Skillet Cajun Shrimp are slightly spicy, cajun seasoned shrimp that cook hot and fast in a skillet. Shelled and deveined raw shrimp are lightly marinated for 30 minutes, then cooked and are ready in under 5 minutes!
This shrimp dish makes an excellent appetizer or dinner when paired with a side dish.
Shrimp for Cajun Shrimp
For this dish I recommend using either fresh or frozen shrimp that are raw and have been deveined and shelled, but still has the tail. You will want to buy shrimp that are extra large. If you are at a fish counter ask for a 26/30 shrimp, that means there are 26-30 shrimp per pound.
If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby they have an excellent frozen shrimp that is perfect! You will just need to thaw it in the fridge overnight. See the photo below:
Frozen Shrimp and Thawing
If you buy frozen shrimp it may come in a larger category then 26/30, which is completely fine. The shrimp I purchase has a wider size category of 21/30 which means you will have varying sizes of shrimp in the bag.
To thaw your frozen shrimp you will want to place the shrimp in a bowl in the fridge overnight or up to 24 hours. It will thaw completely and be ready for you to use.
Simply drain off the excess liquid, rinse the shrimp completely, and pat them dry before using.
If you forgot to thaw your shrimp or you need them right away you can also thaw them by placing them in a warm water (not hot, that will start to cook the shrimp). You may need to change the water a couple times before they are thawed completely.
Nothing better than the warm and spicy flavors of cajun seasoning. For this recipe you will be mixing garlic, onion powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, a little cayenne pepper, and most importantly smoked paprika.
You definitely want to use smoked paprika, not “paprika”. The two have completely different flavors and cannot be swapped out in this recipe. You want the deep rich flavor of the smoked paprika to make this Cajun Shrimp dish!
I also add a little lemon zest to the marinade to slightly brighten the flavors.
How to Make Skillet Cajun Shrimp
Start by making the marinade by combining 2 tbsp olive oil and all the herbs and seasonings. Add the shrimp and give it a stir to coat.
Let the shrimp marinade for 30 minutes up to 6 hours.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil. Once the pan is hot add half the marinated shrimp. Cook for 2 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. Remove the cooked shrimp to a plate.
Add the other half of the shrimp to the pan and repeat the cooking process.
Once all the shrimp is cooked remove the pan from the heat and add all the shrimp to the pan. Squeeze two fresh lemon wedges over the shrimp.
Serve the warm shrimp immediately!
What to Serve with Cajun Shrimp
This Cajun Shrimp makes an easy and fast dinner, here are some perfect side dishes to pair with it:
- Garlic Cheddar Biscuits – Just like Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits
- Dirty Rice & Beans
- Cheesy Rice
- White Rice
If you serve this as a shrimp appetizer I would HIGHLY recommend serving it with jicama sticks. They perfectly cool your mouth from the spice of the seasoning!
Skillet Cajun Shrimp Recipe
Skillet Cajun Shrimp
- 1 lb. Shrimp – raw, deveined, shelled, with tail on aim for 26/30 size
- 3 tbsp olive oil divided
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika make sure it is "smoked"
- 1 tsp dried oregano can sub dried thyme
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes add more for additional heat
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- pinch of cayenne pepper add more for additional heat
- 1 tbsp butter
- fresh lemon wedges
- In a bowl combine the shrimp, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp oregano, ½ tsp red pepper flakes, ½ tsp lemon zest, ¼ tsp black pepper, ¼ tsp salt, and pinch of cayenne pepper. Stir the mixture to coat the shrimp evenly. Let the shrimp marinate for 30 minutes up to 6 hours.
- In a large skillet over medium/high heat add 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter. Once the pan is hot add half the shrimp. Cook for 2 minutes on the first side, flip and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. Remove from the pan to a plate. Add the last half of the shrimp and repeat the cooking.
- Off the heat add all the shrimp back to the pan. Squeeze two fresh lemon wedges over the shrimp and stir.
- Serve the warm shrimp immediately.