Zesty Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Jalapeño Pesto

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A new grilling season favorite – Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Jalapeño Pesto! Beautiful jumbo shrimp are seasoned with a zesty garlic & lime marinade, skewered & grilled until perfectly charred, & finished with bright & spicy jalapeño pesto sauce. These jalapeño pesto shrimp skewers are the ultimate quick & easy summer meal – they grill up in less than 5 minutes, & you can enjoy them on their own, tossed in pasta, piled on tacos or salad, or make them for the perfect summer appetizer for your next backyard BBQ! Easy, fast, flavorful & versatile!
A close up of four zesty grilled shrimp skewers with jalapeño pesto & grilled corn salsa stacked on top of a gray speckled ceramic plate & garnished with lime wedges. A small jar of jalapeño pesto also sits on the plate ready for dipping or drizzling. The plate sits atop a light gray & white surface.

A new grilling season favorite – Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Jalapeño Pesto! Beautiful jumbo shrimp seasoned with zesty garlic & lime marinade, skewered & grilled until perfectly charred, & finished with bright & spicy jalapeño pesto sauce. These jalapeño pesto shrimp skewers are the ultimate quick & easy summer meal – they grill up in less than 5 minutes, & you can enjoy them on their own, tossed in pasta, piled on tacos or salad, or make them for the perfect summer appetizer for your next backyard BBQ! Easy, fast, flavorful & versatile!

A close up of four zesty grilled shrimp skewers with jalapeño pesto & grilled corn salsa stacked on top of a gray speckled ceramic plate & garnished with lime wedges. A small jar of jalapeño pesto also sits on the plate ready for dipping or drizzling. The plate sits atop a light gray & white surface.

Pin this Grilled Shrimp Skewers Recipe for later!

When tons of requests for grilled seafood came rolling in from our PWWB community, I knew the first recipe to tackle would be these Jalapeño Pesto Shrimp Skewers. The flavors are based on one of my favorite restaurant dishes here in the Twin Cities, the jalapeño pesto pasta from Estelle. Wanting to make it come to life in the form of an easy grilled dinner, I landed on these grilled shrimp skewers. They are absolutely unreal & I think it’s pretty safe to say that you’re gonna be absolutely obsessed.

Here’s the deal – you season the shrimp with a quick garlic lime marinade, skewer them up & toss them on the grill. They grill up to charred perfection in a matter of minutes, at which point you dowse ’em with bright & spicy jalapeño pesto. You can enjoy them on their own, toss them in pasta, pile them on tacos or salad, & so on. It’s a versatile & quick summer dinner with little-to-no prep time, absolutely no stove-time, & clean up is a breeze. (A total summertime trifecta! 🙌🏼)

A close up of zesty grilled shrimp with jalapeño pesto & grilled corn salsa on top of a white ceramic plate & garnished with lime wedges.

Charcoal grilling just got SO much easier, thanks to Solo Stove!

I am thrilled to kick off the 2021 grilling season with Solo Stove! Chris & I are major-mega super fans of Solo Stove (‘major-mega’ is a very official level of fandom 😉). We’ve had our Solo Stove Bonfire fire pit for a couple of years now & we are obsessed with it. We use it several times a week & it’s a summertime outdoor living staple at our house! Needless to say, when I heard that Solo Stove launched a grill, I was immediately intrigued. & friends?…it lives up to every single expectation I had!

The genius of the Solo Stove Grill lies in its design. It’s a charcoal grill built with Solo Stove’s signature 360º airflow technology, which completely eliminates the temperamental nature of charcoal grilling. Since the air circulates so well within the grill, the charcoal lights easily & quickly (like, less-than-20-minutes quick!), burns efficiently, & stays nice & hot throughout grilling. You can enjoy the flavor & fun of charcoal grilling without any of the fuss or stress.

Jess of Plays Well With Butter holds a set of grill tongs while grilling grilled shrimp skewers & a cob of sweet corn on a Solo Stove Grill alongside her husband Chris. Both Jess & Chris are seated behind the grill looking at each other, laughing, while Chris holds a beer in one hand. They are seated outside on their deck.

A total game-changer! Head over to Solo Stove to learn more about the Solo Stove Grill (psst…it’s on major sale right now!), read on to learn more about these Grilled Shrimp Skewers, or jump straight to the recipe & get grilling! ♡

This easy recipe starts with a zesty Grilled Shrimp Skewers Marinade.

A close up of raw jumbo shrimp in a large glass mixing bowl, marinating in a zesty garlic & lime marinade. The bowl sits atop a gray & white textured surface and is surrounded by lime wedges..

Note: full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

The best way to season shrimp for the grill is with a simple marinade, bold enough to season the shrimp with a quick marinade time. This grilled shrimp skewers marinade is just that – it’s garlicky, zesty, & bright, with a touch of sweetness to help the shrimp caramelize on the grill. Best yet, it couldn’t be easier to throw together.

Here’s what you need…

  • Shrimp – When it comes to grilled shrimp, your best bet is to use jumbo shrimp (U/16-25) or the largest shrimp you can find. Why ⇢ Larger shrimp require a longer cook time than small shrimp, meaning they’re less likely to dry out or get rubbery on the grill. Note: The “U” designation is a measure of size, indicating how many individual pieces make a pound. The smaller the U designation, the larger the shrimp & vice versa (i.e. U/16 shrimp are larger than U/40 shrimp because only 16 individual shrimp make up 1 pound vs 40). 
  • Lemon & lime – Use both the zest & juice for maximum flavor. Look for citrus that has thin skin & feels heavy for its weight to ensure it’s juicy enough!
  • Aromatics – Namely, garlic & a simple grilled shrimp seasoning made of ground cumin, cayenne, salt & ground black pepper.
  • Agave – To provide a little bit of sweetness to balance out the zesty, bright flavor of the citrus. As a bonus, the sugars in agave caramelize beautifully on the grill, creating gorgeous, crave-worthy charred grill marks. If you don’t keep agave in your pantry, swap it out with an equal amount of honey.
  • Avocado oil – Just the littlest bit, to bring everything together!
Multiple skewers of zesty marinated jumbo shrimp are stacked on top of an aluminum baking sheet. The baking sheet sits on top of a white & light gray textured surface.

Quick Tips & Tricks…

  • Do you peel shrimp before grilling? Yep! For best results, use peeled & deveined shrimp so the shrimp can soak up the grilled shrimp skewers marinade.
  • Can I grill frozen shrimp? Maybe? Be sure to thaw them before you marinate & grill! I’m sure you technically can grill from frozen, it won’t yield the best results. Frozen shrimp will grill unevenly, & the moisture in the shrimp will prevent development of gloriously charred grill marks.
  • Suggested marinating time. ⇢ Since this grilled shrimp skewers marinade is so acidic (it has a lot of citrus in it!), you don’t want to let the shrimp marinate too, too long. Aim for at least 20 minutes while the grill preheats & no more than 1 hour.
  • Meal prep tip! ⇢ Prep the marinade ahead of time to make grilling shrimp skewers for dinner even more effortless. Mix up the marinade & store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. When you light the grill, simply give it a shake, pour it over the shrimp & let it sit until the grill is ready to go. Seriously easy!

How to grill shrimp skewers:

Grilling shrimp skewers is gloriously quick & simple. Once the shrimp have soaked up the marinade, make the shrimp skewers & toss them on the grill. The grill does the rest of the work – easy!

A top down shot of Jess of Plays Well With Butter and her husband Chris arranging shrimp skewers & a piece of corn on the cob on top of their Solo Stove Grill.

Full Recipe Directions with step-by-step photos provided in the Recipe Card, below.

The best way to put shrimp on skewers for grilling. ⇢ Skewer each piece of shrimp in two places, once near the head & once near the tail (pictured). Why ⇢ Skewering the shrimp in two places keeps the shrimp really tightly & snugly secured to the skewer. The shrimp will grill more evenly & it will be much easier to turn the skewers on the grill. Reminder!: If you use bamboo skewers, be sure to soak them in water at least 20 minutes prior to assembly, which helps prevent the skewers from burning on the grill.

How long to grill shrimp skewers? ⇢ The amazing thing about grilling shrimp is it’s super quick & easy! Place the skewers directly over medium-high heat (about 500-550 degrees F) & grill 90 seconds – 2 minutes per side. If you’ve ever struggled with grilling shrimp without it drying out or getting a rubbery texture, you’ve likely been overcooking your grilled shrimp. Shorten up the grill time to 90 seconds & look for those visible indicators – the shrimp is ready when it turns pink & opaque.

Finishing touches…Jalapeño Pesto Sauce for grilled shrimp skewers & serving!

With the shrimp skewers grilled, all that’s really left to do is serve them & enjoy, though you can add a few special touches to take them totally over the top.

A close up of four zesty grilled shrimp skewers with jalapeño pesto & grilled corn salsa stacked on top of a gray speckled ceramic plate & garnished with lime wedges. A small jar of jalapeño pesto also sits on the plate ready for dipping or drizzling. The plate sits atop a light gray & white surface.

First, a sauce! Grilled protein begs for a bright + zippy sauce to go with it, & these shrimp skewers are no exception. I like pairing them with a quick & easy jalapeño pesto, made with pistachios, cilantro, & plenty of lime juice.

If you’ve never tried jalapeño pesto before, it has a similar richness as Genovese-style basil pesto, thanks to those pistachios, & it also has awesome bright flavor & a nice kick of spice. Control the heat by deseeding the jalapeño, though if you’d like something a little more mild try this chimichurri instead – another PWWB fave!

A close up of zesty Grilled Shrimp with Jalapeño pesto & grilled corn salsa on top of a white ceramic plate & garnished with lime wedges. A gold serving spoon rests on the plate with a scoop of shrimp, corn salsa, & pesto. The plate sits atop a light gray & white surface, next to a bunch of cilantro, a few loose cilantro leaves, a small jar of jalapeño pesto, & a couple of squeezed lime wedges.

A Quick Side & Serving Suggestions:

Grilled Corn Salsa A simple add-on, especially since the grill is already on! Lightly coat 3 ears of sweet corn (husked) with avocado oil, & grill a few minutes per side until charred. Slice the kernels from the cob, & finely dice 1/2 red onion & 1 medium jalapeño. Add everything to a small bowl with a handful of roughly chopped cilantro. Stir & season with freshly squeezed lime juicesalt & ground black pepper to taste. The perfect easy side for jalapeño pesto shrimp skewers!

Serving suggestions Aside from their ease & flavor, the one thing you’ll love most about these grilled shrimp skewers is their versatility! Enjoy them on their own for an awesome light summer meal. You can also toss the shrimp into pasta with pistachio pesto (& maybe a little queso fresco!), pile them into shrimp tacos or on a summery burrito bowl, or serve them at your next backyard BBQ as the perfect summer appetizer or snack! Easy, multi-purpose, & DELICIOUS. It doesn’t get better than that!

A close up of zesty grilled shrimp with jalapeño pesto & grilled corn salsa on top of a white ceramic plate & garnished with lime wedges. A gold serving spoon rests on the plate with a scoop of shrimp, corn salsa, & pesto. The plate sits atop a light gray & white surface, next to a small jar of jalapeño pesto, & a couple of squeezed lime wedges.

I can’t wait for you to try these delish Zesty Jalapeño Pesto Shrimp Skewers! If you’re a fan of big flavors & effortless grilling, I know you’ll be absolutely obsessed. If you do give them a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!

Love easy grilling recipes? Us too! Try this simple Grilled Lemon Chicken, these Perfect Grilled Buffalo Wings, or these Wisconsin-Style Beer Brats next. Happy grilling! ♡

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Four zesty grilled shrimp skewers with jalapeño pesto & grilled corn salsa stacked on top of a gray speckled ceramic plate & garnished with lime wedges. A small jar of jalapeño pesto also sits on the plate ready for dipping or drizzling. The plate sits atop a light gray & white surface.

Zesty Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Jalapeño Pesto

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4 1x
  • Category: Main Dishes, Appetizer Recipes
  • Method: Grilling & Smoking
  • Cuisine: American, Mexican & Tex-Mex Inspired
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Beautiful jumbo shrimp seasoned with a zesty garlic & lime marinade, skewered & grilled until perfectly charred, & finished with bright & spicy jalapeño pesto sauce. Grilled shrimp skewers are the ultimate quick & easy summer meal – enjoy them on their own, tossed in pasta, piled on tacos or salad, or make them for the perfect summer appetizer for your next backyard BBQ!


Ingredients

Scale

for the zesty shrimp skewers:

  • 1 1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp (U/16-25), peeled & deveined
  • 1 large, juicy lime, zested & juiced
  • 1 large, juicy lemon, juiced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey or agave
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • up to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
  • 68 stainless steel or bamboo skewers (soaked in water at least 20 minutes prior to assembly)

for the jalapeño pesto:

  • 1 cup cilantro leaves & tender stems (roughly 2 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 jalapeno, deseeded as desired & roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 lime, zested & juiced
  • 1 lemon, zested & juiced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to seasonZesty grilled shrimp skewers with jalapeno pesto ingredients arranged on a light gray and white textured surface – raw jumbo shrimp, garlic, lime juice & zest, lemon juice, agave, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, kosher salt, ground black pepper, & avocado oil.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the grill: Prepare your grill for medium-high direct heat grilling, 550-600 degrees F. If using a Solo Stove Grill, empty one All-Natural Charcoal Grill Pack over top the charcoal grate. Arrange the charcoal in a pile, distributing 4-6 Solo Stove Starters into the base of the pile. Light the starters & set the cooking grate on the grill. The grill will be hot in 15-20 minutes, when the charcoal appears ashy & you can’t hold your hand over the grate for more than a couple of seconds. Meanwhile, as the grill preheats, prep the shrimp & pesto.
  2. Marinate the shrimp: Meanwhile, as the grill preheats, marinate the shrimp. Add the shrimp to a large mixing bowl with the lime zest & juice, lemon juice, garlic, avocado oil, honey or agave, ground cumin, & cayenne pepper (if using). Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Toss to combine. Set aside to marinate for at least 15 minutes or cover & set in the refrigerator to marinate for no more than 1 hour.Raw jumbo shrimp in a large glass mixing bowl, marinating in a zesty garlic & lime marinade. The bowl sits atop a gray & white textured surface.
  3. Make the jalapeño pesto: Meanwhile, as the shrimp marinate, prep the jalapeño pesto. Place all listed ingredients except olive oil in a food processor. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Pulse to combine. Scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed. With the processor running, slowly stream in the olive oil. Set aside, or transfer to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  4. Prep the shrimp skewers: Just before grilling, thread the marinated shrimp on skewers. It is helpful to skewer each piece of shrimp in two places, once near the head & once near the tail (pictured).Multiple skewers of zesty marinated jumbo shrimp are stacked on top of an aluminum baking sheet. The baking sheet sits on top of a white & light gray textured surface.
  5. Grill the shrimp skewers: Transfer the shrimp skewers to the grill. Grill over direct heat for 2-3 minutes per side, just until the shrimp is pink in hue & no longer translucent.A close up of four grilled shrimp skewers and a cob of sweet corn grilling on top of a Solo Stove Grill. The grilled shrimp are becoming opaque & developing a golden brown char from the grill.
  6. Serve the shrimp skewers immediately, with a generous spoonful of jalapeño pesto. You can enjoy them on their own, pile them on tortillas or a rice bowl with all your favorite taco night fixings, toss them into jalapeño pesto pasta, & more. Have fun with it & enjoy!Zesty Grilled Shrimp with Jalapeño pesto & grilled corn salsa on top of a white ceramic plate & garnished with lime wedges. The plate sits atop a light gray & white surface, next to a bunch of cilantro, a few loose cilantro leaves, a small jar of jalapeño pesto, & a couple of squeezed lime wedges.


Notes

  • Quick Grilled Corn Salsa (pictured): A simple add-on for your grilled shrimp skewers, especially since the grill is already on! Lightly coat 3 ears of sweet corn (husked) with avocado oil, & grill a few minutes per side until charred. Slice the kernels from the cob, & finely dice 1/2 red onion & 1 medium jalapeño. Add everything to a small bowl with a handful of roughly chopped cilantro. Stir & season with freshly squeezed lime juice, salt & ground black pepper to taste. 
  • Storage, Reheating, & Freezing:
    • Shrimp skewers are best enjoyed the day you grill them, though leftovers will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 2 days. Enjoy leftovers cold, or reheat on the stovetop just until warmed through.
    • Jalapeño pesto is much more make-ahead friendly. Store jalapeño pesto in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It’s also a wonderful freezer staple for summer. To freeze, transfer the jalapeño pesto to a freezer safe container (these are my favorite!) for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator a day before you’d like to use it. 
  • 20-Minute Meal Prep: Nearly all of the active prep work for these grilled shrimp skewers comes from prepping the shrimp skewers marinade & jalapeño pesto. Prep either or both in advance for a great head start on your grilled shrimp skewers dinner – it’ll take 20 minutes, tops:
    • Prep the shrimp skewer marinade according to Step 2 of Recipe Directions, above. Store in a jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The day you’d like to make grilled shrimp skewers, all you have to do is toss the shrimp into the marinade – quick & easy! (10 minutes active prep)
    • Prep the jalapeño pesto according to Step 3 of Recipe Directions above. Store in a jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (10 minutes active prep)

Keywords: grilled shrimp skewers recipe, pesto shrimp skewers, seafood recipes, main dishes, healthy recipe, gluten-free, dairy-free, pescatarian, grilling recipes, summer, spring, weeknight cooking

Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.

Four zesty grilled shrimp skewers with jalapeño pesto & grilled corn salsa stacked on top of a gray speckled ceramic plate & garnished with lime wedges. A small jar of jalapeño pesto also sits on the plate ready for dipping or drizzling. The plate sits atop a light gray & white surface.

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Don’t forget to pin this Grilled Shrimp Skewers Recipe for later!!!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 8.10.21
    Shelley said:

    A summer grilling must-have! I prepped the shrimp and pesto ahead of time before heading to a cook out. Threw these babies on the grill and they were a hit! The marinade for the shrimp was the perfect amount of flavor. And the jalapeño pesto … *chef’s kiss*. The recipe is so tasty as is (skewers with the pesto – yum!) but will definitely be trying them in other ways as well – tacos, burrito bowls, etc. Thanks for the yumminess, PWWB!

  2. 7.2.21
    Chelsea Sitter said:

    Great summer recipe!

    • 7.5.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Chelsea! Thanks for your comment, it means so much! We couldn’t agree more – this one is a keeper!

  3. 5.22.21
    Aimee L said:

    A new PWWB favorite! We made them into tacos! This shrimp was so good, loved the seasoning/marinade on the shrimp themselves but the pesto added the perfect freshness and brightness. We will be making these all summer long!

    • 5.24.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Aimee! So glad to hear that you enjoyed, the pesto truly takes these skewers over the top!

  4. 5.21.21
    Lauren Hobson said:

    MAde this tonight! It was so good. we put the pesto in our rice and made a burrito bowl thing. Whole family approved and happy to be back at the grill!

  5. 5.15.21
    Sabrina said:

    love these flavors, thank you, jalapeno and pesto are two of my favorites so combined in a pasta, I’m in!