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Sautéing shrimp over high heat is the easiest, fastest way to cook shrimp. Because they’re ready to eat in just a few minutes, they’re easily one of the best quick dinner recipes around. I use simple seasonings, including fresh (or dried) herbs, chopped fresh garlic, and crushed red chili pepper to highlight this versatile shellfish. Extra-virgin olive oil and fresh lemon add an elegant finishing touch to the dish. I’ll show you how to master an indispensable cooking technique so you can sauté shrimp like a pro!
My method will show you how to avoid cooking dry-textured shrimp or garlic-sautéed shrimp that ends up tasting like overcooked, burned garlic. You can use this essential recipe as a base for seafood dinner recipes you’re craving. Switch out the herbs, or add in your favorite spices to make it your own. Serve these tasty sauteed shrimp as a main course, appetizer, or as the star ingredient in shrimp risotto or shrimp pasta.
- Shrimp: You’ll need raw, shelled shrimp, which you can sometimes find already peeled and deveined. The best size shrimp for sautéeing range from large (26/30 per pound), to extra-large (21/25 per pound), or jumbo (16/20 per pound). My pick are jumbo-sized shrimp. Keep in mind that shrimp lose up to 25 percent of their weight after they’re cooked. If you start with smaller to medium-sized shrimp they’ll shrink dramatically after they’re sautéed and are more likely to dry out or become rubbery.
- Olive oil: This preparation is all about simplicity. Use a good-quality everyday extra-virgin olive oil to get all the flavor benefits!
- Herbs: Shrimp pair beautifully with a wide variety of herbs, either fresh or dried. It could be as simple as Italian parsley or aromatic Mediterranean-style herbs like thyme, rosemary, marjoram, or tarragon. I love chives and cilantro, too! Your choice.
- Garlic: I recommend using freshly grated or pressed garlic. The key to success when adding fresh garlic to sautéed shrimp is adding it toward the end of the cooking process so that it doesn’t burn. Burnt garlic adds a bitter taste that you definitely want to avoid. If you don’t have any fresh garlic on hand, you can substitute with 1 teaspoon of granulated garlic, but the taste will not be quite the same.
- Lemon: Juicy lemon adds a pop of bright flavor. I add fresh lemon juice to the sautè pan, and then garnish the cooked shrimp with some grated fresh lemon zest. It’s an easy “cheffy” finishing touch.
How to prep and sauté shrimp
- Pro Tip: To prevent the garlic from burning, it’s important to add it during the last 30 seconds to one minute of sautéing. Chop it very finely, or better yet, grate a plump garlic clove on a rasp grater so it will release its flavor more quickly.
Juicy Olive Oil and Herb Sautéed Shrimp
- 1 pound (450 g) raw jumbo (16-20) shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon Diamond kosher salt, or ¼ teaspoon of fine sea salt or Morton's kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 teaspoons fresh grated garlic, or very finely chopped garlic
- ¼-½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, oregano, tarragon or parsley; or 1 teaspoon dried herbs or an herb blend
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice, about ½ a lemon
- 2 teaspoons fresh grated lemon zest
- Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel. Combine in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt and black pepper and their evenly coated. At this point, you can cook the shrimp immediately or refrigerate up to 6 hours ahead.
- Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes, or until a drop of water sizzles and evaporates immediately. Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and arrange the shrimp in the pan.
- Cook until the shrimp turn pink and slightly browned on one side, which should take about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper and herbs to the pan and stir. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, 1-2 minutes, until the shrimp are uniformly pink and cooked through and the garlic smells delicious. If your shrimp are smaller than 16/20 per pound, they will be done in about 30 seconds.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Add the lemon juice and sprinkle the shirimp with the lemon zest. Serve and enjoy!
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- I recommend using a nonstick pan that’s wide enough to hold the shrimp in one layer without overlapping, such as one that’s 12-inch diameter.
- Defrost frozen shrimp overnight in the refrigerator. To thaw them quickly, place frozen shrimp in a large bowl of cold water, swishing them around until they’re pliable, which takes about 15 minutes, or put them in a colander under cold running water.
- To prevent the garlic from burning over high heat, it’s important to add it during the last minute of sautéing. Chop it very finely, or better yet, grate a plump garlic clove on a rasp grater so it will release its flavor more quickly.
Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.