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Grilled Pesto Shrimp

5 stars based on 37 votes

grilled pesto shrimp

There are endless ways to use pesto — the Italian sauce made from olive oil, basil, garlic, nuts and Parmesan cheese — but this pesto shrimp 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 - 6
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

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 258
  • Fat: 17
  • Saturated fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 3 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 23 g
  • Sodium: 922 mg
  • Cholesterol: 194 mg

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    I am having a large group over and was thinking of serving this as an appetizer, and want to make it ahead of time, how would you suggest I do that? All of the appetizers will be displayed on a table, when the guests arrive. Any other appetizer favorites you would suggest? Thank you so much!!

    - Stacey on June 12, 2017 Reply
  • I don’t like shrimp, can I use chicken instead?

    - tina stewart on May 29, 2017 Reply
    • Sure!

      - Jenn on May 29, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Can I omit the nuts from the pesto and if not what would be a good substitute as I have a nut allergy in my family? Thank you for all your awesome recipes and can’t wait for your cookbook. You make a working moms life so much easier!

    - Celeste on May 26, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Celeste, glad you like the recipes! I’ve never tried this with anything but nuts, but I suspect you could experiment with pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds if those aren’t off limits. LMK how it turns out if you go this route!

      - Jenn on May 27, 2017 Reply
      • 5 stars

        I will definitely give those a try and will keep you posted…..thank you as always!

        - Celeste on May 27, 2017 Reply
        • 5 stars

          I wanted to follow up to let you know I did substitute roasted unsalted sunflower seeds for the nuts and it was an absolute success!

          - Celeste on July 25, 2017 Reply
  • Jen,

    Can I make the pesto ahead of time and refrigerate until the next day????

    - debbie on December 24, 2016 Reply
    • Sure, Debbie – that’ll work fine. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on December 24, 2016 Reply
  • For grilled shrimp and pesto recipe, I plan to buy the pesto. Can you tell me how much I need for the recipe? Thank you.

    - Barbara on December 7, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Barbara, I think the pesto recipe I have on the site makes about 2/3 of a cup, so a small container should be fine. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on December 7, 2016 Reply
  • This is a great recipe, and so easy. I don’t use our grill (that’s my husband’s job!), but I have made this in the broiler with much success!

    - S Greenberg on October 6, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this recipe for a party, as an appetizer, and it was fantastic. I may have used more basil than the recipe called for but other than that I followed the recipe to a T and it was wonderful. Every last piece was devoured with very nice compliments!!! I had a lot of basil left so the next day I made 2 more batches and froze one in a container and the other in ice cube trays, which I need to transfer to a container. I have found that every one of your recipes I have made, that following your measures and times, I do not have to worry about it being too salty, bland or overcooked. I usually like to try a recipe before preparing for a get together and I will say I have used several of yours and right out of the book with no worries!!! Thanks Jenn for your wonderful meals!!!

    - Lisa on October 6, 2016 Reply
  • 4 stars

    So…just making sure that it’s really ok to marinate the shrimp in the pesto out of the fridge for :30?

    Just makes me nervous….

    - Lisa Sewell on July 25, 2016 Reply
    • Yes Lisa, thirty minutes is fine. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on July 26, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Wow! Chef Jen, another simple, yet amazing recipe. I broiled my shrimp on skewers in the oven for a couple of minutes; it’s too hot to grill this time of year in Miami, and served them with Lobster/Crab ravioli in a simple butter/garlic sauce. Absolutely delicious.

    - Deanie Greene on June 23, 2016 Reply
  • Hi Jen, LOVE all your recipes! Which do you recommend serving as sides with an entree of grilled pesto shrimp?

    - Cathy on May 28, 2016 Reply
    • Glad you’re enjoying the recipes! I think this would be nice over pasta or another grain with a salad or veggie on the side; both the Caprese Salad and the Sautéed Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes would be perfectly in season right now and would add nice pops of color.

      - Jenn on May 28, 2016 Reply
  • I just wanted to know if this was something that could be done on the stove as well?

    - Debbie on February 7, 2016 Reply
    • Yes Debbie, I think you could do that. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on February 7, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this dish last night…First off…This dish was AMAZING! Where has pesto been all of my life? Anyway…a couple of things. We had a pouring downpour just as I was to go out and pre-heat the grill so I broiled them instead. Still AMAZING. And I made double of the pesto because I trusted all the reviewers…LOL!
    I sauteed 1/2 an onion and threw in 2 more tablespoons of pesto in with the onions and then tossed that mixture together with some veggie pasta and served everything as a pasta dish. My husband loved it! Went back for seconds and proved he loved me because he left me ONE shrimp…LOL! I love every recipe of yours that I have tried…now my only question is what else can I put pesto on? LOL!

    - Kymmie on January 16, 2016 Reply
    • I am allergic to walnuts. Is there another nut I can use?

      - Ginny on May 28, 2016 Reply
      • Hi Ginny, Pine nuts would work well. Enjoy!

        - Jenn on May 28, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    How long will the pesto sauce last if stored in the fridge? Freezer?
    I’ve made this dish a few times and found it so delicious so it would be handy to have some ready-made pesto….

    - Ponyo on January 11, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Ponyo, Glad you like the shrimp! Pesto should last 4 – 5 days in the fridge or 3 – 4 months in the freezer.

      - Jenn on January 11, 2016 Reply
      • 5 stars

        I’ve seen a hack where you can buy an inexpensive ice tray and make pesto cubes that you can freeze and pull out as you need them. I loved the pesto so much…I think I might do that as well.

        - Kymmie on January 16, 2016 Reply
  • Hi Jenn!

    I’ve tried quite a few of your recipes and I absolutely loved them and so did my family!
    I would love to try this recipe but what kind of cheese can I substitute for parmesan?

    - Yussra on September 28, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Yussra, That is so nice to read. Thank you! Pecorino Romano would work well in this recipe.

      - Jenn on October 1, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This easy recipe is delicious and highlights one of my favorite summer flavors on one of my favorite seafoods. This dish is a hit at our home. I’ve made it three times now and we never have leftovers.

    - Renee B on August 27, 2015 Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    I would like to take these to a cocktail party, would they be okay served at room temperature about an hour after grilling?

    - Mary on August 16, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Mary, Yes absolutely!

      - Jenn on August 16, 2015 Reply
  • I looked at the Grilled Pesto Shrimp recipe Nutrition Information. .5 tsp of salt would give 1175mg Na for the recipe not the serving. I know the cheese has salt in it but is there another Na source? With the per serving amt. in mind I’m looking forward to making this.

    - jb patterson on August 13, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Just made this tonight and it was delicious! My daughter has nut allergies, so I substituted roasted sunflower seeds for the walnuts and it worked out great. It started pouring so I broiled the shrimp on skewers to excellent results. Otherwise I followed the recipe exactly and six people finished 3lbs of shrimp! Thank you for a keeper.

    - Laura Magid on July 21, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Oh my goodness, this recipe is delicious. I made it exactly as written, and I wouldn’t change one single thing. Outstanding. Thank you!!!

    - Mrs. T on July 3, 2015 Reply
  • How can I cook the shrimp if I do not own a grill? Thank you.

    - Marilyne on July 1, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Marilyne, You can broil the shrimp in the oven or use a grill pan. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on July 2, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    The grilled shrimp pesto is very good and so simple. I tried the same principle on grilled salmon and it turned out wonderful. My only problem now is that I need to plant more basil, my pesto habit is getting out of control :).

    Thanks Jen for another simple, delicious recipe!

    - Darlene on June 11, 2015 Reply
    • Great idea, Darlene. Glad you enjoyed!

      - Jenn on June 11, 2015 Reply
  • 4 stars

    I am on a severely limited sodium diet (less than 900 mg per day ). I cannot find the sodium level in the Grilled Pesto Shrimp recipe and in many others. Is there a way to get that information? Thank you for your recipes.

    - Dave Mc on June 8, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Dave, Sorry about that — I inadvertently left off the sodium count. It has been corrected.

      - Jenn on June 11, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This recipe is Fantastic!! I’ll never made a different pesto recipe again. Made the shrimp last night for company along with your grilled asparagus feta salad (also a 5 star recipe) and emeril’s rib eye, portobello mushroom and potato kebabs. Dinner was a hit!!

    - Cindy on June 6, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I have a large jar of Costco pesto I need to use up. About how much pesto does this recipe make?

    - Rochelle Shugrue on June 3, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Rochelle, I’m guessing about 2/3 cup.

      - Jenn on June 4, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was another homerun recipe! The shrimp are so flavorful with the delicious pesto sauce. I decided to double the pesto sauce to have an extra batch for my family. I thought the shrimp were delicious just the way the recipe stated. However for the super pesto lovers of my family they went crazy over the extra sauce available for dipping. I used skewers for the shrimp which made the cooking very easy. This is a wonderful recipe for family or company! It made a great birthday meal for our son with the delicious white buttercream cake! I look so forward to your email each week! Thank you!

    - Karen on April 26, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made shrimp tacos with this and the black bean and corn salad and guacamole.

    This was awesome!! 5 Stars!!

    - Dionne on April 17, 2015 Reply
  • 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

        Broil! Broil! Broil! But watch them and turn after about 3 minutes. Total time is about 5 minutes.

        - Matt on September 26, 2015 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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