Salt and pepper shrimp. The recipe sorta says it all. All you gotta do is toss some shrimp, salt, pepper, and garlic in a hot skillet and keep watch until the shrimp are plump and juicy and perfect. Then all that’s left is to sit back and accept accolades.Renee Schettler Rossi

A pile of salt and pepper shrimp and lemon wedges on white paper

Salt and Pepper Shrimp

5 / 2 votes
These salt and pepper shrimp are crazy easy to make. They’re simply tossed in freshly ground mixed peppercorns and sea salt and seared in a wok or skillet. They’re served with a few slices of lemon. A great appetizer or topping for a salad or pasta.
David Leite
Servings4 to 6 servings
Calories235 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes


  • 1 teaspoon multicolored or black peppercorns
  • 2 pounds large shrimp in the shell, preferably heads on, deveined* if desired
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  • Place the peppercorns in a spice grinder (or a clean coffee grinder reserved only for grinding spices) and pulse several times until they’re finely crushed.
  • Pat the shrimp dry. In a bowl, combine the shrimp, half the crushed peppercorns, and 1 teaspoon salt and toss to coat the shrimp.
  • Warm a wok or a large frying pan over medium-high heat, then swirl in the oil. Add the garlic, remaining peppercorns, and 1 teaspoon salt and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and stir-fry until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes. The shrimp cook really fast so be careful not to overcook them.
  • Serve the shrimp right away with the lemon wedges for squeezing. Place a small bowl or dish on the table for discarded shells. Don’t forget to put out plenty of napkins!


*How To Devein Shrimp

Know that dark vein that runs down the back of shrimp? It’s the vein, and it’s how waste matter gets escorted out of these little crustaceans. It’s completely edible but if you’re the squeamish sort you’re going to want to remove it before cooking.
If you’re cooking shrimp that have the shells removed, it’s super easy—just run the tip of a knife along the vein, prod it out, and, if it rips, just grab a paper towel and clean up the mess.
If you’re cooking shrimp that have the shells intact, as in this recipe, things get a touch trickier but are still completely doable. Grab some kitchen shears or scissors and, starting at the wide end of the shrimp, carefully snip along the center of the shell about halfway to the opposite tip. Use the tip of a knife to prod the vein out of place and remove it, leaving the shell intact.
Cook Good Food Cookbook

Adapted From

Cook Good Food

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 235 kcalCarbohydrates: 5 gProtein: 31 gFat: 9 gSaturated Fat: 1 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gTrans Fat: 0.02 gCholesterol: 286 mgSodium: 1285 mgPotassium: 308 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 0.5 gVitamin A: 418 IUVitamin C: 10 mgCalcium: 137 mgIron: 1 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe © 2015 Williams-Sonoma. Photo © 2015 Eva Kolenko. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This salt and pepper shrimp recipe is so simple and so good. With only 1 main ingredient, the shrimp obviously makes the dish, so don’t skimp on the quality. I used 15/20 count, meaning there are between 15 and 20 in a pound. I used rainbow peppercorns from Morton & Bassett, containing green, black, white, and pink peppercorns plus allspice. Crushed them in my molcajete to a medium coarse grind. Tasted great. I made half a recipe, which was plenty for 2 people. A full recipe serving 8 might not be enough shrimp…I served these shrimp as an appetizer with just some lemon wedges and bread. You don’t need anything more. Definitely a keeper. I made a mistake and threw in the shrimp first, stir fried them for a few seconds and than added the garlic and peppercorns. Cooked them for 3 minutes on high heat, and they turned out perfect. Actually, as an afterthought, I’m afraid that if I fry the garlic first, it might burn.

Using my clean coffee grinder, I crushed up pink, black Tellicherry, and white Szechuan peppercorns until they were fine and dusty. I personally don’t like the vein, especially in large or jumbo shrimp, as I find that it makes the sweet meat bitter, so I went ahead and used shears to carefully snip down the back of the shell and pull out the vein. The shell remained intact and was easier to peel at the dinner table. The salt and pepper adhered nicely to the cleaned and dry shrimp. Total cook time in a cast iron skillet was about 5 minutes. This recipe will serve 4 to 6 people properly as a starter.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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