They say the best things in life are free, but I believe the best things in life are covered in lemon-garlic butter.
Just ask my friend, the shrimp.
I bet you think you’ve seen every preparation for this succulent crustacean already. We’ll start with shrimp cocktail, tacos, burgers…
Oops, I Forrest Gump-ed you.
In all seriousness, I feel like I’ve done (and overdone) the shrimp thing.
I’ve smothered them in a sticky tamarind-scented sauce and covered them in crushed peanuts. I’ve tumbled them in crispy panko and served them alongside a vinegary sweet and sour dip. I’ve coated them in a homemade Cajun seasoning blend and seared them in a skillet.
I wondered to myself, what other fun ways could I make this tiny little guy the big star of my dinner plate? And then it hit me.
I needed to go back to the basics. And by basics, I mean citrus, butter, and garlic.
I can’t even begin to count the number of seafood recipes in my repertoire that include these three ingredients. Piccata, both shrimp and chicken preparations? Sure, just toss in some capers. Scampi? Yep, just add shallots and linguine.
Although mounding a heaping pile of this crazily aromatic dish over pasta would certainly not take it out of the running as the best recipe idea of the year, the buttery strands would probably end up taking center stage…
I wanted the crustacean to be the star here. Move over, Ariel. Sebastian’s got a brand-new bag!
First, I start by melting the butter. While this might seem counterintuitive as the whole shebang gets slid into the oven, there’s a method to my madness.
Infusing the melted butter with the aromatics (like red pepper flakes and alliums) plus acidic flavor-packed ingredients (like zippy lemon dry white wine) creates a liquid sauce that can be dripped evenly onto the seafood.
Wait, dripped? Who am I kidding? Make it rain.
Get every last splatter of that bright, savory, pungent butter in between all the crustaceans’ crevices so that as the dish bubbles and bakes in the oven, everyone has a great time.
Though you could certainly accomplish making this dish right there on your stove top, baking each and every piece in a single layer – wherein the heat can make contact on all sides – ensures even cooking.
And don’t forget the tails.
Leaving the tails on not only imparts some extra seafood-y flavor, but it gives you something to hold onto as you drag each morsel through the decadent pool of aromatic garlic and zest from the citrus fruit.
Speaking of things that you might be inclined to drag through butter, believe me when I tell you that you’re going to need extra bread. As much as you may try to avoid this, despite your best efforts, the juicy seafood will undoubtedly leave some of that delectable liquid behind.
And if you’re the type of the person who thinks it’s okay to let that go to waste…
Well, get outta my kitchen!
If we’re on the same page here, pull up a crusty loaf, and let’s get to work.Print
Hold onto your crusty baguettes. You’ll need them to soak up every last drop of these lemony shrimp swimming in buttery garlic sauce.
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (3/4 cup)
- 6 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- Zest of 1 large lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
- Juice of 1 large lemon (about 3 tablespoons), plus lemon wedges for garnish
- 2 pounds large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, with the tails on (preferably 31/35 count)
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup rough chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir until very fragrant, about 30-45 seconds. While stirring, slowly pour in the white wine and lemon juice. Add the lemon zest, and stir to combine. Cook for 1 additional minute.
- Arrange the shrimp in a single layer in a roasting pan or baking dish with raised sides and then pour the butter mixture over the top. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Bake for 12-15 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until opaque and cooked through.
- Remove from the oven and garnish with the parsley. Serve hot, with the additional lemon wedges and crusty bread for dipping.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Shrimp
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Seafood
Keywords: shrimp, garlic, lemon, white wine
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Measure and Prep Your Ingredients
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Measure out everything you will need.
Remove the stems and chop the parsley.
Step 2 – Make the Flavored Butter Sauce
In a small skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter.
Add the minced garlic and the red pepper flakes. Stir until these ingredients become very fragrant, about 30-45 seconds.
While stirring, slowly pour in the white wine, and the citrus juice. Add the freshly grated zest, and stir to combine. Cook for 1 additional minute.
Step 3 – Bake
Bake, tossing once halfway through, until the seafood is opaque and cooked through. This will take about 12-15 minutes.
If the seafood isn’t developing as much golden-brown color as you’d like, you can broil it high for the last few minutes of the cooking time. Just keep an eye on everything to avoid overcooking the dish you’ve so carefully prepared. Who wants burnt aromatics or rubbery seafood? No thanks!
Step 4 – Garnish and Serve
Garnish the dish with the parsley and serve it hot, with the additional wedges of citrus fruit for an extra touch of acid, and your choice of crusty bread for dipping.
Let’s Take a Butter Bath
If this buttery seafood recipe is beginning to sound a bit too rich for your taste, let me offer some reassurance: the acidic citrus and bright, fresh parsley help to balance everything out.
Feel free to turn up the heat by dropping in a few extra dashes of red pepper flakes. For a hit of nutty, salty flavor at the end, garnishing with grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano never hurt anybody.
As for the bread? I’ll put that in your hands. I believe a classic French baguette, warmed in the oven, works best. But crusty ciabatta or any kind of rustic Italian loaf also works like a charm.
Still don’t believe seafood and butter were a match made in heaven? Try these other seafood creations that feature delicious butter and get back to me:
- Fish in Brown Butter Sauce (Sole Meuniere)
- Linguine Pasta with Clam Sauce
- Classic Buttery Baked Scampi
Parsley may be the traditional choice for adding fresh, herbaceous flavor to this dish. But you should feel free to mix things up, with delicious results!
Rosemary? Sage? Tarragon? What will you reach for? Share your herbal suggestions in the comments below. And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it!
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on January 10, 2011. Last updated on December 11, 2020.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”