Grill Shrimp Like a Pro: A Step-by-Step Guide to Perfectly Cooked Seafood

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shrimp laid out on grill ready to cook
Photo by Jo Zimny licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Grilling shrimp is a great technique to bring out the unique flavor and texture of seafood dishes. Whether you’re looking for the perfect grilled starter or main course, there are plenty of delicious options for grilling shrimp. From marinating tips and safety considerations to troubleshooting common problems with cooking seafood on the grill – this guide will help you master all aspects of grilling shrimp. Get ready for perfectly cooked morsels every time – let’s dive in.

Table of Contents:

Grilling Shrimp Basics

Cooking up shrimp on the grill is a speedy way to prepare yummy seafood meals. With the correct techniques and ingredients, you can craft delectable grilled shrimp that will make your guests swoon.

What You Need:

Before grilling your shrimp, it’s important to make sure you have all the necessary items on hand. This includes:

  • peeled and deveined raw or frozen shrimp (thawed if frozen)
  • butter or oil for cooking 
  • herbs/spices of choice 
  • a grill basket (optional)
  • preheated grill


  1. Gently pat the thawed/raw shrimp with paper towels to remove any additional moisture
  2. place them in a bowl with melted butter or oil and give it a light toss until each piece is evenly covered
  3. Add herbs/spices like garlic powder, paprika or cayenne pepper for extra flavor
  4. For easier preparation, try using ready-made marinades or rubs from your local grocery store. 
  5. Once prepared, place them into a preheated grill basket, so they don’t fall through the grates when cooking over direct heat.
  6. Finally, remember that there is no need for extra seasonings after taking off the grill, as flavors should already be incorporated inside
  7. serve hot and enjoy

Grilling shrimp is an excellent way to savor the delectable flavor of seafood, so let’s delve into which types work best. Different types of shrimp are available throughout the year, so let’s explore what varieties work best for grilling.

Key Takeaway: Prepare your shrimp by patting them dry, tossing them in melted butter or oil, and adding desired herbs and spices. Place the seasoned shrimp into a preheated grill basket, then cook over direct heat for an easy seafood dish that is sure to hit the spot. No need for extra seasoning afterward – just serve it hot and savor its deliciousness.

Types of Shrimp to Grill

Grilling shrimp requires some thought; what must you consider when selecting the right type for your meal? Wild versus farmed shrimp is an important factor when choosing which type of shrimp you should use for your meal. Wild-caught shrimp can be more expensive and harder to find than farm-raised varieties, but they have a richer flavor and firmer texture that many people prefer.

Different species of wild-caught and farmed shrimp can be available depending on the season, including jumbo tiger prawns, spot prawns, pink or white gulf shrimp, rock lobster tails, and black tiger prawns.

Marinating and Flavoring Your Shrimp

Marinating and flavoring your shrimp is an essential part of creating a delicious grilled seafood meal. For an added layer of flavor, marinate your shrimp with various herbs, spices, sauces, and glazes.

Marinades and Rubs for Grilled Shrimp:

Marinades are liquids that contain oil, vinegar, or other acids that help tenderize the shrimp while adding flavor. Popular marinade ingredients include garlic, ginger, soy sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, or chili paste. 

You can also use dry rubs on your shrimp to add flavor without a liquid marinade; popular rubs include cumin-chili powder blends or garam masala mixtures. If you’re looking for something unique try combining smoked paprika with brown sugar or honey mustard with dried dill weed.

Adding Herbs and Spices to Your Grill Basket:

To get the most out of your herbs and spices when grilling shrimp, it’s best to put them directly in the grill basket with the peeled raw frozen shrimp before cooking them on the grill over direct heat (or indirect if you want more control). This allows you to coat each piece evenly as they cook, giving you maximum flavor impact once they hit the plate. Popular herbs used when grilling seafood include:

  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Sage
  • Tarragon
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Mint
  • Bay Leaves
  • Curry Powder
  • Coriander
  • Cilantro
  • Fennel Seed
  • Nutmeg

Sauces and glazes for grilled shrimp are usually applied at the end after cooking, but there are some, such as teriyaki, that can be added during cooking. Popular sauces for grilled seafood include:

  • Melted butter mixed with garlic cloves, parsley, lemon zest, red pepper flakes
  • Old bay seasoning
  • BBQ sauce
  • Pesto remoulade salsa verde
  • Chimichurri tartar sauce
  • Cocktail sauce

Glazes tend to have less fat than sauces so they caramelize quickly on contact giving off a nice sweet, smoky aroma. Some glaze examples include:

  • Maple syrup balsamic
  • Honey mustard
  • Orange-ginger
  • Sriracha
  • Hoisin-soy
  • Teriyaki
  • Whiskey barbecue

Marinating and seasoning your shrimp can bring out a tantalizing taste that will have everyone asking for more. To guarantee the safety of all diners, it is imperative to adhere to correct grilling procedures when barbecuing seafood.

Key Takeaway: Marinating and adding rubs, herbs, spices, sauces, and glazes to your shrimp before grilling them will give you a delicious seafood meal. Rubs such as cumin-chili powder blends or garam masala mixtures can be used for flavoring without using liquids, while marinades like garlic, ginger soy sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire hot sauce chili paste, etc. can tenderize the shrimp with added flavor. Finishing off with sauces like melted butter mixed with seasonings or pesto remoulade all make sure your grilled shrimp is finger-lickin’ good.

Safety Tips for Grilling Shrimp

Here are some tips for grilling shrimp safely and successfully every time.

Before cooking, ensure your grill is hygienically maintained by scrubbing all surfaces with a wire brush or scraper and using an appropriate cleaner like vinegar or baking soda to eliminate any persistent residues. Remember to rinse off the cleaning solution with hot water before preheating your grill for cooking.

Avoiding Cross Contamination with Raw Seafood:

To avoid cross contamination between raw seafood and cooked food, keep separate utensils for handling raw foods, such as tongs or spatulas, when transferring them onto the grill grate. Additionally, never place cooked food on plates used for raw foods without washing them first in hot soapy water.

Cook shrimp until their interior temperature reads 145F. A digital thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of each piece of shrimp to check if they are done cooking before serving.

Grilling shrimp can be a delightful and savory experience, but it’s essential to observe the safety precautions outlined here. With these best practices in mind, you’ll have perfectly cooked shrimp every time.

Best Practices for Grilling Perfectly Cooked Shrimp Every Time

Timing is critical when it comes to barbecuing shrimp; get the timing right, and you’ll have succulent, tender morsels. Properly cooked shrimp should be juicy and tender, not rubbery or dry. To ensure the best results, preheat your grill before adding the seafood. This will help you achieve a nice sear on the outside while keeping moisture locked in on the inside of each piece.

When monitoring internal temperature, use an instant-read thermometer to check that the shrimp has reached 145F. Make sure to insert it into the thickest part of each piece for an accurate reading. If you don’t have a thermometer handy, look for opaque flesh with no translucency in its center; this indicates that it’s done cooking and ready to eat.

To avoid overcooking or undercooking your seafood, keep an eye on how quickly it’s cooking and adjust heat levels accordingly. Increase the heat to finish cooking your shrimp if they take longer than anticipated, but do not leave them unattended. Additionally, try using different techniques, such as indirect grilling or foil packets.

Grilled seafood dishes are always better when served fresh from hot coals, accompanied by complementary side dishes such as roasted potatoes or grilled vegetables. Experimenting with marinades and sauces can add extra flavor without making the dish overly salty. Finally, don’t forget garnishes like chopped herbs and lemon wedges; these small touches can truly elevate any meal from ordinary to extraordinary.

Ensuring your shrimp come out perfectly cooked every time can be achieved by adhering to the tips detailed in this article. Moving on to serving suggestions for grilled seafood dishes, let’s explore some of the most delicious and creative ways to serve up a meal fit for royalty.

Key Takeaway: Grill shrimp perfectly by preheating the grill and checking the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Monitor cooking times closely, adjust heat levels accordingly, and use creative marinades and sauces for a mouthwatering meal.

Serving Suggestions for Grilled Shrimp Dishes

When it comes to grilled shrimp recipes, there are lots of imaginative and tasty options. From side dishes that complement the seafood to entrees that complete a meal, here are some ideas for making your next grilled shrimp dish a hit.

Side Dishes That Complement Grilled Seafood:

When grilling seafood like shrimp, you’ll want to serve it with sides that don’t overpower the delicate flavor of the fish. Consider pairing your grilled shrimp with simple sides such as roasted vegetables or steamed rice. For added taste, add herbs and spices such as garlic or lemon zest into your side dishes for an extra punch. You can also add fresh fruit slices for a hint of sweetness and crunchy texture.

For a more interesting take on grilled seafood as an entrée, combine it with other ingredients, such as noodles or grains, to add texture and taste. Try tossing cooked spaghetti noodles with olive oil and garlic before topping them off with freshly cooked shrimp from the grill – this makes for a hearty yet light dinner option perfect for any night of the week. For a gluten-free take on grilled seafood entrées, consider using cooked quinoa instead of pasta.

To round out your meal even further, top off your platter of grilled seafood with some colorful garnishes such as diced tomatoes or chopped parsley leaves – both will help brighten up any plate while providing additional flavor contrast against the smoky notes from grilling the food itself.

Additionally, creamy sauces like tzatziki sauce pair nicely when served alongside grilled seafood, too; just be sure not to overdo it so that each bite is still packed full of natural flavors from both ingredients combined together.

Grilled shrimp dishes are a delicious way to enjoy seafood, and with the right side dishes and garnishes, they can make for an impressive meal. For those looking to perfect their grilling skills, troubleshooting common problems such as sticking or burning on the grill is key to creating a successful dish.

Key Takeaway: Grilled shrimp can be incorporated into various dishes, from sides to entrees; seasonings such as herbs and spices or creamy sauces will bring out its flavor. To add flavor complexity to the seafood dish, try adding herbs and spices like garlic or lemon zest; creamy sauces also pair nicely when served alongside grilled shrimp.

Troubleshooting Common Problems with Grilling Seafood

Grilling seafood can be a tricky business, and it’s easy to make mistakes. Whether you’re dealing with sticking or burning on the grill, overcooking or undercooking your seafood, or simply trying to figure out when it’s done, here are some tips for troubleshooting common problems with grilling seafood.

Dealing With Sticking Or Burning On The Grill:

To avoid having your shrimp stick to the grill and burn, make sure that you oil both the grate of the grill and your shrimp before cooking them. A slick oil coating on the grill grate and your shrimp will make it so that food doesn’t stick to the metal. Additionally, if you have any trouble getting your food off of the grate without tearing it apart, try using tongs instead of a spatula – they tend to work better at releasing stuck-on foods.

Grilling Shrimp FAQs

Should shrimp be cooked before grilling?

It is generally recommended to cook shrimp before grilling. Cooking the shrimp beforehand ensures it is cooked through, preventing any potential food safety risks associated with undercooked seafood. Pre-cooking the shrimp before grilling can also help develop a tastier and more succulent texture, as it will only be exposed to heat for a short time compared to when cooked raw. To ensure even cooking, parboil or poach the shrimp in boiling water before grilling.

Do you have to flip shrimp when grilling?

No, you do not have to flip shrimp when grilling. Shrimp are delicate and can easily be overcooked on one side if flipped too often. To ensure even cooking, place the shrimp in a single layer directly onto the preheated grill or pan and allow them to cook for 2-3 minutes before flipping once with tongs. Cook until both sides of the shrimp turn pink and opaque; this should take about 4-5 minutes total depending on size.


By applying the right techniques, you can easily become an expert in grilling shrimp. Ensure the grill is hot before placing shrimp, marinade, or season for added taste. Keep an eye out for fires when cooking at high temperatures; use tongs instead of forks to turn them on the grate, and serve with lemon wedges or homemade sauces. Grill shrimp properly every time by following these simple steps.

If you’re looking for an easy and delicious way to cook shrimp, start with Maine Lobster House‘s mail delivery service. With our fresh seafood delivered right to your door, grilling up the perfect meal has never been easier!