My very favorite dish in the Big Easy is this New Orleans BBQ Shrimp! A deceptively simple dish. Sweet, succulent shrimp in an easy-to-make spicy, buttery sauce! Dip a crusty French Loaf – it’s as close to perfection as a meal can get!
Have you ever been to New Orleans? Being there is a kind of sensory overload – daily parades of all types, beautiful architecture, tremendous jazz, great restaurants – so much amazing food and flavor! But, when I think of New Orleans, my first thought is this dish. New Orleans Style Barbecue Shrimp.
It all started the first time I visited NOLA. It was a business trip. A convention. And those were days where our work started around 6am, because the hours before the Convention opens is when you can get the attendees for focus groups. These long days ended around 10pm, because you
needed wanted to entertain the attendees who were the “influencers.” Don’t get me wrong, fun was had. Great food was enjoyed. Business was good! But several days of that in a row? Exhausting!
Anyway, dressed in my cream-colored suit, having been on my feet for several
days at that point hours, a colleague said, “Hey, a bunch of us are going to Pascal’s! Do you want to come with us?” Pascal’s? I had no idea what they were talking about. But so glad I learned.
We all piled in a car or two, and went to Pascal’s Manale Restaurant. Open since 1913, Pascal’s is best known for their legendary New Orleans BBQ Shrimp! And, unlike the name implies, this spicy shrimp is not cooked on a grill. Nor is it slathered with a tomato-based sauce. There’s not a tomato in the recipe. It’s thought the name “Barbecue” refers to the color of the lip-smacking, finger-licking paprika-cayenne pepper sauce.
So, once we were sitting in the restaurant, I could tell just about everyone there orders the NOLA Style Barbecue Shrimp, because there are bibs at every place setting. Lots of Wetnaps, too! So each of us ordered the Cajun BBQ Shrimp. And when those beautiful bowls of spicy-buttery-lemony goodness were set in front of us, I realized why the bibs and Wetnaps were so important. Because there’s no choice but to eat these beauties with your hands. The shrimp are complete with peel and feet. So you peel off their shell on the way to your mouth. And then sop up that awesome spicy sauce with wedges of crusty French Bread. It’s messy. Not the lunch for a cream-colored suit, let me mention right here.
Sweet, succulent shrimp. Spicy-buttery-lemony-garlicky sauce! Crusty French bread. I want nothing else right now, just because someone mentioned New Orleans. Ok that was me, wasn’t it? It is Mardi Gras, after all.
So, many thanks to Pascal’s for the Bib and Wetnaps! My suit was saved, my belly was full and I’ve had one of the great meals of my life! It’s truly the first thing I think of when I think of New Orleans. And I can’t get it out of my head until I make it. It’s THAT Good!
You can search and find Pascal’s recipe, but I found this recipe at finecooking.com. It’s a little simpler sauce than Pascal’s and is quick and easy to prepare, and the flavor is all there! I adapted it by increasing the spices a bit. The butter (and there’s a lot of it, so just go ahead and commit to it right now!) does a great job of taking the sting out of the spices. And the lemon cuts the richness of the butter. A beautifully well-balanced dish. And all the better with some additional spice from a few dashes of Tabasco Sauce!
So, have you been to New Orleans, a.k.a “The Big Easy”? Maybe once you try this Barbecue Shrimp, the mere mention of New Orleans will send you out to buy some shrimp.
If you like spicy food, why not try my Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo made with Dry Roux, this simple Jambalaya with Andouille and Chicken , or this Instant Pot Braised Korean Brisket?
NOLA Barbecue Shrimp Recipe Details ->
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This shrimp dish is an eat-with-your-hands, super-messy and super-tasty meal! Among my all-time favorite dishes I’ve EVER had! Seriously. But here are some questions you may have when making the dish:
What pan should I cook this in? I used my Cast Iron skillet (This is the one I use), but you can use a 12” stainless pan, or an 12” enamel-coated castiron pan. My pan does not have a lid, so I used aluminum foil to cover it for finishing the shrimp.
Is this dish so spicy my family won’t eat it? No, it is much less spicy than some similar recipes. I like to call it “pleasantly spicy”. The butter and lemon juice cut the spicy cayenne and some of the richness of the dish to one that is perfectly seasoned with a nice kick. Feel free to increase the cayenne, black pepper and paprika a bit if you like intense spice! And, since I prefer my own plate to be boldly spicy, I add a few sprinkles of Tabasco sauce on my bowl when serving, and my family members who aren’t as fond of hot’n’spicy foods eat it as is and love it!
Can I use smaller shrimp than the “Colossal” size? I like buying the larger shrimp when they are on sale, but normally I purchase the 16/20 or 21/25 size. Just be sure to get “Unpeeled, tail-on” shrimp. If you can’t find the big ones (which are often cheaper in the frozen section(!)), or want a more economical choice, go ahead and use the smaller ones. Just reduce the initial cooking time to around 3 minutes – they should get nice and pink in that time. And also reduce the off-heat finishing time to 8-10 minutes. Just be sure to check them for doneness when you stir the pot every 4-5 minutes. Because overdone shrimp 🍤 is not so good.
Can I use unpeeled shrimp? If you don’t want to peel your shrimp at the table, individually, I might suggest a different recipe. The peel, feet, and heads, (if you can find “head on” shrimp), add so much flavor to the sauce of this dish, you might miss the full flavor you get with simmering shelled shrimp, complete with heads and feet. The cooking process will make the peels pretty much slide right off the shrimp as you’re moving them to your mouth. Just be sure to have a spare bowl to set the peels in at the table.Print
New Orleans BBQ Shrimp
Even though the name of this Shrimp dish is “Barbecue”, it isn’t cooked on a grill, or slathered with thick, tomato-based sauce from a jar. It is a classic New Orleans dish, made famous at Pascal’s Manale Restaurant, among others. The colors of the sauce evoke barbecue, but the flavor is nothing like you’ve ever tasted!
Succulent and spicy, you can serve this shrimp atop grits, or with crusty French bread to dip, which is traditional at Brennan’s and Pascal’s Manale. Since you peel the shrimp as you eat them, it’s a messy experience. But truly, that’s part of this meal, which you won’t soon forget!
Quick and easy, this recipe serves 4-6 hungry people.
Equipment needed: a large (12”) skillet, cast-iron or stainless both work.
Adapted from Finecooking.com
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 25 min
- Total Time: 35 min
- Yield: 4–6 Servings 1x
- Category: Seafood
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Cajun/Creole
- 1 large lemon
- 8 oz. (2 sticks, 1 c, 227g) Butter
- 2 T (30 ml) Worcestershire Sauce
- 4 – 5 cloves garlic, chopped (about 1 Tbsp total)
- 4 Bay Leaves
- 1 1/2 t Sweet Paprika
- 1/2 t Cayenne Pepper
- 1 T Diamond Crystal (coarse) Kosher Salt
- 1 1/2 tsp Freshly Coarse ground Black Pepper
- 24 UNPEELED, TAIL-ON Colossal Shrimp, or 2- 2.5 lb (between 8–15 shrimp/lb, or 16-30/kg) (You can use smaller shrimp, but you will need to reduce cooking time to about 10–12 mins total See Note 1)
- (optional) Tabasco, Frank’s, Crystal, or other hot sauce to add individually, as desired.
- Cut the lemon in half. Place the halves on a plate, and microwave for 20 seconds. Then squeeze all of the juice out into a bowl to reserve for later. Slice the rinds into 1/2” rounds or strips, and reserve those, too.
- Heat a 12-inch skillet over Medium-High heat. Melt the butter, then reduce the heat to Medium-low, and add the Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, paprika, cayenne, salt and ground pepper. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavors, being careful not to let the garlic brown.
- Increase the heat to Medium and add the shrimp, stirring and turning the shrimp (tongs work well here for larger shrimp) until all have begun to turn pink.
- Add the lemon juice and strips of peel. Stir so these get incorporated.
- Cover the skillet with a lid or foil and remove from the heat. Let sit 15 minutes so that the shrimp absorb the flavors and finish cooking. Stir every 4 or 5 minutes.
- Serve with crusty French bread for dipping, lots of napkins, and bibs if you have them!
1. I used about 2.5 lb of 8-12/lb sized shrimp in my recipe. If you use smaller shrimp, say 21-25/lb, you’ll need to reduce the initial cook time for the shrimp to about 2-3 minutes, and the covered, off-heat time to about 8 minutes. Just be sure to check for doneness at the end of the cooking time.
- Serving Size: 1/5 Recipe
Keywords: New Orleans BBQ Shrimp, Cajun Spicy Shrimp, Pascal Manale Barbecue Shrimp, NOLA Spicy Shrimp, Louisiana Barbecue Shrimp
Is it me?? I bought all of the ingredients and began to put it all together when I realized that I couldn’t find anywhere in the recipe when the butter is introduced into the pan!! So, I winged it and put it in after all of the dry ingredients and realized that all those dry ingredients with only 2T of worcestershire sauce couldn’t be right. No one else caught this??
The flavor was amazing. I would make this again. But, I’d like to make it the way it was intended.
Hi, Carol! So sorry! I have corrected the recipe to include the timing of the addition of butter. It’s true many similar recipes add butter toward the end of the process, but this one definitely needs it at the beginning to infuse all the dry ingredients as you noted. Glad you figured it out, sorry it was with no help from me. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. And Im glad to hear it turned out well for you! It’s one of my favorite dishes!
LOL! Thank you for correcting. This is definitely one of the best recipes I have ever tried and I’ve been cooking since the mid-70s!
Thanks to YOU for bringing this to my attention! I love reading recipes and trying new foods, so posting delicious recipes is one of my greatest joys! Thanks for visiting and trying it!
Outrageously good! I can’t even believe how easy it is to make to produce such an outstanding flavor. I used to order this at one of my favorite restaurants but no more! This recipe is even better. and I make it with a cajun corn maque choux.
Thanks for the fabulous recipe!
Thanks so much, Eva! Glad you enjoyed it!
Lynne has been to New Orleans. I’m so jealous! She came back raving all about the amazing restaurants. You have just emphasised with this wonderful recipe why I NEED to go too. But until then I’ll just need to experience it in my own house with your bbq shrimp recipe. Thanks for sharing Laura!
Thanks, Neil. Truly, this is the dish from New Orleans I loved the most! And was so pleased to find out just how easy it is! Hope you get the chance to go and experience all NOLA has to offer, Neil!
Shrimps are most loved by my family and it is made pretty often in our house. Would love to give this recipe a try.
I hope you get the chance to try this – it’s so easy and so tasty!
Must go to New Orleans next time we come to USA ! Definitely ! Shared your beauty 🙂
Thanks so much, Davorka! New Orleans is definitely a one-of-a-kind place! And thank you so much for sharing! 😘
We love shrimps and when i saw your recipe last night I thought to try it first. It came out amazing!!! And I have noticed if you cook unpeeled shrimps they don’t shrink too much and turn out nice and pink.
Thank you for the recipe!
Thanks so much, Balvinder! I’m so glad you liked it! That’s a good point about the shrimp, too! I think they also retain some really good texture that way, too!
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen says
Tom and I and friends of ours had this at a restaurant once and we all loved it! We were fighting over the last bit of sauce to sop up with our bread. I can’t wait to try this at home Laura. Thanks so much for sharing!
Hope you love it as much as we do, Mary Ann! Thanks for visiting!
All That I'm Eating says
I really like the sound of this, but I can’t eat shrimp! Do you think it would work with salmon or chicken?
That’s a really good question, Caroline! Ive never seen it with anything other than shrimp, but I would imagine you’d have to adapt several parts of the recipe. The shrimp exudes a fair amount of liquid, and the shells actually add some flavor, which supplements the sauce. So I think you’d want to add a bit of stock to whatever you might choose. I’d likely go with a white fish or chicken breast, or perhaps firm tofu, cut into fine strips that will cook in just a few minutes, and possibly add a bit of stock or water if it doesn’t make enough sauce. But it’s hard to say if the flavors would be similar. Let me know if you try this, I’d be curious to know how it turns out!
Katherine | Love In My Oven says
I always really love reading your posts, Laura, and the stories behind your recipes. I adore BBQ shrimp too! I could dig into this big time!
Thank you so much, Katherine! I truly appreciate your kind words. ❤️And I hope you get the chance to make this super-yummy shrimp!!
Jeff the Chef says
This really puts me in the mood for shrimp!
It’s a great shrimp for that mood! So satisfying!!
Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen says
I’ve never been to NOLA but it’s on my must-go list! And this recipe is making me think I need to plan a trip soon!
Same for me, Kelsie! I really need to go back! Thanks so much!
Kelly | Foodtasia says
Laura, I’m loving this bbq shrimp! The flavors sound wonderful. My family would dive right in!
Thanks so much, Kelly! It is a family favorite!
David @ Spiced says
Ah, you’ve landed on one of my all-time favorites! New Orleans. I absolutely love that city. And it’s no surprise that you had one of the best meals in your life there. I think New Orleans holds at least 3 or 4 of the top 5 meals for me! New Orleans BBQ Shrimp is a delicious classic, but it’s such a misnomer. No BBQ sauce. No grill. Just delicious shrimp. Love the recipe…and Happy (belated) Mardi Gras!
Thanks David! I knew you would agree! I don’t think ever had a less-than-delicious meal in NOLA! It is one of the great food destinations. For me, that’s the number 1 reason to visit. The rest of the experience is a bonus to the amazing food! Happy belated Mardi Gras to you too!
A great recipe and a great post that brought back some fun memories. I haven’t thought of Pascal’s for ages or their wonderful BBQ shrimp, so that was a nice food memory. I also have many such memories of conventions, standing on one’s feet and entertaining afterward. So, that was a fun flashback for me. You know, I think of all the cities I traveled to, New Orleans was my favorite for entertaining.
There are so many incredible restaurants in NOLA! They really are the best of the best, which makes it perfect for entertaining. I love it, too! Makes all that standing worth it, or, bearable, at least. Glad you’ve had the Pascal’s experience too!
Ben @ Havocinthekitchen says
I haven’t been to New Orleans, and I am not very familiar with New Orleans food either. But when it comes to everything seafood, I am in! This New Orleans Style Barbecue Shrimp looks wonderful and appetizing, with a delightful broth for dipping some freshly baked crusty bread…Well, I am hungry now, thanks for that! 🙂
Thanks, Ben! Ha, hope you get the chance to try this! It’s out of this world yummy! And a good step into the Cajun/Creole food experience! Thanks for visiting!
Kelly @ Kelly Lynns Sweets and Treats says
I LOVE shrimp! Dare I say I love it even more than lobster?! It’s true! The flavors in this sound amazing. Definitely a dinner I would eat up!!
Glad you’re a shrimp lover, Kelly! I think shrimp is awesome, too! And I’m with you, actually! I do love lobster but it really isn’t that available here in the Northwest, at least at a reasonable price. Anyway, I hope you get the chance to try this lovely dish- so so delish! Don’t forget the bib!
Wow. This is fascinating, because I just discovered a similar recipe for BBQ shrimp from NY Times Cooking. I’d never seen this before! I absolutely love the ingredients. And thank goodness you didn’t ruin your suit! Love your photos. I can’t wait to make it so I can eat it!
Thanks, Mimi! Hope you get the chance to try it! This version is the simplest one I’ve found, but still having all the important flavors! And you’re right, there’s nothing like ruining a favorite clothing item, even with gorgeously delicious food!