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Grilled Shrimp with Pesto

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

Plate of grilled shrimp with pesto.

There are endless ways to use pesto sauce — 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!

Plate of grilled shrimp with pesto.

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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
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ¼ 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, Edamam.com. 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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  • I don’t like shrimp, can I use chicken instead?

  • 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!

    • 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!

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

        • 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!

  • Jen,

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

    • Sure, Debbie – that’ll work fine. Enjoy!

  • 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.

    • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!!!

  • 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….

    • Yes Lisa, thirty minutes is fine. Hope you enjoy!

  • 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.

  • Hi Jen, LOVE all your recipes! Which do you recommend serving as sides with an entree of grilled pesto shrimp?

    • 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.

  • I just wanted to know if this was something that could be done on the stove as well?

    • Yes Debbie, I think you could do that. Enjoy!

  • 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!

    • I am allergic to walnuts. Is there another nut I can use?

      • Hi Ginny, Pine nuts would work well. Enjoy!

  • 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….

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

      • 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.

  • 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?

    • Hi Yussra, That is so nice to read. Thank you! Pecorino Romano would work well in this recipe.

  • 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.

  • 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?

    • Hi Mary, Yes absolutely!

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • How can I cook the shrimp if I do not own a grill? Thank you.

    • Hi Marilyne, You can broil the shrimp in the oven or use a grill pan. Enjoy!

  • 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!

    • Great idea, Darlene. Glad you enjoyed!

  • 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.

    • Hi Dave, Sorry about that — I inadvertently left off the sodium count. It has been corrected.

  • 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!!

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

    • — Rochelle Shugrue
    • Reply
    • Hi Rochelle, I’m guessing about 2/3 cup.

  • 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!

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

    This was awesome!! 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.

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

  • 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 🙂

    • Hi Aminah, Either way will work fine. Hope you enjoy!

  • 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!

  • I’m planning on making this tomorrow. Would it pair well on a bed of wild rice? Or would jasmine rice be better?

    • Hi Georgia, I think the wild rice would be perfect.

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

  • Delicious appetizer with a cava champagne!
    Cooked the shrimp on a large smooth pancake griddle……perfect.

    • — Michael Whishaw
    • Reply
  • 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!

  • Can you make this recipe on the stove top instead of grilling?

    • Sure, or you can broil them in the oven.

  • 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.

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

    • Thank you, Lainey!

  • 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.

  • 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!

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

  • 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.

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

    • — mysweetiepiepie
    • Reply
  • I have pesto in the freezer – how much will I need for this recipe? Thanks!

  • 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!

  • 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.

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

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

  • 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!

  • 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.

    • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • Delicious!

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