New Orleans BBQ Shrimp is a mouthwatering recipe with plump, juicy shrimp cooked in a savory butter sauce flavored with onions, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, lemon, and homemade Cajun seasoning. Serve barbecue shrimp with some crusty French bread and be transported down to the Big Easy!
This year, I'm excited to take part in Eat the Culture’s 2023 Holiday Recipe Exchange: Party Pairings for All the Holidays! Holidays often revolve around communal moments – sharing stories, laughter, and, of course, food. This year's roundup is all about those delightful 'lite bites' and drinks that set the tone for festive gatherings. I had the pleasure of partnering with Dawn of D.M.R. Fine Foods who crafted a delicious Deck The Halls Mocktail. This Deck the
Halls Mocktail pairs perfectly with my New Orleans BBQ Shrimp. Learn more about Eat the Culture and find a complete list of recipes from all participants here.
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I always say that New Orleans is my second home and this beautiful, vibrant city features some of my favorite cuisine. New Orleans BBQ Shrimp is a dish I have to get at least once when I'm in the city and when I'm not, I'm whipping up this recipe at home!
The name may be a little confusing, but there is no grilling or bbq sauce involved in making New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp. Instead, there's jumbo shrimp swimming in a rich, boldly flavored butter sauce cooked either on the stovetop or in the oven.
Table of Contents
What Are New Orleans BBQ Shrimp?
New Orleans BBQ Shrimp is a flavorful dish made with large gulf shrimp cooked in butter, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and Cajun or Creole seasoning. Some people add different ingredients like wine, hot sauce, or chopped veggies to make the dish their own.
In New Orleans, BBQ Shrimp is typically made with head-on shrimp, making the dish extra flavorful. If you cannot find shrimp with the heads still on, be sure to use shelled shrimp for the most flavor!
Important Ingredient Notes
A complete list of ingredients with measurements along with detailed recipe instructions can be found in the recipe card located at the bottom of this post.
- Shrimp. You need 1.5 pounds of jumbo shrimp with the shells on. Extra-large or large shrimp will also work great but just be sure to buy shrimp with the shells on to get the most flavor in your dish. If you can find shrimp with the heads on, even better!
- Butter. I recommend unsalted butter for this recipe because the Worcestershire sauce and the Cajun seasoning add a good amount of salt and you do not want your shrimp to be overly salty.
- Worcestershire sauce. This ingredient adds the most delicious tangy, umami flavor to the dish and really is a make-or-break ingredient for New Orleans BBQ shrimp. I recommend Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce for the best flavor!
- Lemon juice. You may use freshly squeezed or bottled lemon juice for this recipe. Since you are buying a whole lemon to cut up to go in the shrimp, you might as well buy another one and go the freshly squeezed route. Fresh is always better!
- Cajun seasoning. I use my Homemade Cajun Seasoning for this recipe and I highly recommend giving it a try! It's not overly spicy or salty and adds the perfect flavors to these BBQ shrimp. You can also use store-bought seasoning. Slap Ya Mama and Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning are two of my favorites!
- Light brown sugar. This is a completely optional ingredient and is not included in most New Orleans BBQ Shrimp recipes. However, it adds the most delicious hint of sweetness that plays off the tangy, spicy flavors beautifully!
How To Make BBQ Shrimp
- Clean the shrimp. If you would like to devein your shrimp (this is optional and totally up to personal preference), cut them along the back with kitchen shears and pick out the black or green that runs along the back. Place the shrimp in a large bowl and rinse them under cold water to remove any sand or debris.
- Make the sauce. Cook the onion and garlic in butter then add all the other ingredients except for the shrimp and lemon slices. Cook the sauce until it reduces and coats the back of a spoon.
- Cook the shrimp. Add the shrimp and lemons and cook until the shrimp are pink and opaque. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve with crusty French bread.
Frequently Asked Questions
While there is no actual barbecuing involved, BBQ shrimp are cooked in a flavorful butter sauce that turns a rich brown color, resembling BBQ sauce.
The best shrimp for making New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp are jumbo Gulf shrimp with the heads on. However, if head-on Gulf shrimp aren't available in your area, jumbo or extra-large headless, shell-on shrimp will work just fine.
New Orleans BBQ Shrimp was invented in 1953 at Pascal's Manale Restaurant and is one of the city's most copied dishes.
What To Serve With Barbecue Shrimp
The most important accompaniment to New Orleans BBQ Shrimp is crusty French bread for sopping up that delectable sauce! BBQ Shrimp can be served as an appetizer or main dish. Serve it up with some of the following for an unforgettable Southern meal!
- Southern Fried Catfish
- Cajun Shrimp and Grits
- Cajun Jambalaya Pasta
- Southern Salmon Croquettes
- Easy Cajun Salmon
- Cajun Potato Salad
- Southern Green Beans
- Southern Collard Greens
- Southern Buttermilk Cornbread
- Southern Hush Puppies
- Southern Buttermilk Biscuits
- Sweet Potato Cornbread
- Sweet Cornbread Muffins
- Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits
Make-Ahead and Storing Instructions
New Orleans BBQ Shrimp is not a dish I recommend making ahead of time. Shrimp do not have the best flavor or texture when reheated.
Leftover barbecue shrimp can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a day or two and reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop. Don't forget to toast more bread to dunk in that delicious sauce!
More Cajun Recipes You Will Love!
- Blackened Fish and Cheese Grits
- Authentic Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
- Creamy Cajun Mushroom Pasta
- Cajun Shrimp
- Cajun Dirty Rice with Smoked Sausage
- New Orleans Remoulade Sauce
- Creamy Cajun Dipping Sauce
- New Orleans Beignets
- New Orleans King Cake
- Bananas Foster French Toast
New Orleans BBQ Shrimp
- 1.5 pounds jumbo shrimp shell-on, see note
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 ½ sticks
- ½ small yellow onion thinly sliced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1 tablespoon Homemade Cajun Seasoning my recipe linked
- 2 teaspoons light brown sugar optional
- Cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 whole lemon sliced
- Toasted French bread for dipping
- If you would like to devein the shrimp, cut them along the back from head to tail with kitchen shears and pick out the black or green vein. Place the shrimp in a large bowl and rinse them under cool water to get rid of any sand or debris. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels.
- Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Cajun seasoning, and light brown sugar to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5-7 minutes until the sauce reduces and thickens to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
- Add the shrimp and lemon slices to the skillet, season with freshly cracked black pepper, and cook for 4-6 minute until the shrimp are pink and opaque. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp.
- Serve New Orleans BBQ shrimp warm with crusty french bread for dipping!
- The best shrimp for making New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp are jumbo Gulf shrimp with the heads on. However, if head-on Gulf shrimp aren't available in your area, jumbo or extra-large headless, shell-on shrimp will work just fine.
- Brown sugar is a completely optional ingredient and is not included in most New Orleans BBQ Shrimp recipes. However, it adds the most delicious hint of sweetness that plays off the tangy, spicy flavors beautifully!
- BBQ Shrimp are best served fresh, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a day or two and reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop. Don't forget to toast more bread to dunk in that delicious sauce!