Today’s recipe is one of my favorite healthy shrimp recipes! It is an easy 20-minute entrée: Shrimp in Garlic Sauce. The fresh tangy lemon, pump briney shrimp and garlicky sauce are best served over piping hot pasta and topped generously with Parsley. It’s super simple and a perfect weeknight meal or special occasion entree for holidays or entertaining!

shrimp on a platter on pasta

Why We Love Shrimp in Garlic Sauce

Let me count the ways we love this simple Shrimp and Garlic Sauce recipe! For starters it takes only 20 minutes! And that includes the time it takes to remove the shrimp shells, so if you are buying pre-shelled shrimp it will be even faster!

It also is a big win because it exuzudes restaurant quality dinner- but it is easy enough for even a beginner. So if the idea of cooking fresh seafood at home is intimidating, this is a great recipe to start with.

It goes with all sorts of side dishes to complete the meal. Serve it with spaghetti (or another pasta), jasmine rice or use crusty bread to soak up the yummy flavorful sauce! To keep it low carb, you can serve the shrimp and sauce over spaghetti squash, zoodles or cauliflower rice.

More Healthy Shrimp Recipes:

Key Ingredients For Garlic Shrimp

ingredients with labels
  • Large Shrimp: You’ll need 2 lbs of frozen shrimp. Then you’ll want to defrost it, and remove the shells. I like to leave the tails on for restaurant style presention. To choose the best shrimp make sure you check here first. To save time, look for “E-Z Peel” or those that have the veins removed from the back of the shrimp. This makes cleaning so much faster!
  • Extra-virgin olive oil: To sear the shrimp you can use olive oil or a high-heat neutral cooking oil such as grape seed oil, canola oil or avocado oil..
  • Salt and Pepper: Make sure to skip added salt if your shimp are treated with STP or STTP. You can use kosher salt, but it is not as salty as regular salt, so you will need a little extra. Read more about swapping kosher salt for table salt here. To season you’ll also want fresh pepper. Red pepper flake or crushed red pepper is another option. Use a little pinch or to taste with the garlic to add some firy pep to the seared shrimp!
  • 3 cloves garlic: This may seem like a lot of garlic (it is!) but it mellows considerably when it is cooked in the olive oil with the seared shrimp.
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice: The bright pop of freshly squeezed lemon juice is a great foil for the salty and sweet shrimp.
  • ½ cup roughly chopped Italian Parsley: Fresh flat leaf parsley or Italian parsley is a great addition at the end of cooking to add freshness.

IMPORTANT: Check to see if your shrimp is labeled STP free (or STPP free.) This is a preservative that helps preserve moisture content in seafood. It also dramatically increases the sodium content. We have tested this recipe countless times and we have found that shrimp the is STP free will brown nicely and will not let off excess moisture as it cooks.

How To Make Garlic Sauce Shrimp

pat the shrimp dry and cook in a hot skillet

Step 1: Prepare and Dry Shrimp Before Cooking

Make sure the shrimp is completely dry. To brown the shrimp and keep them from releasing all their juice into the pan, you’ll want to make sure you heat up your pan before you add the shrimp. Use a large skillet so that the shrimp can cook in a single layer.

You can even add a shrimp to test if the oil is hot. If you do and it doesn’t really sizzle sizzle sizzle, then you should wait a minute before adding the rest of the shrimp.

Step 2: Pan Sear Shrimp

Add the shrimp to the hot pan. You also don’t want to overcrowd the pan. So make sure you use a 10-inch skillet, not an 8- or 9-inch.

TIP: If your pan isn’t quite large enough, do not overcrowd it, cook the shrimp in batches!

If you do those two things your shrimp will sauté, turn lightly golden, retain all their sweet shrimpy juicy goodness. Not only that, but the garlic will also taste better because it is fried and not boiled.

cook the garlic on the side of the pan

Step 3: Saute Garlic

Push the sauteed Shrimp to one side of the skillet and tilt the pan slightly so the oil pools on the other side. Add the minced fresh garlic to the oil and fry until it just turns brown (don’t cook it any longer, or else the garlic will burn and turn bitter).

Step 4: Add Lemon and Parsley

Then, mix the shrimp and garlic together until the shrimp is fully coated. Spread the shrimp out so it’s evenly covering the pan and squeeze the fresh lemon juice on top. Sprinkle with parsley and pepper, then remove the shrimp from the heat.

shrimp over pasta on a white platter

How To Prepare Frozen Shrimp For Cooking

If you are wondering, can I use frozen shrimp for sauteed shrimp? The answer is Yes! You can use frozen and thawed shrimp, just make sure to drain it well.

  • If you can find a bag of shrimp in the freezer section of the supermarket with a sustainable seafood certification, that’s the best choice! Check those on Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.
  • Thaw the shrimp in a colander under running cool water from the tap, or defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Once the shrimp are peeled, make sure to dry them with clean paper towels. Remember: to get a good sear and browning, you don’t want any excess moisture on the shrimp.

Serving Suggestions For Seared Shrimp with Garlic and Lemon

Make Ahead Instructions For Sauteed Shrimp

Prep your shrimp by following the instructions below for thawing and cleaning them. Then do the following:

  • Pat the shrimp dry with clean paper towels.
  • Layer a folded paper towel in the bottom of a large glass resealable container. Pile in the shrimp cover tightly and refrigerate up to 24 hours.
  • Chop garlic and keep in a resealable container in the refrigerator.
  • Chop the parsley and keep in a storage container, or dish covered with plastic wrap.
  • Squeeze the lemon ahead of time and keep in a jar in the fridge.
  • Cook the shrimp just before serving.

Leftovers, Storage and Reheating

Leftovers: Leftover Shrimp in garlic sauce can be stored in an airtight container for up to 24 hours. Keep refrigerated. It is important to make sure the seared shrimp are cooled before snapping the container shut.

Reheating: To Reheat gently warm through in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until steaming hot. Do not overcook as this will make the shrimp rubbery. Note that the parsley will not be as vibrant on the second day.

Variations and Substitutions

  • Other Allium: Instead of garlic, use finely minced onion or shallot. Or omit the garlic and add two to three finely sliced scallions with the parsley.
  • Lemon Zest: add a little lemon zest with the parsley for an added lemony touch.
  • Dried Herbs: Season the shrimp with dried herbs (like Italian seasoning, dry thyme or dry oregano) before searing.
  • Make it Even More Saucy: Once you saute the shrimp in step 2, remove it to a plate. Whisk 3/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth or clam juice with 1/2 teaspoon corn starch. Cook the garlic as directed in step 3, then pour in the cornstarch slurry. Once it comes to a simmer, add in the cooked shrimp, any juices from the plate and the lemon juice as directed in step four.
  • To make Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp, instead of Olive Oil, use 2 1/2 tablespoons melted butter. Just make sure to add the shrimp before the butter starts to brown, or the butter will burn.
  • Try adding 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon after the shrimp comes off the heat. The slightly anise flavor of tarragon pairs beautifully with seafood.
  • Use white wine instead of lemon. This variation is slightly less tart than the lemon juice for those who do not love sour flavors.
  • For an Asian-inspried variation, make the following substitutions: Use 1 tablespoon avocado oil and 1 tablespoon sesame oil instead of sesame oil. Omit the lemon juice and use dry sherry instead. Season with soy sauce or fish sauce to taste. Garnish with Thai basil or cilantro instead of parsley.


Why is my shrimp releasing liquid when it cooks?

This could be for three reasons. One, the shrimp was treated with STP, a chemical that helps it retain moisture. Unfortunately, when it is cooked, it can release that moisture. Two, the pan may not be hot enough. Three, the pan was overcrowded. All three of these reasons will prevent the shrimp from getting a good browning and sear. When in doubt put less shrimp in the pan to avoid overcrowding.

Can you cook frozen shrimp without thawing?

Technically you can cook it straight from frozen- it won’t hurt you as long as you cook it through, but it will result in overcooked and dried out shrimp which is a waste of money in our opinion. Instead take the time to thaw your shrimp, pat it completely dry then sauté it in a very hot skillet so that it can get a great sear.

At Healthy Seasonal Recipes, we specialize in cooking with fresh veggies and creating weeknight meals. Sign up HERE to get more produce-forward dinner ideas for FREE! If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought! Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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shrimp on a platter on pasta

Shrimp in Garlic Sauce

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4.9 from 9 reviews


This shrimp in garlic sauce is an easy weeknight meal that takes only 20 minutes. It’s fast, delicious, healthy, and just as delicious as any restaurant seafood meal!


Units Scale
  • 2 lbs frozen 16-20 ct. peeled and deveined shrimp, defrosted (tails left on)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped Italian Parsley
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Pat shrimp dry.
  2. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add shrimp and sprinkle with salt. Let cook, until bright pink and starting to brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes.
  3. Push shrimp to one side of the skillet, and tilt skillet to allow oil to pool on the open surface of the skillet. Add garlic to the oil and stir. Cook, stirring the garlic only until the it is fragrant and just starting to brown. Stir the garlic into the shrimp and stir to coat the shrimp with the garlic.
  4. Redistribute the shrimp mixture onto the surface of the skillet. Drizzle lemon over the shrimp and stir to coat. Continue cooking until the shrimp is just cooked through, 40 seconds to 2 minutes.
  5. Add parsley and black pepper, stir to coat and remove from the heat . Serve hot.


Tips For Cooking The Shrimp

To brown the shrimp and keep them from releasing all their juice into the pan, you’ll want to make sure you heat up your pan before you add the shrimp.

You can even add a shrimp to test if the oil is hot. If you do and it doesn’t really sizzle sizzle sizzle, then you should wait a minute before adding the rest of the shrimp.

You also don’t want to overcrowd the pan. So make sure you use a large skillet.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1 1/4 cups
  • Calories: 291
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Sodium: 370 mg
  • Fat: 8 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 1 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 55 g