Grilled Pesto Shrimp

5 stars based on 17 votes


There are endless ways to use pesto — the Italian sauce made from olive oil, basil, garlic, nuts and Parmesan cheese — but this has to be one of my favorites. Whether you serve the dish for dinner with pasta and a vegetable or as an appetizer all alone, the shrimp disappear in a flash. Trust me, no matter how much you think you’ll need, make extra!


Begin by making the pesto, which couldn’t be any easier. You simply combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.



Next, pour all but two tablespoons of the fresh pesto over the shrimp. Toss to coat and let the shrimp sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to marinate.


Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and grill the shrimp a few minutes per side. Be careful not to overcook them!


Before serving, toss the shrimp with the reserved pesto. I know it only looks like a little, but pesto is very strong and garlicky so you don’t want to overdo it.


Serve with lots of napkins and enjoy.


Grilled Pesto Shrimp

Servings: 4 (as an entrée)
Cook Time: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes


  • 2 pounds extra large or jumbo shrimp, peeled (tails left on) and deveined
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 3 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving (optional)


  1. Thread the shrimp onto skewers, if desired. (I usually don't bother, unless the shrimp are on the smaller side, in which case they might slip through the grill grates.)
  2. In a food processor or blender, combine the olive oil, basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, Parmigiano-Reggiano and walnuts. Process until the mixture is well blended. Reserve two tablespoons of the pesto in a bowl large enough to hold all of the shrimp and set aside. Pour the remaining pesto over the shrimp and let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to marinate.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Lightly dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and, using tongs, carefully rub over the grates several times until glossy and coated. Place the shrimp on the grill and cook until plump and slightly charred, a few minutes per side. Transfer the cooked shrimp to the bowl with the reserved pesto and toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 258
  • Fat: 17
  • Saturated fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 3 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 23 g
  • Cholesterol: 194 mg

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    Love this pesto recipe. The store bought pesto just doesn’t taste the same as when you make it fresh. I added one more clove of garlic, since we are Ukrainian and garlic is an essential part of our food group. My husband is a carboholic, so I made some orzo to go with the shrimp.

    - Yana Mazur on March 19, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This shrimp is excellent! I’ve made it to eat alone or with a salad & it always is great!

    - Esther on March 19, 2015 Reply
  • Hi Jenn. Thanks for sharing a Pesto recipe using my absolute favorite food-shrimp!
    I just wanted to make sure these are made on an electric (indoor-counter top) grill. Being in the frozen tundra-aka Wisconsin-outdoor grilling is not an option right now Thanks again :)

    - Aminah on February 24, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Aminah, Either way will work fine. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on February 25, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made these shrimp last night fabulous! Was afraid the pesto would be too strong but just right. Baked them 8-10 minutes @ 400 then added the remaining pesto. Perfect!

    - Meredith on January 19, 2015 Reply
  • I’m planning on making this tomorrow. Would it pair well on a bed of wild rice? Or would jasmine rice be better?

    - Georgia on January 11, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Georgia, I think the wild rice would be perfect.

      - Jenn on January 12, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this for the family but I put it over pasta it was a huge hit. Loved it.

    - Perri on November 26, 2014 Reply
  • Delicious appetizer with a cava champagne!
    Cooked the shrimp on a large smooth pancake griddle……perfect.

    - Michael Whishaw on October 25, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I finally made this! I confess, I have never made pesto. I know, I know…..and I had to buy my basil since I do not grow my own, and it was so good and so easy! The shrimp was divine. I served it with tortellini in the event my son wouldn’t like it. I also had to make mine on top of the stove, but it was easy and this will be a repeater in my house. Perfection!

    - Karen T on September 13, 2014 Reply
  • Can you make this recipe on the stove top instead of grilling?

    - Lois Wolf on August 24, 2014 Reply
    • Sure, or you can broil them in the oven.

      - Jenn on August 24, 2014 Reply
  • Yummy! I made these with your walnut pesto and these sure were good. I made some jasmine rice and grilled brussel sprouts to make it a meal.

    - DonnaA on August 3, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I normally don’t register, but …
    I have to tell you …
    Your Blog is the Best I’ve ever seen!
    Congratulations! and THANK U:)

    - Lainey on July 28, 2014 Reply
    • Thank you, Lainey!

      - Jenn on July 28, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I tried the grilled pesto shrimp as a way to use up basil. I took them to a party as an appetizer and they were gone in minutes. Easy and tasty. This will now be one of my “go to” recipes.

    - Beth on July 24, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Love to cook shrimp on the grill! I didnt change anything in the recipe. It was very flavorful and easy…will definately make again and again!

    - Pam Ulrich on July 17, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Delicious! I served it with the grilled green beans and it was nice to be able to grill both dishes at the same time.

    - Shari Lunde on July 17, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Perfection. I used wooden skewers ( 3 shrimp to skewer) so they would be easy to turn on the grill. So easy and delish! I love the switch from pine nuts to walnuts in the pesto.

    - Tari on July 17, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this with Lemon Basil from our garden and it was just beyond yummy!

    - mysweetiepiepie on July 14, 2014 Reply
  • I have pesto in the freezer – how much will I need for this recipe? Thanks!

    - Sally on July 12, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My husband and I love to cook but had never made pesto before. After seeing this recipe we decided to give it a try. The recipe for the pesto is very easy to follow and turned out wonderfully!
    When grilling, we put our shrimp on skewers to make it easier to turn. We also had left over pesto and shrimp that we decided to try in the oven. Both grilling and baking the shrimp and pesto were tasty! This is very easy to make but you may have to go out and buy a few ingredients. Also, use the full amount of basil, don’t skimp!

    - April Thomas on July 10, 2014 Reply
  • This recipe was amazing! Perfect use of the basil in my garden right now. I served it was a aside of pasta to use up the bit of extra pesto I had left over.

    - Dee Kauffman on July 10, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This looks sooooo tasty and I have extra pesto in the frig. Can’t wait to try!!!

    - nancy on July 8, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Wow, this looks incredibly tasty. I like that you cooked with the pesto, and then added more after it was cooked.

    - Joan on June 26, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this last weekend for my girlfriends on my annual girl’s cottage weekend – fantastic – not a single leftover shrimp and I cooked about 30 for 4 of us!

    - Karen on June 26, 2014 Reply
  • Could those of us who do not have a grill just cook Pesto Grilled Shrimp in fry pan and get as good a result? If so how long etc and would that require any modifications to recipe? Thank you.

    - C.D. Ewald on June 22, 2014 Reply
    • Absolutely; I would pan-fry them in just a bit of olive oil for a few minutes per side over medium-high heat. You could also broil them for a few minutes per side.

      - Jenn on June 22, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this fabulous recipe last night for dinner. I made it just like it is written, no changes. It was phenomenal to say the least. I served it over my version of rice pilaf. sauted onion and mushrooms in butter,until transparent. Add rice, saute until golden brown. I add a mixture of 1-3/4 c chicken broth and a little chx. bouillon for added taste. you can transfer to microwave and cook on high for 5 min. then cook on med. for 8 min. comes out perfect. serve with garlic toast and a salad. YUMMM this is a 5 star recipe.

    - bakerbabe on June 21, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars


    - Darren on June 20, 2014 Reply

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