Shrimp is an obvious choice for the grill—it’s versatile and requires minimal effort, so it's easy to prepare as an appetizer or main dish. But cooking up tender, juicy shrimp on the grill can be tricky, since they overcook so quickly; they can go from snappy to rubbery in a matter of seconds.
For the absolutely best grilled shrimp, you'll want to follow our tips: marinate them briefly in a mixture of salt, sugar, and baking soda, thread them closely together on a skewer, let them air dry in the fridge for a little bit, oil them up thoroughly, then cook them fast and hot. The salt helps the shrimp retain moisture, the baking soda keeps them snappy, the sugar helps with browning, threading them on skewers makes them easy to flip and keeps them from overcooking, and the brief air drying means their surfaces will brown very quickly on the hot grill grates.
To get you started, we’ve put together seven of our favorite grilled shrimp recipes, from a simple preparation with garlic and lemon to a version topped with sriracha mayo and stuffed into steamed buns. There are, of course, other ways to grill shrimp—shell-on, say, or with a simple marinade and no air-drying step—and while they won't produce shrimp that are quite as snappy or charred, they'll be plenty tasty.
With these delectable recipes on hand, you'll be turning out grilled shrimp like a pro all summer long.
Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Garlic and Lemon
For a simple preparation that really brings out their flavor, we brush shrimp in a mixture of garlic, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and parsley leaves before grilling, and then toss them in the same mixture again before serving. They're perfect for munching on all by themselves or stuffing into a taco.
Steamed Buns With Grilled Shrimp and Sriracha Mayonnaise
Grilled shrimp are great on their own, but eating a lot of them can sometimes leave you feeling over-shrimped. Switch things up by stuffing them into tender steamed buns with crunchy toppings like shredded cabbage and quick homemade pickles, and top it all off with some sriracha mayo for a convenient bundle of complementary flavors and textures.
Grilled Shrimp With Chermoula
The clean, sweet flavor of grilled shrimp pairs well with chermoula, a popular North African condiment made of fresh herbs like parsley and cilantro, earthy spices like ground cumin and cayenne pepper, and acidic and bright preserved lemon. Pulse everything together with olive oil in a food processor, and then drizzle it over your plump, juicy shrimp.
Chili-Lime-Brandy Grilled Shrimp
Shot of brandy with your shrimp, anyone? This recipe brings together the flavors of the spirit and Thai chiles and lime for a shrimp dish that stands out from the rest. They’re skewered, grilled, and doused in a sauce made of sugar, chiles, garlic, fish sauce, and lime juice and zest. It’s a spicy, funky shrimp dish that comes together in no time.
Vietnamese Grilled Shrimp Summer Rolls
These Vietnamese summer rolls are a light and crisp way to enjoy grilled shrimp. We start by marinating the shrimp in fish sauce, sugar, garlic, and black pepper. Once grilled, we lay them out on a softened sheet of rice paper and top with quick pickled daikon, carrot, cucumber, rice vermicelli, Bibb lettuce, cilantro, and mint. Wrap up the rolls and serve them with peanut-tamarind dipping sauce for optimal enjoyment!
Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp
For tender and juicy grilled shrimp that require almost no effort, we like to grill them with the shells on—the shells prevent the shrimp from overcooking by acting as a temperature buffer. Before they hit the grill, we marinate them in a mixture of lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and a splash of fish sauce, plus chile flakes for a kick of heat. Since most of the flavor is on the shell, don’t be afraid to take a nice big bite with the shells on, and please do suck on the shrimp heads.
Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno and Cheese-Stuffed Shrimp
Not only are these shrimp wrapped in bacon, they’re stuffed—with jalapeño and Monterey Jack cheese—and seasoned with garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper. Slicing, stuffing, and wrapping the shrimp is a bit time consuming, but it's a high effort, high reward kind of dish that'll surely be a hit at your next cookout.