Grilling Shrimp

Helpful Tips For Grilling Shrimp

A true chef knows that being successful at grilling shrimp is a lot more than the cooking process.  Next to fish, this is the most popular seafood choice for cooking for quite a few reasons.  Shrimp have some great health benefits, they are inexpensive, easy to prepare and they are ideal on a large variety of dishes after they've been grilled.  Whether you toss them in pasta, rice or salad, just make sure that you follow these steps to grilling shrimp to ensure that your dish is done right.

Fish Market

When possible, avoid buying shrimp at your local grocer unless there are not any fish markets in your area.  It is always recommended to buy shrimp the same day that you are going to actually cook them and make sure that they are fresh.  If shrimp are being displayed on ice, there is a good chance that they have already been frozen and then thawed.

If you don't have the option of buying them fresh where you live, you really need to take a little time and evaluate the shrimp before buying them.  Depending on where the shrimp were caught and their variety, their shells may be pinkish, brown or grayish-green.  Shrimp thaw out very fast and their fresh aroma will turn into an ammonia odor.  Don't be afraid to ask for a new batch.

Size Matters

For grilling shrimp, the bigger the better.  If you can find jumbo ones, these are really ideal.  The last thing that you want to do is deal with tiny shrimp over a fire.  Not only are they known for falling through the rack, if they start sticking to the rack and you have to pull them off, you lose nearly all of the meat.  Not to mention anyone who has made this unfortunate mistake will tell you that trying to handle small shrimp with long-handled tongs is really quite amusing and frustrating.  Of course, you are the one frustrated while your guests are amused.

Cleaning Tips

The most tedious part of grilling shrimp is actually cleaning them.  If you have a child at home, you may want to pay them a quarter per shrimp just to help you out.  Most recipes will call for the shrimp to be deveined.  This refers to the very unpleasant looking vein or sand track that runs all along the back end of the shrimp.  The larger the shrimp, the bigger the vein.

While it is not absolutely necessary to remove this, it looks a lot better.  Not to mention, if there happens to be sand lodged in it, your shrimp will be pretty gritty.

To remove the shells and the veins, you will first use scissors to cut along the back of the shell.  Peel it away but always be sure to leave the shell on the tail.  Now, to devein the shrimp, use a knife with a short blade and create a very shallow slice along the back of the shrimp.  Pull the vein out and wash the shrimp under cold running water.

Grill Time

Arrange your clean shrimp either on the rack in a basket designed for grilling or you can choose to thread them onto skewers as well.  Your shrimp should be placed about four inches up from a moderately hot fire.


If your shrimp hasn't been previously marinated, brush them lightly with oil and cook until they are pink.  When the desired color is present, turn them over and grill the other side.  Grilling shrimp should take between five and seven minutes total.  You will know that they are done when the flesh is white and skin is pink.  Be careful not to overcook them as it really drains their flavor and makes them tough.

Helpful Tips