How to BBQ Whole Shrimp: Grilling time

BBQ Whole Shrimp

Tired of the same old barbecue fare? Switch it up with whole shrimp on the grill! They cook quickly, soak up a smoky flavor, and make your meal look like a gourmet feast. Whether you’re hosting a party or just spicing up a weeknight dinner, grilling whole shrimp is an easy win. Ready to impress at your next outdoor cookout? Let’s get grilling and wow your guests with this simple yet delicious twist!

BBQ Whole Shrimp
Credits to Serious Eats

What is BBQ Whole Shrimp?

BBQ whole shrimp is a delicious grilling technique where shrimp are cooked with their shells on, directly over a flame. This method locks in moisture and infuses the shrimp with a rich, smoky flavor, turning them into a tender and juicy treat. It’s a popular choice for adding a seafood twist to backyard barbecues and gatherings.

Cooking the shrimp whole also means less prep and cleanup, making it a convenient option for any grill master looking to impress with minimal fuss.

Whether served as an appetizer or a main dish, BBQ whole shrimp is a crowd-pleaser that brings a bit of coastal flair to any meal.

BBQ Whole Shrimp
Credits to The Spruce Eats

How to BBQ Whole Shrimp

How to BBQ Whole Shrimp: cleaning the shrimp
Credits to wikiHow


  • Begin with fresh or properly thawed whole shrimp. Ensure they’re cleaned while keeping the shells intact to protect the flesh and lock in flavor during grilling.
  • Dry the shrimp thoroughly with paper towels. This helps them get a good sear rather than steaming on the grill.


  • Combine olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Add herbs like parsley or a sprinkle of chili flakes for an extra kick.
  • Toss the shrimp in this mixture, making sure they are evenly coated. Let them marinate for about 15-30 minutes, but not longer to avoid the lemon juice cooking the shrimp.


  • Heat your grill to medium-high. If your shrimp are small, consider using a grill basket or skewers to prevent them from slipping through the grates.
  • Place the shrimp on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. The shells should turn pink, and the shrimp should become opaque, indicating they are cooked through.
How to BBQ Whole Shrimp: Grilling time
Credits to Taste


  • Remove the shrimp from the grill and serve immediately. They’re great with extra lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over or a dipping sauce like cocktail sauce or a simple garlic butter.
  • This method ensures your whole shrimp are flavorful, juicy, and perfect for a quick, impressive meal at your next barbecue.
Serving BBQ Whole Shrimp
Credits to The Spruce Eats

How Long Does It Take to Grill Shrimp on the BBQ?

Grilling shrimp is a quick process, making it ideal for a no-fuss, delicious meal. Typically, it takes about 2-3 minutes on each side to perfectly grill whole shrimp. The exact time can depend on the size of the shrimp and the heat of your grill.

Here’s what to look for:

  1. Place the shrimp on a preheated grill over medium-high heat.
  2. Once the shrimp hit the grill, they’ll start turning a vibrant pink.
  3. Flip them after 2-3 minutes and give the other side another 2-3 minutes.
  4. They’re done when they are uniformly pink and opaque throughout.

Keep a close eye on them; shrimp cook quickly, and overcooking can make them tough.

Is It Better to BBQ Shrimp with Shell On or Off?

When it comes to BBQing shrimp, grilling them with the shell on is often the better choice. Here’s why:

  1. Flavor Enhancement:
    • The shell helps retain the shrimp’s natural juices, enhancing the flavor and preventing them from drying out during the high heat of grilling.
  2. Protection:
    • The shells act as a protective barrier, shielding the delicate meat from the direct flames and reducing the risk of overcooking.
  3. Ease of Handling:
    • Shrimp with their shells on are easier to handle and flip on the grill. They are less likely to stick to the grill grates or fall apart when turning.
  4. Aesthetic and Experience:
    • Serving shrimp with their shells can make for a more engaging eating experience, allowing diners to peel them as they eat, which can be part of the fun of a seafood feast.
How to BBQ Whole Shrimp: Grilling time
BBQ Shrimp withShell
Credits to Jess Pryles

While shelled shrimp might take slightly longer to eat, the benefits of grilling them with their shells on—such as improved flavor and moisture retention—make it a worthwhile method for your next BBQ.

Serving Suggestions for BBQ Whole Shrimp

Once you’ve mastered the art of BBQing whole shrimp, presenting them in a way that complements their smoky and succulent flavor can elevate your meal. Here are some delicious ways to serve your grilled shrimp:

  1. Simple and Classic:
    • Serve the shrimp with lemon wedges and a sprinkle of fresh parsley. This classic approach lets the natural flavors of the shrimp shine through.
  2. Dipping Sauces:
    • Offer a variety of sauces for dipping, such as cocktail sauce, garlic butter, or a spicy remoulade. Each sauce can bring out a different aspect of the shrimp’s flavor.
  3. Grilled Sides:
    • Pair the shrimp with other grilled favorites like corn on the cob, asparagus, or bell peppers. The charred flavors complement each other beautifully.
  4. Seafood Platter:
    • Create a seafood feast by adding other grilled seafood like scallops or lobster tails alongside your shrimp.
  5. Fresh Salads:
    • Serve the shrimp over a fresh green salad or a tangy coleslaw to add a refreshing contrast to the warm, smoky shrimp.
  6. Warm Breads:
    • Offer some crusty bread or garlic toast on the side. It’s perfect for sopping up any leftover dipping sauces or juices.

These serving suggestions not only make the meal more enjoyable but also turn a simple dish of BBQ shrimp into a delightful dining experience.

Wrapping Up

Grilling whole shrimp is a delightful way to diversify your barbecue repertoire and impress your guests with something a little different. Not only is it a quick and straightforward process, but it also enhances the shrimp’s flavor through the smoky char of the grill. Keeping the shells on during grilling helps protect the delicate meat, ensuring that each shrimp remains juicy and tender.

Whether you serve them with a side of dipping sauces, fresh salads, or alongside other grilled delicacies, BBQ whole shrimp are guaranteed to be a hit. So next time you fire up the grill, consider adding whole shrimp to the menu. It’s a simple yet elegant choice that promises to add a touch of gourmet to your outdoor dining experience. Happy grilling, and enjoy the wonderful flavors that come with BBQ whole shrimp!

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