Greek
Cilantro Lime Shrimp

This easy Cilantro Lime Shrimp recipe is a showstopper, and it's all thanks to my secret roasted garlic sauce with tons of Mediterranean flavors. Citrusy, perfectly garlicky, and just spicy enough, this weeknight-friendly recipe only takes 20 minutes!

A hand holding a single cilantro lime shrimp.
Photo credit: Suzy Karadsheh

Where I come from, in Egypt, fresh herbs, garlic and citrus fruits are three essential ingredients when it comes to flavoring fish. This goes for everything from simple baked cod to shellfish like steamed clams and shrimp. In this Cilantro Lime Shrimp recipe, we replicate the same winning flavor combination but add a few guest stars.

You can cook the shrimp any way (cast iron skillet, indoor griddle or grill) and it takes about 5 minutes. As soon as it's ready, you top it with a delicious sauce made from a whole head of roasted garlic, fresh lime juice, a touch of spicy harissa (or chili paste), and cilantro or herbs of your choice. I have to say the sauce is out of this world!

Yes, you use an entire head of garlic here, but don't worry! Once roasted, garlic becomes soft, creamy and delicately sweet. It's not too overpowering – you'll honestly have to stop yourself from eating it yourself. The flavor is quite tamed and pleasant.

This recipe is the perfect appetizer served with or on crusty bread to make the most of the delicious sauce! But you can also turn it into a quick dinner with your favorite pasta or grains and grilled courgettes as a side dish.

Summary
  1. Ingredients and substitutes for this cilantro lime shrimp recipe
  2. Spotlight on ingredients
  3. Can I use frozen shrimp?
  4. How to Thaw Frozen Shrimp
  5. How to prepare shrimp with coriander and lime
  6. Ways to mix it up
  7. What to serve with cilantro and lime shrimp
  8. Other shrimp recipes to try
  9. Try our Harissa pasta!
  10. Shrimp recipe with cilantro and lime
Roasted garlic, chopped parsley and half a lime on a cutting board.Roasted garlic, chopped parsley and half a lime on a cutting board.

Ingredients and substitutes for this cilantro lime shrimp recipe

You really can't go wrong when pairing garlic and citrus with seafood. But I take it a step further by adding lots of coriander and a small amount of white wine and chili paste. The result is a sauce with incredible depth of flavor, with very little work. You will need:

  • Garlic: Roasting an entire head of garlic from scratch makes a huge difference in flavor, but you can use store-bought in a pinch.
  • Coriander: If you don't like cilantro, basil works well in this recipe.
  • Files: Fresh lime juice adds the perfect touch to balance the sweet and savory flavor of the garlic. Lemon juice works as a substitute.
  • Dry white wine: It adds complexity to the acidic element of the sauce, but you can replace it with more lime juice.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: The base of the sauce, so a high quality extra virgin olive oil is essential. Our peppery Spanish Hojiblanca would be great.
  • Harissa adds to the bright, citrusy flavor while adding smokiness and good heat (more below).
  • Shrimp: Wild-caught giant shrimp (about 16 to 20 shrimp per pound) are a good option for this recipe; they will remain plump and juicy.
  • Kosher salt and black pepper It's the simple condiments that give the flavor its full potential! If your food tastes flat or bland, you'll probably need to add a pinch more salt and taste again.
Harissa pasta from Villa Jerada.Harissa pasta from Villa Jerada.
Harissa pasta from Villa Jerada

Spotlight on ingredients

If you have yet to discover harissa, North Africa's famous flavor enhancer, you are in for a treat. This incredibly complex chili paste has layer upon layer of flavor: slightly sweet, spicy, citrusy, with a hint of smoke.

A close up of cilantro lime shrimp on a plate.A close up of cilantro lime shrimp on a plate.

Can I use frozen shrimp?

Most of the fish and seafood purchased at the fish counter were probably frozen and thawed. And with today's advanced flash-freezing technology, a frozen bag of wild-caught shrimp can taste better and taste “fresher” than what you'll find at the seafood counter. So it's okay to use frozen shrimp in this recipe. Just make sure you defrost it properly first.

How to Thaw Frozen Shrimp

You have two options for defrosting shrimp:

  • Place the bag of frozen shrimp in a bowl and leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Place the (sealed) bag of frozen shrimp in a bowl filled with water in the sink. Stir every 5 minutes or so to break the ice. The shrimp should defrost in about 20 minutes. Be sure to dry it thoroughly before cooking.
A close up of cilantro lime shrimp on a plate.A close up of cilantro lime shrimp on a plate.

How to prepare shrimp with coriander and lime

Cooking shrimp is very simple: it takes less than 5 minutes. But the secret to juicy, flavorful shrimp is in the sauce, and this one is especially good. Here are the steps:

  • Get ready. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Roast the garlic. Use a serrated knife to cut off the top of the entire head of garlic (about ¼ to ½ inch from the top), exposing the cloves but keeping the bunch intact. Place on a large sheet of foil, drizzle generously with olive oil and close foil to wrap. Roast in the hot oven for about 10 minutes or until slightly tender and fragrant, then remove from the oven and let cool briefly.
  • Process the garlic. Once cool enough to handle, peel and crush or mince the roasted garlic as finely as possible.
  • Prepare the sauce: In a small bowl, combine the roasted garlic, 1 cup chopped cilantro leaves, the juice of 1 lime, 1 tablespoon dry white wine (optional), 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, and 2 tablespoons Harissa. Whisk together and set aside.
  • Cook the shrimp: Heat a grill, indoor griddle, or cast-iron skillet over high heat. Dry 1 and a half kilos of peeled and removed prawns and season with salt and pepper, drizzle with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and mix. Place on the preheated surface and cook for about 2 minutes per side, or until the prawns turn pink. Even larger prawns will be ready in about 5 minutes, so be careful not to overcook them.A closeup of grilled shrimp.A closeup of grilled shrimp.
  • Finish and serve. Immediately dip them in the delicious sauce. Serve the cilantro-lime shrimp immediately.
A close-up of the cilantro-lime shrimp sauce in a bowl.A close-up of the cilantro-lime shrimp sauce in a bowl.

Ways to mix it up

The beauty of this Cilantro Lime Shrimp recipe is that it can be paired with just about any sauce you want! Try tossing shrimp in homemade fresh basil pesto or 5-Minute Chermoula for something herbaceous. If you want a more citrusy dressing, go for Ladolemono, which is a Greek salad dressing you'll want to put on everything!

What to serve with cilantro and lime shrimp

This Cilantro Lime Shrimp recipe is a great appetizer for a crowd, on its own with toothpicks and a bowl of extra sauce on the side for dipping.

For a complete dinner, serve over Greek lemon rice or couscous, or double the sauce and top with a pound of cooked spaghetti or orzo. Or, for shrimp tacos with a Mediterranean twist, borrow the slaw and serving suggestions from my salmon tacos recipe.

You can also skip the starch and serve this easy shrimp recipe with something green like grilled zucchini or lemon broccoli.

More shrimp recipes to try

Browse all Mediterranean recipes.

Visit Our shop.

Ttry our Harissa pasta!

Slightly sweet, smoky and spicy with just the right amount of spice. The perfect addition to your cilantro lime shrimp.

Harissa pasta from Villa Jerada.Harissa pasta from Villa Jerada.
  • Get ready. Preheat oven to 400°F.

  • Roast the garlic. Use a serrated knife to cut off the top of the entire head of garlic, exposing the cloves but keeping the bunch intact. Place on a large sheet of foil, drizzle generously with olive oil and close foil to wrap. Roast in the hot oven for about 10 minutes or until slightly tender and fragrant, then remove from the oven and let cool briefly.

  • Process the garlic. Once cool enough to handle, peel and crush or mince the roasted garlic as finely as possible.

  • Prepare the sauce: In a small bowl, combine the roasted garlic, cilantro, lime juice, white wine, extra virgin olive oil, and harissa. Whisk together and set aside.

  • Cook the shrimp: Heat a cast iron skillet, grill or indoor griddle over high heat. Dry the prawns and season them with salt and pepper, drizzle with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and stir. Place on the preheated surface and cook for about 2 minutes per side, or until the prawns turn pink. Even larger prawns will be ready in about 5 minutes, so be careful not to overcook them.

  • Finish and serve. Immediately dip the grilled shrimp into the delicious roasted garlic sauce and serve immediately.

  • Buy this recipe: Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oil AND Harissa paste used in this recipe.
  • To move forward, Roast the garlic ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. See this tutorial for how to roast garlic. You can also use store-bought roasted garlic in this recipe if needed.
  • If you prefer you can cook the prawns on a baking tray. Leave the oven at 400°F, season the shrimp with about ¼ cup olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper. Spread onto a baking tray and roast for 6-9 minutes.

Calories: 169.6kcalCarbohydrates: 2.5GProtein: 23.1GFat: 7.6GSaturated fats: 1.1GPolyunsaturated fats: 0.9GMonounsaturated fat: 5.2GTrans fats: 0.01GCholesterol: 182.6mgSodium: 203.7mgPotassium: 347mgFiber: 0.5GSugar: 0.9GVitamin A: 219.6UIC vitamin: 4.9mgSoccer: 80.2mgIron: 0.8mg

*This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2015 and was recently updated with new information and for the benefit of readers.

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