Here's why you need to learn how to grill shrimp: This affordable crustacean is the fastest-cooking protein you can throw on the grill, it feels fancy but is fast enough for a weeknight, and it can do double duty as either an appetizer that cooks while the main grilled event rests or as the main event itself. Plus, shrimp takes readily to a host of flavors, including the smoky ones that we know and love from the grill.
It does require some consideration before it goes on the grill. Namely, how does one keep the shrimp from falling into the grill or overcooking and becoming tough and dry over the hot heat? The answer is skewers and yogurt, my friends. Curious? Let's light up the grill and literally put shrimp on the barbie (had to, sorry).
The Best Shrimp for Grilling
Large shrimp are best for grilling, as their size aids in preparing them for the grill and from falling through the grates or overcooking. "Large" can be anywhere from U/10 (which means there are under 10 shrimp in a pound so, they're pretty jumbo) but I tend to find 20/25 shrimp per pound to be the most readily available at most grocery stores.
Buy shell-on, tail-on shrimp and peel them yourself; they're usually cheaper and taste better. I always keep frozen shrimp on hand for quick meals, but if you can get fresh, local shrimp, seize the day and grill them.
Read more: How Does Shrimp Sizing Work?
How to Thaw Frozen Shrimp
Thaw frozen shrimp in the refrigerator overnight or under cool running water in a colander for about an hour. Rinse and drain the shrimp in the colander and dry thoroughly before prepping for cooking.
How to Prep Shrimp for the Grill
Once you've got thawed shrimp you need to remove the shell — tail and all — and skewer it. There are couple of methods for peeling and deveining, but I find a pair of sharp kitchen shears the best tool for the job. If you run the blade through the top of the shell you can open up the shell and remove most of the vein at once.
Flavoring Shrimp for the Grill
Full-fat yogurt is the secret ingredient for flavorful grilled shrimp. The acidity of the yogurt gently tenderizes the shrimp before grilling and is an efficient vehicle for seasoning it with fresh herbs, garlic, and lemon juice. On the grill, the fat from the yogurt protects the shrimp from drying out.
Next step: skewering. Running a skewer or two through your shrimp keeps them from falling into the flames of the grill, makes them easier to flip and remove. Either metal or wooden skewers can be used, but be sure to soak wooden skewers for two hours (or overnight) before grilling.
Read more: How To Peel & Devein Shrimp
How to Grill Shrimp
Once you've prepped, flavored, and skewered your shrimp, it's time to grill. Shrimp should be grilled hot and fast, so set your grill up for high, direct heat and be ready to cook the shrimp for just a few minutes on each side. The shrimp are ready to flip when the underside is just beginning to turn pink.
How To Grill Juicy, Flavorful Shrimp
What You Need
1 cup plain full-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 large fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds large (20 to 25 per pound) shrimp, thawed if frozen and peeled and deveined
Metal or wooden skewers
Gas or charcoal grill
Plate or baking sheet
- Soak the skewers: If using wooden skewers, soak in water while preparing the shrimp.
- Make the marinade: Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and mint in a large bowl.
- Marinade the shrimp: Add the shrimp to the yogurt mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the grill.
- Prepare the grill for direct heat: Heat half of the burners of a gas grill to high or prepare a chimney's worth of lump charcoal for a charcoal grill. Make sure that the grill grates are clean and debris-free. Preheat the gas grill for at least 10 minutes.
- Skewer the shrimp: Thread the shrimp onto the skewers, leaving any yogurt that clings to the shrimp. Skewer through the thickest part of each shrimp, arranging 6 to 8 shrimp per skewer. Place on a large plate or baking sheet.
- Grill the shrimp: Grill the shrimp over direct heat for about 2 minutes per side, flipping as soon as the first side begins to turn pink along the edges. Cook until the shrimp are opaque and slightly charred.
- Make ahead: Shrimp can be marinated and skewered up to 8 hours in advance.
- Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.