Jamaican Pepper Shrimp

Jamaican pepper shrimp is a snack or appetizer that packs a lot of heat and flavor. It is a great beginner recipe if you are wanting to try Jamaican food and cooks in under 30 minutes. This cleaned up homemade version is Whole30 compatible, gluten free and free from artificial coloring.

Jamaican pepper shrimp

What is Jamaican pepper shrimp?

Pepper shrimp is a very popular street food in Jamaica. It’s shell on head on shrimp that is marinated in hot pepper scotch bonnet pepper, herbs and spices and simmered in a spicy broth. It is commonly served in a small plastic bag and tied up around a metal ring. Street venders will walk up to you as you walk or drive around town and sell them. It’s an experience I remember vividly from my childhood.

Is it just an appetizer?

While this recipe is typically a snack or appetizer, you can totally serve this as your main protein for a dish. I like to serve this with cauliflower rice with vegetable salad. You can also enjoy this with some rice and peas if you are not doing a Whole30.

To make Jamaican pepper shrimp do you need head on shrimp?

It’s ideal but not necessary. It’s challenging for me to find head on shrimp where I live but if I could find it, I would use it. Having the head on gives a lot more depth of flavor and is traditionally how this dish is made. But if you don’t like shrimp with the head on or can’t find it, just shell on shrimp will do.

Other things to know about Jamaican pepper shrimp:

  1. While this is a recipe for pepper shrimp, you don’t have to make it super spicy. It’s up to you how much spice you want to put into it so customize to your liking.
  2. If you cannot find scotch bonnet pepper, habanero pepper will make a great substitution.
  3. The bigger the shrimp the better. I recommend ultra jumbo or colossal shrimp 20-24 per pound count.
  4. This will store well in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container.
  5. This can be served hot or cold.
  6. For seafood seasoning I used All Seasoning New Bae.

Other recipes to try:

Looking for other spicy recipes to try? Check out my Air Fryer Salmon or Jerk Pork recipe.

Jamaican pepper shrimp

Jamaican Pepper Shrimp

Firey hot shrimp appetizer or seafood snack. Great option for a main protein choice.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings 4


  • Mixing bowl
  • Dutch pot
  • Wooden spoon
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cup


  • 2 lbs shrimp jumbo or colossal
  • ½ onion diced
  • ½ red bell pepper diced
  • 3-5 habanero peppers diced
  • 2 TBSP seafood seasoning
  • 1.5 TBSP red chili flakes
  • 1-1.5 TBSP paprika
  • 1 TBSP garlic powder
  • ½ TBSP pimento
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 2 TBSP white vinegar


  • Season shrimp with onion, bell pepper, habanero, seafood seasoning, chili flakes, paprika, garlic powder, dried thyme, pimento, salt and pepper.
  • Mix and let marinate 15-30 minutes.
  • Remove as much of the seasoning from the shrimp and set aside.
  • Add water to the bowl with left over seasoning and mix.
  • In a Dutch pot on high heat pour in water and seasoning mix and let come to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes covered.
  • Add in shrimp and white vinegar. Mix and let simmer for 7-10 minutes covered. Stir occasionally.
  • Remove shrimp and eat right away or let cool.
Keyword caribbean, caribbean food, gluten free, grain free, jamaican, jamaican food, jamaican recipe, pepper shrimp, seafood, shrimp, whole30

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