Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups


Gluten-free Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups are an elegant and impressive appetizer.

Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups @IowaGirlEats |

I know…another salad. But hear me out!

As pumped as I was to share my Steak Salad with Crispy Shallots, Dried Cherries, Candied Pecans and Goat Cheese (which is so ridiculous that I made it again for dinner last night!) I’m just as excited to share these Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups with you. Like, weirdly excited. Let me explain…

1.) Edible cups. There’s something about being able to eat your dinnerware that seriously thrills me.

2.) Elegant yet easy. Imagine how fancy you’ll feel serving this impressive yet doable side dish or appetizer to guests, or even better, your significant other on Valentine’s Day!

3.) Crispy cheese. ‘Nuf said.

Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups @IowaGirlEats |

I came up with the idea for Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups while brainstorming what I’d make Ben and myself for Valentine’s Day dinner. I literally sat straight up on the couch when inspiration struck. Ben asked me what was up but then went back to playing pool on his iPhone before I could finish explaining. Ugh. That damn game. I suppose it’s better than Plants vs Aliens. I just…can’t.

Anyway, he’s got something up his sleeve for the main course, so knowing my guy loves Caesar Salad, and we both love shrimp (and parmesan cheese!) I thought these salad cups would be a stellar first course.

Sometimes Caesar Salad can be a bit boring (although I recently had a massaged Kale Caesar Salad at a local restaurant that was OMG-good,) but the dish is given a fun twist with the addition of brined then sauteed shrimp, juicy cherry tomatoes, and of course, homemade crispy parmesan cups. Ben went crazy for these things when I made them for the blog. They’re crunchy and salty – you WON’T miss the croutons!

Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups @IowaGirlEats |

Start by brining 1/4lb raw shrimp. Brining, in this case, is a fancy term for soaking shrimp in a combination of 1 Tablespoon each brown sugar and salt, and 2 cups cold water. Let the shrimp brine in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes and they’ll come out tasting extra good and saute up real snappy like. You don’t have to do this step but I highly recommend it!

By the way, I used frozen, deveined shrimp that I thawed in a bowl of cool water for 10 minutes, and then peeled. You can buy fresh, frozen, peeled, un-peeled, deveined or whole – whatevah.

Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups @IowaGirlEats |

While the shrimp are brining, grate 1 cup parmesan cheese which will be used to make the crispy parmesan cups. I hand grated my parmesan cheese on the small side of a box grater (couldn’t live without that thing,) but you could use pre-grated parm. I just wouldn’t use the powdered stuff.

Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups @IowaGirlEats |

Scoop 1/4 cup of the grated parmesan cheese onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper then spread the cheese into a thin, 5″ circle. If it’s too thick the cups will be greasy and chewy, too thin and the cups will be fragile. Just make sure you have a thin, even layer and you’ll be fine.

Pop the pan into a 375 degree oven for 4-5 minutes, or until the cheese is light golden brown and bubbly.

Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups @IowaGirlEats |

Let the cheese cool for about 15 seconds then use a thin spatula to scoop and place on an overturned prep cup. Gently press down to help mold the cheese. Note: I made a few on an overturned muffin tin, which also worked great. I’d recommend doing one first to practice!

Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups @IowaGirlEats |

While the crispy parmesan cups are cooling, chop 2 cups romaine lettuce. As I mentioned, Ben loves Caesar salads and he Loves (with a capital L!) freshly shredded romaine in ’em. I just zipped through a small head then spun it through a salad spinner. Done!

Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups @IowaGirlEats |

Next, toss the lettuce in your favorite Caesar salad dressing – making sure it’s gluten-free, if you need it!

Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups @IowaGirlEats |

Finally, drain then pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel, season lightly with salt and pepper, and then saute in nonstick sprayed skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes on each side until they’re pink and cooked through.

Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups @IowaGirlEats |

Mound a quarter of the dressed lettuce into each crispy parmesan cup then add the sauteed shrimp, and halved cherry tomatoes for color and a burst of freshness!

Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups @IowaGirlEats |

Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups

serves 4 as an appetizer


Gluten-free Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups are an elegant and impressive appetizer.


  • 1/4lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 12 large shrimp)
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Gluten-free or regular Caesar salad dressing


  1. Stir together water, salt, and brown sugar in a bowl then add shrimp and place in the refrigerator to brine for 20-30 minutes. Drain, pat dry, then season both sides lightly with salt and pepper, and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper then scoop 1/4 cup parmesan cheese into two mounds then spread with your fingers to make thin, 5" circles. Bake for 4-5 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool for 15 seconds then use a very thin spatula to lift cheese crisps and drape over the bottom of prep cups or an overturned muffin tin. Repeat with remaining parmesan cheese. Let cups cool completely before removing.
  3. Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with nonstick spray then add shrimp. Saute until pink on one side, about 2 minutes, then flip and saute until cooked through, about 1 more minute.
  4. Toss lettuce with salad dressing then divide between cups. Top each cup with a quarter of the shrimp and halved cherry tomatoes. Serve immediately.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,


You’ll flip for these Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups! Fresh, crisp, salty, savory – YUM. Enjoy!

Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups @IowaGirlEats |

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  1. Reid 01.29.2014

    These look fantastic! Such a creative spin on caesar salad!

    • Nancy 10.02.2014

      I agree with Reid.

      I think I’ll make these as one my appetizers for my Christmas Cookie Swap party this year.

  2. These are so pretty and bright! I LOVE that I can eat the whole thing, cup included. The shrimp spin on caesar salad rocks…sometimes chicken gets a little boring!
    I would seriously do anything for that crispy cheese. Pinned!

  3. Love that Parmesan cup idea. So easy and simple yet looks incredibly awesome. Think I’ll be trying to make some of those today! Thanks Kristin!

  4. Abi@AbsofSteel 01.29.2014

    woah! I love the parmesan cup idea, might have to steel it ;)

  5. Chicago Jogger 01.29.2014

    I never would have thought that’s how you make a parmesan cup! I’m impressed:)

  6. Janet 01.29.2014

    I’m not a fan of storebought Caesar dressing (actually bottled dressing in general). Do you have a recipe for homemade Caesar dressing?

  7. Matlanticus 01.29.2014

    These will be the perfect first course for the dinner party I’m hosting on Saturday. Can I make the cups early in the day, or do they have to be made shortly before serving?

  8. those are freaking adorable!

  9. This is such a good idea! I loved the parm crisps you made with the fig salad awhile ago. This looks equally as good!

  10. Gabby Bladdick 01.29.2014

    I went to a cooking class awhile back where they taught us how to make the parm crisps and I have the desire to eat them every single day now. Somehow, I resist, but this recipe will have me breaking ’em back out!

  11. em@simplypresent 01.29.2014

    So colorful and creative! Brianna’s has really good dressing. My family loves the chipotle one!

  12. Jackie 01.29.2014

    Holy yum!

  13. These are adorable! I’ve seen Parmesan crisps at whole foods and been tempted to try them, but cups for salad is just a whole ‘nother level!

  14. Alexandra Aimee 01.29.2014

    This looks absolutely adorable, and beyond delicious.

    — Alex at Brainy Girls Beauty

  15. Parmesan cups = fewer dishes?! I’m in like Flynn.

  16. Greg Hankins 01.29.2014

    This looks good – but I think I’ll turn it into a main course for Valentine’s Day. Now all I need is something chocolate for dessert.

  17. Shickman 01.29.2014

    I made these this summer when I had GNO at my house so we could relax outside and enjoy the weather. 8 Females that I LOVE. Made these for Roasted chicken and strawberry salad. Mixed lettuce, strawberries, edamame, bell pepper with Rasberry dressing and a little red onion for contrast. The method I used was in a skillet but like the oven better – will go quicker. You are absolutely right – beautiful… Thanks again for sharing.

  18. I love how fancy and elegant these look!

  19. A little fancy with little effort. Love it.

  20. Anna 01.30.2014

    Looks Delicious!

  21. Katie (@momslrb) 01.30.2014

    Hey there! This is Katie…one of the other Zulily Top Fitness and Healthy Bloggers. How is that I haven’t visited your blog till now? Either way, I’m glad I did. Love this idea. This would be great for a baby shower food.

    Good to meet you!

  22. I love the idea of a parmesan crisp shell! Looks like an awesome combo bursting with flavor- I’ll have to give it a try soon!

  23. Jennifer 02.01.2014

    Wow! Another amazing recipe from Iowa Girl Eats! I’m always so inspired to cook something after I scan your blog.

  24. […] Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups […]

  25. Amy Steinberg 02.08.2014

    I think this looks absolutely delicious!

    Thank you for the recipe.

  26. […] with parmesan crisps. Similar to these crispy parmesan cups. (Iowa Girl […]

  27. […] Shrimp Caesar Salad in Crispy Parmesan Cups via Iowa Girl Eats .  At a wedding last summer, many of the appetizers were served in crispy Parmesan cups and my sister and I just about devoured them all (literally). I’m convinced that just about everything tastes better in a crispy Parmesan cup.  Excited to try this recipe out at an upcoming party! […]

  28. Kathryn Duke 04.12.2015

    what did you serve with this salad?


    • Kristin 04.14.2015

      Steaks are a great pairing with these salad cups!

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