This Cajun Shrimp Recipe is the ideal way to experience the vibrant flavors of Louisiana cuisine. With just one skillet, some shrimp, garlic and homemade Cajun seasoning, you can create a delicious dish in just 15 minutes. This recipe is great for busy weeknight dinners or last-minute get-togethers. Whether you serve it as a satisfying meal with rice or pasta, or enjoy it as an appetizer with crusty bread, this Cajun Shrimp become a regular in your recipe rotation.
Cajun Seasoning: Homemade vs Store Bought
Homemade: we like to use a homemade Cajun Seasoning mix for this recipe because we have more control over the spice and salt level. Our Cajun Seasoning is traditional and somewhat spicy. If you’re worried about spice, pull back on the Cayenne a bit. If you want a smokier Cajun seasoning, add some smoked paprika in place of the regular paprika.
Store-Bought: packaged Cajun seasonings vary widely in spice and salt levels. You can definitely use a purchased Cajun seasoning instead of homemade, just be sure to give it a taste before adding it to the shrimp. If it’s really spicy or salty, start with a smaller amount than called for in the recipe and adjust to taste.
How to Make Cajun Shrimp
Ingredients for Cajun Shrimp
- Shrimp: You’ll need large (21/25) shrimp that have been peeled and deveined. And if you don’t live on the coast, seek out frozen wild-caught.
- Cajun Seasoning: our homemade Cajun seasoning is made with a handful of pantry ingredients (salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, and celery salt). If you don’t want to mix up your own, you can use store-bought. Just keep in mind that store-bought cajun seasonings can vary widely so give it a taste and adjust the amount you use to your liking.
- Butter: you’ll need a quarter cup (4 tablespoons) of butter for cooking the shrimp. We definitely recommend using butter instead of oil here. And opt for unsalted butter so you can control the seasoning.
- Garlic: 4 large cloves of garlic are used in this recipe! But instead of minced or grated, you’ll thinly slice the garlic. Sliced garlic is much more mild in flavor than minced or grated, so it doesn’t overpower the shrimp.
- Bay Leaves: we like to use fresh bay leaves, when possible. But dried also work just as well! If you’re able to find some fresh bay leaves, you can use them in our Shrimp Roll and Pozole Rojo.
- Lemon Juice: a splash of lemon juice brightens up this savory and spicy dish. If you want even more pop of lemon, finish the shrimp with some grated lemon zest.
- Worcestershire Sauce: a dash of Worcestershire adds depth and savoriness to this dish. You just need a couple teaspoons.
- Parsley: chopped fresh parsley adds some much needed greenery to this Cajun shrimp! If you love cilantro, that’s also delicious here.
Basic Instructions for Making Cajun Shrimp
- Season the Shrimp
- Cook the Garlic
- Cook the Shrimp
- Finish the Dish
The first step is to season the peeled and deveined shrimp with Cajun seasoning. Give the shrimp a good toss to ensure they are evenly coated.
Sauté the sliced garlic in butter just until browned and fragrant. Stir the garlic around frequently to avoid burning it.
Add the shrimp to the skillet and stir to coat in butter. Allow the shrimp to cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through. You’ll know the shrimp is done when it turns from transparent to opaque and is slightly firm to touch.
Stir Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and fresh parsley into Cajun Shrimp. And it’s ready to serve! We like to serve with crusty bread.
Cajun Shrimp Storage and Reheating Tips
- Store cooked Cajun Shrimp in a glass airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat the shrimp gently over low heat on the stove top just until warmed through.
- For longer storage, you can freeze Cajun Shrimp in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Allow the shrimp to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before gently reheating on the stovetop over low heat.
- Turn leftover Cajun Shrimp into a Cajun shrimp pasta by tossing the reheated shrimp with your favorite cooked pasta, a bit of tomato paste and a splash of cream.
What to Serve with Cajun Shrimp
Orzo pasta and rice is also great with Cajun Shrimp. Make it a full meal by serving the shrimp with our Herby Orzo Salad.
Polenta Fries are a fun side dish as well and absolutely delicious when dipped in the skillet sauce.
Tips for Cooking Cajun Shrimp
- If purchasing frozen shrimp, check the label and make sure the only ingredient is “shrimp.” Any additives negatively impact the flavor and texture of the shrimp.
- How to tell if shrimp are cooked through: First, the shrimp should turn from translucent to opaque. Secondly, according to Bon Appetit, “keep an eye on the crevice in the back of the shrimp where the vein was removed. Stay locked onto the thickest part of the shrimp (the opposite end as the tail), and when the flesh at the base of that crevice turns from translucent to opaque, the shrimp is done.”
- How to tell if shrimp are over-cooked: If the shrimp have curled very tightly into a “c” then they are over-cooked. Over-cooked shrimp are rubbery and tough. Regardless of cooking method, you generally only need about 3 minutes to cook large sized shrimp.
More Shrimp Recipes to Try
If you like lobster rolls, then you’ll love this Shrimp Roll recipe. It’s truly the best shrimp roll recipe out there!
This modern take on Shrimp Fra Diavolo is absolutely delicious. Topped with dollops of chili crisp and fresh cilantro, it’s unlike any fra diavolo you’ve had and in the best possible way!
Looking for another shrimp sandwich? Try these Shrimp Burgers complete with an herby tartar sauce.
Shrimp tacos are also a must—check out these Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos as well as these Tacos Gobernador which feature shrimp poached in a fresh tomato sauce then piled onto crisp cheesy tortillas with avocado and romaine.
Cajun Shrimp Recipe
- 1 ½ pounds large (21/25) white shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons homemade Cajun Seasoning, recipe below
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 3 fresh or dried bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- crusty bread, for serving
Homemade Cajun Seasoning
- ¼ cup paprika
- 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- In a medium bowl, toss 1 ½ pounds shrimp with 2 tablespoons Cajun Seasoning until evenly coated.
- Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and add 4 cloves sliced garlic and 3 bay leaves. Sauté gently until garlic is fragrant and begins to brown lightly, about 1–2 minutes.
- Add shrimp to skillet and stir to coat in butter. Cook for 3–4 minutes, gently turning shrimp, until pink and just cooked through.
- Remove from heat, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2 teaspoons Worcestershire and toss to coat shrimp in sauce.
- Sprinkle shrimp with 1 tablespoon chopped parsley and serve hot with crusty bread for dipping.
Homemade Cajun Seasoning
- Combine ¼ cup paprika, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 2 teaspoons cayenne, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, and 1 teaspoon celery salt in a medium-small bowl. Use as desired.
- Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, for up to 2 months.