This is one of our favorite pan-seared shrimp recipes not only because Argentinian red shrimp are incredibly sweet and perfectly tender, but also because they’re ready to eat in just 4 minutes. Plus, this premium shrimp recipe only uses 4 ingredients, making this a wholesome, low-calorie meal you can pull off any night of the week. Garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil and seared shrimp are a perfect pairing in this restaurant-quality dish. It’s especially great for busy weeknight dinners (or even stress-free date nights). Add a side salad, and loaded baked potato (or make it surf and turf) for a meal the whole family will love.
No Need for Takeout or Expensive Seafood Restaurants — Pan-Seared Shrimp is Quick + Easy to Make at Home
Shellfish is a favorite in our house and we tend to eat a wide variety of it (especially shrimp) because we’re in an area with high-quality abundant seafood and it cooks so quickly. There are many ways to prepare shrimp (like shrimp scampi), but this pan-seared shrimp recipe may be the easiest yet. All you need are four ingredients (shrimp, extra virgin olive oil, a little garlic, and salt), plus a good heavy-gauge pan like cast iron, carbon steel, or even stainless steel.
If you’ve been unable to get a proper sear on shrimp in the past, here are three easy techniques to completely remedy this issue and help you avoid accidentally steaming or overcooking them. This dish can be made using all types of shrimp including Royal Reds, tiger prawns, and blue, brown, and white shrimps. You can even use frozen shrimp to make this recipe which makes it a more budget-friendly option for those living in landlocked areas of the world.
- Always pat the shrimp completely dry. Once the shells have been removed and the shrimps have been deveined, pat them completely dry on all sides with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. This will ensure that when the shrimp hit the hot oil in the pan, there is no additional liquid (juice) hitting the pan creating steam and a watery surface. Dry equals a good pan sear. It’s the same technique used in pan-seared steak and sometimes even veggies.
- Always ensure your cooking pan is seriously hot and almost just smoking before adding shrimp. If you add shrimp before the pan is super hot, it will never sear properly without first overcooking the delicate shrimp. And alternatively, when using a delicate oil such as extra virgin olive oil, you want to balance how hot the pan gets. Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) does not have a high smoke point like a neutral cooking oil (grapeseed oil, canola, etc.). Therefore, you don’t want the EVOO to be heated so much that it actually smokes. Otherwise, any of the healthy, tasty reasons you’ve used it in the first place are wiped out. So, if you’re nervous about this part, use regular olive oil or a neutral (high smoke point) oil such as grapeseed or vegetable oil instead of the EVOO.
- Do not overcrowd your pan. Don’t force too many shrimp into the skillet or grill pan at one time, or you’ll end up without a good sear and steamed shrimp instead. Cook the shrimp in batches if you need to. Leave plenty of room for them to sizzle and cook and get that crispness on the bottoms (which equals flavor).
The Difference Between Red Shrimp Varieties and Regular Shrimp (blue, white, brown, tiger, etc.)
Red varieties of shrimp are the most tender species of the shrimp family because they have more fat than other varieties of shrimp. These shrimp live in (and are caught in) very deep (1200-2400ft or 365m-731m) cold waters in just a few locations around the world. It’s these conditions that give them their buttery lobster-like texture and uniquely sweet flavor. Red shrimp also cook a bit faster than other types of shrimp because of their fatty flesh, making them a perfect candidate for easy, tasty weeknight meals in minutes.
Pan-Seared Garlic Shrimp Ingredients
You only need 4 simple ingredients to make this deliciously sweet and tender pan-seared shrimp recipe (this includes salt and extra virgin olive oil). You can always add a pat of butter, a sprinkle of grated Parmigiano, or a little parsley at the end for a slightly different flavor. Just know that the success of this dish is dependent on the quality of the shrimp and how you cook them. Be sure to use the tips below for how to choose and buy the best seafood and get ready for your restaurant-quality meal at home.
- 1/2 to 3/4 pound Argentinian Red shrimp (or other sweet shrimp) deveined with tails on and patted dry (230-300g)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (14g)
- 1 to 2 medium garlic cloves, sliced thinly or minced (3-6g)
- sea salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (14g)
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- grated Parmigiano cheese
- finely chopped parsley
How to Make Perfect Pan-Seared Shrimp in Just 4 Minutes
It only takes 3 to 4 minutes to pan-fry or pan-sear shrimp. This restaurant-quality shrimp recipe is ready in just 4 minutes making it perfect for busy weeknight dinners or special occasion date nights. See above for the two techniques used to create no-fail restaurant-quality shrimp every single time.
- Clean the shrimp. Remove the shells from the shrimp leaving only the tail attached and devein. Pat the shrimp dry and place them on a plate while you prepare the garlic-infused olive oil.
- Infuse the olive oil. Add the olive oil and garlic to a cold cast-iron or another heavy-gauge skillet and increase heat to medium. Sauté the garlic until just perfectly golden brown and fragrant and remove the garlic from the pan and reserve.
- Sear the Shrimp. Increase the heat to medium-high heat and just before the skillet begins to smoke, add the shrimp in one single layer (avoid overcrowding the pan) and sprinkle them with salt to taste. Do not move them once they hit the hot skillet. Let the shrimp cook for about 2 minutes, or until they turn reddish-orange and have a golden sear. Flip them over being sure not to move them around and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more, until just opaque and cooked through. Remove from the skillet and sprinkle with toasted garlic if desired. Serve immediately and Enjoy!
*Alternatively, you may add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet along with a little parsley during the last 20 seconds of cooking time to create a garlic-butter sauce. Sprinkle with grated cheese if desired before serving.
Perfect Pan-Seared Shrimp step-by-step recipe photos
How to Cook Shrimp for Pasta
If you’re wondering what’s the best way to cook shrimp for pasta, this 4-minute pan-seared shrimp is our absolute favorite way! Not only is it full of garlic flavor from infusing the extra virgin olive oil first, but you never have to worry about overcooking the shrimp with this method. Plus, if you’re making shrimp for shrimp fettuccine Alfredo or shrimp fettuccine tomato-alfredo pasta, it’s really just a matter of adding butter, sliced scallions, cream, and Parmigiano cheese to make these creamy pasta dishes. This really is the easiest and most versatile recipe for cooking the best shrimp to make pasta.
How to Buy the Best Shrimp (Even if it’s Frozen)
Sometimes frozen shrimp can be a better option than buying fresh shrimp especially if you live in a landlocked area of the country. Follow these basic guidelines for buying the best shrimp.
- Buy shrimp from a reputable source like a local fishmonger, or mom-and-pop seafood shop (obvious but not practical for some of you I know).
- Buy fresh (never frozen) shrimp when available and always ask the employee which shrimp is the freshest and how old it is.
- Check all the dates of frozen or fresh shrimp and don’t buy shrimp with very old dates or you risk getting an inferior product that may even be inedible.
- Smell the shrimp if they’ll let you and if it smells clean and fresh that’s a good sign, but if it smells like ammonia take a pass and buy something else.
- Check the texture and do not buy shrimp that looks leathery or “shreddy” which indicates it’s been frozen too long, stored improperly, or just old.
What Texture Should Cooked Shrimp Be
Shrimp should be tender and springy never rubbery. And the best way to avoid rubbery or chewy shrimp is not to overcook them. It’s essential to cook shrimp just until they’re opaque and have turned a reddish-orange or pink color (about 2 to 4 minutes total depending on the size and type of shrimp). Keep in mind red shrimp cook just a bit faster than other types of shrimp because they’re fattier.
What to Serve with Pan-Seared Shrimp and Ways To Use It
Now that you’ve decided to make this easy pan-seared shrimp recipe, here are a few delicious recipes to pair it that we think you might also like.
- Mozzarella-Parmesan Butter garlic toast
- Diver Scallops au Gratin (Capesante Gratinate)
- Perfect Pan-Seared Zucchini
- Chipotle-Garlic French Fries (Thrice Cooked)
- Perfect Pan-Seared 5-Minute Flank Steak
- Pan-Seared Purple Cauliflower Sesame Steaks
- The Best Shrimp Fettucine Alfredo
- Perfectly Pan-Seared Sweet Carrots
- Easy Spicy Tomato-Alfredo and Shrimp Pasta (Anniversary Pasta)
- Perfect Pan-Seared Thick-Cut Steak (Bistecca alla Fiorentina)
Royal Red Shrimp tips + tricks + FAQ’s
- American Royal Red Shrimp’s scientific name is pleoticus robustus native to the Gulf Coast, the Keys, and even Connecticut.
- Royal Red shrimp are sweeter, fattier, and more tender than any other variety of shrimp.
- Royal Reds are fished (or rather, shrimped) out of very deep water (1200-2400ft (365m-731m) which makes them more labor-intensive and can also make them more dangerous to catch.
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