If you’re looking for a fast, delicious dinner that’s healthier than a lot of the usual red meat-heavy BBQ suspects, grilled shrimp is a perfect choice. It’s also a lot more versatile than you might think.
How to Grill Shrimp
Since shrimp does cook so quickly, you’ll want to pay attention to it on the grill; you can cook it with the shell on to help lock in moisture, but it’s also fine to remove it first.
Your best bet as far as technique is to thread your shrimp on skewers or cook them in a locking grill basket that lets you flip them all at once. You can also cook them in a perforated pan and flip each individual shrimp with tongs—but work fast so they cook evenly. While you don’t have to go with jumbo shrimp, smaller shrimp are easier to overcook on the grill; we like to go with medium or large at least.
BearMoo Kabob Skewers, set of 10 for $19.99 from Amazon
Better than the bamboo skewers you always forget to soak.
If you want to get into the nitty gritty, as in so many cases, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt has you covered; he recommends tightly packing the shrimp together on their skewers and getting the outsides really dry (and explores an intriguing baking soda trick). Many of our recipes below use marinades; we always simply let the excess drip off and are happy with the results, but you do you!
Make sure you buy raw shrimp rather than precooked, which will dry out and turn rubbery on the grill; if you’re using frozen shrimp, quick-thaw them in a bowl of cold water for 10-15 minutes and dry thoroughly before marinating or making your shrimp kabobs.
Wild Gulf Shrimp (12-Pack), $109.95 from Sizzlefish
These large shrimp (26-30 count) come peeled and deveined
Related Reading on CNET: The Best Places to Buy Seafood Online
Since grilling shrimp doesn’t take much time, maximize your charcoal’s potential by throwing on some other items, from vegetable sides to denser proteins you plan to eat later in the week (seriously, BBQ meal prep is a great summer strategy for easier dinners).
Related Reading: 7 Things to Grill Now and Eat Later in the Week
What to Serve with Grilled Shrimp
That depends a lot on exactly how you’re cooking them, but most grilled shrimp are great with your usual cookout sides, including potato salad, corn on the cob, and grilled vegetables.
You can also roll grilled shrimp up in flatbread or tortillas with slaw, turn them into a po’ boy style sandwich, use them to top a green salad, serve them over grits, wrap them up in summer rolls, stuff them into baked potatoes, add them to pasta salad for a protein boost, or simply serve them with rice and any sauce you like (if you need some ideas, chimichurri isn’t just for steak, romesco is severely underrated, and fruit salsa totally counts as a sauce).
Leftover cooked shrimp are great coarsely chopped and mixed with mayo for a quick shrimp salad; serve it on bread or a bed of greens, or just scoop it up with crackers for lunch.
Easy Grilled Shrimp Recipes
The Chowhound community has some fantastic ideas; here are three of our favorites:
- whatsfordinner has a “ridiculously easy and absolutely delicious” recipe for grilled shrimp brushed with melted butter, soy sauce, and garlic (the rest of this magical mixture is served on the side as a dipping sauce).
- Tee paints on a marinade of mayo, garlic salt, curry powder, and enough beer to thin the mixture before grilling the shrimp.
- mojoeater loves this quick indulgence: “Peel all but the tail end of the shrimp and make a deep incision in each. Mix together diced jalapeños and cream cheese, then stuff the shrimp with the mixture. Wrap with bacon and secure with toothpicks. Throw on a grill or in a cast iron pan until the bacon is crispy and the shrimp is pink.” (But don’t miss 1stmakearoux’s bacon shrimp recipe either.)
And here are some of our own offerings:
This one involves a shrimp marinade with fresh orange and lime juice, garlic, chili powder, and cumin, which only takes 30 minutes to soak in—just enough time to prep the grill. Peppers and onions are cooked in a cast iron skillet alongside and everything is folded into warm tortillas to serve. Get our Grilled Shrimp Fajita recipe.
Grilled shrimp are a great taco filling, especially when they’re tossed with a little chipotle powder. The fresh tomato, corn, and avocado salsa makes this a meal. Don’t forget to char the tortillas too. Get our Grilled Shrimp Taco recipe. (And try the same shrimp cooking method for our Greek Style Shrimp Tacos.)
A marinade of lemongrass, Sriracha, fish sauce, garlic, and brown sugar imparts a ton of flavor to these grilled shrimp, served with a Vietnamese spread of rice vermicelli noodles, lettuce leaves, crisp bean sprouts, and a ton of aromatic fresh herbs. Get our Vietnamese Grilled Shrimp Salad recipe.
This five-ingredient recipe (if you don’t count the cilantro garnish) relies on Thai sweet chili sauce for sweet, spicy flavor that caramelizes into a glaze on the grill. Serve these over steamed rice with some grilled veggies on the side. Get our Sweet Chili and Lime Shrimp Skewer recipe.
Smoked paprika lends a hazy note even before you grill the shrimp, which are great on their own, but even better dunked in the tangy-sweet sauce (which is a mix of ketchup, mayo, hot sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire, and a little jot of brandy). Get our Smoky Grilled Shrimp recipe with Marie Rose Sauce.
For a new take on surf and turf, wrap shrimp in thin slices of cured prosciutto; you can broil them if you prefer, but they’ll do just as well on the grill. Serve them as an appetizer before a bigger meal, or make them part of a DIY tapas spread. Get our Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp recipe.
All the flavors of a shrimp boil without all the mess (which, granted, is part of the fun, but not when you’re making dinner on a Monday night). Adding lemon wedges to the skewers lends extra smoky, caramelized flavor when you squeeze their juice onto the shrimp and sausage, and marinating everything with Old Bay means that iconic seafood spice is present in every bite. To bulk it up, toss some quartered baby red potatoes in the same mix and skewer them separately to cook first (since they take a bit longer than the shrimp). Get our Grilled Shrimp Boil Skewer recipe.
You can knock out the pineapple glaze for this vaguely tropical and totally delicious recipe while the grill is heating up, or make it a day or two ahead if you prefer to have less to do on the day of; add more cayenne pepper if you like things hotter. The charred shrimp and pineapple are great with regular rice, but also make a mean takeout-style fried rice with curry and cashews. Get our Pineapple Glazed Shrimp Skewer recipe.
While the shrimp cooking portion of this one-pan feast is indeed fast, we can’t count the whole thing as an easy weeknight meal. It is something you should definitely try out one weekend this summer; clams, mussels, chicken, and chorizo are also in the mix, but you can change up the shellfish according to what you like or can find. Get our Grilled Paella recipe.
Header image by Chowhound.