How to Grill Shrimp Perfectly Every Time—Plus the Best Seasonings and Marinades to Use
Grilled shrimp are one of the most delightful foods you can cook over fire. They're quick to make, easy to eat (fingers are fine!), and grilled shrimp are so versatile they can meld into most meals as the main course, appetizer, or even a quick side.
To grill shrimp, all you need is a grill pre-heated to medium heat (propane or charcoal is fine), with clean grilling racks. While the grill is heating, pat the shrimp dry and season it, or, if you've pre-marinaded your shrimp, remove it from marinade and let rest so that extra sauce doesn't burn in the flames.
"While shrimp cook, it's crucial to monitor them and flip them, to prevent the shrimp from overcooking," advises chef and seafood expert Mike Price of New York's Mary Lane, The Clam, and Market Table. Depending on the size of your shrimp, place them over the heat for one to two minutes per side. "Once cooked to your liking, make sure to space the shrimp out, not piling them on top of each other, which would allow the cooking process to continue and may lead to overcooking the shrimp." Grilled shrimp is excellent right off the grill, resting at room temperature, or even chilled for a unique version of shrimp cocktail or a New England-style shrimp roll.
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If the shrimp you are grilling are on the smaller side, cook them on skewers or even in a grill basket or cast-iron pan to ensure they don't fall through the grill, though larger shrimp often result in a more succulent, delectable meal. Price likes adding grilled shrimp to Caesar salad, in tacos with cabbage slaw and fruit, or over a risotto. No matter which cuisine you prefer, grilled shrimp can absolutely fit in!
What Are the Best Types of Shrimp to Grill?
Pretty much any shrimp can go on the grill, but some shrimp grill up better than others. Chef Price has a preference for wild shrimp versus farmed shrimp, from locations like the Gulf of Mexico or the Carolinas. "You want to make sure you have good sized shrimp, preferably 16/20," Price suggests. And don't worry about beheading or de-tailing your grilling shrimps, "It's always fun to cook and serve head-on shrimp depending on the dish and use," Price adds.
How Do You Season Grilled Shrimp?
Pretty much any seasoning you like works on shrimp! Price is a fan of Old Bay curry, sambal, sriracha, chipotle, garlic, ginger, and salt and pepper. He also likes to use bold citruses, such as lime, lemon, and orange, to season shrimp. And no matter what seasoning he goes for, Price always uses a fat too, like olive oil, to impart flavor and lock in moistness.
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Can You Grill Shrimp From Frozen?
Yes, you can grill shrimp from frozen, but if you can help it, you probably shouldn't. "It makes the outside tough and cooks unevenly, tending to leave the inside raw," Price says. "It's best if the shrimp is thawed, peeled, deveined, marinated, then grilled." If you're short on time, place frozen shrimp in a bowl of tap water, cycling out the water every 10 minutes until the shrimp is thawed, which should take less than an hour. And voila, you've got defrosted shrimp to grill!