Juicy prawns (shrimp) cooked on the grill then coated in a spicy garlic lemon butter sauce. Served with rice or crusty bread, this is a showstopper meal.
If eating unpeeled prawns or shrimp freaks you out, I understand. They look gnarly and weird but BELIEVE ME, you have never tasted anything so delicious. Even more so when the prawns have been grilled before being coated in a garlicky, lemony butter sauce. It’s a very similar experience to eating crawfish (in the USA). They also stay super juicy because the shell acts as a barrier against the fierce heat from the grill. Can you make this in a pan on the stove? 100% But the charred bits and smoky flavor the prawns add to the sauce is so incredibly delicious, I beg of you to at least try this once on the grill.
Table of Contents
Ingredients needed for grilled prawns
- Prawns/Shrimp. Try to get big/jumbo shrimp or prawns. Ask your fishmonger/seafood counter at your grocery store to devein the prawns for you.
- Aromatics: Fresh garlic cloves, Cajun spice, lemon pepper, chilli flakes/red pepper flakes and lemon juice. You could add onions/shallots or bell peppers too but I don’t think it’s necessary.
- Fat: Both butter and Olive oil are used for the most flavor.
- Cream. Adding a splash of cream to the sauce creates a silky finish that coats the shrimp perfectly.
- Salt and pepper.
What are prawns?
Prawns are small crustaceans found in both salt and fresh water. They are a different species to shrimp but the two are virtually interchangeable when it comes to cooking. Shrimp is most often use in North American countries while prawns are used in the UK, Australia, South Africa, etc.
How to grill shrimp / prawns
If your prawns haven’t been deveined, use a sharp pair of kitchen scissors and make a long incision down the length of the back then remove the vein. Place in a large bowl then add oil and all the seasonings.
Combine all the sauce ingredients in a large pot or deep saucepan, the pot needs to be big enough to toss all the prawns in once they are cooked. Cook for a minute or two until fragrant then pour in the cream. Bring to a simmer then remove from the heat. You want the sauce to be a little too lemony and very well seasoned. Once the prawns are added, the sauce will mellow a lot in flavor.
Cook on a very hot grill or grill pan. I prefer doing this on outdoor grill as the smoke adds so much flavor to the shrimp once cooked. Flip once They cook very quickly and should only need 5-6 minutes on the grill in total. They are cooked when the flesh is firm and opaque.
When they are cooked, remove them from the grill and place in the pot with the sauce. Toss to coat in the sauce. Serve with side dishes of your choice with extra lemon for squeezing.
Steamed basmati or jasmine rice is my number one choice. As you eat, the rice soaks up that spicy, garlicky sauce. Crusty bread is also a great option to mop up the buttery sauce as is grits/polenta. A simple side salad is a nice addition to add some freshness. If you prefer serving a vegetable side dish, I would suggest steamed corn on the cob.
How to eat prawns
This is a very hands-on experience but believe me, you won’t regret it. Remove the head and if you’re brave enough, suck out all the juice. I know this sounds bizarre but trust me here. Peel the shrimp and suck the sauce off of the shells. Dip the prawn/shrimp into any sauce pooling on your plate and eat. Sigh with pure pleasure.
Grilled garlic butter prawns
- 1.5 kg (3lbs) shrimp deveined but shell and head on
- 2 tbsp cajun spice
- 1 tbsp lemon pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil
For the garlic butter sauce
- 250 g (2 sticks) butter
- 10 garlic cloves crushed
- 3-4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp cajun spice
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- ½ cup cream (heavy or whipping)
- If your prawns haven't been deveined, use a sharp pair of kitchen scissors and make a long incision down the length of the back then remove the vein.
- Place the prawns in a large bowl. Pour over the oil and season with the cajun spice, lemon pepper and salt. Mix well to ensure all the prawns are evenly coated.
- To make the sauce, melt the butter in a large pot (the pot needs to be big enough to toss all the prawns in once they are cooked) and add the garlic, lemon juice and spices.
- Allow to cook for a minute until fragrant then pour in the cream. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 5 minutes then remove from the heat.
- Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. The sauce needs to be a little too lemony and very well seasoned. Once the prawns are added, the sauce will mellow a bit.
- Preheat the grill for 10-15 minutes. I prefer using an outdoor grill/braai/barbecue as the smoke adds incredible flavor to the shrimp once cooked but you can use a griddle pan too.
- Add the prawns and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until they are coral/orange in color. As the prawns cook, add them to the pot with the sauce.
- Once all the prawns have been added, toss to coat the prawns in the sauce.
- Serve over rice or with crusty bread and extra lemon wedges.