Lemon Garlic Shrimp is juicy, flavorful and goes with everything – including my sensational optional Greek Orzo!
10 Minute Lemon Garlic Shrimp is one of the easiest and quickest ways to prepare shrimp and also one of the most divine! The shrimp is tossed in salt, pepper, chili powder and paprika then sizzled in butter, lemon juice and garlic to create a self-basting lemon butter garlic sauce that’s out of this world. This simple Lemon Garlic Shrimp is a one skillet protein that uses pantry friendly ingredients so it’s super easy to throw together and it can be served with anything! Serve it over pasta, rice, spaghetti squash, zoodles, steamed vegetables for a complete gourmet-tasting meal that only took you minutes. I’ve also included my favorite way to serve this Lemon Garlic Shrimp – over Greek Lemon Orzo – you will be obsessed!
Shrimp recipes are easy!
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 deliciousness even without a marinade.
Some of my favorite shrimp recipes include: 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 and of course this new Lemon Garlic Shrimp! This shrimp recipe is the quickest and easiest of the aforementioned shrimp recipes and SO versatile.
Reasons to love Lemon Garlic Shrimp:
- Delicious & family friendly! Golden, juicy shrimp swimming in a garlicky lemony butter bath served over Greek orzo, pasta, potatoes or veggies is a winner with the entire family! The tender, fragrant, shrimp is stand-alone-flavorful from the seasonings and then made exponentially more intoxicating by the enveloping sunny, silky, tangy, sauce.
- Quick. This Lemon Garlic Shrimp recipe is one of those quick and easy walk-in-the-door-last-minute-meals that you can make at any time if you keep frozen, deveined shrimp stocked. Thawed shrimp requires just 3-4 minutes to cook – that’s it! If you choose to make the Greek Orzo with it (HIGHLY recommend), then you can still have dinner on your table in 30 minutes!
- Easy. Shrimp might sound intimidating to cook and then throw in a title like “Lemon Garlic Shrimp” and it sounds even more intimidating, but trust me, it is the easiest protein you will ever make – definitely beginner level but tastes expert level. This deceptively easy Lemon Garlic Shrimp is made by tossing the shrimp with seasonings, melting butter with olive oil, adding the shrimp then adding lemon juice and garlic – that’s it!
- Company worthy. Even though this shrimp recipe is simple and easy to throw together, it’s out of this world flavorful, elegant and will impress family and dinner guests alike.
- Breaks up the monotony. Chicken is hands down the most served protein which can honestly get a little boring. This Lemon Garlic Shrimp breaks up the monotony with its gourmet splendor.
- Simple Ingredients. You probably already have all the ingredients you need to make this Lemon Garlic Shrimp recipe right now-except perhaps the shrimp. 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.
- Versatile. The Lemon Garlic Shrimp recipe is super versatile. You can serve it with my Greek Orzo (pictured below) or it also pairs deliciously with pasta, rice, veggies, grits, potatoes and salad.
- One Pot: The Lemon Garlic Shrimp and the Greek Orzo cook in the same skillet for maximum flavor and the easiest cleanup!
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
TIPS FOR BUYING SHRIMP
This Lemon Garlic Butter 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.
Lemon Garlic Sauce Ingredients
This Lemon Garlic Shrimp recipe will blow you away at how ordinary shrimp can transform into something truly spectacular with just a few simple ingredients – especially when those ingredients are lemon, garlic and butter. This magical trio has to be one of the simplest yet most satisfying flavor combination in the world. And because there are so few ingredients, it is important to pay attention to quality. You will need:
- Garlic. Use the freshest garlic possible. This Lemon Garlic Shrimp recipe calls for 4-6 garlic cloves which is offers a nice garlic kick. You can of course use more or less to taste.
- Lemon juice. Use fresh lemon juice for the most vibrant flavor. Lemon juice awakens the sauce with its sunny tanginess and adds that pop of freshness to cut through the decadent butter.
- Butter. Use unsalted butter because we are salting the shrimp. This shrimp recipe calls for 3 tablespoon butter but you can replace some of the butter with oil (at the cost of flavor), or you can increase the butter if you want to have more sauce to toss with a pasta.
- Oil. Adding some olive oil to the butter prevents the butter from burning. Use quality oil for the best flavor. You may also substitute with your favorite neutral cooking oil.
- Seasonings. You can use any seasonings here except for dried herbs as they have the tendency to burn. I’ve used salt, pepper, chili powder and paprika for to provide an explosion of flavor that is also neutral enough to pair with anything.
- Fresh Herbs. If you’re making the Greek Orzo, you can add fresh herbs directly to the pasta, otherwise, you’ll want to toss the Lemon Garlic Shrimp with fresh herbs such as parsley right before serving.
My favorite way to serve Lemon Garlic Shrimp
You can serve Lemon Garlic Shrimp with practically anything, but one of my favorites is with Greek Orzo – because who doesn’t love Greek food? From my Greek Lemon Rice to my Chicken Souvlaki, Beef Souvlaki, Greek Pasta Salad, Chicken Gyros, Greek Pizza, I just can’t get enough of the fresh, bright, healthy cuisine – and this Lemon Garlic Shrimp and Greek Orzo were made for each other!
The buttery, garlicky shrimp with the lemon infused pasta simmered with juicy tomatoes and tender-crisp zucchini then tossed with salty Kalamata olives, creamy feta, and crunchy sliced almonds is a flavor and texture explosion that will having you licking the plate clean.
Greek Orzo Ingredients
- Orzo. I love orzo pasta (also known as risoni) because of its fabulous texture. It is a form of short-cut pasta, shaped like a long grain of rice and tastes similar to rice but is harder to overcook and become mushy. Orzo is easy to find in the pasta section of our grocery store. Pick up a few boxes because I also use it in my Creamy Orzo with Mushrooms recipe, Italian Chicken Orzo Pasta, Parmesan Meatballs and Orzo, and Southwest Orzo Salad.
- Chicken broth. Use low sodium chicken broth so we can control the salt.
- Red onion. Half of one red onion will do the trick. I don’t recommend substituting with yellow onion as red onion is sweeter and beautifully complements the lemon juice.
- Lemon juice. The orzo cooks in both chicken broth and lemon juice so it actually soaks up the lemon juice and becomes wonderfully bright and lemony without adding any lemon juice after it’s cooked. Again, use fresh lemon juice if possible.
- Tomatoes. Please use ripe cherry tomatoes for the best texture. Cherry tomatoes are inherently sweeter than grape tomatoes, so aim for cherry if you can.
- Zucchini. Slice the zucchini on the thicker side, about 1/4-1/2-inch so the don’t get too soft when simmered with the orzo.
- Capers. I already had capers on hand from my Chicken Piccata recipe and so they were a delightful addition with their salty, lemony punches of flavor. That being said, they are optional if you don’t already have them on hand – or pick them up and make this Lemon Garlic Shrimp recipe and the Chicken Piccata! Capers should be easy to find by the olives at your grocery store.
- Olives. Please use Kalamata olives and not just black olives for their dark, rich intensely fruity flavor. I use pitted Kalamata olives and then slice them because they are juicer and tend to hold together better than jarred sliced olives.
- Feta cheese. This rich, creamy, salty, tangy cheese adds SO much flavor! It is sold by the block or in crumbles. I always have a large container of feta crumbles in my fridge from Costco, so that is what I use but if you can get your hands-on chunked feta, it is also fabulous!
- Sliced Almonds. Add a delightful crunch I wouldn’t skip but you may substitute with chopped almonds, pine nuts, pistachios, etc.
IS THIS SHRIMP RECIPE GLUTEN FREE?
The Lemon Garlic Shrimp without the orzo is 100% gluten free. If you would like to make the shrimp with Greek Orzo, then you will need to swap the orzo with gluten free orzo pasta. The rest of the ingredients are gluten free.
DO I HAVE TO USE OLIVE OIL?
I almost always use a combination of butter and oil whether it’s for making a roux, pan frying chicken or cooking shrimp. The butter adds the undeniably scrumptious buttery flavor and the oil prevents the butter from burning. You may use all oil but you cannot use all butter or the butter will burn. If you use all oil, however, you will be missing out on all that buttery flavor. I recommend using both for best results. If you want to use a different oil, make sure it has a high smoking point and neutral flavor.
ALL ABOUT SHRIMP – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
If you are new to cooking shrimp, here is some helpful information to prepare and cook shrimp perfectly every time, whether for this Lemon Garlic Shrimp recipe or any of my other fabulous shrimp recipes:
HOW DO I DEFROST SHRIMP?
You will want to use raw shrimp for this Lemon Garlic 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.
SHOULD I COOK SHRIMP WITH TAIL ON OR OFF?
Cook your 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.
HOW DO I KNOW WHEN MY SHRIMP IS DONE COOKING?
- 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.
Can I Make This Shrimp Recipe with Frozen Shrimp?
Yes! I use frozen shrimp all the time just like I did in these Lemon Garlic Shrimp photos. Just make sure you thaw the shrimp completely and pat it dry before cooking it.
How to Cook Shrimp
Now that we’ve covered all of the basics – let’s get to the main event – how to make Lemon Garlic Shrimp!
STEP 1: SEASON SHRIMP
- Pat shrimp dry and toss in a bowl with shrimp seasonings.
- Drying the shrimp is important so the seasonings will actually stick.
- I also like to season the shrimp before it’s added to the skillet to ensure the seasonings are evenly distributed and actually end up on the shrimp.
STEP 2: SEAR ONE SIDE
- Melt butter in olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Melting the butter over medium-low ensures it won’t burn before the shrimp is done.
- Increase heat to medium-high. Increasing the heat to medium-high ensures the pan is hot enough to sear the shrimp.
- Once sizzling, add shrimp in a single layer and cook for 2 or just until the bottoms are seared.
STEP 3: ADD LEMON JUICE AND GARLIC
- Flip shrimp over, and make room in the center of the pan. The shrimp will have shrunk a little by this point, so it should be easy to make some room.
- Add lemon juice and garlic to the center of the pan and cook for 60 seconds while gently sautéing garlic (without moving shrimp) then give all the ingredients a stir.
- Continue to cook if needed just until shrimp are cooked through.
- Scrape shrimp and juices to a plate. Chop off tails once cool enough to handle if desired.
- You can stop at this point and serve your shrimp plain with veggies or over pasta or you can proceed to make the orzo.
STEP 4: saute orzo (optional)
- To the now empty pan, melt butter with olive oil over medium-low heat. Once melted, increase heat to medium-high and add orzo and red onions. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, until orzo is toasted and the red onion starts to soften.
- Sautéing the red onion and toasting the orzo unleashes unparalleled flavor and creates the base for the entire pasta. It also gives the red onions a head start in cooking so they can be done by the time the orzo is tender.
STEP 5: SIMMER
- Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice, salt and pepper. If using dried dill, parsley, and oregano, stir them in now (hold if using fresh).
- Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes then stir in zucchini, tomatoes and fresh dill, parsley, oregano if using. Simmer just until orzo is al dente, stirring often, another 3-5 minutes.
STEP 6: ADD-INS
- Stir in olives, capers, feta, almonds and mint until well combined. You can use more or less of any of the ingredients or swap them for your favs.
STEP 6: ADD SHRIMP
- Stir in Lemon Butter Shrimp and all accumulated juices.
- Taste and season with additional lemon juice or salt and pepper to taste.
TIPS FOR SHRIMP RECIPE
- Thaw shrimp. It might sound obvious, but it isn’t to some 😉. Make sure you thaw the shrimp before seasoning and cooking so the seasonings will stick, so the shrimp will cook evenly (without becoming rubbery) and so the melted water won’t dilute the sauce. Also, gently thaw the shrimp using my above detailed methods – never the microwave!
- Gather ingredients. This Lemon Garlic Shrimp recipe cooks in less than 5 minutes so it’s important your garlic is minced and your lemon juice is squeezed before you start cooking – otherwise, if you have to pause for any reason, you can easily overcook the shrimp.
- Microwave lemons. Ever since I learned this tip years ago, I use it all the time! Microwave your lemons for 15 seconds and be amazed at how much easier they are to juice (and how much more juice you get)!
- 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, and divide the lemon and garlic between the 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.
- Use fresh ingredients. This Lemon Garlic Shrimp uses so few ingredients, so it’s important that they are fresh! Use freshly squeezed lemon juice, freshly minced garlic and a fresh herb garnish.
LEMON GARLIC SHRIMP VARIATIONS:
This Lemon Garlic Shrimp recipe is delicious as written or it is easy to customize with different seasonings. Here are a few ideas:
- Spice it up. You can make the shrimp spicier by adding red pepper flakes with the garlic.
- Cajun shrimp. Swap the shrimp seasonings for Cajun seasonings. You can even stir fry some bell peppers in the same skillet after you remove the shrimp.
- Mexican shrimp. Swap the seasonings for chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper like I do in this Cilantro Lime Shrimp Taco recipe.
- Cilantro Lime shrimp. Use the aforementioned seasonings and swap the lemon juice for lime juice then stir in 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.
- Fresh Parmesan. Add freshly grated Parmesan to the cooked shrimp for a salty, nutty flair. When shredding the Parmesan, make sure you use the smallest, prickly holes of the grater so it becomes powdery.
- Add capers. If you aren’t making the Greek Orzo, you can add capers directly to the Lemon Garlic Shrimp. Add about 2 tablespoons (drained) when you add the garlic.They add both acid and salt which intensify the flavor into something extraordinary.
- Heavy cream. After you remove the shrimp, add some heavy cream to the skillet and let it reduce down. Once reduced and thickened, you can even melt in some Parmesan then toss it with the cooked shrimp.
WHAT GOES WELL WITH SHRIMP?
This Lemon Garlic Shrimp recipe is a chameleon of sorts in that it tastes fabulous with so many things! So, if you aren’t pairing it with Greek Orzo (which I highly suggest you try at least once), it is also delish with:
Rice or quinoa. Serve garlic butter shrimp over plain white rice, brown rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice and let the intoxicating lemon garlic butter sauce seep into every nook and cranny. If you are adding the shrimp to plain rice or pasta, consider mixing in some spinach to pack in your greens with minimal effort. Lemon Garlic Shrimp is also fantastic with already spectacular Rice Pilaf, Greek Lemon Rice, Parmesan risotto, Butternut Squash Risotto, Mushroom Orzo Pasta in Asiago Cream Sauce.and transforms them into a meal-in-one!
Pasta. Toss some Lemon Garlic Shrimp with long pasta such as angel hair or spaghetti. You may want to double the butter if tossing with pasta or you can add softened butter directly to the hot pasta to melt or add a couple splashes of olive oil. 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.
Potatoes. Serve Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp over mashed potatoes, similar to shrimp and grits, or serve any of these potato dishes on the side: 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 garlic shrimp, especially with that lemon butter sauce dripping over top. Some of my favorite vegetables with Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp are: Roasted Parmesan Broccoli, Roasted Parmesan Asparagus, Roasted Carrots or Glazed Carrots, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, Parmesan Roasted Root Vegetables, or Crockpot Creamed Corn.
Salad. Garlic butter 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.
Fruit: Every entree is enhanced by mother nature’s candy. Go simple with a side of grapes, melon or apples or enjoy Pina Colada Fruit Salad, Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette, Winter Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Poppy Seed Vinaigrette, or Berry Salad in Honey Mascarpone.
HOW LONG IS LEMON GARLIC SHRIMP GOOD FOR?
Lemon Garlic 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 Lemon Garlic Butter 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.
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