New Orleans Style Barbecue Shrimp

cajun-bbq-shrimp-1

New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp has actually very little to do with barbecue. Popular in Louisiana, the dish refers to sautéed shrimp in a Worcestershire-spiked butter sauce. Typically made with an insane amount of butter, the shrimp are served shell-on so you eat with your hands. It’s incredibly delicious but not very practical for a family dinner, so this is my simple and easy-to-eat version. Butter is still the main ingredient in the sauce but I’ve scaled the amount way back. If you keep shrimp in your freezer, it’s one of those dishes you can throw together at a moment’s notice. And, bonus, kids love it!

Before we get started, a few words on buying shrimp. While fresh seafood is obviously superior to frozen, I always buy frozen shrimp. Fact is, unless you live on the coast, it’s near impossible to find truly fresh shrimp. The “fresh” shrimp you see in the seafood case at the supermarket is typically thawed frozen shrimp, and who knows how long it’s been sitting there. Almost all shrimp are cleaned and flash frozen shortly after being caught, so for the freshest shrimp, you’re better off buying frozen and defrosting it yourself.  For this recipe, I buy extra large frozen shrimp labeled “shell split and deveined.” Come dinnertime, all I have to do is run the shrimp under warm water to quickly defrost and then peel.

To begin, toss the peeled shrimp with the paprika, ancho chili powder, cumin, salt and a bit of sugar. Note that ancho chili powder is not the same as regular chili powder. Chili powder is a blend of spices, while ancho chili powder is a pure chili powder made from ground ancho peppers with deep rich flavor and mild to medium heat.  Many large grocery stores carry it, and you can always find it at Whole Foods.

Melt five tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Seems like a lot but remember this dish serves four people, and anyway it’s worth it.

Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for about a minute. Do not brown.

Add the shrimp and continue cooking until almost done but still opaque in spots. Keep the heat at medium so the shrimp cook gently; if shrimp are cooked over high heat, they can seize up and become tough.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and a few tablespoons of water, and then continue cooking for a few minutes more until the shrimp are cooked.

Finally, scatter some thinly sliced scallions over top and serve.

If you’re serving this dish with rice, which I highly recommend, be sure to start the rice before you cook the shrimp so they’ll be done at about the same time. Hope you enjoy!

New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp

Servings: 4
Total Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds extra large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Mix the paprika, ancho chili powder, cumin, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Add the shrimp to the spices and toss to coat evenly. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter over medium heat in a 12-inch skillet. Add the garlic and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for one minute. Do not brown. Add the shrimp and continue cooking over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are almost cooked but still opaque in spots, 3-4 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and water and cook until shrimp are done, 1-2 minutes more. Scatter scallions over top and serve.

Reviews & Comments

  • For many years I have made Paul Prudhomme’s version of barbecue shrimp. It was always a one-in-a-blue-moon treat with 1 1/2 sticks of butter for 1 pound of shrimp (serving 2). It’s fabulous, but I can’t wait to try your lighter version. I bet it’s equally delicous!

    - Kath on August 2, 2014 Reply
  • This is just about the best thing I’ve ever cooked! Followed the recipe exactly – AMAZING! Thank you!!

    - Clint on June 2, 2014 Reply
  • These were amazing I made this tonight and my kids loved it!

    - Jasmine on April 18, 2013 Reply
  • Needs plenty of black pepper.

    - P. McCammon on April 4, 2013 Reply
  • If you are lucky enough to live where you can get fresh shrimp that have not been frozen, save the heads and the shells when you peel them. Toss in a Ziploc Freezer bag and freeze. You can use them later to make your own shrimp stock. I do it all of the time. I live in South Louisiana.

    - Susanherna on April 4, 2013 Reply
  • This is so good, it is amazing. The first time I made it, used cayenne and the next time I had ancho. The ancho chili powder is milder and worth the trouble of finding. I love this so much that I made up a large batch of the spices to have ready whenever I get the craving for this shrimp.

    - Jan Fifer on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • This is one of my families favorite. We add chopped water chestnuts while cooking and then spoon the shrimp mix in lettuce and have shrimp lettuce wraps. The cool crisp lettuce is perfect with the spicy hot shrimp. I’ve also done this for my office ans a luncheon. It was a hit.

    - Sharon on January 29, 2013 Reply
    • Thanks, Sharon. Love the idea of using this for lettuce wraps.

      - Jenn on January 29, 2013 Reply
  • I absolutely love shrimp, this recipe is easy and simple and it looks great. Will be making this for my friends in work.

    - Indira on January 29, 2013 Reply
  • Everything I’ve made from your blog so far has been delicious! I’m excited to try this, too.

    Just one question, though. Did you say you take them straight out of the freezer and run warm water over them to thaw? I also get frozen shrimp and ir’s annoying having to plan ahead so I can wait all day for them to thaw. I don’t make them as often as I would because of them. Is it really okay to thaw them quickly that way? You seem like you know what you’re doing. So, I’ll believe it if you say so and it would make life so much easier.

    - Leela on December 11, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Leela, That’s exactly what I do and it works perfectly…only takes a few minutes so no need to plan ahead. Of course, you don’t want to soak them in hot water or they’ll cook, but warm water will do the trick.

      - Jenn on December 11, 2012 Reply
  • These are fantastic!

    - Linda on November 29, 2012 Reply
  • I had my husband cook this recipe. It was very delicious, even my very picky teen ask for seconds. Thank you.

    - rene pool on September 13, 2012 Reply
  • This sounds great! I make one similar to this but with white wine and creole seasoning. I bake it at 350 until shrimp are done. I can’t wait to try yours!!

    - Tracie Liles on September 8, 2012 Reply
    • For a delish party appetizer instead of the usual boiled shrimp, would this dish be tasty served at room temperature?

      - Peg on September 9, 2012 Reply
      • Yes! You could keep the tails on so they’d be easier to pick up.

        - Jenn on September 9, 2012 Reply
  • Made this last night for dinner. I steamed some asparagus and threw them in with the shrimp and servied over rice. Delicious!!! Nothing beats easy and great tasting!!

    - Jaimie on August 23, 2012 Reply
  • We use to get something like this at one of our favorite restaurants and loved them. They served french bread with it to sop up the juice and it was yummy but I like the idea of rice with it. I think I will use yellow rice!

    - Marty on July 15, 2012 Reply
  • I made this tonight for dinner. We had it over rice. It was delicious!!!

    - Buderific on June 15, 2012 Reply
  • If you buy the split shell shrimp you are going to get farm raised, not wild caught shrimp. Huge difference in flavor and the farm raised if from overseas, which most are, are raised in horrible dirty conditions. Buy USA raised shrimp, it has to be noted on the package or on the sign in the case what the country of origin is.

    - Jan on May 30, 2012 Reply
  • Oh my! This was so fabulous!! What an amazingly quick dish with so many layers of flavor! Will definitely be making this again and again and again!

    - Sonya on May 21, 2012 Reply
  • Made this for dinner last night with a large salad. No leftovers. I missed adding the water since it was not mentioned in the ingredient list, but tuned out fine. I like the grits idea too.

    - Danita on May 17, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Danita, I added the water to the ingredient list to avoid confusion. Thanks for bringing that to my attention :)

      - Jenn on May 21, 2012 Reply
  • Just saw the grits suggestion. I will try that next time for sure!

    - Lisa Ballantyne on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • Super easy and delicious over rice.

    - Lisa Ballantyne on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • I’m trying this tonight.

    - Tom M. on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • Easy. Declicious. Perfect. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

    - Julie on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • Thank you so much for posting. We really enjoyed this dish served over quinoa tonight. :)

    - Patricia on April 24, 2012 Reply
  • Jenn – Delicious dish! Can you add vegetables to the shrimp while cooking or will that have unintended consequences?

    - Joanne on April 12, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Joanne, I think it’d be fine, as long as you use quick cooking veggies. You may have a little less sauce to go around but it will still be good.

      - Jenn on April 13, 2012 Reply
  • I have made this twice since pinning the recipe. It is fabulous!! Couldn’t find ancho chili powder so used chipotle chili powder I had on hand. I also cut the amount of cumin by half……not a big cumin fan. I served it with multi-grain angel hair pasta tossed with olive oil. A new staple in my house., So good!!

    - Karen on March 26, 2012 Reply
  • Loved this! I think grits would be a great side dish for this as well.

    - Leigh Ann on March 23, 2012 Reply
  • I made this dish tonight along with your black bean soup, and both were terrific! Our two boys love spicy food, so they added some Sriracha (rooster) sauce to it. I think next time I’ll just add some cayenne pepper along with the other spices. Thanks again for two more wonderful recipes, Jenn!!

    - Kim on March 21, 2012 Reply
  • Fixed this dish for Sunday dinner and it was delicous. There were no leftovers, defintely overate that night. Will be making this dish again & again. LOVED the sauce with the shrimp over rice. YUMMY…

    - Andrea on March 14, 2012 Reply
  • Tried this shrimp for dinner on Sunday – not a bit left over!!!!! Quick and delicious!!

    - Connie on March 13, 2012 Reply
  • This looks fantastic! Can’t wait to give it a try! :D

    - Anne-Marie on March 11, 2012 Reply
  • Can this be kept warm in crockpot to serve at a gathering?

    - Kathy on March 11, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Kathy, This is one of those dishes best served right away, or reheated only once. I’d worry the shrimp would keep cooking in a crockpot and get tough. Sorry!

      - Jenn on March 11, 2012 Reply
  • I made this for dinner tonight. It was a huge hit with everyone in my family. I didn’t have ancho chili powder, so I just used regular chili powder and it still came out awesome. I served it over rice. It was super easy to make and will definitely become one of my “go to” recipes.

    - Tonya on March 8, 2012 Reply
  • Shrimp glorious shrimp!

    - Brecken on March 8, 2012 Reply
  • Absolutely delicious – and thank you for the insight as to fresh vs. frozen! =)

    - Carissa on March 8, 2012 Reply
  • I have so enjoyed growing up and living on the gulf coast ….I’ve been able to meet the shrimp boats as they arrive. There’s nothing like just-caught fresh shrimp and I hate buying frozen when I am traveling or visiting friends out of state ….but your recipe is true to its origins and one of my favorite ways to cook and eat shrimp. Delicious!

    - Schmidty on March 7, 2012 Reply
  • I made this for dinner tonight, and served it with a loaf of crusty bread. So good!

    Thank you as always for delicious recipes!

    - Kel@The Kel Show on March 7, 2012 Reply
  • Jenn- How much water?

    - Mary on March 7, 2012 Reply
    • Thank you for catching that, Mary! It’s 2 tablespoons. Will correct the recipe right now.

      - Jenn on March 7, 2012 Reply
  • Amazing! I made this last night! It was so easy and so delicious! Just pinned it and posted it to facebook!!!

    - Candi on March 7, 2012 Reply
  • Can not wait to try this tasty dish during the lenten season! Sounds yummy!

    - Cathy on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • Had this for dinner tonight – it was so easy and so good. Thank you once again!

    - Belinda on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • Yum! I’ll need to look for this on the menu the next I visit New Orleans – but until then, can’t wait to try this out!

    - Cynthia on March 6, 2012 Reply
    • Cynthia—when you order in NOLA, you will get whole shrimp with head. I was told to suck the head then eat the shrimp—-Did NOT suck the head. The shrimp was best I have ever had.

      - Earline on September 8, 2012 Reply
  • Made these tonight. They are beautiful and delicious, however, I would call them Mexican shrimp instead of Barbeque as the chili taste is prominent and there is no grilled or smoked flavor to them. They are DELISH though! Served them with brown rice.

    - Wendy on March 6, 2012 Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed, Wendy. I know, the name is definitely a misnomer.

      - Jenn on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • Try serving grits instead of rice, for it to be truly New Orleans-y. We even have it for breakfast here!

    - Redhead on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • This is another delicious recipe that I know I will make time after time. I already have all the ingredients. So easy, so looking forward to making this!

    - Karen on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • Sounds yummy! and easy enough to cut in half for the two of us! All I need is a lemon and I’m ready to cook!

    - Elaine on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • I’m making this tonight with chicken instead of shrimp – can’t wait! The chicken is already bathing in seasoning in the fridge!

    - Tara on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • I make about 90% of these recipes when they come! It’s almost as if they were heaven sent! Can’t wait to make this one! Happy cooking! :)

    - Monica Armijo-Miranda on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • I graduated from Univ of Louisiana. I love the food in that area. This looks very good.

    - Danita on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • This sounds wonderful. I will definitely be trying this out this week.

    - Ceej on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • Well, this looks easy enough and I have all the ingredients. I see a delicious dinner in my future! Thank you!

    - susan on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • Looks like another great recipe. Thanks.

    - Denise on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • sounds amazing. That’s what we’re having tonight!!!!!!!!!!!

    - nina on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • Went to college in NOLA so this is a must try for dinner

    - Rebecca on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • Almost feel guilty planning this for a Lenten meal ; )

    - Denise Glennon on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • Really excited to try this out!

    - Danielle on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • Definitely trying this this weekend.

    - Jules on March 6, 2012 Reply
    • Thank you for the shopping tip on purchasing shrimp! Great insight.

      - Regina on March 6, 2012 Reply
      • Do you live in Naples?

        - Linda on March 6, 2012 Reply

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