Jerk Shrimp – Smoky, spicy, tangy, zesty, and oh-so-good! This fantastically simple Jerk Shrimp is exploding with Caribbean flavors. It’s an easy and delicious way to bring a taste of island life into your kitchen!
This is one of my favorites for a chilly, rainy day because I’m transported to a beach on a Caribbean island with one bite of this succulent shrimp. Ah, the sun shines on my face, and the sound of ocean waves laps in my ears!
Serve it as a main dish, a Super Bowl appetizer, or at a cocktail party. Furthermore, this dish is easy to make and incredibly versatile; you can serve it with rice, quinoa, or pasta and in salads or tacos. It’s a memorable course for any meal!
What is Jerk Cooking?
What is Jerk Cooking?
Jerk cooking hails from the Caribbean. This cooking style involves coating the meat with a dry rub or marinating it in herbs and spices, then grilling it over hot coals. The smoke from the coals and the spices in the marinade results in a savory, smoky, spicy plate of chicken, beef, fish, or other meat.
Jerk seasoning blends Caribbean-inspired spices, including onion and garlic powders, cinnamon, allspice, and hot pepper, into an incredible dish.
- Shrimp – I used jumbo shrimp for this recipe, about 16 shrimp per pound. I recommend buying raw, peeled, and deveined shrimp because buying prepared shrimp saves you TONS of time.
- The Marinade – Thyme, garlic, homemade jerk seasoning, lemon juice, and soy sauce are amazing! I love playing around with the ratios to personalize the blend. However, if you’re short on time, you should be able to find a Jamaican or Caribbean jerk blend at your local grocery store.
How to Make Jerk Shrimp
Jerk Shrimp Grilling Time
- Prepare the Skewers – Soak the skewers for at least 20 minutes, totally submerged in water before using them to prevent burns if grilling.
- Heat the Grill – Heat your grill to medium-high. If using a grill pan, lightly oil it to prevent the shrimp from sticking.
- Make the Marinade – In a medium bowl, combine the thyme, garlic, jerk seasoning, olive oil, lemon juice, hot sauce, and soy sauce. Set aside.
- Season the Shrimp – Put the shrimp in a large bowl, season them with salt, then marinade shrimp with the jerk marinade.
- The Veggies – Rub the vegetables with some marinade, then add salt to taste.
- The Skewers – Thread the jerk shrimp onto the skewers, alternating between the shrimp and vegetables. Make sure the front of the skewer is fully covered with vegetables or shrimp.
- Grilling Time – Put the skewers on the grill pan or grill, and grill for 2-3 minutes per side until vegetables are fully cooked through.
- Serve warm with salad, rice, or creamy orzo.
- You can cook the shrimp stovetop in a skillet instead of on skewers. Just make the sauce, then add the shrimp and sauté to the sauce for about five minutes.
- Try stirring some fresh lime juice and finely chopped cilantro into your shrimp and jerk seasoning mixture for a citrus punch and an extra touch of freshness.
- Give your kebabs a personal twist! Add some pineapple, bell peppers, or other vegetables to the skewers.
Tips and Tricks
- To defrost frozen shrimp: If you’re using frozen shrimp, place it in a colander and place the colander in a large bowl. Fill the bowl with cold tap water and let it sit for 10 minutes. If the shrimp aren’t completely defrosted, repeat.
- Cook your shrimp with the tails on, if possible. The tail shells contain flavor that seeps into the dish, and you’ll get a more robust shrimp flavor.
- Soaking shrimp in beer for 10 minutes before making the recipe improves their taste.
Prep time will vary depending on the ingredients you have on hand. You can make the jerk seasoning and cut up the vegetables the day before. Then, once you have all the ingredients, the shrimp cooks quickly!
Serving and Storage Instructions
Jerk Shrimp is best served hot off the grill! But if you slightly undercook your shrimp, you can successfully refrigerate it and reheat it.
Leftover shrimp should be taken off the skewer and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When properly stored, it’s good for three days.
I prefer to reheat it gently on the stove until just warmed through, but you can also microwave it. Try heating it in the microwave in 20-second intervals until it is warmed.
Yes! Just thaw the shrimp and pat it dry before using. Freshly caught shrimp is frozen right on the boat, which means it’s at peak freshness. And it’s also more economical than fresh, so you can keep it stocked and ready anytime.
Start by locating the vein running along its back. Make a shallow cut and lift it out using the knife tip. Rinse the shrimp and lay it on a paper towel to dry. Dispose of the veins and the shells. (Or keep the shells for a fabulous seafood broth.)
Yes! Shrimp has quite an impressive nutrition profile. It’s low in calories and high in protein and other vitamins and minerals.
What Goes with Jerk Shrimp
The smoky, zesty flavors in the shrimp pair well with fresh ingredients such as pineapple and mangoes. So I love to serve it with a refreshing Pineapple Cucumber Salad. You can also try it with a Couscous Mango Corn Salad for an exotic combination of flavors.
This recipe tastes fantastic with carbs, such as pasta or rice, then topped with vibrant, tangy Mango Salsa.
More Delectable Shrimp Recipes to Try
Hooked on shrimp? How about trying these recipes?
Whether you serve it as a tantalizing appetizer or a main entrée star, this Jerk Shrimp, with its fireworks of flavors, is sure to impress! Serve it with potatoes, pasta, quinoa, or wrapped in tacos or lettuce wraps – the possibilities are endless! Comment below and let me know how you served your Jerk Shrimp!
Watch How to Make It
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This blog post was originally published in January 2016 and has been updated with additional tips, new photos, and a video.
- 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced (about 3 medium cloves)
- 2 teaspoons jerk seasoning
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1-2 teaspoons hot sauce (scotch bonnet pepper sauce is my fave)
- 1-2 teaspoons soy sauce
- Salt to taste
- Vegetable chunks (optional)
- Soaking the skewers for at least 20 minutes, totally submerged in water before using them, should prevent them from burning if grilling.
- Heat the gas grill to medium-high heat. If using a grill pan, lightly spray or oil to prevent the shrimp from sticking to the pan.
- In a medium bowl, combine thyme, garlic, jerk seasoning, olive oil, lemon juice, hot sauce, and soy sauce. Set aside.
- Add shrimp to a large bowl, season with salt, then marinate the shrimp with the jerk mixture.
- Use some marinade to rub on the vegetables, then salt to taste.
- Thread the shrimp onto the skewers, alternating the shrimp with the vegetables. Make sure the front of the skewer is fully covered with vegetables or shrimp.
- Place skewers on grill pan or gas grill.
- Grill for 2-3 minutes per side until vegetables are fully cooked. Serve warm with salad, rice, or creamy orzo.