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Grilled Peel and Eat Shrimp With Smoked Paprika Spice Paste

Grilled Peel and Eat Shrimp With Smoked Paprika Spice Paste

Shrimp are quick and easy to cook, perfect for a weeknight dinner…except for the peeling.

Scene: The Infomercial alternate universe, where even simple tasks are impossible. Overhead shot in black and white – DadCooksDinner wrestling with a shrimp in its shell. The shrimp appears to be winning.

Two pounds of 26–30 count shrimp on a weeknight? Ugh. Dinner will be late, everyone.

Of course, there’s a simple way around this – make everyone peel their own shrimp at the dinner table. Years ago, Cooks Illustrated explained the beauty of peel and eat shrimp. As people peel their shrimp, they get the spices all over their fingers, and then onto the peeled shrimp as they pull them out of the shell. Genius!

This is a simple weeknight recipe – but a large grill pan is a requirement. You don’t want to lose any of these little guys through the grill grate. If you don’t have a grill pan, then it’s time to start peeling and skewering. I use this one from Weber, and really liked this one from Lodge before the cast iron started rusting.

The other great thing about this recipe? I can thaw a bag of frozen shrimp in ten minutes, so it doesn’t require any planning ahead. Pour the frozen shrimp in a bowl, set it in your sink, and start a trickle of cold water running over the shrimp. Every couple of minutes, swish the water around in the bowl, and break apart any shrimps that are frozen together. As soon as the shrimp are thawed, drain them, add the and start tossing with the spice paste.

Recipe: Grilled Peel and Eat Shrimp With Smoked Paprika Spice Paste

Cooking time: 10 minutes


  • Large grill pan – at least 11“ by 15” (I use this one from Weber)


  • 2 pounds “extra large” (16–20 count) shell-on shrimp, shell split down the back and vein removed (aka “Easy Peel”), thawed

Spice paste

  • 1/4 cup paprika (preferably Spanish smoked paprika)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil


1. Toss the shrimp in the spice paste

Stir the spice paste ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the shrimp and toss until the shrimp are evenly coated with spice paste. Let the shrimp rest while the grill preheats.

2. Preheat the grill for direct medium heat

Set the grill up for cooking with direct medium heat. I preheat the grill for 15 minutes with all the burners on high, brush the grill grate clean, then turn the burners down to medium.

3. Grill the shrimp

Put the grill pan on the grill grate over direct medium heat. Spread the shrimp in a single layer on the grill pan. Cook the shrimp until the shells have turned pink and are blackened in spots on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Flip the shrimp and grill on the other side until the shrimp are no longer pink in the middle, about 5 more minutes.

4. Serve

Remove the shrimp to a platter, let them cool for five minutes, then serve.



  • I buy “easy peel” shrimp from the grocery store. They come frozen, with the shell already split down the back, and the shrimp already de-veined. Hey, like I said, the less work on a weeknight, the better.
  • If you can’t find extra large shrimp, this recipe works with 21–25 or 26–30 count shrimp as well. They take a few minutes less per side to cook – say, 4 minutes a side for 21–25 count, and 3 minutes a side for 26–30 count.

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:

Grilled Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers
Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Knob Creek Pineapple Glaze

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Filed under: Grilling


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Larry Mickelson says

    Just made these again this past Friday. My wife is Catholic and follows the no-meat Friday rule during Lent. Because of this recipe, it doesn’t bother me, anymore!

    Simple and delicious! Thanks for recipe!

  2. Great photo, Mike as are all the others, and the method struck a chord. Is that a Le Creuset platter underneath the shrimp? It is gorgeous and really shows off the shrimp. And a convenient method for serving them on a busy day.

    I can really appreciate your grill-and-peel method, especially after making a Hong Kong Sauteed Shrimp & Vegetables in Chile-Tomato Sauce from Martin Yan (The Well-Seasoned Wok, page 102). It was delicious, but it took me almost 3 hours to get the 3-minute stir-fry together. On a weeknight yet. I must have had a really bad senior moment flareup when I planned that menu. I really enjoyed making the recipe, though, because it made the most of each ingredient, including making a shrimp shell stock and reduction from the shrimp peels, but for a weeknight, well, maybe not a good choice. With malice of forethought, though, I doubled the recipe and packed half of the ingredients in the fridge so I can do a really quick stir-fry in the next day or two and it won’t taste like leftovers.

    As good as the stir-fry was, our next shrimp dish will be a peel-it-yourself method. Thanks for posting this. The shrimp look as if they could jump right off the page and into my plate.


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