Grilled Shrimp with Pesto

Tested & Perfected Recipes

Whether you serve this grilled shrimp for dinner or as an appetizer, it disappears in a flash. Make extra!

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

What You’ll Need To Make Grilled Shrimp with Pesto

ingredients for grilled shrimp with pesto

For the shrimp, I use frozen jumbo (16/20) shrimp labeled “shell split and deveined.” Come dinnertime, all I have to do is run the shrimp under cold water to quickly defrost and then peel. Note that the “fresh” shrimp you see in the seafood case at the supermarket is typically thawed frozen shrimp; so, for the freshest shrimp, you’re better off buying it frozen and defrosting it yourself.

How To Make Grilled Shrimp with Pesto

pesto ingredients in bowl of food processorBegin by making the pesto: simply combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

blended pesto in food processor

Reserve two tablespoons of the fresh pesto (you’ll use that on the grilled shrimp) and pour the rest over the shrimp.

pouring pesto over raw shrimp

Toss to coat and let the shrimp sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to marinate.

shrimp marinating in pesto

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

shrimp cooking on the grill

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

adding pesto to grilled shrimp

Serve with lots of napkins and enjoy!

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Grilled Pesto Shrimp

Whether you serve this grilled shrimp for dinner or as an appetizer, it disappears in a flash. Make extra!

Servings: 4 - 6
Cook Time: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes


  • 2 pounds extra large (26/30) or jumbo shrimp, peeled (tails left on) and deveined, thawed if frozen
  • 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.

Pair with

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

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • How much pesto does this recipe get you? I made a batch of the pesto from your best basic pesto and wondering how much pesto does this one need for the shrimps?

    • — Serena on June 24, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Serena, I would guesstimate this makes about 3/4 cup. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on June 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    First let me say that I love your recipes!

    I make pesto all of the time but use pine nuts – would that be ok with this recipe or do the walnuts add a nutier taste?


    • — MICHELLE SRNECZ on June 17, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Michelle, It’s fine to use pine nuts here. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 17, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!
    This is another fabulous recipe of yours! Thank you! Can you substitute scallops for the shrimp?

    • — Denise Ksen Smith on June 16, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Denise, scallops should work here. Grilling time may be a bit different so keep a close eye on them. Please LMK how it turns out with scallops!

      • — Jenn on June 17, 2021
      • Reply
  • Jenn,
    I like shrimp enough, but it’s not my thing. I made this last night just to please my family and can now say that I’ll be making this shrimp recipe as often as I can! They had so much flavor and turned out perfect – the first time I’ve ever eaten all the shrimp on my plate and wanted seconds. I served it with your sautéed zucchini and cherry tomatoes (also delicious) and a rice pilaf. Thanks for another great recipe and congrats on the new cookbook – I already preordered mine! 🙂

    • — Ingrid Sosa on April 25, 2021
    • Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed this and thanks for your support with the cookbook! 🙂

      • — Jenn on April 26, 2021
      • Reply
  • Jenn,
    Would the leftover Sun Dried Tomato Pesto used with the Grilled Cheese Sandwiches work with this shrimp recipe?

    • — Rita Denny on February 25, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on February 25, 2021
      • Reply
  • I have made this several times.
    I’ve used a cast iron skillet on the stove.
    It’s easy, quick and fabulous.
    Thank you for a great recipe.

    • — Andrea Morton on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is a wonderful recipe. My husband and I were looking for ways to use pesto because our basil plant was taking over our garden window. The shrimp marinated in pesto and then grilled on skewers was fantastic. We used the pairing suggestions, but grilled rather than sauteed the zucchinis and tomatoes.

    • — Valerie Ramey on January 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • I use pesto all the time but would never have thought to use it on shrimp. Delicious.

    • — Bonny on November 23, 2020
    • Reply
  • Generally I am not fond of pesto, often finding the garlic overpowers everything else including whatever I put it on. However, I did have an amazing crop of basil this year so decided to try this recipe….based on the reviews.

    I used your basil pesto recipe (but roasted pine nuts not walnuts). The pesto itself is very good.
    But on the shrimp…..they were possibly the best shrimp I ever made. I’ve made it 3 times now for guests and have had rave reviews! I served them as a main course over pesto linguini.

    Thank you for a gem of a recipe.

    • — Terry on August 29, 2020
    • Reply
  • The best way to ensure your shrimp are fresh is to buy them live.

    • — liuzhou on July 25, 2020
    • Reply
  • I love this recipe so much that I bought a basil plant so I can grow it at home.
    If I want to switch it up and use the pesto sauce for chicken breasts, for how long do you suggest the chicken breast should be broiled (I don’t own a grill and always broil the shrimp when making the recipe)?
    Thank you.

    • — Oyinda on July 14, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Oyinda, Glad you like this! If you want to use chicken breasts, I’d pound them thin like in this recipe. And if not grilling them, I’d use a combination of the stovetop and oven. I’d sear the chicken on the stove over high heat (for a min or two per side until browned) then finish it in a 350-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes. (I’d hold off on putting the pesto sauce on until you’re ready to put it in the oven.) Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 14, 2020
      • Reply
  • Great recipe, loaded with flavor! I have never been disappointed with a recipe form this site. Anytime I want to try something new, I use this site. The only modification I made to the recipe: I used more olive oil. Also, instead of putting the shrimp right on the grill (did not want to make a mess of the grates and possibly begin a fire with the marinade dripping), I put it in a large flat pan topped with foil.

    • — kerry pappas on June 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • Such a nice flavor for the shrimp! I keep homemade pesto in my freezer so that made this recipe very easy!

    • — JE on May 10, 2020
    • Reply
  • I mistakenly bought pre-cooked frozen shrimp. Would these still work? Maybe cook for a minute on the grill just to get a nice char on the shrimp?

    • — Sean on May 6, 2020
    • Reply
    • You could try it, but not sure if they’ll end up being overcooked that way. If you don’t want to risk it, you could use the shrimp in this shrimp salad.

      • — Jenn on May 6, 2020
      • Reply
  • Delicious! Served tonight as an appetizer. Could only find the “large” shrimp- 15-25 to the pound. I broiled them two minutes flipped over, broiled another two minutes. Perfect. There was not one shrimp left! A terrific recipe. Thank you!

  • I made this recipe on the stove top using a hot grill pan. Next time I need to double the recipe. Winner, Winner Shrimp Dinner!!!!!!!!!

  • I made this for dinner along with the Israeli Salad. Both were delicious and perfect for summer! I will be making both of them again. My husband declared both “keepers”!

    • — Colette Dryden
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, If I don’t have a grill, what are my options? Oven or store top? Thanks.


    • Either will work Lin – a grill pan or the broiler in your oven. Hope you enjoy!

  • Terrific dish that came together quickly. Another dinner to add to our rotation!

  • Thanks for another great recipe Jenn and the bonus is that it is easy peasy! We had company tonight & the shrimp was devoured! The only complaint is – there are no leftovers! 😊😂

  • Can I cook this on the stove with a cast iron skillet? Don’t have a barbie.

    • — Cathleen I Christian
    • Reply
    • Sure, Cathleen, I think it would work. Enjoy!

  • OH MY GOODNESS, these shrimp were AMAZING!! I crave them all the time – even when it’s freezing outside (sorry, hubby who has to grill)!

  • 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!!

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