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What is the best way to put shrimp on a skewer?

Shrimp skewers make for a delicious and easy-to-eat appetizer or main course. Skewering shrimp can seem tricky at first, but with a few simple tips you’ll be skewering shrimp like a pro in no time. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know to make perfect shrimp skewers, from how to choose the right shrimp and skewers to seasoning and cooking. We’ll also provide suggestions for fun shrimp skewer recipes to try. So keep reading to learn the best practices for putting shrimp on a skewer!

How to Choose Shrimp for Skewers

When selecting shrimp for skewers, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind:


– Opt for medium to jumbo shrimp that are about 1 ounce each. Small shrimp may fall off or cook unevenly.

– Larger shrimp also make for an impressive presentation.


– Purchase shrimp with the shells still on and devein them yourself.

– The shells will protect the shrimp from overcooking and add flavor.

– Just be sure to remove the tails so guests don’t have to maneuver around them.


– Shrimp skewers really shine when made with fresh, never-frozen shrimp.

– Look for shrimp with firm flesh that smells like the ocean, not ammonia.

– Avoid pre-cooked shrimp, which will be tough and rubbery when grilled.

Choosing the Right Skewers

You’ll need skewers that can withstand the hot grill without burning or bending. Here are the best options:

Metal Skewers

– Stainless steel and other metal skewers are reusable and hold up well to grilling.

– Be sure to soak them in water for 30 minutes before using to prevent food from sticking.

– Double skewer shrimp for extra stability.

Wooden Skewers

– Bamboo and wood skewers are inexpensive and give a rustic look.

– Soak wooden skewers for at least 1 hour before using.

– Wood absorbs marinades and imparts flavor.

Plastic Skewers

– Plastic skewers are affordable and long-lasting.

– Remember that plastic can melt under high heat, so keep an eye on them.

– Consider colorful skewers for a fun presentation.

Prepping and Skewering the Shrimp

Once you’ve chosen your shrimp and skewers, it’s time to prep the shrimp for skewering:

Peel and Devein

– Use kitchen shears to cut through the shells on the underside.

– Peel away the shells, leaving the tails intact if desired.

– Use a paring knife to slice along the shrimp back and remove the vein.


– Give peeled shrimp a quick rinse under cool water and pat dry.


– Season shrimp with salt, pepper, herbs, chili powder, Cajun seasoning, or other dry rubs.


– Skewer shrimp snugly side-by-side, allowing about 4 shrimp per skewer.

– Shrimp should be touching but not crammed together.

– Use 2 parallel skewers per shrimp skewer for extra stability.

Marinating Shrimp Skewers

Marinating the shrimp before skewering will infuse them with lots of flavor. Try these easy marinades:


– Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs like dill or basil.

– Let shrimp marinate 15-30 minutes.


– Mix orange juice, olive oil, ginger, curry powder, garlic, and cilantro.

– Marinate 20 minutes to 1 hour.


– Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes.

– Marinate up to 2 hours.


– Combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic and red pepper flakes or sriracha.

– Marinate 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Cooking Shrimp Skewers on the Grill

The high, dry heat of the grill is perfect for getting shrimp skewers charred on the outside while keeping the inside moist. Follow these tips for grilling success:

Use Medium-High Heat

– Preheat your gas or charcoal grill to about 400°F to 450°F.

– The grate should be hot but not scorching to avoid burning.

Lightly Oil the Grate

– Use a brush or paper towel to coat the grill grate with a thin layer of oil.

– This prevents shrimp from sticking.

Grill 4-5 Minutes Per Side

– Shrimp cook fast, so grill each side for just 4-5 minutes.

– Resist the urge to flip too frequently.

– Shrimp are done when opaque throughout.

Check for Doneness

– Use tongs to remove a shrimp from the skewer and check that it is opaque inside.

– Cut into the thickest part to double check doneness.

– Discard any undercooked shrimp and re-skewer the rest.

Serving Shrimp Skewers

Your flavorful grilled shrimp skewers will be irresistible right off the grill. Here are some tasty ways to serve them:

On Beds of Greens

– Plate skewered shrimp on a bed of fresh salad greens, sliced oranges, avocado and vinaigrette.

With Dipping Sauces

– Offer lemon-garlic aioli, chimichurri, sweet chili sauce, or Greek tzatziki sauce for dipping.

As Appetizers

– Top crostini or endive leaves with a shrimp skewer for an elegant passed app.

Over Rice or Grains

– Serve shrimp skewers over cauliflower rice, quinoa, or coconut rice for a healthy plate.

In Tacos or Lettuce Wraps

– Fill tortillas, bibb lettuce leaves or naan with shrimp skewers for hand-held fun.

With Veggie Skewers

– Alternate shrimp and grilled veggie skewers on a platter for a colorful presentation.

Fun Shrimp Skewer Recipes to Try

Here are some delicious recipes and flavor combinations for shrimp skewers:

Jerk Shrimp Skewers

– Marinate shrimp in jerk seasoning, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, and cilantro.

– Grill and serve over coconut rice with mango salsa.

Coconut-Curry Shrimp Skewers

– Marinate shrimp in red curry paste, coconut milk, garlic, ginger, and cilantro.

– Garnish with lime wedges.

Margarita Shrimp Skewers

– Soak shrimp in a mixture of tequila, orange juice, lime juice and zest, and olive oil.

– Sprinkle with salt and pepper before grilling.

Cajun Shrimp Skewers

– Coat shrimp with Cajun seasoning, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper.

– Serve with remoulade sauce for dipping.

Greek Shrimp Skewers

– Marinate shrimp in lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, and garlic.

– Grill and serve over tzatziki sauce and pita bread.

Shrimp Skewer FAQs

Get answers to some common questions about making perfect shrimp skewers:

Should shrimp skewers be soaked in water first?

Soaking wooden and metal skewers in water prevents food from sticking and skewers from burning. Soak wood 30-60 minutes and metal about 30 minutes prior to use.

What is the best way to get shrimp to thread onto the skewer?

Straighten out shrimp with the underside facing up to expose the line down the back. Pierce the skewer through this line to thread shrimp close together and evenly.

How do you keep shrimp from falling off skewers on the grill?

Using 2 parallel skewers per shrimp skewer provides extra stability. You can also weave the shrimp onto the skewers so they stay put. Brushing skewers with oil before loading also helps.

Should you flip shrimp skewers often while grilling?

It’s best to flip shrimp skewers just once midway through grilling. Frequent flipping can cause shrimp to stick and overcook. Just let them char a bit before flipping.

How can you tell when shrimp skewers are fully cooked?

Shrimp turn pink/orange and become opaque throughout when they are fully cooked. Use tongs to remove a shrimp and check the innermost part is opaque, not translucent.


With the right techniques, shrimp skewers are easy to assemble and grill to perfection. Be sure to select fresh, large shrimp and sturdy skewers. Soak skewers beforehand and thread shrimp snugly. Grill over medium-high heat until charred outside and opaque inside. Serve skewered shrimp on greens, with sauces, over grains and rice, or in tacos and wraps. The possibilities are endless! Prepping and cooking shrimp on skewers takes minimal effort for a big impact.