This is the best shrimp marinade for seared or grilled shrimp, with a hugely flavorful combination of sweet and spicy for perfect shrimp every time. Fire up the grill!
The Best Shrimp Marinade Recipe
We're grilling up shrimp in the Chili Pepper Madness backyard, my friends. Would you care to join us? We always make the best grilled shrimp because I infuse all that succulent shrimp with lots of bold flavor before grilling.
The secret? It's my Zesty Grilled Shrimp Marinade, and I think you're going to love it.
It's a simple combination that comes together in the perfect way to infuse your shrimp with loads of flavor, and a bit of that zesty spice we spicy food lovers crave.
It's the perfect grilled shrimp recipe, really, with such a bold and piquant marinade leading the way.
It's also great if you're sautéing or cooking up shrimp on the stove top, so it's not just a grilled shrimp marinade, but a great shrimp marinade in general. No matter how you care to cook it!
So hey, let's get cooking!
Let's talk about how to make grilled shrimp marinade, shall we?
Shrimp Marinade Ingredients
- Oil. Use ¼ cup olive oil for the marinade, though you can use other oils, like vegetable oil.
- Sweet. I use 1 tablespoon honey, though you can use brown sugar instead.
- Garlic and Herbs. Use 2 cloves garlic, minced, and 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped. You can incorporate other herbs, like cilantro or basil.
- Spices. Use 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, salt and pepper to taste, and 1/2 or more of crushed red pepper flakes if you're looking for a spicier shrimp marinade. I use a tablespoon usually.
- Citrus. Use 1 teaspoon lime zest. Lemon zest is good, too. You can use lemon or lime juice, but the acidity starts to cook the shrimp. Zest is better for a longer marinade.
- Hot Sauce. Splash in some of your favorite hot sauce if you'd like for some added zing!
- Shrimp. This marinade is good for 1 pound of fresh shrimp, though you can easily upscale it to several pounds of shrimp. I usually marinade shrimp that's been peeled and deveined, though you can marinate unpeeled shrimp, if desired. You can use frozen shrimp as well.
How to Make Shrimp Marinade - the Recipe Method
Whisk Together the Ingredients. Whisk together the olive oil, honey, garlic, parsley, paprika, lime zest, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Reserve Some of the Marinade. Reserve a couple tablespoons of your marinade before marinating the shrimp to use as a glaze or finishing sauce if you'd like.
Marinate the Shrimp. Place the raw shrimp in a large plastic bag or large bowl and pour the marinade over them. Seal the bag and refrigerate at least 15 to 30 minutes, or for 1 hour before cooking.
When ready to cook, drain the shrimp marinade and discard it. Thread the shrimp on skewers for grilling, or leave them separated.
Grill the Shrimp. Preheat grill to medium high heat and add the shrimp. Grill the shrimp for 2-3 minutes per side, or until the shrimp turn pink and cook through.
Transfer to a serving platter.
Finish the Shrimp. Brush on any reserved shrimp marinade as a finishing sauce.
Also, squeeze on a bit of fresh lime juice for an extra pop of fresh citrus.
Boom! Done! Perfectly grilled shrimp in the house! Ready to serve. Such an easy recipe, isn't it? With BIG flavor.
The marinade does everything for you. It's nice and thick and really coats the shrimp. So good.
Serve up your grilled shrimp as the main meal with a side dish, or they make an outstanding appetizer or party starter. Everyone loves grilled shrimp.
Mild-Medium. You'll get a nice pop of heat from the chili flakes and your own chosen hot sauce, though not a big kick. Cayenne is good for spicier shrimp, or go with a hotter chili powder, like ghost pepper powder. Yes!
Recipe Tips & Notes
This shrimp marinade it best for marinating raw shrimp for maximum flavor. You can marinate pre-cooked shrimp, but you won't get as much of the marinade flavor.
The Citrus Factor. I prefer to use lime zest in my shrimp marinade as opposed to lime juice, as the acidic citrus will start to break down the shrimp if you marinate for too long.
This applies to any acid, like lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice or vinegar. If using lime juice instead of lime zest, keep your marinating time to 15 minutes or less.
Additional Ingredients. Try lemon zest instead of lime zest if you prefer lemon. Dijon mustard is good. Soy Sauce is a nice flavor addition, though results in a darker color of your finished shrimp.
How Long Do You Marinade Shrimp?
I like to marinate my shrimp at least 15 to 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour before cooking. I refrigerate it until I'm ready to go. You can marinate for longer, but don't go more than a few hours, as the shrimp texture can be affected.
How to Cook Marinated Shrimp?
Grilling the shrimp is a great way to cook them up, but you have many options.
You can also easily cook the shrimp up in a grill pan or a saute pan on the stove top, or bake them in the oven until they are pink and cooked through.
I don't recommend boiling marinated shrimp, though, as it will strip away much of the marinade flavor. For grilling, I like to thread them onto wooden skewers.
Storage & Leftovers
You can make the shrimp marinade ahead and store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 5 days. When you're ready to cook, marinate your shrimp and get grilling.
Store any leftover grilled shrimp in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To enjoy them again, warm them gently in a pan on the stovetop.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy my shrimp marinade, and the grilled shrimp! Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Shrimp Marinade Recipe
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey or you can use brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (try an extra pinch or two of ghost pepper powder for some great spiciness!)
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or more as desired - optional, for spicier marinade
- Salt and black pepper to taste 1/4 teaspoon each is usually good
- Hot Sauce to taste optional
- 1 pound shrimp peeled and deveined
- Whisk together the olive oil, honey, garlic, parsley, paprika, lime zest, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Reserve a few tablespoons now if you'd like to use some as a finishing sauce.
- Place the shrimp in a large zip-lock bag and pour the marinade over them. Seal the bag and refrigerate at least 15 to 20 minutes, or for 1 hour before cooking.
- When ready to cook, drain the marinade and discard it.
- Grill or saute the shrimp for 2-3 minutes per side, or until pink and cooked through. Transfer to a serving platter.
- Squeeze on a bit of fresh lime juice to finish.
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 5/22/23 to include new information and video. It was originally published on 7/13/20.