Food & Drink

Spicy Shrimp Dip for the Super Bowl… or Anytime

New Orleans chef Colleen Quarls shares her spin on a party favorite

Photo: Jacqueline Stofsick | Food Styling: Phillip Rhodes

Along with warm pigs in a blanket, a cream cheese block swaddled with pepper jelly, and coolers packed deep with beer, you’ll find a wide array of dips among Colleen Quarls’s party spreads. “I’m a dip girl,” says the chef de cuisine at New Orleans’s funky breakfast joint Molly’s Rise and Shine. “Seven-layer, spinach and artichoke, Velveeta-and- Ro-Tel … I like anything you can eat with your hands, so you can move around and talk to everybody.”

Chef Colleen Quarls.

The crowning achievement in her dips repertoire, though, is her Spicy Louisiana Shrimp Dip, which she’s served for gatherings, Saints games, and even as a special at the restaurant a time or two. Her one-two punch for maximum flavor: Boiling and chilling half of the shrimp in a Cajun-spice-scented liquid, and sautéing the other half with even more spice. “Using ice-cold boil liquid [to shock the shrimp] doesn’t dilute the flavor like water would,” Quarls says. Then, once she’s buzzed the chilled boiled shrimp with the holy trinity of vegetables (onion, celery, and bell pepper), mayo, cream cheese, Crystal, and cayenne in a food processor, Quarls roughly chops the sautéed batch to stir into the mix. “You want shrimp in every bite,” she says.


  • Yield: Makes 8 cups

    • 2½ lb. head-on shrimp; half peeled, half not

    • 1 onion, small dice

    • 1 large green bell pepper, small dice

    • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced

    • ¾ heads celery, small dice, divided

    • 2 tsp. olive oil

    • 1½ tsp. Zatarain's Creole seasoning

    • ¾ lb. cream cheese (1½ 8 oz. blocks), room temperature

    • 1 cup mayo (“We only use Duke's,” Quarls says)

    • 2 tbsp. Crystal hot sauce

    • About ¼ a lemon's worth of juice

    • 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper

  • For the shrimp boil liquid:

    • 1 gallon water

    • 1½ cups Zatarain's Pro Boil

    • ½ cup Zatarain's Liquid Shrimp and Crab Boil

    • ½ cup Crystal hot sauce

    • 2 lemons, halved

    • 2 oranges, halved

    • ¼ cup kosher salt (Quarls recommends Diamond Crystal)


  1. Prepare the shrimp boil liquid ahead of time so you can cool some of it to use as shock water to cool the boiled shrimp. Place all the ingredients in a stock pot or other large pan and bring to a boil over high heat, then remove to cool. Take half the liquid and reserve in the refrigerator until chilled. Bring the remaining shrimp boil liquid back to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the unpeeled shrimp, wait 1 minute, cut the heat, and let them soak for 4 minutes with the heat off. While they are soaking, pull the reserved shrimp boil liquid from the fridge and pour it into a large container, adding 1 quart of ice. Transfer the shrimp from the hot liquid to the ice-cold liquid to stop the cooking process. Once cool, remove the shrimp from the liquid and peel them, discarding the shells and heads.

  2. Sauté the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and half of the celery in a skillet over medium heat until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Remove half the contents from the pan and reserve. Continue to cook the rest of the vegetables, stirring every minute or so, until caramelized (about 10 more minutes).

  3. Season the raw peeled shrimp evenly with all the Creole seasoning. In a skillet or heavy bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat, working in batches to avoid overcrowding, cook the shrimp on both sides until they achieve a brown sear and are cooked through in the center (about 2 minutes per side.) Remove from pan, and once they are cool enough to handle, roughly chop and set aside.

  4. In a food processor, buzz the caramelized veg and boiled shrimp with the cream cheese, mayo, hot sauce, lemon, and cayenne, pulsing to achieve a uniformly smooth consistency. Transfer the contents into a mixing bowl. Add the reserved sautéed veg, remaining raw celery, and chopped sautéed shrimp, and stir to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Serve with Ruffles.