Buttery Grilled Shrimp Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 25 min.
These buttery grilled shrimp are so good you'll want to eat them all summer long! Learn how to grill shrimp as an easy appetizer or topping for salads, grain bowls and more.

Updated: May 09, 2024

This grilled shrimp recipe is an excellent option for a party appetizer or a quick and easy meal. Shrimp is a lean protein that pairs well with almost any seasoning, and it cooks up in a flash. Of course, turning all those tiny shrimp with tongs can be tedious, so our Test Kitchen experts advocate skewering them—regardless of whether you plan to serve them as kabobs.

If you’re worried about the shrimp sticking to the grill, we have a solution for that, too. In this recipe, we baste the shrimp with seasoned butter as they cook. The butter keeps the shrimp from sticking and promotes browning, helping the shrimp develop a flavorful crust. Each piece becomes perfectly coated with a rich, buttery goodness that makes these shrimp absolutely unforgettable. Don’t plan on leftovers, because these grilled shrimp will go fast!

The Best Shrimp for Grilling

There are many types of shrimp, and most of them work well for the grill. You can use fresh or frozen shrimp, but frozen shrimp tend to be best. Most shrimp at the seafood counter is previously frozen, so the shrimp will actually be fresher if you defrost them at home.

When it comes to size, we like to use large shrimp. Small shrimp can fall through the grill grates and overcook quickly when exposed to the grill’s intense heat. Shrimp are officially sized by the pound, so look for shrimp labeled as “16-20” (containing 16 to 20 shrimp per pound). There are no industry standards for shrimp sizing names, and words like “large” or “jumbo” can mean different things to different suppliers.

How to Grill Shrimp

Grilling shrimp is incredibly easy. Thaw the shrimp (if starting with frozen shrimp) and thread them onto skewers. Then brush the shrimp with seasoned butter, and grill them over medium heat. If your charcoal or gas grill has a thermometer on the grill lid, it should read 350°F. Or, if you hover your hand 5 inches over the grill grate, you should be able to withstand the heat for about six seconds.

Grilled Shrimp Ingredients

  • Shrimp: Look for large shrimp that range from 16 to 20 shrimp per pound. Defrost the frozen shrimp in the refrigerator overnight, and peel and devein shell-on shrimp. (It’s never a bad time to refresh yourself on how to clean shrimp.)
  • Butter: Shrimp are a lean protein, and the fat in butter helps them from drying out on the grill. Butter also adds richness and helps the seasonings stick to the shrimp.
  • Seasonings: You can use any spice blends you like to season shrimp. Here, we use chili powder, ground ginger and salt. The combination is slightly spicy and very aromatic.
  • Lemon juice: Opt for freshly squeezed lemon juice if you can. It’s much brighter than bottled lemon juice.

Directions

Step 1: Make the seasoned butter

In a small bowl, combine the butter, lemon juice, chili powder, ground ginger and salt. Set 1/4 cup of the mixture aside for later.

Editor’s Tip: This seasoned butter also tastes great on other seafood, like grilled scallops or grilled lobster tails.

Step 2: Thread the skewers

Thread the shrimp onto eight metal or soaked wooden skewers.

Editor’s Tip: If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes before threading the shrimp. Then, to skewer the shrimp, thread the skewer through the thickest part of the shrimp. Curl the tail toward the head, and finish threading through the skinny end, about an inch above the tail. To make very large shrimp easier to work with, thread a second skewer running parallel to the first one. Leave a little space between each shrimp so they cook evenly.

Step 3: Grill the shrimp skewers

Grill the shrimp, covered, over medium heat for three to five minutes on each side or until the shrimp turn pink, basting occasionally with butter mixture.

Editor’s Tip: When you’re finished basting, throw the basting butter away. It’s contaminated with raw shrimp.

Step 4: Finish with the reserved butter

Remove the shrimp from the grill, and brush with the reserved 1/4 cup butter mixture.

Buttery Grilled shrimp skewers on wooden tableTMB Studio

What to Serve with Grilled Shrimp

There are so many great ways to serve grilled shrimp! They work as an appetizer, light lunch or elegant dinner.

Recipe Variations

  • Grill shrimp in foil: To grill shrimp without skewers, turn this recipe into a foil packet recipe. Place the shrimp on foil, drizzle the butter over the shrimp and seal the packet tightly. Grill the packet until the shrimp are pink and cooked through.
  • Bacon-wrapped shrimp: Wrap the shrimp in bacon to make bacon-wrapped shrimp skewers.
  • Cajun shrimp: Instead of chili powder and ginger, use homemade Cajun seasoning to make Cajun shrimp.
  • Marinated grilled shrimp: Skip the seasoned butter and use a grilled shrimp marinade. You don’t have to get fancy with the marinade, either. Our easy shrimp kabobs recipe uses Italian salad dressing.

How long does grilled shrimp last?

Grilled shrimp lasts about three days when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can reheat shrimp for a few seconds in a medium-hot skillet, or enjoy them cold on your favorite salad. Leftover shrimp are also great chopped up and used in a shrimp quesadilla.

Grilled Shrimp Tips

Buttery Grilled Shrimp served with rice and lemon on the sideTMB Studio

How long do you grill shrimp skewers?

Shrimp cook on the grill for three to five minutes per side, depending on their size. You’ll know when the shrimp are done cooking from several visual cues. First, look at the color. Perfectly cooked shrimp should have an opaque pinkish hue with no signs of gray. You can also look at the shape. The shrimp should be curled into a nice C shape. Overcooked shrimp curl tightly into an O shape.

Do you need to soak wooden skewers when making grilled shrimp?

Yes, you’ll always want to soak wooden skewers. Soaking them in water for at least 30 minutes reduces their chance of catching on fire. Metal skewers don’t need to be soaked in water.

How do you avoid rubbery shrimp?

You can avoid rubbery shrimp by not overcooking them. Cook the shrimp over direct heat on the grill, and remove them from the heat source as soon as the flesh is uniformly pink.

Should you use a grilled shrimp marinade?

We don’t use a marinade in this grilled shrimp recipe. Instead, we infuse spices into melted butter and brush it on the shrimp as they cook. If you prefer to use a marinade, you’ll need about 1/2 cup marinade per pound of shrimp. Just make sure not to marinate shrimp too long. Shrimp can absorb the marinade’s flavor in 15 to 30 minutes. Two hours, tops. Any longer, and the acids in the marinade will make the shrimp mushy.

Should you grill shrimp with the shell on or off?

We recommend peeling shrimp before cooking them on the grill. Peeled shrimp are better at absorbing flavor, both from the grill’s smoky essence and the seasoning or marinade. Plus, they’re easier to eat! You can leave the tails on or remove them—it’s a matter of preference.

Watch how to Make Buttery Grilled Shrimp

Grilled Shrimp

Prep Time 25 min
Yield 8 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds uncooked shrimp (16-20 per pound), peeled and deveined

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients; set aside 1/4 cup. Thread shrimp onto 8 metal or soaked wooden skewers.
  2. Grill shrimp, covered, over medium heat 3-5 minutes on each side or until shrimp turn pink, basting occasionally with butter mixture. Remove from grill; brush with reserved butter mixture.

Nutrition Facts

1 skewer: 201 calories, 13g fat (8g saturated fat), 168mg cholesterol, 295mg sodium, 2g carbohydrate (0 sugars, 0 fiber), 19g protein.

This grilled shrimp recipe is easy and delicious! These shrimp are great with steak, but for a special occasion, brush the sauce on lobster tails and grill. —Sheryl Shenberger, Albuquerque, New Mexico