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I’m obsessed with this barbecue shrimp recipe. The delicious dish is great as a main course served over rice but it’s also fun to serve as an appetizer with slices of grilled crusty French bread.
What is BBQ shrimp?
When we think of barbecue, we think of our favorite proteins cooked slow and low with a touch of smoke brushed with barbecue sauce. This BBQ shrimp recipe is a bit different.
Shrimp cook quickly, so you can’t really smoke them slowly because it would effect their texture.
Instead, you’ll add the shrimp to a large skillet and cook them in a rich buttery sauce.
The sauce’s garlic, paprika and chili flavors resemble BBQ sauce, but it’s not sweet and sticky. It’s luscious and addictive and you’ll want to keep dunking your shrimp in the skillet along with some French bread.
- Shrimp: This recipe calls for raw shrimp. Look for the 16-20-count jumbo shrimp that are already peeled and deveined. You can use fresh shrimp or thawed frozen shrimp.
- Butter: I use salted butter, but unsalted is fine, too.
- Memphis BBQ Rub: This rub from BBQ Guys and Spiceology goes so well with seafood. It’s made with salt, sugar and a blend of spices, including mustard seed, garlic, chili powder and celery seeds. It also has a little chipotle, which gives the sauce a smoky flavor.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic adds more richness to the butter sauce.
- Green Onions: These are used as a garnish at the end to add brightness to each bite. You can also use fresh herbs.
- French bread: As an optional side, grill up some French bread slices brushed with olive oil.
Substitutions: To make New Orleans BBQ shrimp, use creole seasoning or Cajun seasoning instead of the Memphis rub with a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce.
See the full recipe card below for servings and a full list of ingredients.
How to cook BBQ shrimp
This recipe can be prepared on a grill or stovetop over medium heat. Place a 14-inch cast iron skillet on the burner or grill and heat it to 375F degrees. I use an infrared gun to get an accurate reading.
- STEP ONE: Add one stick of butter and let it melt. Add in the Memphis BBQ Rub and stir to combine.
- STEP TWO: Place shrimp and minced garlic in the pan of butter sauce. Toss to coat.
- STEP THREE: Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often until the shrimp are cooked through. Don’t overcook the shrimp. Just look for them to turn pink and become opaque.
- STEP FOUR: While the shrimp are cooking, you can also grill up slices of French bread and lemons over medium-high heat. The crusty bread is amazing when you dip it in the butter sauce. The lemon slices add a nice colorful touch and can be smeared on the bread or eaten with the shrimp.
How to serve barbecue shrimp
Carefully remove the pan from the grill, garnish the cooked shrimp with chopped green onions and serve with French bread.
You can spoon the shrimp and savory sauce onto individual plates as a main dish or let everyone eat it straight from the pan.
To add more substance to the meal, serve the shrimp over white rice or grits. The shrimp are also great on a salad.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Don’t forget to save the flavorful sauce. It’s best not to freeze the shrimp because doing so will change their texture.
GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips
- Save time by using pre-peeled and deveined shrimp
- Heat your cast iron to 375F degrees before adding the food
- The recipe only takes 5 minutes to cook, so don’t walk away
Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you’re cooking shrimp on a grill or in a skillet to make BBQ shrimp, you only need to cook it 2-3 minutes per side. Look for the shrimp to turn pink and opaque.
This recipe isn’t barbecued in the traditional sense. In fact, it can even be made indoors. It gets its name because the spices that are added to the sauce are spices that are similarly used in BBQ dishes.
Place the frozen shrimp in a large bowl. Cover it with cool water. Use your hands to work the shrimp and separate any that are stuck together.
Dump out the water and repeat with fresh water until they are thawed.
Pour the shrimp into a colander to drain all the water. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels.
Yes. You can make this dish with shell-on shrimp, but it makes the dish harder to eat because you have to remove them. And when you remove the shells, you also remove the extra sauce.
More seafood recipes
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Memphis Style BBQ Shrimp
- 1 stick butter, 1/2 cup
- 2 tbsp BBQ Guys Memphis Rub
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 lbs raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 green onions, diced
- 1 loaf French bread, optional
- olive oil, optional
- Heat Skillet: Place a 14-inch cast iron skillet on a grill or stovetop over medium heat. Heat the skillet to 375F degrees.
- Make Sauce: Place the butter and Memphis Rub in the hot skillet. Stir until the butter is melted.
- Cook Shrimp: Add the garlic and shrimp to the butter sauce. Toss to coat. Cook stirring often for about 5 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked through.
- Grill Bread: While the shrimp is cooking, slice the French bread, coat with olive oil and grill for 30-60 seconds per side.
- Garnish: Remove the cooked shrimp from the grill. Garnish with green onions and serve with the grilled bread.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.