Grilled Shrimp Skewers Recipe

Light, bright, herb-marinated Grilled Shrimp Skewers transform a weeknight dinner into something worth celebrating with almost no effort at all. After the marinade works its magic, just skewer the shrimp and turn on the grill.

Skewered anything is absolutely perfect with lemon rice pilaf or green rice (Arroz Verde) and farro salad with peas and feta for a glorious summer meal. Then throw the leftover shrimp in orzo salad for lunch the next day.

Grilled shrimp skewers in a white tray.
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This recipe is the reason that there is always a 2-pound bag of shrimp in my freezer at any given time. These easy shrimp kebabs turn out fantastic on the grill or even under the broiler if you’re out of coals. Whenever there’s shrimp for dinner, the night just feels a whole lot more like a celebration.

In my opinion, the fresh herby marinade is what makes the recipe. You can easily make the marinade ahead, too. With fresh garlic, a little lemon juice, and mustard for brightness, it’s simple and delicious with shrimp.

For the best results, use raw shrimp, which are so tender and juicy on the grill. Using pre-cooked shrimp overcooks the kebabs, and makes rubbery, tough shrimp. That’s not what you want here. (If you already bought pre-cooked shrimp, bookmark this recipe and try this Shrimp Salad recipe or Seafood Pasta Salad instead.)

Planning a huge shindig and need shrimp skewers for all your friends? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.

What you need to make this recipe:

Not everything–just the ingredients that you may not have on hand. See the recipe card below for the whole kit and caboodle. 

  • Jumbo shrimp. Raw, with the tails still on.
  • Fresh herbs, and lots of ’em. Basil and parsley is what the recipe calls for. But you can use mint, cilantro, or just extra parsley.
  • Two mustards. I use a good whole grain Dijon mustard and a little dried mustard for extra kick. If you don’t have the dried mustard, that’s okay. Just add a bit more mustard.
  • Skewers. It’s in the name, but just in case you need reminding–pick some up at the store. (If you fall in love with this recipe as much as I have, you might invest in a set of stainless steel skewers, which don’t need an advance soak. They wash easily in the dishwasher and can be used over and over. Some cooks like them because they’re splinter-free, too.)
    Grilled shrimp skewer ingredients in various bowls.

Before you start, clean the shrimp:

Here’s an easy hack for cleaning, deveining, and peeling shrimp; all you need is a pair of kitchen shears or a sharp paring knife. Work with one shrimp at a time; once you get the hang of it, the work goes quickly.

  1. To start, use the knife (or shears) to make a shallow slice (or snip) right through the shell on the shrimp’s back, from its head to its tail. (I usually start at the fattest part of the shrimp and cut towards the tail.)
  2. That slice will expose the gray or green “vein” that you can gently pull out and discard.
    Someone cleaning the vein out of a shrimp.
  3. If you need to peel the shrimp (some shrimp comes already shelled for you) simply grab the shrimp by its tail and break off the shell. It should come away from the shrimp without much of a fight.

How to make Grilled Shrimp Skewers:

  1. First, blend up the garlic/herb/mustard marinade. I use a food processor or blender to make short work of prep. Pour the marinade over the raw shrimp, but be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to get every last bit of the good stuff.
    Garlic, herb and mustard marinade ingredients in a blender.
  2. You can use a zip-top bag or a shallow glass casserole for marinating shrimp. Let the flavors in the marinade work their magic for about an hour before you plan on cooking.
    Raw shrimp in the dressing for grilled shrimp skewers.
  3. Grilling shrimp without skewers may be more trouble than it’s worth, as anyone who has sacrificed too many prawns to the fire can tell you. The skewers are extremely handy for keeping those precious shrimp on the right side of the grate. But they make flipping easier, too.If you’re using wood or bamboo skewers, though, they’ll need to be soaked in water beforehand.  Soaking prevents the wood from catching on fire during grilling.When the skewers have been soaked in water for about thirty minutes, stick 5 or 6 shrimp evenly onto each skewer while the grill heats up. Preheat your grill to 350-450 degrees and set it up for direct cooking. Then it’s time to throw them on the barby.
    Uncooked grilled shrimp skewers on a white platter.

Cooking times for shrimp skewers on the grill:

Shrimp cook super fast, in just 3 to 6 minutes (depending on the size of the shrimp). This is true whether you’re using a gas grill, a charcoal grill, the broiler, or a grill pan on the stove.

Once your grill of choice is ready and roaring, grill the shrimp over direct, medium heat, turning the shrimp halfway through the process. The outside of the shrimp turn a bright pink color when cooked, while the meat inside should be white and opaque.

Depending the size of the shrimp you use, this could take more or less time, so keep an eye on things. It happens faster than you might think!

Tips for making the most mouthwatering shrimp kebabs ever:

  • Use raw shrimp. Pre-cooked shrimp will turn tough and rubbery when cooked again, then you won’t like this recipe as much as you should.
  • What size shrimp do you buy? Size matters, here! I look for “jumbo” size shrimp, which are 16-20 per pound. You can go smaller (or larger) if you need to, though, and the recipe will still be delicious.
  • Basil substitutions. Out of season, fresh basil is hard to find or crazy expensive for even a small amount. In that case, use an equal amount of fresh mint, cilantro, or just extra parsley. All the fresh green herbs work when it comes to shrimp marinade.
  • Grilled Shrimp Skewers with vegetables. Shrimp cook fast on the grill– much faster than a vegetable. No one wants a dried out, rubbery shrimp alongside a raw chunk of onion on the plate. Solution? Get the best of both worlds by making all-veggie kebabs on separate skewers and get them cooking before you start the shrimp. That way you’ve got perfectly cooked tender vegetables with just the right amount of char, and luscious shrimp that aren’t tough from being overdone.
  • Soak your skewers. Wooden and bamboo skewers are famous for catching on fire over the coals. Before you assemble the skewers, soak them standing up in a tall glass of water for about half an hour. This will keep them from burning.
  • Make ahead marinated shrimp. You can get the marinade made the day before and let the shrimp marinate overnight. There’s only a small amount of lemon juice (acid) in the marinade, but if you’re worried about cooking the shrimp, add the lemon juice later, an hour or so before cooking.
    Grilled shrimp skewers in a white tray.

A delicious variation: Grilled Shrimp Skewers with pineapple

Sometimes I skewer thin slivers of fresh pineapple with the marinated shrimp for a sweet twist on this recipe. Plunk some tortillas right onto the grill and make tacos with creamy Avocado Sauce.

Or serve them over rice stick noodles with cucumber slices, scallions,  bean sprouts, and extra green herbs for one amazing summery supper. Make my Vietnamese dressing/dipping sauce Nuoc Cham to pour over the noodles– I promise you you’ll love it!

What to serve with grilled shrimp?

Almost everything! Here are some of my favorite suggestions.

Great side dishes:

Add to your skewers:

Grilled shrimp skewers in a white tray.

Grilled Shrimp Skewers Recipe

Light, bright, herb-marinated Grilled Shrimp Skewers transform a weeknight dinner into something worth celebrating with almost no effort at all. After the marinade works its magic, just skewer the shrimp and turn on the grill.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 21 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 269kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

For the shrimp:

  • 8-12 10-inch bamboo skewers soaked for at least 30 minutes or preferably overnight
  • 2 pounds jumbo shrimp raw with tails on (16 to 20 per pound)

For the marinade:

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • This is a great time to soak your bamboo skewers if you haven't already done so.

To clean the shrimp:

  • If shrimp are still in the shell, use a sharp scissors and cut along the middle back of each shrimp, leaving the tail intact. Using a sharp paring knife, cut along the dark vein on the back of each shrimp and remove it. Rinse out the back of each shrimp and pat dry with paper towels.

To make the marinade:

  • In a food processor or blender, combine onion, olive oil, basil, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, Dijon, dry mustard, and salt and pepper to taste (I like 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper). Process until smooth. Pour into a zipper-top plastic bag.
  • Add cleaned shrimp and toss to coat. Cover and marinade for 1 hour at room temperature or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.

To use a charcoal grill:

  • Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly half of the grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
  • Clean and oil cooking grate. Add 5 or 6 shrimp per skewer. Grill the shrimp for 2 minutes on each side. 

To use a gas grill:

  • Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 10 to 15 minutes. 
  • Clean and oil cooking grate. Add 5 or 6 shrimp per skewer. Grill the shrimp for 2 minutes on each side. 

To broil the shrimp:

  • Preheat broiler over high heat. Place skewers 3 inches from the broiler and cook 2 minutes per side.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 269kcal
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  1. Aimee Sheehan

    Hi Meggan,
    To be able to do these ahead I am using to use already boiled shrimp. I will marinate as per your recipe but am wondering about time on the grill. I will use the grill on top of my gas stove. Any tips?
    Aimee
    Austin, Texas

    1. meggan

      Hi Aimee, if you’re using pre-cooked shrimp, you basically just need to grill them until they are heated through. I imagine it would take just a couple of minutes, 1-2 minutes on each side. I hope this is helpful! Thank you! -Meggan

  2. Mike Getz

    If you marinade the shrimp for two days in the frig, won’t that basically cook the shrimp because of the lemon juice?

    1. meggan

      Hi Mike, I don’t think 2 tablespoons of lemon juice is enough to make ceviche out of 2 pounds of shrimp. But this is definitely a really good point and I’m going to test it more (chances are some of the shrimp would be affected). I should probably take out that part about 2 days, for now, until I can give a better answer. Thanks for pointing that out! -Meggan

  3. Gerardo Madrigal

    Hi, how much salt and pepper should I use?5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Gerardo, sorry for the confusion! The amounts are listed in the first instruction: “In a food processor or blender, combine onion, olive oil, basil, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, Dijon, dry mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Process until smooth. Pour into a zipper-top plastic bag.” But you can adjust the amount as you see fit. Good luck! Thanks for your question! -Meggan

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