Shrimp is one of the most consumed seafood in the world. It is easy enough to prepare on a weeknight, but fancy enough when you’re having people over and you want to impress them. Shrimp is also highly versatile. You can bake, grill, sauté, or fry it. You can never go wrong with shrimp – unless, you overcook it.
Grilling shrimp might seem straightforward. However, you can easily overcook it when the grill temperature is not properly set. At what temperature should you grill shrimp? This guide will tell you exactly how to achieve grilled shrimp to perfection.
Correct Temperature to Grill Shrimp
The recommended grilling temperature for shrimp is 120 degrees F (49 degrees C).
This temperature is the ideal choice for grilling because you can get maximum flavor and juiciness from the meat.
With that said, this is the recommended temperature for grilling large shrimp. It is also important to note that you must only use large shrimps for grilling as the smaller ones tend to cook very fast. Smaller shrimps are also trickier to handle on the grill and require more precision. If you put smaller shrimp on the grill for even 30 seconds too long, they become tough and rubbery.
Make sure to check the temperature of your grill before you put the seafood on. The recommended internal cooking temperature for the shrimp is 145 degrees F (63 degrees C), as per the USDA. The good thing with grilling shrimp, though, is that you can use visual cues to determine if they are cooked. The color of the shrimp will turn pink and it will feel firm to the touch. The center goes from translucent to opaque pink. That is how you know it is done.
How Long Should You Cook Shrimp on a Grill?
The length of grilling time will depend on the size of the shrimp. For medium to large-sized shrimps, it should not take more than 5 minutes total. You should cook the shrimp for at least 2 minutes on each side.
The best way to achieve the right grilling result with shrimp is to use high heat for the right amount of time. This will prevent them from over- or under-cooking on the grill. It also helps achieve that juicy and tender texture.
How to Keep Shrimp from Sticking to the Grill?
One of the most common issues when grilling is when the meat sticks to the grill. There are several ways you can prevent this when working with shrimp on the grill.
The first thing is to make sure that the grill grates are cleaned prior to using them. You can scrape off any gunk that was left behind from your previous grilling session. It is also important to use an oil-based marinade on your shrimp. The addition of the oil will make it easier to release the shrimp from the grill rather than stick to the grates (which could happen when you use dry seasoning).
Steps to Grill Shrimps to Perfection
- Soak the skewers before use. This step will keep the skewers from burning on the grill.
- Thaw the shrimp so it cooks evenly on the grill.
- Marinate the shrimp with your choice of seasoning. Let it marinate for at least 15 minutes to allow the shrimp to absorb the flavors.
- Pre-heat the grill. Make sure that it has reached the ideal grilling temperature the moment you put the shrimp on the grill.
- Grill the shrimp for 2 minutes on each side. Take them off once they are cooked and have the right amount of charring on the outside.
How to Tell If Shrimp Is Undercooked?
There are a lot of tips that tell you how to not overcook shrimp. As a result, some people tend to err on the cautious side and end up undercooking the shrimp. An undercooked shrimp is just as bad and must be avoided.
You can take a piece of a raw shrimp to analyze how it looks from the inside and the outside. Use it as a point of comparison for cooked shrimp to tell when it is undercooked. If the shrimp still has translucent or grayish parts to it, then it is undercooked. Wait until it has an even color on all sides.
The shape of the shrimp is also an indicator that it might be undercooked. Raw shrimp is quite flexible whereas shrimps tend to lie straight when cooked. If the meat feels firm, then it means that the shrimp is cooked.
Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking Shrimp
Shrimp is a household staple, but it is easy for to underestimate the task of cooking shrimp because it is so familiar to us. Make sure you take note of these common mistakes when cooking shrimp to achieve the best results.
- Buying “fresh” shrimp. Unless you get them straight from the fisherman’s boat, “fresh” shrimp is not always fresh. You would be better off buying the frozen ones that were sealed right after catching them versus the ones in the case in the supermarket. Refrain from buying shrimp that has been previously thawed because you don’t get the same quality when grilling them.
- You are thawing your shrimp on the counter. Instead, use a colander and place your shrimps in the refrigerator overnight (if you plan on cooking them the next day). Avoid putting them in the microwave oven or over hot water. This method of thawing the shrimp can make them soggy.
- Not cleaning the shrimp. Make it a habit to devein the shrimp before you cook them to avoid any sand or mud that might be left behind, which leaves an unpleasant taste when cooked.
- You overcooked the shrimp. Grilling is one of the best ways to cook shrimp, but it is also easy to overcook using this method. The best way to go about it is to put the shrimps on a skewer so that you can flip them all at once (after you’ve cooked one side). If the shrimps are curled up too tightly, it means they are overcooked.
Grilling shrimp is an excellent recipe idea in the summer. However, this seafood favorite can be tricky to get right, so you want to make sure that you get the cook right. If you are not experienced with grilling shrimp, you can always use a thermometer to check the internal temperature. Using a thermometer will eliminate the guessing game so that you can get the perfect grill every single time.