These are the most delicious Grilled Shrimp Skewers featuring a spicy marinade and garlic herb butter. You can have these shrimp kabobs ready to eat from start to finish in less than 30 minutes. Succulent shrimp are threaded onto skewers, grilled to juicy perfection, and slathered with a generous drizzle of creamy garlic butter. With every bite, you’ll be treated to a delightful blend of smoky grilled goodness and the irresistible flavors of buttery garlic, creating a taste sensation that will leave you craving more.
Grilled shrimp are so dang good when you do them right and the trick to getting these done right is to soak shrimp in a brine for moisture, marinate them for just a short bit to add spice and flavor, and then pop the marinated shrimp on and off the outdoor grill quickly so that they don’t overcook! Marinating shrimp too long and/or overcooking them makes tough and chewy and there’s a world of difference between perfectly grilled shrimp and the overdone version!
If tender and juicy shrimp is what you’re after, this recipe takes just a few minutes of prep and provides a huge burst of flavor.
We love to grill some shrimp kabobs alongside a copycat Chipotle steak or our absolutely insane Tomahawk Steak (BBQ recipe) Our favorites sides include Amish potato salad, grilled artichokes, Amish macaroni salad, or our old school vintage artichoke rice salad.
- Raw shrimp: The main protein source and star ingredient of the dish. Since shrimp cook so quickly, we want to start with raw shrimp. I like using jumbo shrimp that are already peeled and deveined, but “easy-peel” shrimp really do peel quickly and sometimes they are more cost effective.
- Lemons: Used for both flavoring and garnishing. Fresh lemon juice in the marinade adds a tangy and refreshing element and you can also squeeze over the top for a final flavor burst. Lemon zest is added to the butter garlic sauce for zesty flavor.
- Black pepper: Adds a subtle kick of heat and enhances the overall flavor profile of the shrimp.
- Cayenne: Provides a spicy kick to the dish. Adjust the amount based on personal preference and desired level of heat.
- Chili powder: Adds a smoky flavor and mild heat to the shrimp skewers, contributing to a well-rounded flavor profile.
- Kosher salt or sea salt: Enhances the natural flavors of the shrimp and helps to balance the other seasonings. A quick salt brine can also aide in adding moisture.
- Olive oil: Used for marinating the shrimp, adding moisture, and preventing sticking during grilling. Vegetable oil will also work.
- Garlic cloves: Adds a rich and aromatic flavor to the garlic butter sauce, enhancing the overall savory profile.
- Butter: Forms the base of the garlic butter sauce, providing a creamy and indulgent element that pairs perfectly with the grilled shrimp.
- Fresh parsley, chopped: Fresh herbs give a vibrant pop of color to the finished skewers. If you’d like to add some herb flavor, fresh basil and fresh cilantro would also complement the shrimp.
For a full list of ingredients and their measurements, 📋 please view my printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
If you’re using bamboo skewers, it can help to soak them in water to reduce the likelihood they’ll catch fire when on the grill. Metal skewers make this easy grilled shrimp recipe even faster to throw together.
Substitutions and Variations
- Add Veggies: Skewer up the shrimp with red onion, bell peppers, and mushrooms for healthy veggie shrimp kabobs! You can also use the same marinade on a bunch of vegetables and make vegetable skewers at the same time.
- Spicy Cajun Kick: Substitute red pepper flakes or cajun seasoning for the cayenne pepper and/or chili powder in the recipe. You can also sprinkle your shrimp with Cajun seasoning before grilling, adding a spicy and flavorful kick. Serve with a zesty remoulade sauce for dipping.
- Tropical Fusion: Marinate the shrimp in a mixture of lime juice, coconut milk, and crushed ginger or ginger paste. Thread the shrimp onto skewers along with chunks of pineapple, bell peppers, and red onions for a tropical flair.
- Mediterranean Delight: Season the shrimp with a blend of dried oregano, garlic powder, and lemon zest. Alternate them on skewers with cherry tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese. Serve with a tangy tzatziki sauce on the side.
- Asian Inspiration: Create an Asian-inspired marinade by combining soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, minced garlic, and grated ginger. Grill the shrimp skewers and serve with a drizzle of sriracha mayo and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
- Teriyaki Twist: Marinate the shrimp in a homemade teriyaki sauce or your favorite store-bought version. Grill the skewers and brush them with additional teriyaki sauce for a glossy glaze. Serve with steamed rice and grilled pineapple chunks. You can use our favorite sauce recipe from our teriyaki steak bites recipe.
PREP: Soak bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes, if desired.
Step 1: Peel and devein shrimp, if needed. Place shrimp in a large bowl and cover with 1 quart of cold water. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt (coarse salt) to the water and stir. Leave shrimp to soak in the brine for 15 minutes while mixing marinade ingredients.
Step 2: Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper, cayenne, chili powder, and two minced garlic cloves to make shrimp marinade. Remove shrimp from brine and place in bowl with marinade. Alternately, you can thread shrimp on skewers and then drizzle with the marinade. I like to skewer shrimp if I’m prepping things earlier in the day. Then I can add the marinade when I am heating the grill.
Step 3: Begin heating the grill to medium-high heat, 400-450°F. In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, lemon zest, minced garlic, and parsley. Set the garlic butter sauce and a basting brush near the grill.
Step 4: After the grill is hot and the shrimp have marinated about 15 minutes, pop the shrimp kabobs onto the grill. Cook for 1-2 minutes on the first side. As soon as it begins to turn pink, flip the shrimp skewers. Baste the partially cooked side with the garlic butter sauce. Flip the skewers again and baste on the other side. Flip one final time so that the grill can sear each basted side – the char on the garlic and butter really takes the flavor to another level. Shrimp should be grilled no more than 5-7 minutes TOTAL (generally 2-3 minutes on each side). It’s a quick process.
GARNISH/SLICE/SERVE: Eat the shrimp skewers straight off the grill or put them over a salad or pasta dish. These are delicious as a substitute for the chicken in our grilled chicken alfredo recipe.
You can typically buy raw shrimp in the meat department of the grocery store. Choose large shrimp that are already peeled and deveined. Sometimes, you can even find them pre-skewered. If they are already on skewers, there’s no need to remove them to marinade; just marinate them right on the skewers. If you need to thread them up, go ahead and marinate the shrimp loose while simultaneously soaking wooden skewers in water.
Soaking the skewers in water will help to keep them from catching fire when they are on the grill.
A salt bath, like we do here, is not mandatory, but once you’ve tried it, you’ll notice that it makes a huge difference in the moistness and juiciness of your cooked shrimp. It’s an easy step and well worth the (very small) effort. Use kosher salt, which has a very large salt granule. If using table salt, I would use just one teaspoon per quart of water.
Be cautious not to baste with garlic butter sauce that had contact with raw shrimp to prevent any food safety concerns. To be safe, finish basting the grilled shrimp skewers and give them a final minute to cooke on each side.
Don’t walk away: Shrimp cook quickly, so keep a close eye on them during grilling. Since you will start basting them with the butter mixture shortly after starting them on the grill, this will be a pretty hands on grill recipe. Shrimp can become overcooked and dry within minutes, so stay near the grill and flip them promptly to ensure they’re perfectly cooked.
If you don’t have skewers, use a grill basket specifically designed for seafood. This makes it easier to flip the shrimp and prevents them from falling through the grill grates.
Leftover shrimp kebabs can be removed from the skewers and stored in an airtight container or plastic bag. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. These tender shrimp make excellent shrimp tacos the next day.
If you try these Grilled Shrimp Skewers or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you liked it in the 📝 comments below.
Grilled Shrimp Skewers
- 1 pound raw shrimp
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt or coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves minced, divided
- 2 teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ cup butter
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley chopped
- Zest two lemons and set aside for basting butter. Squeeze the juice from the zested lemons to use in the marinade.
- Peel and devein shrimp, if needed. Combine 1 quart of water and 1 tablespoon of coarse salt in a large bowl. Add shrimp and allow to soak in the brine for 15 minutes. Rinse with clean water and drain shrimp.
- Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper, cayenne, chili powder, salt, and two garlic cloves to make marinade.
- Toss shrimp with marinade. The shrimp only need to marinate for 10-15 minutes, just long enough to heat the grill.
- Soak skewers in water while shrimp are marinating.
- Turn on the grill and heat to medium-high, about 400-450°F.
- Melt butter and mix with remaining minced garlic clove, the zest of 1-2 lemons, and fresh parsley.
- Skewer shrimp and place on grill.
- Grill shrimp skewers 2 minutes on each side.
- As soon as shrimp begin turning pink and opaque, baste them on each side with the melted butter mixture.
- Remove shrimp from the grill and eat!