Grilled Shrimp

Chef's notes:

Shrimp are decapod crustaceans found all over the world. Here in the United States we concern ourselves with primarily brown shrimp, but we also like pink, white, royal, and rock shrimp. However, the brown shrimp make up nearly half of all American-caught shrimp. Another common shrimp sold in the United States is the black tiger shrimp. It is caught in the Indo-Pacific region. So, if you have any preference for American shrimp, don’t buy tiger shrimp. The shrimp I am using in this article are brown shrimp caught off the coast of Texas. I know, I always forget Texas has a coast too.

Shrimp also come in different preparations: peeled, deveined, tail on or off, and cooked or raw. Peeled means shell removed, and deveined means removal of gastrointestinal tract. The preferred shrimp for grilling, regardless of the species, are large shrimp with shell intact (unpeeled). But deveining is always a good idea, especially with large shrimp. These shrimp are U12, which means 12 to a pound. That makes them quite large, but they can get larger.


  • 2 pounds U12 brown shrimp
  • Salt
  • Canola oil
  • Sugar cane skewers
  • Rosemary branches
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Garlic chunks
  • Lemon wedge
  • Butter, melted

Grilled Shrimp Recipe: Sugar-Cane Skewered Shrimp, Rosemary Sprig Skewered Shrimp, and Bamboo Shrimp

  1. Sugar cane skewer shrimp kebab. Actually, finding the sugarcane skewers for this recipe will prove to be the most difficult of all the ideas listed here. If you are fortunate enough to have any sort of Vietnamese market near you, you may find them there. Or try the Internet. You will definitely need large shrimp for this recipe. Use a regular skewer to make a guide hole for the sugarcane. Just salt the shrimp a little and rub the smallest amount of vegetable oil on them.
  2. Rosemary sprig skewer shrimp kebab. As with the sugarcane-skewered shrimp, use a bamboo skewer to make a guide hole. Peel all but the very bottom sprigs of rosemary off the branch. Those will act as a sort of catch to keep it on. Run the shrimp onto the rosemary “head” first so that the exposed flesh comes to rest on the rosemary. This will add lots of flavor. I could only fit one shrimp on each, but if you use a slightly smaller shrimp, you could fit two.
  3. Bamboo skewer shrimp kebab. This being the most traditional manner in which to grill shrimp, try to jazz it up a little. I decided to put a chunk of garlic between the head and tail. Since the skewer is not imparting any flavor to the shrimp itself, I have found this to be the best way to skewer them. If you line them up in a row, you would fit a lot more shrimp on that way. But they tend to wobble and move around. Skewered the way I have illustrated helps them stay put.
  4. Put shrimp on the grill. Shrimp cook very quickly, in 6‒10 minutes depending on size. I like to cook them on high heat. Since they have shells, they will be protected from burning. Plus, the quicker you can cook them and get them off the heat, the less likely they are to dry out. Arrange them on the grill in a single layer. They will begin to change color after a few minutes. Flip one over, and if the shrimp are firm, flip the rest. They should only take 3‒4 more minutes, and then they will be done. Serve with lemon

Tips & Tricks

  • Grip the shrimp in one hand or hold it flat against the cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice in along the back and out through the shell. If your knife is not sharp, this will not go well. Cut all the way back but stop before getting to the tail.
  • Part the pieces of shell and remove what you find there. It may be a dark vein or it may just be a bit of grit. But it may be a big, swollen chunk of female reproductive organs like in the photo. Pull it out and give the slit a quick rinse.