Paul Prudhomme's Barbecued Shrimp Recipe: The Most Glorious Meal So Far This Year

Today I’ll share with you the recipe for Paul Prudhomme’s Barbecued Shrimp. This was unquestionably the most glorious meal I’ve made so far this year.

It passed the five easy questions test with flying colors. It was quite easy to make, with prep time of only about 30 minutes. Best of all, we had an utterly magnificent experience eating it.

A couple of brief introductory comments: The brand of beer I happened to use in the recipe has already brewed up (sorry) a bit of an amusing controversy. Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with my rule for new recipes to do it one time by the book, so I saw no reason to start imposing my own beer snobbery without first having some context on how the recipe would come out. If anybody wants to do a side-by-side control test of the recipe using different types of beer, go for it. Let me know the results.

Finally, there also seems to be minor controversy on whether this is technically “barbecue” or not. Heck, there are no coals, no broiling, and no cooking over an open pit. Perhaps we can get some barbecue purists to weigh in on this one, but my guess is they won’t consider something cooked in a pan as barbecue.

But man, those are just semantics to me. The recipe was so amazing that Chef Paul could call it anything he wants! I’ll cut him some slack.
Paul Prudhomme's Barbecued Shrimp
(Very slightly modified from Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen.*)

2 dozen medium-large raw shrimp with shells included (about 1 pound)

Seasoning mix:
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (yes, we're bending
the salt rule here because it's Paul Prudhomme)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary leaves, crushed
1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, in all
1 to 2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup seafood stock or vegetable stock
1/4 cup beer at room temperature

1) Rinse the shrimp in cold water and drain well. Leave shells on.

2) In a small bowl, combine seasoning mix ingredients.

3) Combine one stick of the butter, the garlic, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning mix in a large skillet over high heat. When the butter is melted, add the shrimp.

4) Cook for 2 minutes, shaking the pan (do not stir), in a back and forth motion. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and the stock, cook and shake pan for 2 more minutes. Add the beer and cook and shake the pan 1 minute longer. Remove from heat.

5) Serve immediately on a platter with a mound of white rice or seasoned rice in the center and the shrimp and sauce surrounding it.
A few quick extra notes:

  • Along with the rice, this dish made exactly enough food for two hungry people with enough left over for a lunch for Laura.
  • If you want to double this recipe, the cookbook says you should do it in separate batches. Note therefore that this dish does not scale well.
  • Don't ignore the specific instructions to shake the pan back and forth rather than stir (just think James Bond here). When you're working with melting butter, especially in a dish with a high ratio of butter to other ingredients, stirring can cause the oils in the butter to separate out, and it will make the sauce seem oily.

A Wine Suggestion
I’ll admit up front that this isn’t really the kind of blog you should visit to find painstaking details on wine pairings (at least not until I quit my job and go to sommelier school…!), but this dish will go very well with a light semi-dry or semi-sweet white wine, which will balance the hot spicy flavors in the dish. A Riesling, for example, would be perfect. We knocked back most of a bottle of Seyval from the Hosmer Winery, which is in the Finger Lakes region of New York State (quite good and yet only $10 a bottle!).


Related Posts:
The Greatest Chocolate Mousse in the World
Paul Prudhomme RULES
How to Tell if a Recipe is Worth Cooking With Five Easy Questions
Paul Prudhomme's Cajun Meatloaf: A Meatloaf Recipe that would Burn June Cleaver's Tongue Off

* Full Disclosure: if you purchase this book using any of the links provided, I get paid a miniscule affiliate fee.


Anonymous said...

Yum! that recipe looks good! But it was not a good sell on the book for me. I can't use recipes that have that much butter, and I need to easily scale up for five hungries. How about a Dan Koontz cookbook that does so? ;)

- and I use whatever leftover beer happens to be in the cupboard from our last BYOB!

- agree it's odd to call that BBQ.

Anonymous said...

Great Mardis Gras week post! Better than Pasqual Manales!

I'm definitley going to try this recipe, I love this dish but have never cooked it at home. I suppose if you ground your own spices it would be even more intensely flavorful, but that might take the "casual" out of the kitchen.


Anonymous said...

Wow, the recipe sounds awesome, printed and will try this weekend. I also love wines, so I had to follow the Hosmer Winery link, which led to a B&B booking, tickets for the Finger Lakes Wine Festival in July, and some possible bookings for other wine festivities. I had no intention of booking all this today, but spontaneity has always been my strong suite. Thanks!

Daniel said...

Glad to hear it! July is the one of the BEST times of year to head up to the Finger Lakes, enjoy the trip!

PS: Stop by Ithaca and have pizza at The Nines in Cornell's collegetown. Get the deep dish. Best pizza on earth. You won't regret it!


JFunk said...

Just tried to make this recipe tonight and was pretty disappointed with the results. As I'm a novice cook, I'm sure I'm to blame. How thick is the sauce supposed to be? Mine was very very thin. Also, what is the point of leaving the shells on during cooking? Or was I supposed to remove them before adding them to the pan? As you can see I was far from confident in my decision making and execution. I'll keep plugging away, and maybe come back to this one something in the future.

Daniel said...

Hi JFunk,
Sorry to hear this but please don't lose heart! Keep in mind that everybody once was a novice cook at some point.

And to be honest, even though I've been cooking for decades, I still tend to lack confidence when I make something for the first time (or even the first few times).

Re the sauce: it's supposed to be pretty thin. If you want to take a look at a flickr set on the making of this recipe, it might give you a better sense of how the recipe is supposed to come out.

Re your question on the shells: For some reason, many of Paul Prudhomme's recipes are "finger licking" in both senses--the recipes seem to require messy hands to eat them. You can of course take the shells off before cooking if you like, but we don't. I think it's just part of the Cajun vibe.

I hope that helps! Thanks for your comment.


Anonymous said...

I may be late in chiming on on this one, but I have been making this recipe for the last 20 years and it only gets better. I have made with and with out shells on depending on the company I am having over.

Also, the leftover sauce in the pan makes the best "Deviled" eggs you will ever have. I simply scrape the extra into a dish, refrigerate and mix with eggs next day!!!

Daniel said...

Thanks for sharing a idea Anon! That's an excellent way to make use of this recipe's great flavors. Thanks for your comment.


Laura said...

Mmmm, this looks delicious! Saving this one to try too :)

doctorcja said...

I have made this recipe from Prudhomme's cookbook, but probably used half the butter. The best version uses head-on shrimp. You need to leave the shells on to extract the extra flavor. Your choice whether you eat the shells or peel while eating and lick your fingers a lot.

Unknown said...

I too have been making this for 20 years and everyone I've ever served it too loves it and has requested the recipe. I've also made it both ways, shell on and shell off. I've felt shell on not only added to the flavor in the simmer but found often shell off meant frozen shrimp use which caused the shrimp to be a bit more tought.
My take of the adventure of shell on is, even with the boss coming for dinner, getting down and dirty with butter sauce dripping on your chin and covering your fingers, laughter followed and live became less serious. Also all the good butter sauce was meant for dipping chunks of great hot french bread. Everyone once in a while we have to break the rules and just enjoy the exceptional things in life.

Unknown said...

This is one of my all time favorite recipes. I agree with doctorcja. The dish is much better with the heads on the shrimp. Although I would like to add that Chef Paul's directions for preparing the shrimp are important. He says to cut off the head right behind the eyes. This will remove the somewhat bothersome "feelers", which on large shrimp are pretty long and can be problematic when cooking. But mainly, it opens up the head so that the shrimp's delicious fat content will be added to sauce. It makes a huge difference.

Having moved to the Northeast some 20 years ago from New Orleans I really miss being able to get shrimp with the heads still on. I believe it's a legal issue having to do with regulations regarding how shrimp are shipped, and not merely a Yankee prejudice. :)

Cynthia said...

Late comment:
No, this is not barbecue. It is, if you are feeling kindly, grilling. But even that is pushing it.
This comes from my husband, who has gone to two Steven Raichlen courses.

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely the best shrimp I ever had. I was very hesitant to leave the shells on but I'm so glad that I did. Amazing flavor!!!! My favorite part was dipping french bread in the sauce. I daydream about having this dish again. YUMMY!!

Daniel said...

Thanks for the comments and reactions. I think there's practically a universal consensus that this sauce is simply out of this world.

And Anon, I'm so glad you had a great experience making this. That is exactly what Casual Kitchen is all about. Congrats!


Anonymous said...

I've made this recipe lots of time and really enjoy it because it is spicy enough for me, a Louisiana native. I use about half the butter the recipe calls for and it still tastes great. You can also peel the shrimp before cooking it and it is less messy to eat.

A Fan said...

Couple of comments. I started cooking this recipe years ago when the first publication of this book came out. In My Humble Opinion (written out so you know I am serious) this is absolutely a killer recipe. Over the years I have my modified version and no longer use any beer but that is a matter of taste. I always cook it on the charcoal grill in a cast iron skillet. BBQ shrimp is a standard in Cajun Country (northerner here but have tried lots of it and nobody tops this recipe you can easily make at home yourself, simple, simple, simple). If you are a purist bbq'r it is not bbq at all. Back to the recipe; when cooking over charcoal there is a significant amount of hickory burned down to grey ash cover so it will not flare up when lid is opened with my lump charcoal in an egg style grill. The butter and wet ingredients are brought to a boil, with the cover closed, (adds smoke flavor to the liquids). The peeled formerly frozen (remember northerner here have never had this made with fresh gulf shrimp and would kill to try it that way) shrimp goes in as soon as the boil starts. Close the lid for 2-3 minutes. Go out flip the little morsels. Another 2 or 3 minutes but them in a bowl. We always do 2 batches and now procede with the 2nd batch. Pour the remaining sauce in the bowl with the shrimp. For some reason the second batch always comes out a little tastier!!! I have cooked this many times for my mechanics at work. One of them even said he would not eat spicey food. He loved shrimp though and tried one. You had to beat him off the bowl after that. I literally have had grown men 35-40 yrs. old racing to the bowl pushing each other to get the first ones. Pathetically hillarious too!! You can also do trout in this recipe and a few other fish and they are killer. As for the cookbook my first one is wore out. My second one is starting to look very sad. You can buy it on Amazon used books for a couple bucks (it saddens me this should cost $100). We have a library of cookbooks and this is the only one that is worn out! Unlike the common cookbook with 2 or 3 good recipes, this has a ton of great recipes. The enchilada recipe in it is a must try, we use grilled chicken (yes over hickory) and it is almost as good as the bbq shrimp. The cornbread recipe is unbelievable. This book should be recognized as the Bible of Cajun cooking. The tips for making roux are great. Gumbo tips galore. The sticky chicken recipe is my son's favorite. The chicken picante is killer. His shrimp picante may have a mistake in the amount of cayenne but that is the only recipe we detested in what we tried. This is Paul's greatest work because it is home cooking, family Cajun recipes from one of your greatest Cajun family's own home and an awesome chef's own perfection.

Floridafoodie said...

I have had Chef Paul's cookbook for 30 years. I was in NOLA on a layover and went to K-Paul's. We stood in line for 30 minutes or so, then were seated with strangers. We began with a Cajun Martini (vodka with jalapeno marinated for 24 hrs). We had a fabulous meal and received gold stars to stick on our foreheads for cleaning our plates. It was an unforgettable dining experience. Chef was seated at a rear table, in his usual white costume, with a cane propped next to him. I bought his cookbook the next day and have never found one to compare. But tonight will be the first time to try the BBQ shrimp. I am so glad I found this blog. I was questioning the use of beer, rather than wine, but now feel okay about it. How could I have doubted such a legend?

Anonymous said...

Love this recipe and have been using it for several years. Hard to beat it! However, I rarely keep seafood stock on hand, but in his book he suggest after pulling the heads off the shrimp, boil them in water and use that for the stock. It works and I like it much more than the vegi stock. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I lost my cookbook and am always grateful to find this recipe online. I live in Louisiana so have access to shrimp and make this when the big brown ones are in season and I can afford them. I always peel the shrimp before cooking; wouldn't think of peeling them in public at a restaurant and ruining my clothes and wouldn't do that at home either. On shrimp stock: if I buy shrimp with heads on, I make shrimp stock with the heads and shells. If I don't have enough materials for the batch, I freeze the stuff until I do. This recipe is quick; I spend the most time peeling the shrimp before cooking. It's also HOT but you could reduce the peppers by half to cool it. I simply take a Zantac before scarfing it down. Don't even think of making it without a pan full of garlic toast to soak up the sauce; it's sinfully good!

Daniel said...

Great comment Anon (2:23), thank you for sharing your thoughts and feedback!


Tionia said...

HELLO if you modified the recipe then it's NOT the same recipe.
here's the REAL recipe!

Barbecued Shrimp

Makes 2 servings

I want to warn you right now this is fun but messy to eat! In New Orleans most people wear bibs when they eat it, because you peel your own shrimp and dip them in the sauce. And most of us soak up more sauce with our French bread.
Find this recipe and more in Chef Paul Prudhomme's Pure Magic.

2 dozen large shrimp with heads and shells, about 1 pound
¼ pound (1 stick) + 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, in all
1½ teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Chef Paul Prudhomme's Seafood Magic® OR
Chef Paul Prudhomme's Blackened Redfish Magic®
½ cup shrimp stock
¼ cup beer, unopened but at room temperature

how to prepare
Rinse the shrimp in cold water and drain them well. Pinch off and discard the portion of the head from the eyes forward (including the eyes, but not the protruding long spine above the eyes). Leave as much as possible of the orange-colored shrimp fat from the head attached to the body. Set aside.

Combine 1 stick of the butter, the garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and Seafood Magic® or Blackened Redfish Magic® in a large skillet over high heat. When the butter melts, add the shrimp. Cook for 2 minutes, shaking (versus stirring) in a back-and-forth motion. Add the remaining 5 tablespoons butter and the stock. Cook and shake the pan for 2 minutes. Add the beer and cook and shake the pan for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and serve immediately in bowls with lots of French bread on the side, or on a platter with cooked rice mounded in the middle and the shrimp and sauce surrounding it.

Note: If you can't find shrimp with heads, go ahead and use headless shrimp. Your dish will still be great.

Copyright© 1995 by Paul Prudhomme said...

We decided to make this dish during the covid-19 times. We mixed half the water for the rice with half orange juice plus orange zest. Wow! It made quite a difference and the shrimps were fabulous. We also had a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. In the background we had Blues playing from the French Quarter. Not bad for a Canadian dinner in the middle of lockdown!

Daniel said...

Thanks for sharing recora1!! Sounds like a really good day.

And it's nice to see this post still getting pageviews after all these years. It's a real keeper of a recipe.


Grandpa/MeeMaw said...

This is the BEST and I agree the whole book is fabulous! This is the meal most of my extended family members request for birthdays...and for Christmas Eve I make 3 batches of the gumbo, which is devoured along with tamales & chili!

Saskia said...

As someone who is a relatively new convert to shrimp/prawns (I was vegetarian for years, then just squeamish about eating them, but then I got over myself and I can't get enough of them now!) I'd love to try this! However I always try to make sure I serve some kind of vegetables with every meal, and I'm struggling to think of how to introduce some veg to this. Can you think of a vegetable side dish, or something veg-heavy that would work as another course before or after this? The one thing I thought of was just adding some spinach to the recipe as I've found in the past that usually works well with brothy sauces & soups without taking over the dish too much.

Daniel said...

Hi Saskia, great question! I don't think I'd add a veggie to the recipe itself but I could suggest a couple ideas. First some mashed potatoes on the side to soak up any leftover sauce. And then another idea, that comes from another recipe here at CK: Lemon Roasted Cabbage.

You can find the post here:



Anonymous said...

I’ve been making this dish for 40 years!! It’s so damn good!! I made it tonight; skipped the rice for some incredible Italian bread. My husband wanted a veg so halved some grape tomatoes and added them at the end just to heat through. Worked great. I’m saving the leftover sauce to serve over pasta in a few days.
One of our altimeter favorite recipes!!

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add I always peel the shrimp first and use the shells to make the stock.

Daniel said...

Thanks for your comment and so happy to hear your ideas for using the leftover sauce!