It’s easy to make THE BEST grilled shrimp marinade with lime juice, soy sauce and garlic. This simple shrimp recipe is made in less than 30 minutes and perfect for making shrimp tacos, stir-fry, or a surf and turf dinner on the grill!

cooked shrimp on plate with lime wedge

On a warm summer day in the city of Los Angeles in 2011, I opened my laptop and started this blog. The first recipe I ever posted was this recipe for Grilled Shrimp with THE BEST marinade. Over a decade later and this is still one of the most popular recipes on the blog and one of our family favorites!

The combination of flavors in the marinade pairs well with Mexican food, Chinese food and American food. Over the last decade, I’ve served this marinated shrimp in Shrimp Tacos, in a stir fry with THE BEST Stir Fry Sauce and with Grilled Steak for a surf and turf dinner.

The shrimp are so flavorful, you can also skewer and grill them, then serve them with a side of rice, quinoa or veggies. The possibilities really are endless! But one thing is for sure, you’re going to be reaching for this shrimp marinade recipe for years to come!

It’s quick, simple, made with just 7 ingredients and the flavor combination is perfect. Why it works:

  1. Salt from the soy sauce flavors the shrimp.
  2. While the lime juice adds a nice acidity.
  3. The sweetness from the brown sugar balances out the acid and salt.
  4. Chili powder and red pepper flakes add a touch of heat.
  5. And they all combine for the perfect balance of flavors!

Best part is, it’s easy to mix up in just 5 minutes and only requires a quick 15 minute marinade!

ingredients for shrimp marinade

Ingredients you’ll need

  • Shrimp – you’ll want peeled and deveined shrimp for this recipe. Marinating peeled shrimp will result in more flavor soaking into the shrimp. Tails on or off is totally up to you and will probably depend on how you’re serving the shrimp. If you’re serving the shrimp in tacos, for instance, you’ll want to remove the tails either before or after cooking the shrimp. If you’re serving the shrimp with a steak, for surf and turf, you may want to keep the tails intact for a better presentation.
  • Garlic cloves
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce – if you want to make the marinade gluten free, use Tamari instead of soy sauce. You can also use low-sodium soy sauce, if you prefer a little less salt in your marinade. I’ve tested this recipe with both, and it’s delicious either way!
  • Chili powder – for a smoky flavor, you could also use chipotle chili powder.
  • Lime juice – juicing a fresh lime will give you the best flavor.
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil – other vegetable oils can also be used, like avocado oil, sunflower oil, canola oil or peanut oil.
shrimp marinading in bowl and cooking on grill pan

Step by step instructions

  1. Prepare the marinade. Combine crushed garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, chili powder, lime juice, red pepper flakes and olive oil in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Marinate the shrimp. Add the shrimp to the marinade and toss to coat. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for 15 minutes.
    • Note: You can let the shrimp marinade for up to 2 hours, but you do not want to marinate it longer than that, or the acid from the lime juice will actually start to “cook” the shrimp, like in a ceviche.

How to cook shrimp

On the grill

  1. Heat an indoor or outdoor grill over medium-high heat, approximately 450°F. 
  2. Use tongs to remove the shrimp from the marinade and place the shrimp directly on the grill.
  3. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. This time will vary based on how big the shrimp are that you’re using in the recipe. For smaller shrimp, you’ll only need 1-2 minutes per side. For jumbo shrimp, you’ll need 3-4 minutes per side.

On the stove

  1. Place a grill pan, or cast iron skillet, on the stove top over medium high heat.
  2. When the pan or skillet is hot, use tongs to remove the shrimp from the marinade and place it in the skillet, making sure not to crowd the skillet.
  3. Cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes on each side, adding or removing 1-2 minutes if the shrimp are smaller or larger in size.
grilled shrimp piled on plate with fresh cilantro

Tips and tricks

  • How to tell when shrimp is cooked, when the shrimp starts to turn opaque white with some pink highlights, that’s when you know it’s time to flip or remove the shrimp from the grill or skillet.
  • If your shrimp are extra large and labeled 16-20, which means there are 16-20 shrimp per pound (as seen in this post), you can place the shrimp directly on the grill without worrying about the shrimp falling through the grill grates.
  • If your shrimp are medium or small in size, labeled 31-40 or below, I recommend placing them on grill-safe foil, or a flat grill basket, so that you don’t risk them falling through the grates. You can also skewer the shrimp, onto wooden or metal skewers, if they’re smaller in size and place the skewers directly on the grill.
  • Do not overcrowd the skillet, if you’re cooking the shrimp on the stove. The shrimp will not cook evenly and you won’t get a nice crust on the outside of the shrimp. If you have to, work in batches. The shrimp cook so quickly, that if you cook them in two batches, the first batch will still be warm when you remove the second batch from the skillet.
  • Do not rinse the marinade off the shrimp before cooking. If you’re grilling the shrimp, it can go straight from the marinade onto the grill. If you’re cooking the shrimp in a skillet, be sure to use tongs to shake off any excess marinade before adding it to the skillet. When placing shrimp on the grill, any excess marinade will drip through the grill grates. When cooking the shrimp in a skillet, the marinade has no where to go, so it will stay in the skillet and you won’t get that beautiful sear on the outside of the shrimp. This is also why I recommend not over-crowding the skillet, if you’re cooking the shrimp on the stove.
grilled shrimp on plate with lime wedges

Frequently asked questions

  • Can you use this marinade on other seafood? Yes, especially if you plan to grill the seafood, this marinade is perfect for imparting tons of flavor before you toss it on the grill! You can marinade up to one pound of scallops, tilapia, swordfish, cod or halibut in this marinade. Just like shrimp, you never want to marinade any seafood in a citrus marinade for more than 2 hours. I recommend 15-30 minutes.
  • Is the marinade spicy? The marinade is mild on the spicy scale. If you’d like to spice it up, you can add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder to the marinade.
  • What can I substitute for soy sauce? If you have a soy allergy, gluten allergy or just don’t like the taste of soy sauce, I recommend using coconut aminos instead. This soy sauce alternative is soy-free, gluten-free and contains much less sodium. For this reason, I do recommend adding 1/2 teaspoon salt to the marinade if you replace the soy sauce with coconut aminos.
  • How much shrimp can I marinate with this recipe? This recipe can be used to marinate 1 pound of shrimp. You can easily double the recipe to marinate 2 pounds of shrimp. To do this, simply hover over the “servings” in the recipe card below and change the number from 4 to 8, this will automatically double all of the ingredient measurements in the recipe card.
  • Can you make the marinade ahead of time? Sure thing! Simply mix all of the marinade ingredients together, cover and store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Just remember to avoid marinating the shrimp for more than 2 hours, so that it does not begin to cook in the lime juice, as that will make the shrimp tough and chewy.
  • How long should you marinate shrimp? 15 minutes is enough time for shrimp to absorb a marinade, but you can marinate it for up to 2 hours.
marinated cooked shrimp on plate with cilantro

What to serve with shrimp

This grilled shrimp recipe pairs well with so many dishes. Try it with any of these side dishes for a winning meal!

More shrimp recipes

Shrimp cooks up quickly, making it the perfect protein to make quick and easy weeknight meals. Try adding shrimp to your menu at least once a week, with all of these simple shrimp recipes!

cooked shrimp piled up on plate with lime wedges
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Chili Lime Garlic Grilled Shrimp Marinade

It's easy to make THE BEST grilled shrimp marinade with lime juice, soy sauce and garlic. Marinate the shrimp for just 15 minutes for incredible flavor!

Ingredients

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, tamari for gluten free
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice, fresh-squeezed is preferred
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled & deveined

Instructions

Marinating the shrimp

  • Whisk the garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, chili powder, lime juice, red pepper flakes and olive oil together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the shrimp to the marinade and toss to coat.
  • Place in the refrigerator and marinate for 15 minutes, or up to 2 hours.
  • Grill the shrimp for 3 minutes per side.

Grilling the shrimp

  • Heat a grill over medium-high heat, approximately 450°F. 
  • Use tongs to remove the shrimp from the marinade and place the shrimp directly on the grill.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until the shrimp starts to turn opaque white with some pink highlights. 

Cooking the shrimp on the stove

  • Place a grill pan, or cast iron skillet, on the stove top over medium high heat.
  • When the pan or skillet is hot, use tongs to remove the shrimp from the marinade and place it in the skillet, making sure not to crowd the skillet.
  • Cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes on each side, adding or removing 1-2 minutes if the shrimp are smaller or larger in size.

Video

Notes

  • If your shrimp are extra large and labeled 16-20, which means there are 16-20 shrimp per pound (as seen in this post), you can place the shrimp directly on the grill without worrying about the shrimp falling through the grill grates.
  • If your shrimp are medium or small in size, labeled 31-40 or below, I recommend placing them on grill-safe foil, or a flat grill basket, so that you don’t risk them falling through the grates. You can also skewer the shrimp, onto wooden or metal skewers, if they’re smaller in size and place the skewers directly on the grill.
  • Do not rinse the marinade off the shrimp before cooking.
  • You should marinate the shrimp for at least 15 minutes, but no more than 2 hours, or it will begin to “cook” in the citrus marinade and your shrimp will end up tough and chewy.
  • You can use this marinade on other seafood, like scallops, tilapia, swordfish, cod or halibut. Just like shrimp, you never want to marinade any seafood in a citrus marinade for more than 2 hours. I recommend 15-30 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

Calories 44kcal (2%)Carbohydrates 6g (2%)Protein 2g (4%)Fat 2g (3%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 1gSodium 768mg (32%)Potassium 66mg (2%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 3g (3%)Vitamin A 228mg (5%)Vitamin C 4mg (5%)Calcium 12mg (1%)Iron 1mg (6%)
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