Exploring the Delightful World of Pesto Grilled Shrimp

Grilling season is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than by infusing your favorite seafood with the vibrant flavors of pesto? Pesto, with its aromatic blend of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil, adds a burst of freshness and richness to succulent shrimp, creating a dish that’s both light and indulgent. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the art of pesto grilled shrimp, exploring everything from making the perfect pesto to mastering the grill and presenting 15 mouthwatering recipes to elevate your grilling game.

Part 1: The Art of Pesto

1.1 Crafting the Perfect Pesto:

The key to exceptional pesto grilled shrimp lies in the quality of the pesto itself. While store-bought options are convenient, there’s nothing quite like the freshness of homemade pesto. To make your own, simply combine fresh basil leaves, garlic cloves, toasted pine nuts, grated Parmesan cheese, and extra virgin olive oil in a food processor and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and adjust the consistency with additional olive oil if necessary. The result? A vibrant and flavorful pesto that will take your grilled shrimp to new heights.

1.2 Exploring Pesto Variations:

While traditional pesto is made with basil, don’t be afraid to experiment with different variations to suit your taste preferences. Try substituting basil with other herbs like parsley, cilantro, or mint for a unique twist on the classic. You can also get creative with the addition of ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, or spinach to add depth and complexity to your pesto.

 Exploring the Delightful World of Pesto Grilled Shrimp
Exploring the Delightful World of Pesto Grilled Shrimp

Part 2: Mastering the Grill

2.1 Preparing the Shrimp:

Before grilling, it’s essential to properly prepare the shrimp to ensure they cook evenly and retain their moisture. Start by peeling and deveining the shrimp, leaving the tails intact for easy handling. Then, pat the shrimp dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture, which can cause them to steam rather than grill.

2.2 Preheating the Grill:

Properly preheating your grill is crucial for achieving those beautiful grill marks and imparting that irresistible smoky flavor to your shrimp. Heat your grill to medium-high heat, ensuring that the grates are clean and lightly oiled to prevent sticking. For added flavor, consider using wood chips or chunks to infuse your shrimp with a subtle smokiness.

Part 3: Pesto Grilled Shrimp Recipes

3.1 Classic Pesto Grilled Shrimp:

Start with the basics with this simple yet delicious recipe. Marinate peeled and deveined shrimp in homemade pesto for at least 30 minutes, then thread them onto skewers and grill for 2-3 minutes per side, or until they’re pink and opaque. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a burst of brightness.

3.2 Pesto Shrimp Skewers with Vegetables:

For a complete meal on a stick, thread marinated shrimp onto skewers alternating with your favorite vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and red onions. Grill until the shrimp are cooked through and the vegetables are tender, then serve over a bed of cooked quinoa or cauliflower rice for a healthy and satisfying dish.

3.3 Pesto Grilled Shrimp Pasta:

Combine two classics into one irresistible dish with this pesto grilled shrimp pasta recipe. Toss cooked pasta with homemade pesto and grilled shrimp, then top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil for a meal that’s bursting with flavor.

3.4 Pesto Grilled Shrimp Caesar Salad:

Put a twist on the traditional Caesar salad by adding pesto grilled shrimp to the mix. Toss crisp romaine lettuce with Caesar dressing, homemade croutons, and grilled shrimp for a hearty and satisfying salad that’s perfect for lunch or dinner.

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Ingredients: Pesto Grilled Shrimp Recipes

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
  • 1 cup homemade or store-bought pesto
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  • Bamboo or metal skewers


1. Marinate the Shrimp: Start by marinating the shrimp in a mixture of pesto and olive oil. In a large bowl, combine the shrimp with the pesto and olive oil, ensuring that the shrimp are evenly coated. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.

2. Preheat the Grill: While the shrimp are marinating, preheat your grill to medium-high heat. If you’re using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes to prevent them from burning on the grill.

3. Skewer the Shrimp: Once the shrimp have finished marinating, thread them onto the skewers, dividing them evenly among the skewers. Leave a little space between each shrimp to ensure even cooking.

4. Grill the Shrimp: Place the shrimp skewers directly onto the preheated grill grates. Grill the shrimp for 2-3 minutes per side, or until they are pink and opaque with beautiful grill marks. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp, as they can become tough and rubbery.

5. Serve: Once the shrimp are cooked through, remove them from the grill and transfer them to a serving platter. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper to taste, and serve them immediately with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over the shrimp.

6. Enjoy: Serve your pesto grilled shrimp as a delicious appetizer or main course at your next barbecue or summer gathering. The vibrant flavors of the pesto will complement the succulent shrimp perfectly, creating a dish that’s sure to impress your guests. Enjoy the delightful combination of flavors and textures, and savor every bite of these delicious pesto grilled shrimp.

Grilling shrimp with pesto is a simple yet elegant way to elevate your outdoor cooking game. With just a few simple ingredients and some basic grilling techniques, you can create a dish that’s bursting with flavor and sure to be a hit with friends and family. So fire up the grill, grab some shrimp and pesto, and get ready to enjoy the delightful world of pesto grilled shrimp!

 Exploring the Delightful World of Pesto Grilled Shrimp
Exploring the Delightful World of Pesto Grilled Shrimp


1. Can I use frozen shrimp for pesto grilled shrimp?

Yes, you can use frozen shrimp for this recipe. Thaw the shrimp in the refrigerator overnight before marinating them in the pesto mixture.

2. How long should I marinate the shrimp?

It’s best to marinate the shrimp for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors of the pesto to infuse into the shrimp. However, you can marinate them for longer, up to 24 hours, for even more flavor.

3. Can I use store-bought pesto for this recipe?

Absolutely! While homemade pesto is delicious, store-bought pesto works just as well and saves you time in the kitchen. Choose a high-quality pesto for the best flavor.

4. How do I prevent the shrimp from sticking to the grill grates?

Make sure your grill grates are clean and well-oiled before cooking the shrimp. You can also brush the shrimp with a little extra olive oil before grilling to prevent sticking.

5. Can I grill the shrimp without skewers?

Yes, you can grill the shrimp directly on the grill grates if you prefer. Just be sure to watch them closely to prevent them from falling through the grates.

6. How do I know when the shrimp are cooked?

Shrimp cook quickly, so keep a close eye on them while grilling. They are done when they turn pink and opaque with bright orange tails. Be careful not to overcook them, as they can become tough and rubbery.

7. What side dishes pair well with pesto grilled shrimp?

Pesto grilled shrimp pairs well with a variety of side dishes, including grilled vegetables, salads, pasta, or rice. You can also serve them with crusty bread or garlic bread to soak up the delicious pesto sauce.

8. Can I make pesto grilled shrimp ahead of time?

While pesto grilled shrimp are best enjoyed fresh off the grill, you can prepare the shrimp and marinate them in advance. Keep them refrigerated until you’re ready to grill, then cook them just before serving for the best flavor and texture.

9. How should I store leftover pesto grilled shrimp?

If you have any leftover shrimp, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. They can be enjoyed cold or reheated gently in the microwave or on the stovetop.

10. Can I freeze pesto grilled shrimp?

While it’s best to enjoy pesto grilled shrimp fresh, you can freeze any leftovers for later use. Place the cooled shrimp in a freezer-safe container or bag and store them in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw them in the refrigerator before reheating and serving.


With its vibrant flavors and succulent texture, pesto grilled shrimp is sure to become a favorite on your summer grilling menu. Whether you’re keeping it simple with classic skewers or getting creative with pasta, salads, or sandwiches, there’s no limit to the delicious ways you can enjoy this mouthwatering dish. So fire up the grill, whip up a batch of homemade pesto, and get ready to impress your friends and family with your newfound grilling prowess.

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