6 Easy Tips to Prepare the Perfect Grilled Shrimp Skewers
Is there anything more appetizing than a backyard cookout on a Sunday afternoon?
In a poll of 16,000 Americans, burgers, hotdogs, and ribs are the top three most popular foods to cook. But what if you want to think about the box? To spice things up, consider adding some delicious grilled shrimp skewers to your menu.
This delectable dish is easy, fast, and always makes an impression. Here’s how to grill shrimp skewers to perfection at your next get-together!
Why Grill Shrimp Skewers?
Pull out your grilled shrimp recipe for a party dish that always leaves your guests wanting more. But why should you add them to your regular grill menu? Consider the following reasons:
- Fast – Shrimp is designed for quick grilling. Each side requires as little as two minutes to prepare.
- Delicious – This seafood favorite is full of flavor, with a semi-sweet and salty taste. Add your own seasoning to experiment with different flavor profiles.
- Customizable – Shrimp are ideal for exploring different taste combinations. Whether adding garlic to shrimp skewers or preparing a spicy grilled shrimp marinade to wow the tastebuds, the possibilities are endless!
Did you also know that shrimp are incredibly healthy? Grilling maintains more beneficial vitamins and minerals than other cooking mediums. According to Healthline, shrimp is an excellent source of choline, selenium, vitamin B12, and antioxidants. It’s also high in protein and low in fat and carbs.
How to Prepare Shrimp for Grilling
Preparing shrimp for grilling takes only a few minutes if you’re grilling without marinade. Some people prefer classic shrimp, brushed with a little sauce or a sprinkle of salt and lemon. It’s entirely up to you how you grill them.
Begin by thawing your shrimp. Leave them out overnight if you’re storing them in your freezer.
Take out as many shrimps as you need. Grilled shrimp skewers work with both the shell on or off. Some grill masters swear by grilling shrimp with the shell on because they believe it keeps them moist and stops them from drying out when exposed to heat. However, peeled shrimp are just as good and don’t require the grunt work to eat them when they’re done.
Some grillers prefer to remove the head and leave the tail on for presentation purposes. Whether you remove it is entirely up to you.
Wash your shrimp with some cold water. Never use hot water because you don’t want to accidentally cook your shrimp. These crustaceans are small and sensitive, so they don’t take long to cook.
Which Type of Shrimp Works Best for Grilling?
The general rule of thumb is that jumbo or colossal-sized shrimp are ideal for grilling to stop them from falling through the grate. You also want to make sure there’s enough meat on your skewers to fill up your guests.
Additionally, there are also several types of shrimp to choose from. Most grill masters will pick between the three wild American varieties. Let’s discuss their differences:
- White Shrimp – These shrimp are found in estuaries and brackish waters. Chefs specializing in Southern cooking prefer these shrimps for their mild flavor and versatility.
- Brown Shrimp – Brown shrimp are found in the South Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico because of the nutrient-rich waters they are attracted to. Many people in the Northeast prefer brown shrimp because of its fuller flavor.
- Pink Shrimp – Pink shrimp are harvested primarily off the coast of Florida. Lovers of pink shrimp favor their sweetness and soft texture.
All three types of shrimp can be sourced from indoor fisheries, with the primary harvesting season from May until the end of December. Wild-sourced shrimp are harvested year-round and frozen to preserve their freshness.
Look for domestically sourced shrimp, as imported shrimp tends to travel poorly, with overseas varieties drying out faster than quality-controlled domestic varieties.
Prepare Your Marinade
Marinating your shrimp couldn’t be simpler. First, make sure your shrimp has been fully thawed. If it still has a frozen coating, it won’t absorb the marinade as you expect.
Select your marinade ingredients and add them to a bowl. Mix them until you have a smooth liquid. Once you’re satisfied with your shrimp marinade for grilling, add it to a container or a bag. Ziploc bags or mason jars work equally well for this.
Add your shrimp and toss until all of your shrimp are well-coated. Allow it to soak for anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours.
Regardless of your choice of marinade for your latest grilled shrimp kabob recipe, the marinade process always stays the same. Let’s run through some marinade ideas for your skewers.
6 Marinade Ideas for Your Grilled Shrimp Skewers
Add a bit of grilled shrimp seasoning to add a little pizazz and satisfy the tastes of your guests. Novices often think that lemon garlic shrimp marinade is one of their only options, but shrimp can accommodate a range of marinade flavors.
Here are six great ideas for marinading your shrimp:
- Lemon Garlic Marinade – Start with lemon juice and take some zest from the peel. Add olive oil, mince a small amount of garlic, and season with salt and pepper for this classic marinade.
- Chili Lime Marinade – Add a kick to your shrimp skewers with lime juice, zest, and olive oil. Include a small dose of chili powder and paprika before finishing off with salt and pepper. You can always add more chili and paprika to up the heat.
- Sweet and Spicy Marinade – Bring an Asian-inspired flavor to your cookout with soy sauce, olive oil, honey, lemon juice, minced garlic, and hot sauce, and finish it with some ground black pepper.
- Honey Mustard Marinade – If you love the taste of honey mustard, start with some authentic Dijon mustard and mix it with honey, olive oil, whole grain mustard, and garlic cloves. Include a pinch of salt and pepper for seasoning.
- Barbecue Marinade – If you’re concerned about nutrition, use a low-sugar barbecue sauce and food-grade white vinegar as the base of this simple marinade. Sprinkle in some chili powder to give your marinade a distinctive kick.
- Basil Balsamic Marinade – Grab some dried basil and garlic cloves to create this marinade. Add them to a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Again, a sprinkle of salt and pepper completes this marinade.
These are just a selection of tasty marinades you can work with. Feel free to create more than one to offer your guests some variation. It’s an opportunity to test out flavor combinations you may have never thought of.
Preheat Your Grill
Once you’ve prepared your marinade, you need to preheat your grill. Always opt for medium heat.
As previously noted, shrimp are designed to cook quickly. Cooking for even an extra minute can leave them tough and tasteless. With shrimp, it’s always better to have your grill slightly too cold than hot.
Your grill is ready if you can comfortably hold your hand one inch above the grill for four seconds.
Note that for smaller shrimp, consider decreasing your grill temperature slightly. Smaller shrimp are more vulnerable to heat and cook faster than their larger cousins.
How to Grill Shrimp Skewers
Most of the work involved in grilling shrimp is the preparation of the marinade. Once you’re ready to start grilling, all you need to do is skewer and cook.
Wood and metal skewers work equally well for grilling shrimp. However, if this dish is a regular feature of your cookouts, use metal skewers to reuse them indefinitely. Wood skewers are a one-time deal; you’ll need to soak them in water before using them.
Purchase flat skewers instead of round ones to avoid your shrimp rotating around the skewer when you flip them.
Thread the shrimp onto the skewers and place them on the preheated grill. Quick check. Do you know how long to grill your shrimp? It takes two to three minutes on each side, not a minute longer. Never take your eyes off grilling shrimp because you have so little room for error.
Once both sides have been cooked thoroughly, you should see that your shrimp have changed from translucent to opaque. If they’re covered in a thick coating of marinade, time each side as it cooks. Don’t be afraid to remove the shrimp a few seconds early to avoid overcooking.
Tips to Grill the Perfect Shrimp Skewers
Grilled shrimp skewers are a notoriously simple dish to cook. On the other hand, shrimp skewers offer little room for error. Take them off too quickly, and you risk eating undercooked shrimp. Leave them on the grill for too long, and you’re left with a tough, tasteless mess.
Follow these six tips to create a shrimp skewer dish everyone will remember.
1. Check for Freshness
Regardless of where you source your shrimp, it’s vital to check that it is fresh before grilling. Shrimp can lose their freshness even if they have been frozen.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), your shrimp should be translucent and their flesh shiny when thawed. You will also notice a light smell of saltwater. If your shrimp smell extremely fishy or like rotten eggs, they are unsafe to eat.
Shrimp that smells like gasoline or chlorine are also dangerous to eat. These smells indicate they have been exposed to potential toxins after being caught, frozen, or thawed.
Sometimes, your shrimp may smell like iodine. The scent originates from the plankton shrimp like to eat, so it’s normal for wild-caught shrimp to emit this smell after being thawed.
2. Quick Thawing
Did you forget to remove the shrimp from the refrigerator?
Shrimp can be thawed quickly by running them under cold water for five to 10 minutes. Place them in a colander and allow the water to run. Check them every few minutes to see if they still need more thawing time.
Once thawed, remove them from the colander and pat them dry with a paper towel.
3. Avoid Marinating for Too Long
Unlike other meat and fish, shrimp are delicate and should avoid being marinated for too long. The broad range of marination for shrimp is 15 minutes to two hours.
Marinating for longer than two hours with ingredients like lemon juice can cook the shrimp without heat. Acidic ingredients can begin partially cooking your shrimp if allowed to soak for long periods.
4. Peel Your Shrimp for Better Marination
The shells outside of the shrimp act as a natural barrier to marination. Peel the shrimp first if you love a more assertive flavor from your marinade.
If you want to leave the shells on, marinade for longer. Again, only marinade shrimp for up to two hours.
Even if you peel your shrimp, you can leave the tails on without compromising flavor.
5. Try Indirectly Grilling Your Shrimp
Shrimp will be one of the fastest foods you cook on your grill. If you’re worried about accidental overcooking, try indirectly grilling your skewers.
Indirect heat gives the benefit of cooking without risking dark spots or an uneven texture on your finished shrimp.
Shrimp will lose their juiciness and become rubbery if you cook for even a minute too long. Don’t be afraid to leave the shells on to give yourself some extra wiggle room.
6. Look for Opaqueness When Grilling
The tell-tale sign of a cooked shrimp is that its color darkens and becomes opaque. The moment your shrimp are cooked, you should notice no translucent spots.
Your shrimp should also remain flat on your skewers. If they start to curl up, you’ve overcooked them.
Grill Your Shrimp Skewers to Perfection with Grillscapes
Grilled shrimp skewers are among the most delectable dishes at any backyard cookout. But you need the hardware to get the most out of your food. At Grillscapes, we specialize in grills and equipment from premium brands across the U.S.
If you want to grill the perfect shrimp, nothing but the best will suffice. Whether you’re exploring Twin Eagles or a built-in gas grill option, equip your outdoor kitchen with one of the finest grills from Grillscapes.To see our latest additions, shop for outdoor grills now!