Quick Garlic Butter Shrimp

$4.37 recipe / $2.19 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.50 from 6 votes
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As I mentioned last week, I’ve been experimenting a with shrimp a little more lately. Why? It’s super fast and easy to cook, and you can add it to so many different things! So it’s a great à la carte protein that you can cook on the side and then add to any recipe. This is super helpful for families that need to feed both vegetarians and omnivores. This Garlic Butter Shrimp is super tasty, takes only minutes to make, and can be paired with a variety of different flavored dishes (recommendations below).

Overhead view of a skillet full of Garlic Butter Shrimp

Tips for Enjoying Shrimp on a Budget

Shrimp is not usually thought of as a budget item. But there are ways that you can make it a little more affordable. And you may still only be able to splurge on something like this once per year, depending on your budget, but I want to make sure you know how to cook it when you do. :) So here are some tips for making shrimp work on a budget:

  • Purchasing frozen shrimp is usually less expensive than fresh, and you can keep it on hand without worries of it going bad, so head to your freezer section when shopping for shrimp. And as always, keep an eye out for sales!
  • Buy the right size shrimp for the recipe. Because smaller shrimp have more pieces per pound, it often feels like you’re getting more even when you’re using less. Reserve jumbo shrimp for appetizers or dishes where you’ll be eating one piece at a time. User smaller shrimp for salads, stir fries, pastas, and other recipes where the shrimp will be mixed in with other ingredients.
  • Pair your shrimp with less expensive ingredients, like pasta, rice, or vegetables to keep the overall cost of the recipe down.
  • Compare prices of peeled and shell-on shrimp. Sometimes you pay more for shrimp that is already peeled, but it only takes minutes to remove the shells by hand. 

What Size Shrimp to Use for Garlic Butter Shrimp

This recipe can be made with any size shrimp. Keep in mind that cooking time will be slightly longer for larger shrimp and slightly less for smaller shrimp. Because I planned to add this shrimp to other dishes, like salads, pasta, or rice pilafs, I used a slightly smaller shrimp so I would get more pieces per serving.

The shrimp I used on the day of the photos was 41-60 size, which means there are approximately 41-60 pieces per pound. The higher the number, the smaller the shrimp. This size number is usually listed on the front of the package of shrimp.

Tail On or Tail Off?

You can cook this Garlic Butter Shrimp either with the tail on or the tail off. Leaving the tail on adds to the visual appeal and may add a little extra flavor to the pan sauce, but it can make for extra work while eating the shrimp. If you’re adding the shrimp to a dish where you don’t mind picking the shrimp up by hand to remove the tail as you eat, go ahead and leave the tail on. If you’ll be adding the shrimp to something like a saucy pasta where it would be difficult to pick out each shrimp and remove the tail before eating every bite, then remove the tail before cooking the shrimp.

How to Serve Garlic Butter Shrimp

Close up of Garlic Butter Shrimp in pan sauce
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Garlic Butter Shrimp

4.50 from 6 votes
This super quick Garlic Butter Shrimp is a great à la carte protein that can be added to just about any meal!
Close up of Garlic Butter Shrimp in pan sauce
Servings 2 ¼ lb. shrimp each
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 7 minutes
Total 17 minutes


  • 1/2 lb. shrimp* ($3.33)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 1 fresh lemon** ($0.43)
  • 2 Tbsp butter ($0.26)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.12)
  • 1/8 tsp salt ($0.01)
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.01)
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley (optional) ($0.05)


  • If your shrimp is frozen, place it in a colander and run cool water over the shrimp for a couple of minutes, or until thawed. If your shrimp is shell-on or tail-on, remove the shell and tail (if desired). Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel.
  • Squeeze two tablespoons of juice from the lemon. Mince the garlic.
  • Add the butter and olive oil to a large skillet. Heat the butter and olive oil over medium until the butter is melted and is beginning to foam.
  • Add the prepared shrimp to the skillet and cook the shrimp on each side just until pink and opaque. Be very careful not to overcook the shrimp. It should only take 1-3 minutes on each side, depending on the size of the shrimp.
  • Finally, add the garlic and about 1 Tbsp of lemon juice to the skillet. Continue to sauté the shrimp in the garlic butter for about one minute more, or just until the raw edge is cooked out of the garlic.
  • Season the shrimp with a little salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and chopped parsley. Toss to combine, then serve.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.


*Use fresh or frozen shrimp, shell and tail on or off. Any size shrimp will work, keeping in mind that larger shrimp will take slightly longer to cook than smaller shrimp.
**If you do not have a lemon you can replace the juice with chicken broth or white wine.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 289.55kcalCarbohydrates: 3.1gProtein: 23.35gFat: 20.3gSodium: 849.95mgFiber: 0.1g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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Close up of one garlic butter shrimp with the skillet full in the background

How to Make Garlic Butter Shrimp – Step by Step Photos

Shrimp Package

This is the shrimp I used: frozen, 41-60 size, shell and tail on. You can make Garlic Butter Shrimp with fresh or frozen shrimp, shell and tail on or off, and any size. Just keep in mind that larger shrimp will take slightly longer to cook than smaller shrimp. Whichever size you get, shrimp in general cooks VERY fast and the most important thing to watch out for is that it is not over cooked. Overcooking shrimp makes it tough and rubbery. I used ½ lb. for this recipe, but you can easily double the recipe, if needed.

Thawed shrimp in a colander

If your shrimp is frozen, you’ll want to thaw it before cooking. Luckily, shrimp thaws very quickly! Place the frozen shrimp in a colander and run cool water over it for just a couple of minutes, or until thawed. 

Peeled shrimp next to a bowl of shrimp peels

If your shrimp comes peel-on, go ahead and peel it before cooking. The peel removes very quickly by hand. You can leave the tails on or take them off (see tips above the recipe for when you might want to leave them on vs. off). Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel.

Minced garlic and juiced lemon

Mince two cloves of garlic. Juice one lemon. You’ll need about 2 Tbsp of juice, so if you only need to juice half to get that you can slice the other half to use as a garnish. If you don’t have a lemon, you can substitute white wine or chicken broth for the lemon juice.

Butter and olive oil in a skillet

Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter to a large skillet. Heat over medium until the butter is melted and beginning to foam.

Shrimp in the skillet being flipped with tongs

Add the prepared shrimp to the skillet and cook on each side just until it’s opaque and pink (this should only take 1-3 minutes, depending on the size of your shrimp). Flip the shrimp and cook on the other side. Do not overcook the shrimp. If anything, err on the side of undercooked because they will cook for about one minute more in the next step. In the photo above, you can see the pink shrimp that have been flipped and the grey shrimp that are still raw side facing up.

Garlic and lemon juice being added to the skillet

When the shrimp are cooked, add the minced garlic and lemon juice. Continue to sauté for about one minute more, or until the raw edge is off the garlic.

Chopped parsley added to the skillet

Season the shrimp with a little salt, freshly cracked pepper, and chopped parsley (optional). Toss to combine.

Finished Garlic Butter Shrimp in the skillet

Serve immediately, as-is or on top of your favorite salad, pasta, rice dish, or stir fry!

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