An easy shrimp (or prawn) marinade recipe can come handy when you are short on time and need to put dinner on the table. The beauty of shrimp is that it cooks up super quick and can be enjoyed as a healthy dinner alongside some of my favorite sides. Plus, marinated shrimp can be transformed into Grilled Shrimp Skewers or Shrimp and Veggie Kabobs, for an eye-catching summer meal that you can make on a Tuesday night.
They also make a great salad topper and a healthy meal, like in Shrimp Orzo Salad, Shrimp Avocado Corn Salad and Spinach Shrimp Salad.
If you agree that there is nothing like biting down on a juicy and succulent piece of shrimp that has been marinated with bright and zesty flavors read on…
Why You Should Make This Recipe
I like to think of this simple shrimp marinade as the only thing standing between a bland and bold piece of shrimp.
I love it because it’s:
- Made with 7 pantry ingredients and comes together in 5 minutes.
- Flavor-forward and works for all methods of cooking shrimp (and prawn) – grilled, baked, broiled and sauteed.
- Versatile and can be used for raw, frozen and cooked shrimp or prawns.
- My go-to seafood marinade for grilling and can be used on other types of seafood such as scallops, salmon, or halibut.
- An easy overnight marinade (with one minor adjustment)!
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions:
The ingredient list includes olive oil, lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, honey, fresh garlic, paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, fresh parsley, kosher salt, black pepper and cleaned shrimp.
Below are a few helpful notes, including a few substitutions for the marinade ingredients:
- Best Shrimp to use: I like to purchase medium size shrimp (21-25 count) that have already been peeled and deveined. Whole prawns (with their heads still intact) or jumbo shrimp are both great options, too.
- Olive oil vs Butter: I used olive oil but you can substitute it with an equal amount of melted and cooled butter if you want.
- Any citrus would work: Feel free to use lime zest and lime juice instead of lemon. Orange or grapefruit would offer a nice twist, too.
- Asian Flavor: Soy sauce is a wonderful replacement for the lemon juice if going for an Asian zing. If doing so, omit the salt in the recipe.
- Do not skip the honey: I originally made the marinade without honey and let me tell you, the honey makes all the difference! It adds a subtle sweet flavor that makes the shrimp all the more addicting. I like it with a mild honey, such as orange blossom or clover, but use whatever you have on hand.
Brown sugar is a great alternative for honey. The sugar granules will naturally dissolve while whisking the marinade.
- Use your favorite paprika: A mild or hot paprika will do. Use whatever spice level you prefer. Smoked paprika would add a touch of smoky flavor without ever having to turn on the grill.
- Hot Sauce: If you are fan of spicy food, feel free to add in a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce for an addictively spicy marinade.
Grocery Shopping Tip: Shrimp are labeled in a range of sizes – small, medium, large, extra large, jumbo and colossal, but it’s the number you’re looking for. Here is a great article about various sizes of shrimp.
Usually this is shown as a divided number (ex: 21/25) or a number preceded by the letter ‘U’ (ex: U-15). The number represents the average amount of shrimp in a one pound bag.
How to Peel and Devein Shrimp
I like to purchase uncooked shrimp that have already been peeled and deveined. That being said, it is so easy to peel and devein the shrimp when you get home. Simply:
- Rinse shrimp under cold water.
- Pull off the legs and large part of the shell with your fingers. At this point, you can leave the tail on or remove it. Discard or save the shells to make seafood stock.
- Cut across the top of the shrimp with a paring knife, then remove the vein with the knife or a wooden skewer.
- If some sandy grit remains, wash it away under cool running water.
How to Make Marinade for Shrimp
All it takes is a few easy steps to have the garlic shrimp marinade ready in no time! Simply:
- Place olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, garlic, paprika, red pepper flakes, parsley salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Give it a whisk until fully combined.
- Reserve one tablespoon of the marinade.
- Add the shrimp into the bowl and toss to coat. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can place it in a plastic bag if you want it to take less space in your fridge.
- To cook, you can grill (using my Easy Grilled Shrimp Recipe using an outdoor grill or on the stove top using a grill pan) or saute shrimp for 2-3 minutes on each side or until pink and opaque.
- Drizzle the reserved marinade over the shrimp and serve.
Note: For proper food safety, discard any leftover raw shrimp marinade as it can not be reused.
How Long Can You Marinate Shrimp
I recommend marinating the shrimp for 30 minutes or less since there is lemon juice in the marinade. The acid in the lemon juice will actually start to cook the shrimp if left to sit for too long and make the shrimp mushy.
That being said, the shrimp can be marinated for a few hours and up to overnight as long as you omit the lemon juice. Simply add the lemon juice up to 30 minutes before planning to cook. In either case, marinate in the fridge until you’re ready to start cooking.
How to Cook Marinated Shrimp
Marinated shrimp can be grilled, baked, broiled, or sautéed. No matter which way you choose, cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes on each side in medium-high heat, or until pink and opaque. You know they’re ready when the tails start to curl in.
Pro Tip: Jumbo shrimp will take longer to cook than medium size shrimp. Because of this, I recommend purchasing jumbo shrimp or prawns with the shell on. Snip the top with a pair of kitchen shears, remove the vein and marinate and cook with the shell on. This helps to trap in their juices.
How to Store
The quick shrimp marinade can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, which makes it great for meal prep.
Keep in mind, this is only the marinade, not the marinade with the shrimp.
Tips for Success:
- Purchase fresh or frozen shrimp in whichever size you prefer. Frozen shrimp is actually the better buy since the raw shrimp in the fresh fish section of grocery stores has been previously frozen and thawed. This, in turn, shortens their shelf life. Fresh shrimp should be cooked within a day or two of purchasing.
- Pat the shrimp dry before tossing with the marinade. This ensures the sauce sticks to the seafood.
- Toss the shrimp gently to make sure every piece is coated with the marinade. A large bowl or plastic bag works well.
- Reserve one tablespoon of the marinade for finishing. It adds a light, bright flavor at the end of cooking.
- If short on time, make the marinade up to 3 days in advance and store in an airtight container (without the shrimp) until ready to use.
Yes, you can leave the tails on the shrimp while marinating and cooking. I find the tails make a prettier presentation and make it easier to eat without utensils.
Yes! Although more flavor will be absorbed into raw shrimp, frozen shrimp are so small, they start to thaw immediately when taken out of the freezer. After the 30 minute marinating time in the fridge, the shrimp should be thawed enough to cook through.
Yes, if the marinade recipe includes citrus juice (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit), then the acid in the citrus juice will start to cook the shrimp and break down its delicate protein. Stick to the 30-minute mark with this recipe.
Yes! It is better to marinate raw shrimp but if you purchased already cooked shrimp or just do not feel like cooking it yourself, cooked shrimp is perfectly acceptable to marinate. For best results, marinate cooked shrimp for at least a few hours and up to overnight, but omit the lemon juice until you are ready to serve.
Shrimp marinated in lemon juice, or any citrus juice, should marinate for 30 minutes or less. The acid from the citrus juice will start to cook the shrimp and turn the delicate meat mushy.
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Easy Shrimp Marinade Recipe
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ cup lemon juice freshly squeezed*
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes optional
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 lb. shrimp 16-20 or 21-25 count, peeled and deveined
- Place olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, garlic, paprika, red pepper flakes, parsley salt, and pepper in a bowl. Give it a whisk until fully combined.
- Reserve one tablespoon of the marinade.
- Add the shrimp into the bowl and toss to coat. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes*.
- To cook, you can grill or saute shrimp for 2-3 minutes on each side or until pink.
- Drizzle the reserved marinade over the shrimp and serve.
- This shrimp marinade recipe makes enough to marinade 1 pound of shrimp. The recipe recipe can be multiplied if you want to marinade more shrimp.
- How long to marinade? I recommend marinating the shrimp for 30 minutes or less since there is lemon juice in the marinade. The acid in the lemon juice will actually start to cook the shrimp if left to sit for too long and make the shrimp mushy.
- To marinade overnight: The shrimp can be marinated for a few hours or overnight as long as you omit the lemon juice. Simply add the lemon juice up to 30 minutes before planning to cook.
- Best way to store the marinade: The quick shrimp marinade can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, which makes it great for meal prep. Keep in mind, this is only the marinade, not the marinade with the shrimp.
- Please take the nutrition information below with a grain of salt and only for reference per serving. Since we toss most of the marinade, the individual values would be less.
This recipe is great for shrimp but it works well with other seafood, as well,
Can’t agree more! Thanks for coming by Dwight.
So easy to make and delicious. I used it to marinate halibut as well.
I use it as a general seafood marinade as well. Thanks for coming by and sharing your experience.
Fantastic shrimp marinade recipe. Easy and quick to make. I made it for 4th of July and shrimp disappeared first. My husband even asked me to print this recipe so that we can make it again.
Love your recipes. Thanks.
This is music to my ears Diana. I am happy to hear that you guys enjoyed it.
Thanks SO much for coming by and taking the time to leave a message.