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).
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
As I mentioned in the intro, I love this Garlic Butter Shrimp because it’s a super fast protein that can be added on top of just about any recipe, like salads, pastas, stir fries, and more. Try adding this tasty shrimp to recipes like:
- Mediterranean White Bean Salad
- Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad
- Lemon Pepper Zucchini
- Summer Sweet Corn Salad
- One Pot Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta
- Roasted Vegetable Salad Meal Prep
- Lemony Artichoke and Quinoa Salad
- Cold Peanut Noodle Salad
- Upgraded Instant Ramen
- Tuscan White Bean Pasta
- Lighter Spinach Alfredo Pasta
- Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad
- Mushroom Broccoli Stir Fry
- Thai Curry Vegetable Soup
Garlic Butter Shrimp
- 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.
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How to Make Garlic Butter Shrimp – Step by Step Photos
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 over cook the shrimp. If anything, err on the side of under cooked 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.
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.
Season the shrimp with a little salt, freshly cracked pepper, and chopped parsley (optional). Toss to combine.
Serve immediately, as-is or on top of your favorite salad, pasta, rice dish, or stir fry!