Juicy and bursting with flavor, shrimp cooked in garlic butter makes for a great weeknight dinner. This quick and simple dish requires only ten minutes of prep time and only three ingredients: butter, garlic, and lemon juice.
FRESH OR FROZEN SHRIMP – WHICH IS BETTER?
Always think about the product's quality and where it came from when purchasing seafood. Naturally, the best place to buy seafood is at a coastal market selling the day's catch. Don't pass up the freezer section of your grocery store if you're in a hurry and looking for something on the cheaper side.
Since they are frozen as soon as they arrive at the port, wild frozen shrimp are always the best option. That way, they won't lose their flavor or freshness over time. And whenever possible, I opt for wild-caught North American shrimp over Asian shrimp.
Do you have any fresh shrimp on ice at your grocery store? The thawed shrimp in the fridge may not have been caught that day, and who knows how long they've been there. If you want to play it safe, you can get a bag of frozen shrimp from the freezer section.
If you're going to be pan-frying the shrimp on its own, it's best to get wild white shrimp. This shrimp variety is larger than most and cooks up firm with a sweet, delicious flavor. My Shrimp Ceviche and Shrimp Salad both work just fine with smaller shrimp.
HOW TO THAW FROZEN SHRIMP
Simply remove the bag of frozen shrimp from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator the night before you intend to cook them. They just need to thaw in the fridge overnight, and by dinnertime, they'll be ready to cook.
But let's say you get home from work and immediately decide to cook some shrimp. You can still thaw it in plenty of time, don't worry! What you should do is this:
Frozen shrimp should be defrosted in the sink, in a bowl, or colander.
Submerge it in cold water for about 5 minutes, tossing it around every so often to ensure even defrosting. This can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp.
After the shrimp have defrosted, spread them out on a baking sheet and pat them dry with a paper towel. Shrimp can overcook in excess water, so it's important to drain as much of it as possible before cooking.
HOW TO MAKE GARLIC BUTTER SHRIMP
You're in luck because shrimp with lemon, garlic, and butter is simple to prepare. It takes little time to prepare and can be used in a wide variety of dishes. The recipe is as follows:
- Butter and garlic should be melted together in a skillet over medium heat. Put it in the microwave for 30 seconds.
- Salt and pepper the shrimp before adding them to the dish. To achieve a pink and opaque center, cook the shrimp for about 2–3 minutes per side.
- Add the lemon juice and remaining butter and mix well. Put the pan off the heat and give it a taste to see if it needs any additional seasoning.
- Serve with a garnish of finely chopped parsley.
- Use fresh, high-quality shrimp for the best flavor and texture. Look for shrimp that are firm, with a slight sheen and no signs of discoloration or sliminess.
- Make sure your butter is unsalted, as the shrimp will already provide some natural saltiness. Use high-quality butter for the best flavor.
- Don't overcook the shrimp. Shrimp cooks very quickly, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the heat as soon as they turn pink and opaque. Overcooked shrimp can become tough and rubbery.
- Add some lemon juice or white wine to the garlic butter sauce for a bright, tangy flavor that compliments the sweetness of the shrimp.
- Serve the garlic butter shrimp with some crusty bread or over a bed of pasta or rice for a complete meal.
- To make the dish even more flavorful, you can add some herbs like parsley or cilantro to the dish.
- For an added kick, you can also add some red pepper flakes to the dish to add a bit of spice to the garlic butter sauce.
What kind of shrimp should I use for garlic butter shrimp?
You can use any size or variety of shrimp, but large or jumbo shrimp are ideal for this recipe. Look for fresh or frozen shrimp that are deveined and with the shells removed.
Garlic Butter Shrimp
- 1 lb. large uncooked shrimp
- ⅓ teaspoon paprika
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¾ cup dry white wine, like chardonnay or pinot grigio
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon EACH: Italian seasoning, mustard powder
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons cold salted butter
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped Parsley
- Fresh lemon wedges, for serving
- Thaw the shrimp completely (if frozen) and pat the surface dry. You may also need to remove the shell, tail, and veins. Lightly sprinkle with paprika and toss to coat. I use a little more than ¼ teaspoon.
- Measure out all ingredients before beginning, as this recipe goes fast!
Cook the Shrimp
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for about 1 minute + 20 seconds per side. (Use a timer to avoid overcooking). Tilt the pan to transfer the shrimp onto a clean plate. Note that they’ll cook a little bit more as they sit, and again when added back to the sauce.
Make the Sauce
- Turn the heat off and add the white wine to the skillet. It should sizzle. Use a silicone spatula to clean the bottom and sides of the skillet.
- Set the heat to medium and add the chicken broth, garlic, Italian seasoning, and mustard powder. Bring it to a gentle bubble and let it reduce by half, until just over a cup remains and you can no longer smell alcohol. This takes about 10 minutes. The wider the skillet, the more quickly it will reduce.
- Reduce heat to low. Add the lemon juice and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the shrimp back and spoon the sauce on top. Let it heat through for 1 minute.
- Top with cold butter and tilt the pan to swirl it around and let it melt. (This technique is called “monter au beurre” which adds a smooth, velvety finish.)
- Sprinkle with chopped parsley and garnish with fresh lemon wedges. Serve with crusty bread for dipping!
- Size: The size shown here is labeled as extra large, 16/20 per pound. (This means that it takes between 16-20 shrimp to equal a pound.)
- You can use fresh or frozen. I keep bags of uncooked shrimp in my freezer and run the shrimp under cool water in a colander when I'm ready to use it.
- Shrimp can go from cooked to overcooked very quickly, consider setting a timer to avoid overcooking.
- Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc are the best dry white wines for this recipe.
- I normally recommend chicken broth if you don't cook with wine, but for this recipe I recommend alcohol free wine, which is widely available.
- Butter: I use Land O' Lakes Salted Butter (vs. generic) for this. Higher quality goes a long way in this recipe.
- Garlic/Lemon Juice: Use freshly minced garlic and freshly squeezed lemon juice if possible. (Instead of garlic from a jar and lemon juice from a bottle.)
- Additions include diced tomatoes and steamed spinach!
- Serve this with: No Knead Bread (my favorite pairing!), Buttered Noodles, Roasted Potatoes, Grilled Potatoes, Greens and Beans, Chickpea Salad, Corn Salad, Pasta Salad, and more!
- Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.