Perfect Sauteed Shrimp (Really!) – A Couple Cooks


This sauteed shrimp recipe comes out juicy and seasoned to perfection in less than 10 minutes! Here are the secrets to how to saute shrimp.

Sauteed shrimp

Here’s a recipe that knocked us off our feet: and it sounds deceptively simple. But this really is the perfect sauteed shrimp! Believe it or not, this basic kitchen skill is something that many home cooks have yet to master. It’s easy once you know a few tricks on how long to cook shrimp and how to season it. And it turns out…well, even better than good: it’s truly great! The tender, juicy savory flavor is so remarkable, you won’t be able to stop taking bites. Really! We couldn’t, and neither could our 3 year old. Here’s our secret seasoning blend and exactly how to make what we think is the best sauteed shrimp.

What type of shrimp to buy for sauteed shrimp?

Go to buy shrimp at the store, and the amount of choices can be overwhelming! There are lots of options and we’ve often mistakenly bought the wrong one. In fat, we did for this recipe (keep reading). Here’s what to look at for this sauteed shrimp recipe:

  • Find medium or large shrimp. A pro to buying medium shrimp is that you get more bites! Medium shrimp is sometimes labeled 41 to 50 count, and Large is labeled as 31 to 40 count, showing how many shrimp per pound.
  • Use tail on or peeled. Best for this recipe is tail on or peeled. Tail on looks nice, but you do have to pull them off when eating. Do not use shell on. (If you accidentally buy shell on, you can pull off the shell before cooking but leave the tail intact.)
  • Fresh or frozen. You can use either here: both are essentially the same freshness since most shrimp are immediately flash frozen. Just make sure to thaw the shrimp in advance.
  • Wild caught. Fish that is wild caught in your country is usually a sustainable choice. There are also quality options in well-regulated farms; see Seafood Watch Consumer Guide.
Sauteed shrimp recipe

How to saute shrimp (basic steps)

Shrimp is so easy to cook on the stove, you’ll find yourself whipping up sauteed shrimp on the regular! Here are the basic steps for how to saute shrimp (or jump to the recipe below):

  • Toss the shrimp with seasonings in a bowl. See below for our secret seasoning blend, or you can simply use salt and pepper. Do this first so the shrimp are evenly coated in spices.
  • Heat butter or olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat. The best skillet here is aluminum, copper or cast iron: it gets the best sear and caramelization on the outside of the shrimp. You can also use non-stick: there will be less browning but it will still taste delicious.
  • Add the shrimp and cook 1 to 2 minutes per side. Cook until just opaque and cooked through: not longer! The biggest mistake people make with shrimp is overcooking it, which makes it tough. Cook it just enough so it’s tender and juicy.
How to saute shrimp

Best seasoning for shrimp

The shrimp seasoning in this recipe is simple but ultra effective. We based the recipe on our Magic Seafood Seasoning, which we’ve been using for years and always gets great reviews. People take one bite and say, “What’s in this?” For this sauteed shrimp, we used a pared down version of that blend so you only need 4 spices. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Smoked paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Cumin

Other seasoning variations

Of course, the sky’s the limit when it comes to sauteed shrimp! You don’t have to make our perfect seasoning blend: though of course we hope you do! This shrimp comes out fantastically with just a little S&P. Or, you can mix it up with other sauces and seasonings. Here are a few other shrimp seasoning ideas:

Sauteed shrimp

How to thaw shrimp

Frozen shrimp is so convenient: you can pull it out of the freezer at moment’s notice for a quick meal! The only problem is…it’s easiest if you remember the day before. But if not: we’ve got a quick fix for you! Here’s the best way to thaw shrimp for this sauteed shrimp recipe:

  • Day before: Place the frozen shrimp in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Day of: Place the frozen shrimp in a large bowl with very cold water. Stir the bowl every 5 minutes to break up clumps of shrimp that freeze together. The shrimp should defrost in about 15 minutes. Make sure to pat it dry before using!

Make it a meal!

Sauteed shrimp isn’t an actual 10 minute meal…but you only need a side to make it a meal! Here are a few quick ways to make it into a tasty, filling healthy dinner recipe:

There are so many more ideas: head to healthy side dish recipes for more.

This sauteed shrimp recipe is…

Pescatarian, gluten-free and dairy free (with olive oil).


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This sauteed shrimp recipe comes out juicy and seasoned to perfection in less than 10 minutes! Here are the secrets to how to saute shrimp.

  • 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, deveined (tail on or peeled)
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika (or substitute standard paprika)
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin
  • 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 3 lemon wedges
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish

  1. Thaw the shrimp, if frozen. Pat the shrimp dry. In a medium bowl, mix the shrimp with the salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the butter on medium high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side until just opaque and cooked through, turning them with tongs.
  3. Spritz with juice of the lemon wedges and serve immediately.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Sauteed
  • Cuisine: Seafood
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Keywords: Sauteed shrimp, sauteed shrimp recipe, how to saute shrimp

More great shrimp recipes

Shrimp is one of our favorite ways to a fast and healthy meal! Here are a few more great shrimp recipes we make on the regular:


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