When Cajun cuisine and shrimp collide, it’s truly a beautiful sight to behold, but an even better one to taste. Blackened Shrimp is full-flavored and perfectly cooked thanks to a simple, sure-fire cooking method and that famous Louisiana spice blend Southerners know and love — Blackened Seasoning.
If you prefer your shrimp big, juicy, with a little pop of spice, this dish is for you. Serve this Louisiana mainstay as a healthy, quick-fix dinner, as a topper for Cajun fettuccine alfredo, on a creamy bed of grits, or stuffed inside of a taco!
WHAT IS BLACKENED SHRIMP
Blackened Shrimp is a Cajun dish in which shrimp are coated in Blackened Seasoning and pan-seared. Contrary to what many might believe, blackened food is not cooked until it’s burnt — it’s just well seasoned.
When you’re making Blackened Shrimp at home, you can make it as spicy (or not spicy) as you’d like. It’s the cayenne pepper in blackened food that gives it a hit of heat. If you like it hotter, add more cayenne. If you like your food on the mild side, feel to leave out the cayenne altogether.
WHAT KIND OF SHRIMP TO USE
Traditionally, Blackened Shrimp is made with Gulf Shrimp (i.e., shrimp caught off of the Gulf Shore of the United States). However, the most important thing to keep in mind when picking out your shrimp is their size! It is important to purchase the right size as this affects how long they will take to cook.
This recipe calls for extra-large/jumbo shrimp — the big ones actually worth peeling. You can also go by the shrimp count when making your purchase; you want to be on the lookout for 16/25 (which means there are 16-25 shrimp per pound).
ABOUT BLACKENED SEASONING
Blackened Seasoning is a mix of chili powders, dried herbs, and spices. Within the mix, some of the powders are smoky, some herbaceous, and some even a bit spicy, but in combination with one another, abundantly flavorful!
Blackened Seasoning originated in Louisana with Chef Paul Prudhomme, a famous Lousiana chef. The spices that make up this famous Cajun blend are as follows: smoked paprika, (you could also use regular paprika), garlic powder, Kosher salt, black pepper, dried thyme, onion powder, dried oregano, and cayenne pepper.
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HOW TO MAKE BLACKENED SHRIMP
- Make Seasoning – Make the blackened seasoning by combining the spices and herbs in a bowl and stirring to combine.
- Season the Shrimp – Then, pat the peeled and deveined shrimp dry with a paper towel, add them to a bowl and toss them with oil. Add the spices to the bowl and mix until the shrimp are well coated.
- Cook – Add oil to a large pan over medium-high heat and allow it to come to temperature. Once the oil is hot, add the butter and as soon as it has melted, add the shrimp in a single layer. Cook for 3-5 minutes total, turning them about halfway through.
CAN THEY BE GRILLED?
If you’d prefer your Blackened Shrimp with a smoky vibe, here’s how to grill them:
- Prep the Grill – Prepare a charcoal or gas grill and bring the heat to medium-high. You will know the temperature is right when the coals are glowing brightly and have a faint coating of ash. You could also hold your hand about 6″ above the grate (with caution, of course), and begin counting. You should have to withdraw your hand by the count of 3.
- Season and Skewer the Shrimp – Prep and season the shrimp as directed above. Then, thread the shrimp onto skewers, alternating the direction of the heads and the tails.
- Grill – Once the grill has come to temperature, add the shrimp. Cook the shrimp skewers for 3-5 minutes total, turning it half-way through.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN SHRIMP ARE DONE
Shrimp are done when they turn opaque, are somewhat pink in color and semi-firm to the touch.
HOW TO SERVE BLACKENED SHRIMP
Blackened Shrimp are more than capable of holding their own at the dinner table. Serve them alongside a green veggie and a starch for a well-rounded meal. Dirty rice, anyone? Yes, please!
You can also serve them in a number of different fun and creative ways. One of our personal favorites is atop a bed of homemade fettuccine alfredo. You could also serve them over creamy white grits, as a healthy protein for a light salad, or enjoy them stuffed inside of a shrimp taco!
HOW LONG WILL THEY KEEP?
Keep cooked shrimp refrigerated in an airtight container, and eat within 2 days (per FDA guidelines).
4 MORE SHRIMP RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
This is how to make the best Blackened Shrimp! It's a quick-fix recipe with an easy, homemade blackened spice mix that's perfect for a healthy dinner, as a filler for tacos, a topper for alfredo pasta, grits, and more!
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Generous 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- Generous 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- Generous pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (16-25 count)
- 2 tablespoon canola or avocado oil, separated
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Combine all of the dry spices and herbs in a small bowl and stir to combine.
Pat each shrimp dry with a paper towel and them to a large mixing bowl, along with 1 tablespoon of oil. Toss until evenly coated. Then, add the seasoning mix and stir until evenly coated once more. Set aside.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and allow it to come to temperature. Add the butter, and as soon as it has melted, add one single layer of shrimp, leaving a bit of space in between each one.
Cook for about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, then flip and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more on the other side. The shrimp is ready when it is pink and semi-firm to the touch.