Succulent shrimp with a sweet and sticky homemade glaze make these chili lime shrimp a super flavorful quick and easy weeknight meal.
Like a lot of people, I recently stocked up a bit on a few freezer and pantry staples. Among those items was frozen shrimp.
Like a can of beans, a bag of frozen shrimp is a super versatile thing to have around! It's a great protein you can toss into so many meals.
An easy stir fry like these Singapore noodles, for instance. Or a quick and ultra flavorful pasta dish like this Cajun shrimp pasta. Or these super simple chili lime shrimp!
How to buy shrimp
Here's my number one rule for buying shrimp. And it's a bit... counterintuitive. Buy it frozen, never fresh!
I mean *never* is a strong word. If you can find LIVE shrimp, go ahead and buy it fresh. But the sad fact is that the vast majority of "fresh" shrimp sold in grocery stores was previously frozen and thawed.
Yes, it's the exact same shrimp you can buy in a bag frozen, except it's been thawed and left to sit out for who-knows-how-long!
For more information, here's an extensive guide on buying shrimp from Serious Eats.
How to quickly thaw frozen shrimp
Besides their versatility, another reason we love shrimp for weeknight meals is because of how quick they are to thaw, even if you've left everything to the last minute (usually how I roll).
My favorite way is to plunge the bag into a bowl of cold (not warm) water. They should be thawed in about 30 minutes that way.
If you need them faster, you can put them in a colander under cold running water. This will take about 15 minutes. I tend to opt for the bowl method because I hate to leave the water running.
If you're the type who thinks ahead, you can of course put that bag of frozen shrimp in the refrigerator the night before and let it thaw slowly in there.
Why you'll love these chili lime shrimp
If you love that store bought Thai sweet chili sauce, then this is the recipe for you. This marinade will definitely remind you of that sauce. The shrimp are marinated briefly in it, and then basted while they cook.
This is a really versatile recipe. I like to leave the tails on and put the marinated shrimp on wooden skewers for presentation, and because I like to cook them on my grill pan.
But for unencumbered eating, you can also ditch the tails and skewers and just saute the marinated shrimp in a nonstick pan. Either way they're delicious!
My favorite way to serve them is on a bed of coconut lime rice.
Here's how I make them!
Fresh Chili Paste
I use an Indonesian fresh chili paste called sambal oelek in this recipe. It's quite easy to find in the grocery store and will probably be right next to the sriracha - they are made by the same manufacturer. In fact, sriracha is a good substitute for sambal oelek in this recipe, if you prefer it.
But do give sambal oelek a try if you're feeling adventurous! It's an essential condiment in my kitchen.
One of my favorite uses for it is in these super popular 15-minute satay chicken rice bowls (chicken with peanut sauce).
How to Make Chili Lime Shrimp Step-by-step
- Gather the following ingredients: thawed, shelled and deveined shrimp, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, chili paste, and honey, plus a pinch of salt.
2. Whisk together the above ingredients, minus the shrimp.
3. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.
4. Thread the shrimp onto wooden skewers if desired. If you're cooking the shrimp on an outdoor grill, you may want to soak the skewers first. I don't find this to be strictly necessary since they're cooked so briefly
5. Heat an oiled grill pan (or outdoor grill) on medium high heat. Place the shrimp on the grill and cook for 1-2 minutes per side, basting with the leftover marinade as they cook, just until the shrimp are no longer opaque. (Be careful not to overcook or they'll be rubbery).
6. Transfer skewers to a platter and squeeze some lime juice over them. Garnish with cilantro if desired.
I like to serve this with coconut lime rice.
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Chili Lime Shrimp
- 1 lb raw large shrimp peeled and deveined, frozen and thawed, tails on or off*
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ¼ cup lime juice freshly squeezed
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 teaspoons sambal oelek chili paste* or substitute sriracha
- pinch salt
- 8 small wooden skewers or 4 large ones
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- coconut lime rice* for serving
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic, lime juice, honey and chili paste.
- Add the shrimp to the marinade and toss to combine. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. Thread the shrimp onto the skewers.
- Preheat a grill or grill pan on medium high heat. Brush the grill grates or pan with oil and place the skewers on the grill, basting with the leftover marinade as they cook. Grill about 1-2 minutes per side, just until the shrimp are opaque. Do not overcook!
- Remove the skewers to a platter, sprinkle with cilantro and serve with coconut lime rice.
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