The easiest way to enjoy fresh shrimp! Pan seared shrimp features caramelized edges and juicy middles in each perfectly seasoned bite. Ready to eat in 15 minutes!
Why you'll love it
I'm a huge fan of juicy, succulent pan seared shrimp! It's super quick, like 15 minutes quick, and stupid easy. And when life is hectic, this pan fried shrimp recipe is my go-to dinner recipe.
- Versatile - It's hard not to devour it in 30 seconds flat, BUT it's great for meal prep! I like to cook them ahead of time, then add them to salads and cold pastas.
- Protein - Just three ounces of shrimp boasts 20 grams of protein and only 84 calories!
- Flavorful - I toss the shrimp in old bay before I sear it to give it a punch of flavor! You can use whatever spices you like.
Learn how to pan sear shrimp perfectly every time with this super simple recipe! The outsides caramelize and the insides stay tender and juicy.
Large shrimp - Buy 21/30 peeled and deveined large shrimp. You can buy fresh or frozen shrimp, but be sure to thaw frozen shrimp before pan frying it. Fresh shrimp perishes quickly, so if you plan to wait a few days, I recommend frozen shrimp.
Butter & olive oil - For pan-searing! A combo of butter and olive oil provides great flavor and doesn't burn as quickly as pure butter.
Old bay seasoning - Old bay is a combination of celery salt, paprika, mustard, red pepper, and black pepper. It's designed for seafood and adds a boost of flavor. Just remember, it already has salt in it!
How to Thaw Frozen Shrimp
There's two ways to thaw frozen shrimp. Never place shrimp under hot or warm running water. Doing so will partially cook the shrimp and give you a rubbery texture. Yuck!
Here's two correct ways to do it:
- Thaw in the fridge. Place the bag of frozen shrimp in the refrigerator the day before you plan to cook it. This works great if you're a planner and like to plan ahead.
- Thaw under cold running water. Take the shrimp out of the bag and place in a large bowl under cool running water. They should thaw in a few minutes or so.
How to Pan Fry Shrimp
Pan searing shrimp is super simple! The key is to NOT overcook the shrimp. Shrimp cooks very quickly, so don't walk away or check your emails. Watch the shrimp intently, then flip and sear the other side.
Dry the shrimp: The first step is to thoroughly dry your shrimp. Wet shrimp will steam instead of caramelize. Place the shrimp in an even layer on a clean dish towel or paper towel. Gently pat the shrimp dry.
Season the shrimp: Transfer the dried shrimp to a bowl, then add the old bay and a pinch of kosher salt.
Toss the shrimp: Use a large spoon to toss the shrimp with the seasoning until evenly coated. Do this gently so you don't rip the shrimp.
Pan-fry the shrimp: In a large stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and butter. Once the butter is melted and the pan is sizzling hot, add half the shrimp to the pan in an even layer. Cook for 1 ½ minutes.
Flip the shrimp: Use a fork or small tongs to carefully flip each shrimp over and cook for another 1 to 1 ½ minutes. The shrimp are done when the thickest part of the shrimp no longer looks translucent. Do not overcook the shrimp!
Repeat: Transfer the cooked shrimp to a plate and repeat with the remaining shrimp.
Serve: Enjoy immediately or store shrimp in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Let the pan get hot. For a proper sear with good caramelization, the pan needs to be hot! I've found stainless steel pans heat up very quickly and provide the best sear.
- Use a large enough pan. I used a 12-inch stainless steel skillet. If the pan is too small, the shrimp won't have enough space to achieve a proper sear.
- Don't crowd the shrimp. This piggybacks on the tip above. If the shrimp are crowded or overlapping, they will steam instead of caramelize. Not what we want here.
- Don't overcook the shrimp. I've said it before, but it's worth saying multiple times. Shrimp cooks quickly! Don't overcook the shrimp or it will taste rubbery instead of juicy!
Ways to Enjoy Pan Seared Shrimp
Besides popping it straight into your mouth! I like to pan fry shrimp as a part of meal prep for the week. It adds protein and flavor to all kinds of dishes. Here's a few of my faves:
- Green goddess salad - Add to mixed greens with cherry tomatoes, feta, and red onion with green goddess dressing!
- Pasta salad - Chop the shrimp and add to your favorite macaroni salad recipe.
- Shrimp salad - Like chicken salad, only with shrimp instead!
- Rice bowls - Use as the protein for burrito or rice bowls.
- Tacos - Use as the base for tacos! Add sliced avocado, crunchy cabbage, pickled red onions, and lime crema.
Storage & Freezing
- Store leftover pan grilled shrimp in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- You can reheat the shrimp in a skillet over medium low heat with a tablespoon of butter or olive oil. Don't cook it over high heat or it's liable to overcook it and make it rubbery.
- I highly recommend enjoying leftover shrimp in cold dishes like salad or pasta salad.
The short answer is it depends on how big your shrimp are! It also depends on how hot your pan is. It's better to focus on the look of the shrimp, then the time. Shrimp only take a couple of minutes per side, but you can tell they are done when the thickest part of the shrimp no longer looks translucent.
This is a preference more than anything. I like the flavor combo of both! However, butter has a lower smoke point than olive oil and is liable to burn if you cook it too long over high heat. I find using both olive oil and butter gives me the flavor I'm looking for without burning the butter.
Pan seared shrimp is done when the largest part of the shrimp turns opaque and slightly pink/white. Raw shrimp look shiny and translucent with a greyish color to it. It only takes a couple minutes per side to cook the shrimp.
More Quick Dinner Recipes
- Alfredo Sauce with Half & Half
- The BEST One Pound Meatloaf Recipe
- Baked Swordfish with Lemon Basil Butter
- Lemon Pepper Salmon
- Blackened Swordfish with Cajun Butter
- Mahi Mahi Sandwich with Lemon Aioli
Pan Seared Shrimp
- Large skillet stainless steel, nonstick, or cast iron
- 1 pound large shrimp (21/30) peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoon old bay seasoning
- pinch kosher salt
- Dry shrimp on a paper towel or a clean hand towel. Carefully dry both sides of the shrimp. This will give you a better sear.
- Transfer the dried shrimp to a large bowl. Add the old bay seasoning and a pinch of kosher salt. Stir well to coat the shrimp evenly.
- Heat a large stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and olive oil to the pan.
- Once the butter is melted and the pan is hot, add half of the shrimp to the skillet in an even layer. Cook for 1 ½ minutes, then carefully flip the shrimp to the other side.
- Cook for an additional minute and a half or until the shrimp is no longer translucent. Do not overcook the shrimp!
- Transfer the cooked shrimp to a plate and repeat with the remaining shrimp. Enjoy immediately!