The Trick to Tender, Juicy, Never Ever Tough Grilled Shrimp

Shrimp is a versatile protein that’s delicious sautéed, grilled, baked or fried. The biggest issue with this small seafood? It's very easy to overcook.

You can tell that shrimp is cooked properly when it curls into a “c” shape. Think of “c” as cooked. Well-cooked shrimp should be pink on the outside and opaque-white on the inside. On the other hand, overcooked shrimp forms a tight “o” (like “oh no").

In an effort to avoid any "oh no" grilled shrimp this summer, I took to the internet, as any good cook does these days. The good folks at America's Test Kitchen had a great video full of tips that I felt confident would help me grill up some tender, juicy shrimp. Here's what happened when I tried their tips on my grill.

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<p>Kellye Fox</p>

Kellye Fox

What's the Secret to Making Tender Grilled Shrimp?

Because shrimp cooks quickly, there’s a fine line between tenderness and a hard and rubbery mess. Thanks to a grilled shrimp YouTube video from America's Test Kitchen, there are two smart tricks to prevent tough shrimp. In fact, the chef says that his tips will “ensure they come off the grill perfectly.” One solution is to sprinkle sugar on one side and grill that side first on the hot side of your grill before flipping the shrimp over to finish cooking on the cooler side. The other tip is to skewer shrimp tightly to prevent overcooking.

For this recipe, I bought 1 1/5 pounds of raw, 16/20 jumbo shrimp. After removing the shells, I slid 5 shrimp onto a soaked wooden skewer. The video says to pack them tightly so that it’s easier to flip (instead of turning them over individually). This technique also prevents the shrimp from overcooking, but it does expose them to the hot fire to generate that beloved char.

The next step is to sprinkle one side of the skewer with granulated white sugar. Side note: I added my seasonings, then the sugar. This sugar trick helps add color and char, especially when cooked on a super hot grill. The video didn’t provide an exact measurement of the sugar, so I just sprinkled on a light dusting.

I used a charcoal grill and placed the sugar side face down on the hot side for about 3 minutes. I estimate that the hot side of my grill was close to 400 degrees. Then, I flipped them over to the cooler side (which was about 350 degrees) for an additional 3 minutes.

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What I Thought of This Grilled Shrimp Trick

I was a bit skeptical about using sugar on a protein directly over hot coals because I didn’t want it to burn (rather than getting a good char). I was pleasantly surprised because the color variation of brown and pink was beautiful. As for the taste test, the techniques worked because the shrimp was tender and juicy. I brushed mine with melted butter and garlic, but the shrimp itself was not overcooked.

Even when I reheated the shrimp the next day, it wasn’t tough or hard. I’m definitely going to use these simple shrimp-grilling tips all summer long.

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