Today, I am sharing my favorite grilled shrimp marinade recipe! It’s a tried-and-true recipe that will ensure flavor like no other.
The marinade is incredibly delicious, fresh, and balanced. It’s citrus-based, made mainly with freshly squeezed lemon juice and fresh herbs. Truly perfect for summer grilling!
The best part? It’s quick, ready in under 1 hour, including marinating time. Plus, it’s not just for skewers – you can use the zesty shrimp in rice bowls, salads, pasta, and more.
I love marinades because they impart great flavor on food, especially seafood. Today’s recipe is my all-time favorite grilled shrimp marinade recipe.
It’s got the perfect balance of freshness, acidity, flavor, and heat. I also love that this grilled shrimp marinade is quick and easy. You only need to marinate for 30 minutes and grill for about 3 minutes per side. Great for weekdays or for when you just want a simple yet flavor-packed meal!
You may also like these Grilled Greek Chicken Kabobs, Easy Lemon Marinade for Chicken, Pork Chop Marinade, or Marinated Beef Kabobs. So good! And if you’re a shrimp lover and can’t get enough, you’ve got to try my Coconut Shrimp, Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos, and Shrimp Lo Mein.
Why we love this grilled shrimp marinade:
- Great for summer grilling: Created with fresh and vibrant ingredients that are the epitome of summer!
- So PACKED with flavor it’s insane! This grilled shrimp marinade is incredibly delicious.
- Use it for grilling, pan-searing, air-frying, and more. It’s all-purpose and great for any cooking method.
- Shrimp takes very little time to absorb flavors and cooks really fast, so it’s a great option for a quick meal at home.
The BEST Shrimp Marinade
The key to this grilled shrimp marinade is its simplicity and how it brings out the natural sweetness of the shrimp. It is bursting with incredible, vibrant flavors, and it is quite simple to make, using easy-to-find ingredients.
Here’s what’s in the marinade: olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, fresh Italian parsley, honey, salt and pepper.
The combination of these ingredients creates a truly amazing dish. You get freshness, acidity, flavor, heat, and a hint of sweetness. I really enjoy the subtle spiciness of the red pepper flakes, which adds another dimension to the grilled shrimp. Seriously, it doesn’t get any better than this!
What Type of Shrimp to Use
For this grilled shrimp marinade recipe, I recommend using jumbo deveined, tail-on shrimp. You’ll have to remove part of the shell and keep the tail on.
- Jumbo: Use jumbo-sized shrimp, although extra large works too. Don’t use small or medium shrimp for grilling since they will shrink when cooked.
- Deveined: Find deveined shrimp, meaning that black line along the shrimp is already removed.
- Tail-on: When grilling shrimp, it is best to leave the tail-on so that the shrimp retains its shape. You may need to remove some of the shell, but leave the lower part of the tail attached.
- Frozen or fresh? I usually purchase frozen shrimp because it is more readily available where I live, but if you can find fresh shrimp, that is even better. Defrost before using.
- Raw or pre-cooked? Use raw shrimp. Pre-cooked shrimp will turn rubbery when marinated and cooked again on the grill. You can tell if shrimp is pre-cooked if it is orange in color. Raw shrimp is grayish in color.
The ingredients in this grilled shrimp marinade are pretty easy to find. I’d recommend using as many fresh ingredients as possible (fresh garlic, fresh herbs, fresh lemon juice) for best results. Below are a few ingredient notes. As always, quantities are listed in the recipe card down below.
- Shrimp: Jumbo-sized, deveined, and tail-on. Frozen or fresh.
- Olive oil: Carries the flavors into the shrimp. It also helps to prevent sticking when grilling.
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice plus zest: Provides brightness and the perfect amount of acidity. The zest adds a deeper layer of citrus flavor. Don’t forget to zest the lemons before squeezing.
- Minced garlic: For flavor. I’d recommend using fresh garlic.
- Fresh Italian parsley: Fresh herbs are a great way to add unique and delicious flavors to your food.
- Red pepper chili flakes: The subtle amount of heat adds another flavor dimension. Adjust amount according to your heat preference.
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper for seasoning.
- Honey: Balances out the acidity and heat with a touch of sweetness.
- For serving, I use crumbled feta cheese, more parsley, and a squeeze of lemon juice.
This grilled shrimp marinade couldn’t be any easier to make! Here’s a quick tutorial.
Step 1 | Prep shrimp
Using kitchen shears, remove the shell but leave the lower part of the tail attached to the shrimp. Rinse and pat dry.
Step 2 | Marinate shrimp
Combine all marinade ingredients (ingredients listed in recipe card down below) in a bowl and mix well until fully incorporated. Transfer to a large resealable bag. Then, add the shrimp into the marinade, ensuring everything is well coated. Seal the bag and refrigerate 30 to 45 minutes max.
Step 3 | Assemble and grill
Preheat your grill to medium heat. Assemble the shrimp into skewers. I’d recommend using metal skewers, but you may use wooden skewers too (soak them in water for 15-20 minutes prior). Grill the skewered shrimp for about 3 minutes per side, until cooked through and have grill marks. Shrimp cooks really fast. Serve immediately.
How Long to Marinate Shrimp
In general, because shrimp is delicate and small, it shouldn’t be marinated for too long. Since we’re using a citrus-based marinade here, give it a maximum of 30 to 45 minutes. No more than that, otherwise, it may turn out rubbery.
Lemon is acidic and can break down proteins, making them tough, if left for too long. It’s the same reason why my grilled chicken kabobs and lemon marinated chicken breasts also call for short marinating times.
Tips for Grilling Shrimp
Here are some of my best tips to grill shrimp to perfection:
- Skewer the shrimp to prevent them from falling through the grill grates. This will also help them cook more evenly and get grill marks on both sides.
- I’d recommend metal skewers for convenience. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 15-20 minutes prior to grilling to prevent burning.
- For a nice char and to prevent sticking, oil your grill grates.
- Don’t overcook – shrimp cooks very fast. It should take about 3 minutes per side.
Make Ahead and Storing
Make ahead: I wouldn’t recommend marinating overnight. What you can do is make the marinade by itself the day before, and add the shrimp prior to cooking according to the prep times in the recipe card.
Store leftover cooked shrimp in a container for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave oven.
Pairing and Serving Ideas
I love to make a salad out of this grilled marinated shrimp. Check out my favorite Grilled Shrimp Salad recipe coming soon!
If serving this as a main course, serve with a few slices of toasted or grilled baguette. I always top it with crumbled feta cheese, chopped parsley, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Sometimes I serve it with my favorite Romesco Sauce.
More shrimp and seafood recipes you’ll love:
I wouldn’t recommend using pre-cooked shrimp. It will get tough, especially when cooked again.
I wouldn’t recommend that. Use jumbo or extra large shrimp for this recipe, as it tends to shrink when cooked. Small or medium shrimp is better suited for stews or soups, such as this Shrimp Corn Chowder.
The tail helps to maintain the shape of the shrimp when cooking (shrimp tends to shrink), but it’s not absolutely necessary.
Most shrimp are already deveined when purchased from grocery stores, but if not, do remove it.
No, but you can marinate from frozen and marinate on the countertop. If using frozen shrimp, let it sit in the marinade closer to 1 hour so it has a chance to defrost as well.
Tips for Success
- Marinate for no more than 30-45 minutes. Shrimp is very small and delicate, so it absorbs flavors quickly. Leaving it for too long can cause the shrimp to become tough.
- Don’t overcook. Shrimp cooks really quick – about 3 minutes is all you need.
- Preferably, use jumbo-sized shrimp, deveined and with the tail on. Don’t use pre-cooked shrimp, always use raw.
- To ensure even cooking and grill marks, thread the marinated shrimp onto skewers. Stainless steel skewers are more convenient, but wooden skewers can also be used (soak them in water for 15 minutes beforehand to prevent them from burning).
- To ensure that all the shrimp are evenly coated, use a resealable bag to marinate. If you don’t have one, you can use a bowl or container instead, but make sure everything is thoroughly covered.
Grilled Shrimp Marinade
- 1 pound jumbo shrimp, deveined, tail-on - thawed if using frozen
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil - plus more if needed
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley - plus more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes - plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Lemon halves, for garnish - optional
- Baguette slices and crumbled feta cheese, for serving - optional
- Prep the shrimp: Using kitchen shears, remove the shell but leave the lower part of the tail attached to the shrimp. Rinse and pat dry.
- Make the marinade: In a bowl, mix the olive oil, lemon zest, freshly squeezed lemon juice, minced garlic, chopped Italian parsley, red pepper chili flakes, salt, pepper, and honey until well-combined. Transfer to a large resealable bag.
- Marinate: Then, add the shrimp into the marinade, ensuring everything is well coated. Seal the bag and refrigerate 30 to 45 minutes. No more than that. Tip: Because this is a citrus marinade, leaving it for too long can cause the shrimp to turn rubbery.
- Meanwhile, preheat your grill to medium or medium-high heat.
- Assemble and grill: Assemble the shrimp into the skewers. Grill for about 3 minutes per side, until cooked through and have grill marks. Shrimp cooks really fast, don't overcook.
- Serve with grilled lemon halves, parsley, and crumbled feta cheese. If desired, brush a few slices of baguette with olive oil and grill on both sides for serving. Enjoy!
- Use jumbo shrimp, deveined and tail-on for best results. Most grocery stores sell already deveined shrimp. You can buy fresh or frozen (thaw before using).
- Do NOT use pre-cooked shrimp. Use raw shrimp for this recipe.
- Skewers: I’d recommend using stainless steel skewers. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for about 15-20 minutes before using to prevent them from burning.
- Prep ahead: While I wouldn’t recommend marinating overnight, you can make and refrigerate the marinade on its own 1 day in advance.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Lemon: Limes will work too, although the flavor profile may change slightly.
- Fresh parsley: I would not recommend using dried herbs here.