These lovely and simple garlic shrimp take on a rather dramatic amplification of flavor when you keep the shells intact during cooking rather than peeling them beforehand. And that’s to say nothing of the shrimp taking on drastically more drama at the table when the heads are intact (especially when you do as most cultures do and rip off the heads and suck the contents from said heads). That’s optional, natch, seeing as some of the population would prefer not to have their intended dinner staring up at them, much less have to Hoosier up said dinner. But as the author says, the shrimp “look so much better with their heads intact and sticking up out of the dish, gazing at the stars.” So encourage guests to forget propriety and get hands-on and sorta intimate with the shrimp during eating. Just don’t forget to set out ample napkins.Renee Schettler Rossi

Glass bowl filled with garlic shrimp, sautéed with oil, butter, chiles pepper, and garlic

Garlic Shrimp

5 / 2 votes
This garlic shrimp dish, made with prawns or shrimp, garlic, chile, olive oil, and butter, is a quick and easy appetizer. Or a passed hors-d’oeuvre. Or a cocktail nibble Or a….
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories12 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Total Time20 minutes


  • 21 large shell-on prawns or shrimp, preferably with heads and tails still intact
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 fresh hot red chile such as Fresno or Thai, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 small knob unsalted butter
  • Sea salt, if desired


  • Rinse the prawns or shrimp and, if desired, peel and devein them, but leave the heads and tails attached, if you dare. (It's preferable to leave everything intact. The shells impart flavor. And the heads and tails make for a more impressive presentation and make the prawns easier to handle. The heads are also awesome for ripping off and sucking.
  • Heat a few glugs olive oil in a very large skillet. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, throw in the prawns or shrimp and shake the skillet a few times. After 1 minute, throw in the chile and garlic, stir once or twice, and then remove the skillet from the heat. You just need to cook the shellfish 1 to 2 minutes total, depending on their size. Add the butter and tilt the skillet to swirl it as it melts.
  • Each serving should be 5 garlic shrimp or prawns, so taste the 1 extra to decide whether the rest need a pinch of salt. Divvy the shellfish among the plates and serve immediately.
Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts)

Adapted From

Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 12 kcalCarbohydrates: 1 gProtein: 1 gFat: 1 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 9 mgSodium: 7 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 g

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2012 Russell Norman. Photo © 2012 Jenny Zarins. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

These garlic shrimp were delicious. The simplicity of the preparation allowed the sweet flavor of the shrimp to shine. My husband rarely comments on recipes, but he was very complimentary of the flavors and enjoyed how much the garlic and chiles enhanced the shrimp.

The preparation was quick and easy with a tasty result sure to become a great weeknight staple for us. I did add some sea salt to the final product, although the shrimp would have been delicious without it. Enjoy!

Super quick and easy, these garlic shrimp is done in seconds after the prep is complete. I used peeled, tail-on, X-large shrimp (21/25 count per pound), which worked great. I think it would look great with head-on shrimp, but I couldn’t find any.

I couldn’t get any red chile, either, so I used 1 dried chile de arbol and some minced fresh poblano chile. The dish had a great flavor, which surely benefited from the butter added at the end. A fabulous appetizer or tapas dish and a keeper for me.

A simple yet perfect prawn recipe, whether served alone as an appetizer or over pasta or rice as a main course. I used large prawns and added 2 tablespoons olive oil. The sauce was extremely fragrant, with the right amount of spice that kids can handle. For my own personal taste, I would have added 2 more garlic cloves.

Who knew such a simple, quick recipe could yield such delicious results! I bought some jumbo shrimp (21/25 count) and used 1/2 habanero chile. I thought the amount of heat was perfect. We allotted 8 shrimp per person, tossing them with fresh spinach and cooked pasta and a little butter. Decadent!

These garlic shrimp are an easy dish that is almost a blank canvas for your own creativity. I used large prawns (about 28 count per pound) and a Thai chile pepper for the heat. I felt it needed a splash of lime juice, so I did add that. I served it as an appetizer with a toothpick inserted into each prawn.

These garlic shrimp are a simple, fast, and delicious!

I made this with tail-on large shrimp (about 20 count per pound) but only made 1/3 of the recipe as I only had 7 shrimp in my freezer. The stores near me didn’t have a red chile pepper available so I made this recipe with finely diced serrano pepper. In my finished dish I could barely taste the chile, so a little more might have been nice. Salt wasn’t necessary as the shrimp had enough natural salt. The recipe took just a few minutes.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also 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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