Easy Shrimp Cure for Steelhead and Salmon

This is one of the easiest recipes to cure and color shrimp or prawns. This shrimp cure works fantastic for Steelhead as they love sugar cures, but can also be used for other Salmon species as well. The best part of this recipe is the majority of the ingredients are bought at your local grocery store. 

Shrimp and Prawn Cure Ingredients

  • White Sugar
  • Kosher Salt
  • Bait Cure
  • Shrimp / Prawns (raw or cooked)

The largest ingredients in this recipe are sugar and kosher salt, the bait cure is strictly for coloring. My preference for bait cure is the Pro-Cure Redd Hot Double as I often use it for my salmon eggs as well.

Sugar to Salt is 5:1 Ratio 

This is a sugar based cure with five parts sugar to one part kosher salt. The bait cure should be a tiny fraction of the entire dry brine. To clarify, here’s an example amounts I might use for this dry shrimp brine:

  • 1 cup of White Sugar
  • 1/5 cup of Kosher Salt
  • 2 teaspoons of Bait Cure


The amount of bait cure used should be dependent on the depth of the color of the cure. For example, if you’re using a deep dark red cure like Pro-Cure’s Redd Hot Double use a smaller amount. However, if you’re using a lighter peach or natural colored bait cure you can get away with using a little more. 

It’s something to experiment with. Honestly, if you do put too much of the bait cure into the dry brine it will make the shrimp/prawn final product a little more firmer.

Instructions on How to Cure the Shrimp or Prawns

Step 1 – Measure out white sugar and kosher salt ingredients by a 5:1 ratio (see ingredients above). Add them to a plastic container to be mixed around.

Step 2 – Add a tiny amount of bait cure to the brine. If you’re mixing around 1 cup of white sugar the bait cure should be 1-3 teaspoons. See the ingredients and measurement examples above. 

Tip: I’d recommend using a storage plastic jar/container so you mix a large batch for future usage. Make sure to mark it so you know what coloring/cure you used. 

Step 3 – If you’re using frozen shrimp/prawns ensure they are thawed out. Then laid out on a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture from ice. They don’t have to be completely dried out.

Tip: Use latex gloves when handling the shrimp/prawns to avoid any transfer of scents


Step 4 – Add the shrimp into a Ziploc bag.

I personally like the large Ziploc freezer bags but it comes down to how many shrimp/prawns you’re curing. If you want to immediately freeze the shrimp/prawns in this same Ziploc bag it has to be freezer rated. 


Step 5 – Add the premixed dry brine into the Ziploc by lightly coating the shrimp. You don’t need a ton of excess brine shaking around in the bag with the shrimp. Mix the cure with the shrimp by gently tumbling the bag for 1-2 minutes ensuring all the shrimp has been coated. You should notice some moisture immediately starting to show now as the cure will begin extracting that from the shrimp. 


Step 6 – Place the Ziploc bag into the fridge for 24 hours. Over those 24 hours, I’d recommend tumbling the bag 2 or 3 times whenever you think of it to ensure the all shrimp is getting coated thoroughly.

Step 7 –  After 24 hours in the refrigerator pull out the bag(s) and you should notice there is additional juice in the bag. This is the moisture pulled out of the shrimp/prawn over the curing process.



Step 8 – This step is not mandatory but before I freeze or use them, I like to dry out the shrimp a little. To do this I remove the shrimp from the Ziploc bag with latex gloves and place onto a paper towel to dry out a little. You can quickly pat them dry with paper towel or leave to air dry for 15 minutes. 

Tip: Remember they’ll be quite wet with the excess juices and can stain your fingers if you don’t wear latex gloves.

Step 9 –  Store or use immediately. If you’re planning to fish these immediately, keep them in the fridge. Otherwise, freeze them in a dry freezer Ziploc bag, glass jar or shrink wrapped freezer bag. I’m a big fan of Food Saver’s so I like to shrink wrap them.

Tip: Freeze them in batches (amounts) that you would take to the water. Don’t freeze a massive bag together so you have to thaw out an entire bag each time you want to fish.  


Catching Winter Steelhead with this Shrimp and Prawn Cure

This is a video of me fishing this exact recipe on raw prawns for Winter Steelhead on the Vedder River in Chilliwack, British Columbia. It’s a bit of a gag video with the 80’s music and overdone titles … enjoy! 🙂

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