Garlic Butter Shrimp

Add salad and a glass of chilled wine for an unbeatably quick and easy dinner.

Garlic Butter Shrimp
Photo: Will Dickey
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
20 mins

Sometimes, the simplest dishes are the best—like this Garlic Butter Shrimp that can be whipped up in 20 minutes with a few pantry and fridge staples.

The recipe is basic, but adaptable in so many ways. Add Calabrian chili paste or crushed red pepper for more heat. Throw in some frozen vegetables to increase the fill-up factor. Toss a few fresh herbs in to brighten the dish, or give a splash of sherry vinegar in place of the lemon juice for a Spanish vibe. With capers and fresh tomatoes, you've got an easy peasy pasta. Truly, the options are nearly endless.

This garlic and butter shrimp dish is one you may want to add to your weekly rotation as it's an easy and affordable restaurant dupe, especially once you add pasta. The garlic-butter sauce is exactly the kind of sauce you'll want to dip your bread into; rich, garlicky, salty, and savory. Be sure to pick up a good loaf at the store.

Here, a bit more about how to make garlic butter shrimp and what to serve with it so that you're never bored by this seafood dinner.

Ingredients for Garlic Butter Shrimp

This recipe calls for fewer than 10 ingredients, but they all pull their weight with flavor.

garlic butter shrimp recipes
Will Dickey

It's first in the recipe name, so you know it's a big flavor. Garlic is a brilliant pair with shrimp: The crustacean's natural sweetness is the perfect foil for garlic's assertive bite.

You can finely chop the garlic for this recipe if you don't have a Mircoplane grater. Our Test Kitchen likes how quickly the grated garlic melts into the sauce and mellows out, leaving you with a much better balance of flavors.

Butter is both the fat for cooking the lean shrimp and the base of the rich sauce. You'll only need three tablespoons, so don't skimp with imitation margarines or cheap butters.

Try to buy the freshest, highest-quality shrimp you can, as the crustacean is the star of the show. Fresh is great if it's right from the ocean. Otherwise, look for frozen. Most frozen shrimp is processed and frozen right on the boat after they're plucked from the water, so it's nearly as fresh as can be.

How to Buy Shrimp

Shrimp is available at your local grocery store in the frozen section or at seafood markets if you're lucky enough to have one in town.

While there are a dozen labels and preparations, we recommend purchasing jumbo peeled, deveined raw shrimp for this recipe. Peeling and deveining shrimp are two finicky, time-consuming chores, though they cost more than shell-on or "easy peel" shrimp.

Forgo bags with freezer burn or any covered in ice, both of which can affect taste and texture. If sustainability matters to you, look for labels like Marine Stewardship Council or Aquaculture Stewardship Council, which work with fisheries to protect marine life.

Local fresh shrimp is valued for its superior flavor and texture. If you can buy fresh, the shrimp should have its head on, have a fresh, saltwater smell, and have a firm texture.

How to Make Garlic Butter Shrimp

This 20-minute garlic-and-butter shrimp recipe is so easy that once you've cooked it for the first time, you may find yourself calling on it again and again.

Step 1. Cook shrimp

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. You want the shrimp to begin to sizzle and cook the moment they hit the pan. This will help reduce any chewiness that can sometimes develop when shrimp aren't cooked properly.

Once the oil is heated well, add the shrimp, salt, and crusted red pepper. Stir occasionally to help throughly cook all the shrimp. These shrimp should be cooked in about 3 minutes, but you'll add two more ingredients to the pan before they're done.

cooking shrimp in skillet
Will Dickey

Step 2. Add garlic and butter

In many recipes, garlic is cooked before other ingredients so that it has a chance to mellow out. We want the garlic flavor in this Garlic Butter Shrimp to be a bit stronger, so the garlic won't be added until this step.

Add the grated butter to the skillet after about 2 minutes of cooking. It'll cook in the final minute as the shrimp is just about finished.

Then, add the butter. Stir constantly so that the butter will melt and the garlic will dissolve into the sauce. Once the butter is melted and all the shrimp are opaque, pull the skillet from the stove.

Garlic Butter Shrimp
Will Dickey

Step 3. Add final touches

Once you take the skillet off the stove, stir in the fresh lemon juice. Give the shrimp a few good turns so the sauce has a chance to mix well and coat the shrimp. Then, sprinkle the chopped parsley. Grab the basket of crusty bread, and serve up your delicious dinner.

Garlic Butter Shrimp
Will Dickey

How Do You Know When Shrimp Is Cooked?

It doesn't take long to cook shrimp; in this recipe, we call for three minutes over medium-high heat. But it can be easy to over or under-cook the crustacean with such a short cooking window.

Start with fully thawed shrimp to ensure proper cooking. Look for opaque, white or pink shrimp once cooked with no translucent or grey parts.

How to Thaw Frozen Shrimp

Safely thaw shrimp in the fridge overnight or in a bowl of cool water to speed up the process. Leaving frozen shrimp at room temperature or in warm water can be dangerous and encourage bacterial growth. Likewise, microwaving frozen shrimp isn't ideal as it could begin cooking the ingredient and result in a rubbery texture.

How to Reheat Shrimp

Prevent rubbery reheated shrimp leftovers by warming up extras in a small pan on the stove instead of the microwave. Allow the dish to reach a simmer (add a bit more butter if you need something for the shrimp to cook in), and then cook until thoroughly reheated.

What Should You Serve with Garlic Shrimp?

Pasta, orzo, rice, roasted potatoes, or just about any carb you can think of is the ideal serving option for these buttery and rich garlic shrimp. Complete the meal with a green salad and a fresh loaf of bread to dunk the extra sauce in, and dinner is served!

Editorial Contributions by Alexandra Emanuelli.


  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 lb. jumbo peeled, deveined raw shrimp, tail-on

  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper

  • 6 medium garlic cloves, grated with a Microplane grater (2 tsp.)

  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • Crusty bread


  1. Heat oil in a large heavy-duty skillet over medium-high. Add shrimp, salt, and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are almost cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add garlic during final 1 minute of cooking time. Add butter; cook, stirring constantly, until butter is melted and shrimp are opaque throughout, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, and stir in parsley and lemon juice. Serve with crusty bread.

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