There are many ways to prepare grilled shrimp, and so there are a few answers to the question of “What is the best way to grill shrimp?” It is all a matter of your personal tastes and preferences as to what seasonings, sauces, and spices you use, but for the most part it is relatively easy to do and not any more difficult than grilling hot dogs or chicken.
The most important thing to do is to prepare your shrimp for cooking on the grill. If you have fresh shrimp, one of the first questions many ask is “should you leave shell on when grilling shrimp?” It’s a long debated question and depending on who you are talking to you will get many different answers. The argument for leaving the shell on is that it will prevent the meat from drying out and losing the tender juices. The argument for taking it off? You are marinating the meat directly and it is also a lot easier to manage if using skewers.
In short, if you’re worried about if you should leave the shell on or take it off, it’s really all up to you. Try it both ways and see what you like to do the best. We’re not about to get into any arguments with anyone about it 🙂 If you’ve bought shrimp that doesn’t have the shell on it already, you don’t even have to worry about this! If you do decide to leave the shell on, you will want to make just a tiny little slit in it to allow for ventilation.
When grilling shrimp, the main concern is that shrimp are pretty small and the grates on your grill are just big enough for most sized shrimp to accidentally fall through. There are two different possible solutions to getting around this and making sure your seafood doesn’t end up at the bottom of your grill but in your tummy!
The first solution is skewers. Skewers are relatively easy to use and have a nice presentation about them if you are entertaining and serving company and guests. You can get wooden or metal skewers that you can use. If you are using wooden skewers, you will always want to make sure that you let them soak in water for at least 1 hour or more before grilling – this will keep them from catching on fire.
Skewing the shrimp can be somewhat of a challenge for some people. (Skewing anything puts you at risk for stabbing yourself if you are not careful – I’ve been injured trying to put fruit on them!) Always watch what you are doing when you are poking the skewers through to make sure you don’t accidentally stab yourself! Don’t be tempted to look up at someone you are talking to while preparing it on the skewers – that is how most accidents happen! (Preparing skewers is not really that dangerous of a thing to do – but if you are new to cooking and grilling like I once was I am just trying to save you the grief and embarrassment of screaming “Oooowwwww!” while you are just trying to make dinner.)
If you don’t want to deal with skewers or maybe you’ve tried them and decided you would rather do it another way, then investing in a basket for grilling shrimp may be the perfect alternative for you. This shrimp basket is an example of one that can be used, though there are many different styles, shapes, and sizes available. You will ideally want one that doesn’t have large gaps and will work also for cut up vegetables, since this not only will increase your chances of shrimp not falling out, but you’ll also be able to use it for grilling just about anything else you’ll ever think of to cook on your grill.
When cooking in a basket on the grill, you’ll want to lightly spray the basket with a non stick cooking spray. A lot of baskets claim to be non stick but they usually will, and so spraying it lightly will help prevent you from having your shrimp stuck to the basket.
So now that we’ve gotten the basics of the two ways to grill shrimp (and really there is no “best way” – some people like skewers, others don’t – some leave the shells on, some don’t) we’re ready to think about grilling and the different ways that shrimp can be prepared and flavored. You can start with the most basic of butter marinades that we listed for our grilled lobster tail recipe. Simply brush it on before and during grilling. (Be careful and watch for flare ups however – the dripping butter can cause flames to shoot up!)
Grilling shrimp only takes a few minutes. If you are wondering how long you should grill shrimp for, you should plan on grilling large jumbo sized shrimp for about 5-7 minutes total, smaller shrimp will be cooked in less time. After the initial 2-3 minutes you may want to turn the skewers or flip the basket over to ensure that it does not burn on one side. You will know how many minutes to grill shrimp if you look at the pieces and notice that the translucency is starting to fade away. Once they are done, remove the shrimp from the grill and serve and enjoy!
Stay tuned, now that you know the best way to grill shrimp – we’ll be posting some of our favorite grilled shrimp recipes for you to enjoy soon 🙂