooked through; adjust heat to make sure temperature does not go over 170°F.

  3. Drain shrimp and add to ice bath to chill. Remove from ice bath, then cut shrimp into chunks. Transfer to a medium bowl and add mayonnaise, celery, and chives, stirring well to coat. Season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Shrimp filling can be refrigerated until ready to serve.

    Shrimp pieces mixed with mayonnaise, chives, celery, and lemon juice in a metal mixing bowl.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  4. Melt 1 tablespoon (15g) butter in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat. Swirl to coat pan. Add buns with one cut side down. Cook, pressing on buns gently and moving them around the pan, until golden brown on first side. Remove from pan, add remaining 1 tablespoon butter, then repeat on second side of buns. Divide shrimp filling evenly among buns and serve immediately.

    Toasting rolls in butter.

    Serious Eats / J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

    Spooning shrimp mixed with a mayo-based dressing into buttered, toasted buns for shrimp rolls.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Special Equipment

Instant-read digital thermometer, medium saucepan or saucier


Marinating the shrimp with baking soda gives them a plumper, snappier texture. This isn't an essential step for this recipe, since tenderness is more important here, but it is an optional one if that snappy quality is appealing to you.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
498 Calories
21g Fat
36g Carbs
39g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 498
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 7g 33%
Cholesterol 320mg 107%
Sodium 2004mg 87%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 39g
Vitamin C 3mg 13%
Calcium 254mg 20%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 380mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)