Ridiculously easy Jerk Shrimp exploding with smokey, sweet and spicy Caribbean flavor with just the right amount of kick!
This Jerk Shrimp recipe is a one skillet protein that utilizes pantry friendly ingredients to create a taste of the islands right in your own kitchen. It’s juicy, smoky, spicy, earthy, bright, and tangy all at the same time. The dance of flavors comes from a quick and easy marinade of lime juice, soy sauce, honey, ketchup, and homemade Jerk seasonings that takes just minutes to whip up. This simple Jerk Shrimp recipe can be cooked on the stove, in the oven or grilled (all instructions included) and it can be served with anything! Serve it plain as an appetizer or with rice, veggies and fruit or in salads, tacos, wraps, quesadillas etc. (tons of ideas included) because you are going to want to devour this Jerk Shrimp any way you can!
EASY SHRIMP RECIPE
How is everyone doing sheltering-in-place? I know it’s an unprecedented time of uneasy change; many have lost loved ones, lost jobs, face job uncertainty, are overwhelmed with little ones, home school and feel lonely even when surrounded by family. I wish there was a way I could give you all a huge loving, supportive hug to help ease the uncertainty, stress and loneliness of this crazy time.
Instead, I’m going to give you a virtual hug by doing the only thing I can – continuing to post recipes. I know it might seem trivial, but I have also heard from many readers that my recipes are keeping them sane. I hope my recipes help ease the “what’s for lunch/dinner?” cooking burden, provide a creative outlet and bring you delicious food all at the same time.
Today, I’m excited to bring you one of the easiest yet tastiest recipes you’ll ever make – Jerk Shrimp! Shrimp is one of the simplest, ridiculously easy meals on the planet and one of my favorite proteins to cook whether I have lots of time – or whether I have little time – because the succulent morsels drink up flavor and emerge hot, juicy and exploding with flavor.
I first featured this Jerk Shrimp recipe in my Caribbean Avocado Shrimp Salad and vowed then to devote a whole post to it, because this Jerk Shrimp is that good. At the same time, it’s SO easy, it almost doesn’t feel l like a recipe at all – the very best kind of food!
REASONS TO LOVE JERK SHRIMP:
- Easy. This Jerk Shrimp recipe is one of those easy, “what’s for dinner” meals when you don’t feel like cooking. And if you’ve never cooked shrimp before, don’t be intimidated, it is the easiest protein you will ever make – definitely beginner level but tastes expert level. Just marinate the shrimp for 15-60 minutes, then cook for just 3-4 minutes – that’s it!
- Delicious! Even though this Jerk Shrimp is simple and easy to throw together, it’s out of this world flavorful with hints of sweet, smoky, tangy and spicy.
- Pantry friendly. You can make this Jerk Shrimp at any time as long as you keep frozen shrimp stocked – you should already have the rest of the ingredients on hand. So, grab some frozen, deveined shrimp on your next Costco run so you’ll always be ready for this unabashedly flavorful recipe made with minimal effort and pantry friendly ingredients.
- Breaks up the monotony. Chicken is hands down the most served protein which can honestly get a little boring. This Jerk Shrimp breaks up the monotony with its fireworks of flavor.
- Versatile. The Jerk Shrimp recipe is super versatile. You can serve it with rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, pasta, veggies, grits, potatoes and salad OR serve it IN salad, tacos, wraps, lettuce wraps, bowls, etc. – its possibilities are limitless!
MORE SHRIMP RECIPE FAVORITES!
Some of my favorite shrimp recipes include: Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp with Greek Orzo, Sheet Pan Shrimp Scampi, Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa, Lemon Garlic Shrimp Fettuccine, Kung Pao Shrimp, Old Bay Shrimp, Sheet Pan Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp, Shrimp Fajitas, Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli Alfredo, Cajun Shrimp Pasta.
WHAT IS JAMAICAN JERK SHRIMP?
Jerk Shrimp gets its name from “Jerk seasoning.” Jerk seasoning hails from the Caribbean and is a specific blend of Caribbean-inspired spices and dried herbs that is sweet, smoky, earthy and spicy. It is typically made with:
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- cayenne pepper
- dried thyme
- dried parsley
I’ve taken some creative liberties in my Jerk Shrimp recipe by swapping the cayenne pepper for ground chipotle chile pepper and adding ground ginger, but the rest of the seasonings remain the same.
What other ingredients do I need?
In addition to the Jerk Seasonings, the Jerk Shrimp marinade includes the pantry friendly ingredients of:
- olive oil: use quality olive oil for the best flavor. You may also use another favorite cooking oil.
- lime juice: you may use fresh or bottled. I like to freeze lime and lemon juice by the 1 tablespoon ice cubes so it’s always handy.
- soy sauce: use low sodium soy sauce so the shrimp isn’t too salty.
- honey: you may substitute with brown sugar if that’ all you have on hand.
- ketchup: good old’ pantry ketchup will do the trick.
IS THIS JERK SHRIMP RECIPE GLUTEN FREE?
The Jerk Shrimp recipe is almost gluten free. Simply swap the soy sauce for tamari and you are gluten-free gold.
TIPS FOR BUYING SHRIMP
This Jerk Shrimp recipe is made with just a few ingredients, the star, of course, being the shrimp! Here’s what to look for:
- Purchase wild caught shrimp. Look for wild caught shrimp versed farm-raised for the best flavor and texture.
- Purchase raw, deveined shrimp. Look for shrimp that is raw (not precooked), peeled and deveined. Buying prepared shrimp saves you TONS of time and makes your job a snap because all you have to do is defrost the shrimp.
- Purchase medium shrimp. Use medium-sized shrimp, 31-40 count (which means there are 31-40 shrimp in a pound), so your shrimp are large enough so they don’t easily overcook but small enough that you can pop each plump morsel in your mouth without having to pause and cut. I also find medium shrimp have a more appealing texture than larger shrimp.
- Frozen shrimp is awesome! Frozen shrimp is frozen shortly after it’s caught which means it’s frozen at peak freshness. So, unless you live coastal (and even then), it is even more fresh than the seafood counter by the time it’s purchased and you actually use it. Frozen shrimp is also more economical than fresh which means you can keep it stocked and read to use any time.
HOW TO PREP SHRIMP
If you are new to cooking shrimp, here is some helpful information to prepare and cook shrimp perfectly every time, whether for this Jerk Shrimp recipe or any of my other fabulous shrimp recipes:
CAN I MAKE THIS SHRIMP RECIPE WITH FROZEN SHRIMP?
Yes! I use frozen shrimp all the time just like I did in this Jerk Shrimp recipe. Just make sure you thaw the shrimp completely and pat it dry before using.
HOW DO I DEFROST SHRIMP?
You will want to use raw shrimp for this Jerk Shrimp recipe. I typically use frozen shrimp and just defrost it before using. There are two options for defrosting your shrimp:
- Easy Defrost: The easiest way to defrost your shrimp in the refrigerator overnight. Simply remove one-pound frozen shrimp (if it’s more than a one-pound package) to a covered bowl and let them defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
- Quick Defrost: Place the frozen shrimp in a colander then place the colander in a large bowl. Fill the bowl with cold tap water and let it sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, replace the water with new cold tap water and submerge the shrimp again. Let shrimp sit an additional 10- 20 minutes. If the shrimp isn’t completely defrosted, then repeat.
WHAT’S THE EASIEST WAY TO PEEL AND DEVEIN SHRIMP?
I like to purchase shrimp that is already peeled and deveined so all the work is done for me! If you purchase shrimp that is not deveined, it will still have the dark, sandy intestinal tract running along the back of the shrimp just beneath the surface. Sometimes it will be very dark and sometimes it will be harder to spot depending on when the shrimp ate last.
While eating the shrimp with the veins won’t harm you, it can add grittiness and distract from the clean shrimp taste so I highly recommended removing it. To devein shrimp:
- First, locate the vein in the shrimp running along its back.
- Make a shallow cut and use the tip of the knife to lift it out.
- The veins and shells can then be thrown away.
- Rinse the shrimp and lay on a paper towel to dry.
HOW TO COOK SHRIMP PERFECTLY
Shrimp is very simple to cook – and literally takes minutes! The key to success is to not overcook your shrimp. Here are a few tricks:
COOK SHRIMP WITH TAIL ON
Cook your Jerk Shrimp with the tails on because the tail shells contain flavor that seeps out and we get more robust shrimp flavor, much like cooking meat on the bone. Once your shrimp is cooked and resting you can remove the tails if you desire.
Don’t Overcook Shrimp
There are two indicators of cooked shrimp -the color and shape. Here’s what tot look for:
- Color: Raw shrimp starts off translucent gray and as it cooks, it turns pink and opaque with some pink and bright red accents. You will want to remove the shrimp from the skillet as soon as it is fully opaque without any gray left. Look at the crevice in the back of the shrimp where the vein was removed. When the base of this crevice becomes opaque, the shrimp is done.
- Shape: You can also check the shape of your shrimp but this is not as good of an indicator as color. As shrimp cook, their muscle contract which cause them to curl. As soon as the shrimp begin to curl, they are usually done cooking. Some claim that perfectly cooked shrimp have “C” shape while over cooked shrimp have an “O” shape. I think you’ll find that almost all shrimp, maybe with the exception of jumbo shrimp, still have an “O” shape without being overcooked.
HOW TO COOK JERK SHRIMP
Now that we’ve covered all of the basics – let’s get to the main event – how to make Jerk Shrimp!
STEP 1: MARINATE SHRIMP
- Add marinade ingredients to a freezer bag or medium bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add shrimp and marinate at room temperature for 15-30 minutes at room temperature or up to 60 minutes in the fridge.
STEP 2: COOK SHRIMP
HOW TO COOK SHRIMP ON THE STOVE
- Heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet.
- Add shrimp and cook approximately 3 minutes per side, or just until opaque and cooked through.
- Cook shrimp in batches if your shrimp cannot comfortably fit in a single layer.
HOW TO COOK SHRIMP IN THE OVEN
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
- Line shrimp in a single layer so it isn’t touching.
- Roast for 6 to 8 minutes or opaque.
HOW TO GRILL SHRIMP
- Take care to soak wooden skewers for at least an hour if using so they don’t catch fire.
- Thread shrimp onto skewers.
- Grease and heat grill or gill pan over medium high heat.
- Add skewers in a single layer without touching. Cook shrimp for 2-3 minutes on each side or until shrimp has become pink and opaque.
STEP 3: Garnish
- Toss with fresh parsley and serve!
TIPS FOR JERK SHRIMP RECIPE
- Thaw shrimp. It might sound obvious, but it isn’t to some 😉. Make sure you thaw the shrimp before combining with the marinade so the melted water won’t dilute the seasonings. Also, gently thaw the shrimp using my above detailed methods – never the microwave!
- Wait until the skillet is hot. Don’t let “hot” be confused with high heat – we are using medium-high heat. Wait until your skillet is very hot before adding the shrimp to achieve the coveted golden sear.
- Use a large skillet. Use a large enough skillet so the shrimp can be spread into an even layer to sear and not just steam. If you don’t have a large enough skillet for the shrimp to cook without overlapping, then you will need to cook the shrimp in two batches.
- Don’t over-cook shrimp. Cook shrimp just until opaque for the juiciest shrimp. As soon as the shrimp turn pinkish white and start to curl, they’re done-don’t be tempted to cook them a second longer! This takes less than 5 minutes so have a plate ready to transfer the shrimp to so they stop cooking.
- Cook shrimp with tails on. I recommend cooking your shrimp with the tails on because the tail shells contain flavor that seeps out and we get more robust shrimp flavor. Once your shrimp is cooked and resting you can remove the tails if you desire.
JERK SHRIMP VARIATIONS:
This Jerk Shrimp recipe is delicious as written or it is easy to customize. Here are a few ideas:
- Spice it up. You can make the shrimp spicier by adding cayenne pepper.
- Cilantro Lime shrimp. Use the Jerk seasonings and marinade but stir in some fresh lime juice and finely chopped cilantro to finish.
- Add veggies. After you remove the shrimp from the skillet, cook any vegetables of your choosing in the leftover juices such as zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, mushrooms, bell peppers and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Skewers. Make Jerk Shrimp Kabobs by adding shrimp, pineapple, bell peppers and other vegetables of choosing to the skewers.
How to Serve Jerk Shrimp
This Jerk Shrimp recipe can be served plain with any of the below side ideas such as rice, pineapple and veggies or it can be served as salads or wraps. Even though Jerk Shrimp is not Mexican, I love also love making it the star of Mexican-inspired dishes such as tacos, burrito bowls, etc. with plenty of pineapple salsa.
- Jerk Shrimp Salad. Follow my instructions for my Caribbean Shrimp and Avocado Salad (AMAZING!) or go super simple and add Jerk Shrimp to some greens along with some tropical fruit and cashews.
- Jerk Shrimp Tacos or Lettuce Wraps. Pile Jerk Shrimp in flour tortillas or bib lettuce and top with mango salsa, pineapple salsa, corn salsa, or black bean and corn salsa and avocado crema.
- Jerk Shrimp Quesadillas. Sandwich shrimp, Monterrey Jack Cheese, black beans and cilantro in between two flour tortillas and toast in a skillet to golden, cheesy perfection. Serve with pineapple salsa or mango salsa, pico de gallo, salsa, chopped avocados, guacamole and/or crema.
- Jerk Shrimp Burritos: Layer a burrito size tortilla with cilantro lime rice or pineapple rice, black or pinto beans, cheese, Jerk Shrimp, guacamole, sour cream and lettuce. Serve with additional sour cream and pineapple salsa or mango salsa.
- Jerk Shrimp Bowls: Layer cilantro lime rice or pineapple rice with black beans, shrimp, chopped lettuce or slaw, pineapple or mango salsa and your favorite creamy topping such as sour cream/Greek yogurt or I highly recommend either Tomatillo Avocado Ranch or Cilantro Lime Dressing.
- Jerk Shrimp Tostadas. Layer a tostada with refried beans or avocado mash, top with shrimp, lettuce or slaw, cilantro, avocados, sour cream, cotija cheese or queso fresco etc. and pineapple salsa or mango salsa.
- Jerk Shrimp Nachos: Pile thick restaurant style tortilla chips with cheese and beans and bake. Top with shrimp and toppings such as jalapenos, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, and pineapple or mango salsa.
- Jerk Shrimp Pasta. Toss some Jerk Shrimp with pasta such as angel hair or spaghetti along with some hot melted butter. If you’re feeling a little fancier, it also is AMAZING with Cacio e Pepe (highly recommend), Sun-Dried Tomato Fettuccine or Fettuccine Alfredo. You can also go low carb and serve garlic shrimp with zoodles or spaghetti squash.
- Jerk Shrimp Mac and Cheese: stir shrimp into your favorite Mac and Cheese recipe at the end of cooking.
WHAT GOES WELL WITH JERK SHRIMP?
This Jerk Shrimp recipe is a chameleon of sorts in that it tastes fabulous fresh ingredients such as pineapple and mangos but it also tastes amazing with carbs such as pasta and rice. Here are a few ideas:
- Rice or quinoa. Serve Jerk Shrimp over plain white rice, brown rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice to let the jerk flavor truly shine. It’s also tasty with cilantro lime rice, pineapple rice or red beans and rice.
- Fruit. Add a side of simple fruit such as pineapple or mangos. I personally LOVE pineapple with Jerk Shrimp – the sweet, tangy pineapple beautifully compliments the earthy robust shrimp. You can go as simple as plain pineapple, grilled pineapple or my Caramelized Grilled Pineapple is sensation. You can also serve Jerk Shrimp with a symphony of fruit in fruit salad form such as Pina Colada Fruit Salad, Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette, Winter Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Poppy Seed Vinaigrette or Tropical Fruit Salad.
- Potatoes. Serve Jerk Shrimp over mashed potatoes, polenta, grits or alongside Smashed Potatoes, Roasted Red Potatoes, Pesto Mashed Potatoes, Twice Baked Potatoes, Scalloped Potatoes or Mashed Sweet Potatoes.
- Vegetables. Roasted, steamed, or stir-fried veggies are fantastic with Jerk Shrimp. Some of my include: Roasted Broccoli, Roasted Asparagus, Roasted Carrots or Glazed Carrots, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, Parmesan Roasted Root Vegetables, or Crockpot Creamed Corn.
- Salad. Jerk Shrimp is yummy tossed in a green salad, Green Bean Salad, or Caesar salad or you can serve it on the side of Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Ranch, Cucumber Tomato Salad, Apple Salad, Roasted Butternut Squash Salad, Cranberry Apple Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad.
HOW LONG IS JERK SHRIMP GOOD FOR?
Jerk Shrimp should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When properly stored, it is good for up to three days.
CAN I MAKE THIS RECIPE AHEAD OF TIME?
This Jerk Shrimp is best served fresh, hot from the skillet as shrimp can become rubbery when reheated. That being said, if you don’t initially overcook your shrimp, I have had success reheating shrimp.
HOW DO I REHEAT SHRIMP?
- Microwave: Microwave for 30 seconds, then continue to heat at 20 second intervals until warmed through.
- Stove: For larger portions, reheat gently on the stove just until warmed through. The key is to warm the shrimp and not cook the shrimp any further.
IS SHRIMP HEALTHY?
Shrimp is low in calories, contains zero carbs and provides a high amount of protein and healthy fats. It is also an excellent source of iodine, an important mineral required for proper thyroid function and brain health as well as selenium, a mineral that may help reduce inflammation and promote heart health.
Shrimp is also a good source of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids as well as the antioxidant astaxanthin, all of which promote heart health. It is also high in other nutrients, for example, four ounces of shrimp contains over 75% of the daily value for vitamin B12, over 50% for phosphorous, and over 30% for choline and copper, as well as phosphorus, niacin, zinc, and magnesium.
LOOKING FOR MORE EASY SHRIMP RECIPES?
- Fresh Shrimp Spring Rolls
- Shrimp with Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
- Mesquite Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
- Coconut Cashew Shrimp with Pineapple Dip
- Coconut Honey Lime Shrimp with Sriracha Mango Dip
- Lemon Garlic Cream Ravioli with Shrimp and Asparagus
- Roasted Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo
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