How to Make an Ice Bowl for Shrimp Cocktail

An ice bowl is a spectacular way to display and serve shrimp or any cold seafood for a cocktail party! Here I will show you the step by step instructions s so you can create one yourself!

How to make an ice bowl (2)

After I shared my Beach Ball Themed cocktail party I had some questions about how I made the ice bowl for my shrimp cocktail. I have found this is the best way to make an ice bowl to serve cold shrimp without much effort for a party.

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Ice bowl presentation of shrimp cocktail for a cocktail party

Make the bowl:

pair of kitchen bowls, yellow and red for making a pretty presentation of shrimp cocktail

Begin by finding a large bowl and one that is smaller that will nest inside the other.  I thought these were the ones I would use, but at the last minute I replaced the small bowl.  You will not want to use glass bowls, as there is always the potential for them to break. If you have stainless steel bowls, those would be ideal!

These are the best bowls for making an ice bowl!

Bowls taped together one inside another to make an ice bowl for displaying shrimp cocktail

You will set the smaller bowl inside the larger one, put duct tape across the top to hold it down and keep it from floating and then pour your cold water into the larger bowl. You may put room temperature water inside the smaller bowl to help keep it from floating.  Don’t put too much water in the inner bowl so that it rises up when it freezes and comes over the edge of the smaller bowl.

Putting lemon slices in between bowls to make an ice bowl for presenting shrimp cocktail

You may add lemon slices like I did, just slip them down inside the water along the sides of the larger bowl. Some methods suggest adding ice cubes to the water but they would not fit between my bowls.

Two bowls with lemon between them filled with water ready to prepare an ice bowl for displaying shrimp cocktail

Place bowls in the freezer.  

Two bowls with ice in them for making an ice bowl to display shrimp cocktail

Here it is when I took the bowls with the ice out of the freezer.

Ice bowl with lemon slices suspended in it ready to display seafood

  After allowing the bowls to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes, the center bowl came out cleanly.  

How to make an ice bowl
How to make an ice bowl

Invert the bowl on a platter or baking sheet.  Leave for a few minutes until the bowl slides gently off of the ice.  Don’t use hot water trying to unmold your ice, or you crack it.  Your ice bowl is not going to melt significantly in this amount of time.  

Your ice bowl:

How to make an ice bowl.

You have an ice bowl! Gently turn over your bowl and you are ready to fill it and serve!

How to make an ice bowl for serving shellfish.

 If you don’t have enough seafood to fill your bowl, you can still add some ice, cubes or crushed to the bottom of the bowl as a nest for your shellfish.  You may choose to serve up your shellfish right on a platter like this and show off your bowl.  I knew my party would go late and I didn’t want to worry about any melting, so I rested my bowl down in a large serving bowl.  I needn’t have worried, it hardly melted at all throughout the evening.  

Serve up the shrimp cocktail:

How to make an ice bowl for serving shellfish

Serve up this classic appetizer with some lemon wedges and a bowl of cocktail sauce for a cocktail party favorite that all of your guests will enjoy! Try this for your next party!

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  1. I always wondered how this was done. Thank you so much for sharing this information! Your bowl came out perfectly and I love the addition of the lemon slices. I am going to make a copy of this to keep in my recipe file! I’m also glad to know the bowl lasts a long time before melting. Very, very clever!! Rosie @ The Magic Hutch

  2. Thank you Chloe for posting the how to instructions for a pretty ice bowl. It could be used to keep even potato and pasta salads in bowl cold too, but in a very pretty way. I am sure my mom would have appreciated such a lovely idea, but in the past, they just used ice cubes. This is so much more lovely.

    Many thank-yous,

  3. Wow, this is a really cool idea! I would love to try it at a party sometime! What else would you recommend serving in an ice bowl? Thanks for sharing at the Family Joy linkup!

    1. Just two bowls, one bowl gets taped inside the larger bowl with the water poured in between the two bowls to make your ice bowl. The water put in the smaller bowl is just to weigh down the smaller one to keep it in down in the water of the larger bowl while it freezes.

    1. I don’t remember any of the ice sticking to the bowl. I think by the time we got to the bottom of the bowl the surface was melting slightly enough to keep the shrimp from sticking to it.

    2. You can always line the finished ice bowl with some green leaf lettuce if you’re concerned about the shrimp sticking!

  4. I am glad you warned not to use hot water to unmold an ice bowl. I am going to a party next weekend and they told me to bring ice. Thanks for the idea for a shrimp ice bowl.

  5. I loved this idea! I did it with distilled water and the bowl turned out crystal clear like glass. Thank you for a wonderful step by step demo!

  6. Love the clear instructions. The only thing I would add is putting a small
    Bowl of cocktail sauce in the middle of the shrimp.


  7. Chloe, this is perfect! Especially in our warm climates, what a fabulous and attractive way to serve shrimp! I am definitely trying this as we are having shrimp cocktail tonight. You are so talented and creative. Great tutorial too.

  8. Such a great idea! This frozen lemon bowl can be used for any occasion using other types of fruits. For a child’s birthday, A bowl with a combination of different colors of fruit set into ice, maybe legos, amd inside the bowl would be filled with scoops of different flavored ice cream. The possibilities are endless.

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