The BEST shrimp marinade – made sweet and savory with soy sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and a kick from red pepper flakes. You’ll get succulent, flavor-packed shrimp in just 30 minutes! A super-fast high protein meal, this marinated shrimp is perfect for grilling or making on the stovetop.

Close-up overhead shot of a white bowl with servings forks and cooked shrimp topped with fresh chopped herbs and lemon wedge. Bowl is surrounded by a striped towel and bowls of lemon wedges and chopped herbs.

5 star review

“Delicious! Shrimp is one of my favorite proteins and I am always looking for a new way to cook it. This marinade was so good and I will definitely be cooking this one again.”

– Darlene

Step-by-Step Visual Guide: How to Make Shrimp Marinade

Jump to Recipe Instructions

Robyn’s Testing Notes

Let’s be real, most of us don’t have tons of time to prepare elaborate meals every night.

But that doesn’t mean we have to resort to basic, boring food night after night. 

As a healthy habits expert, I’m here to encourage you that you can absolutely have fresh, drool-worthy meals every night of the week without a ton of effort or time, thanks to quick and easy marinades that can be made ahead and totally elevate any protein. 

And if you’re extra crunched for time, seafood marinades are the best last minute dinner recipes since seafood only needs a short marinade time (hello sticky glazed salmon marinade).

That’s where this simple, mouth-watering garlic marinated shrimp comes into play! 

I almost always have a pound of frozen shrimp and simple marinade ingredients on hand, so easy dinners like this one can come together in a matter of minutes.

This 5-ingredient marinade infuses raw shrimp with garlicky, sweet, umami flavors in just 15 minutes, and brown sugar gives it an addicting caramelization when grilled or sautéed. 

Then, to take the shrimp to the next level, we’re tossing the cooked shrimp with reserved marinade, fresh herbs, and a pat of butter for a delicious mouthfeel without adding too much fat (is your mouth watering yet?).

Serve alongside some rice or crusty bread to soak up all the scrumptious juices, and you’ll have an effortless, occasion-worthy meal in no time!

And, if you can’t get enough shrimp, you have to try this super easy shrimp stuffed avocado recipe.

Overhead shot of a glass bowl with brown sauce and a smaller glass bowl with brown sauce. Bowls are surrounded by lemon halves and fresh herbs.
Reserve 2 tablespoons of marinade.

Ingredients

Soy Sauce: Substitute tamari for gluten free.

Brown Sugar: Brown sugar gives a glaze once the shrimp is cooked and balances all the savory and salty flavors without being too sweet. Honey or white sugar can be substituted.

Lemon Juice: I tested this recipe with red wine vinegar and it can be substituted. 

Fresh Garlic: Since there are so few ingredients, I highly recommend using fresh garlic.

Red Pepper Flakes: Not a fan of spice? Feel free to leave the red pepper flakes out or substitute with black pepper. If you want more spice, add more red pepper flakes.

Fresh Herbs: Fresh herbs are not essential, but they definitely elevate the dish. Use your favorite herb or a mix of a few.

Overhead shot of large white bowl with grilled shrimp topped with chopped herbs. Bowl is surrounded by lemon halves, fresh herbs, and bowls of chopped herbs and lemon wedges.

How to Make Ahead 

I love marinating shrimp because it only needs to marinate for 15 minutes, but no longer than 3 hours. 

Longer than 2 hours and the shrimp will turn tough and chewy due to the acid from the lemon juice.

However, you can get ahead and save yourself time by making the marinade ahead of time!

The marinade will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days, so when it’s time to cook the shrimp you just need to add the shrimp, let it marinate, and then either grill or saute.

Meal Prep Tip

Here’s my favorite meal prep tip! Prepared marinades can last in the fridge for up to 4 days, so save yourself time during the week by preparing 1-2 marinades at the beginning of the week for easy prep dinners throughout the week.

Cooking Tips

You have a couple options for cooking shrimp, and both are super fast.

Whether cooked on the grill or in a saute pan, they will cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until opaque and just cooked through.

If grilling, either use large enough shrimp so they won’t fall through the grates or use skewers for smaller shrimp.

Overhead shot of a white plate with a fork and white rice topped with cooked shrimp, herbs, and a lemon wedge. Plate is surrounded by a striped towel, fresh herbs and a bowl of lemon wedges.

This Recipe Is…

Close-up overhead shot of a white bowl with servings forks and cooked shrimp topped with fresh chopped herbs and lemon wedge. Bowl is surrounded by a striped towel and bowls of lemon wedges and chopped herbs.
5 stars (1 rating)

Garlicky Shrimp Marinade (for Grilling & More)

The BEST shrimp marinade – made sweet and savory with soy sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and a kick from red pepper flakes. You’ll get succulent, flavor-packed shrimp in just 30 minutes! A super-fast high protein meal, this marinated shrimp is perfect for grilling or making on the stovetop.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari for gluten free)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (defrosted if previously frozen)

To Add at the End

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Optional: chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, or green onion

Equipment

Instructions 

Make the Marinade

  • Whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl until smooth.

Marinate the Shrimp

  • Pat the shrimp dry. Set aside 2 tablespoons marinade. Add the remaining marinade along with the shrimp to a 1-gallon zip-top bag or baking dish.
  • Toss the shrimp to coat, then press as much air out of the bag (if using) as possible, or cover with plastic wrap (if using a baking dish). Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, or up to 3 hours, tossing occasionally.

Grill the Shrimp

  • Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and shake to remove any excess. Discard the marinade. Grill the shrimp 2-3 minutes per side, or until opaque and just cooked through.
  • Toss with butter and reserved 2 tablespoons marinade, top with herbs, and serve.

Saute the Shrimp

  • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and shake to remove any excess. Discard the marinade. Add 2 teaspoons of oil to the skillet, then saute 4-6 minutes, until the shrimp are opaque and just cooked through, flipping once.
  • Toss with butter and reserved 2 tablespoons marinade, top with herbs, and serve.

Notes

  • A note about the nutrition information on this recipe, since we discard the marinade before grilling or sautéing it can be a little difficult to calculate.
  • For more ingredients, serving suggestions, and more, see the blog post above.
  • Use vegan butter for dairy-free.

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1 (of 4), Calories: 198kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 150mg, Sodium: 621mg, Potassium: 184mg, Fiber: 0.2g, Sugar: -1g, Vitamin A: 329IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 72mg, Iron: 1mg
Nutrition disclaimer
Did you make this recipe?If you do, be sure to share it on Instagram and tag me at @realfoodwholelife so I can see!

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