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What do you eat butterfly shrimp with?

Butterfly shrimp are a delicious and versatile type of shrimp that can be prepared in many different ways. Their “butterfly” name comes from how the shrimp are cut open down the back and laid out flat to resemble a butterfly shape. This allows them to cook up very quickly while soaking up sauces and spices.

What are butterfly shrimp?

Butterfly shrimp, also sometimes called butterfly cut shrimp, are shrimp that have been split open along the backs then laid out flat. The shrimp meat stays connected at the bottom tail end, with the two halves fanned out to create a butterfly wing shape.

This butterfly cut allows them to cook very fast since more surface area is exposed to heat. It also allows them to absorb flavors and coatings very well when fried, grilled, baked or sauteed.

Butterfly shrimp are usually larger shrimp sizes like jumbo shrimp or colossal shrimp. Smaller shrimp are harder to butterfly cleanly.

How to prepare butterfly shrimp

Butterfly shrimp can be prepared in many quick and easy ways:

  • Breaded and fried into crispy butterfly shrimp
  • Grilled with cajun seasoning or barbecue sauce
  • Sauteed in garlic butter sauce
  • Baked with breadcrumbs, parmesan and herbs
  • Skewered for shrimp kebabs
  • Stir fried into rice dishes or noodles
  • Simmered in soups, seafood stews and gumbos
  • Added to tacos, burritos, quesadillas and fajitas

Their tender texture and ability to absorb flavors make them perfect for almost any quick shrimp dish.

What foods and sauces pair well with butterfly shrimp?

Here are some of the most popular flavor pairings for butterfly shrimp:

Cocktail Sauce

Tangy cocktail sauce is a classic dip for breaded and fried butterfly shrimp. The horseradish and tomato based sauce complements the crispy breading.

Tartar Sauce

Like cocktail sauce, creamy tartar sauce also goes great with breaded fried butterfly shrimp for dipping. It also pairs well with grilled or blackened shrimp.

Drawn Butter

Melted butter is a simple classic with boiled, grilled or sauteed shrimp. Drawn butter has the milk solids removed so it has a clean, creamy butter flavor.

Aioli and Remoulade

These creamy, mayo-based sauces add flavor to shrimp without overpowering their taste. Aioli is seasoned with garlic while remoulade often contains cajun spices, pickles, capers and herbs.

Barbecue Sauce

Sweet and smoky barbecue sauce makes a tasty coating for grilled butterfly shrimp. It also pairs as a dipping sauce.

Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce adds a sweet/salty glaze to grilled or broiled shrimp. Marinate the shrimp in some of the sauce before cooking.

Jerk Sauce

Spicy jerk seasoning and sauce is a delicious flavor for grilling shrimp. It brings heat along with vibrant spices like allspice, cloves and habanero.

Garlic Butter Sauce

Sauteeing shrimp in melted butter and minced garlic makes a fast and flavorful pan sauce. Splash in some white wine or lemon juice.

Cajun Blackening Seasoning

Cajun spice mixes contain bold seasonings like black pepper, cayenne, paprika and oregano. Rub or sprinkle the mix onto shrimp before sauteeing in a very hot pan to “blacken” them.


This fresh green herb sauce from Argentina makes a unique topping for shrimp. Chopped parsley, cilantro, oregano, garlic, olive oil and vinegar are combined.

Mango Salsa

Fresh mango salsa provides a tropical twist on shrimp. Dice mango, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice for a zesty dip or topping.

Lemon Butter

Cooking shrimp in a lemony butter sauce is delicious. Saute minced garlic in melted butter, then splash in lemon juice and zest.

What are the most popular ways to serve butterfly shrimp?

Here are some of the top ways that restaurants and home cooks serve up butterfly shrimp:

Fried Butterfly Shrimp

Breaded shrimp fried until crispy golden brown are a favorite appetizer. Serve with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.

Coconut Shrimp

For coconut shrimp, the butterflied shrimp are coated in shredded coconut before frying. Serve with a mango dipping sauce.

Shrimp Tacos

Marinated grilled shrimp are an amazing taco filling. Add to warm corn tortillas with shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, avocado and chipotle crema.

Shrimp Fajitas

Sauteed shrimp mix perfectly with sautéed peppers and onions for sizzling fajitas. Wrap in warm tortillas with toppings like guacamole, cheese and salsa.

Shrimp Skewers

Alternate shrimp and vegetables like peppers and onions on skewers to make shrimp kebabs. Brush with teriyaki glaze and grill.

Shrimp Pizza

Butterfly shrimp are delicious scattered over pizza. Pair with classic pizza toppings like mushrooms, onions and peppers.

Shrimp Pasta

Sauteed shrimp tossed with pasta is simple and delicious. Add white wine, lemon, tomatoes, spinach or pesto sauce for extra flavor.

Shrimp Ceviche

For ceviche, shrimp are marinated in citrus juice like lime or lemon juice along with chili peppers, tomatoes, onions and cilantro.

Shrimp Quesadillas

Stuff tortillas with cheese, sauteed shrimp, onions and peppers. Grill the quesadillas until the cheese is melted and tortillas crispy.

Shrimp Salad

Chopped cooked shrimp make an awesome addition to fresh green salads. Toss with lettuce, veggies and vinaigrette dressing.

Shrimp Rolls

Shrimp salad is a classic filling for New England style seafood rolls. Mix with mayo, lemon juice, celery and pile into a toasted hot dog bun.

Shrimp Boil

For a shrimp boil, cook shrimp with smoked sausage, corn, potatoes and onions in a fragrant, spicy broth. Spread out newspaper on the table for a fun, casual feast.

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp baked with white wine, garlic, butter, lemon and breadcrumbs is luxuriously delicious. Serve over pasta or rice.

Shrimp Stir Fry

Stir frying shrimp and vegetables like broccoli, peppers, snap peas and baby corn in a savory sauce is fast and healthy.


New Orleans-style shrimp gumbo simmers shrimp in a deeply flavorful, hearty sauce with vegetables like okra, onions, peppers and tomatoes served over rice.


With their versatility, quick cooking time and ability to absorb flavors, butterfly shrimp are a fantastic choice for easy weeknight dinners, dinner parties and restaurant-quality meals at home. They pair deliciously with a wide range of seasonings and sauces from spicy jerk to fresh chimichurri to creamy garlic butter.

Breading and frying, grilling, searing, baking and sauteeing are all great cooking methods that keep their tender texture. Try butterfly shrimp in some classic dishes like shrimp scampi pasta, tacos, stir fries or shrimp boil. Or go more creative with shrimp pizza, quesadillas, ceviche and salads.

So spread those butterfly wings and get cooking! With endless possibilities, butterfly shrimp are a simple shortcut to amazing seafood any night of the week.