Elevate your summer seafood game with this mouthwatering Tequila Lime Smoked Shrimp! Infused with tart and smoky flavors, you’ll want to enjoy skewers of these all year long.
I don’t know about you, but when I think of summer, I think of three specific things.
Icy cocktails. Juicy cheeseburgers. Fresh seafood.
Maybe it’s because I grew up on the Florida coast, where seafood right off the boat was always abundant. At every summer party, there was often a seafood option, whether it was a main course or an app to tide people over until dinner.
And more often than not, that option was some kind of shrimp served with a dipping sauce.
I’m here to tell you that these babies serve as a perfect appetizer, and you don’t need any sauce for them! (Though, if you smoke too many, they’re amazing in this Cajun Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo!)
This page includes step by step instructions, as well as tips and notes. If you’d like to skip all that, feel free to scroll down to the full, printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
If you’re new to smoking all the things, this recipe is probably one of the easiest to start with. We own this pellet grill from Green Mountain Grills, but Abe is always on the lookout to add new outdoor cooking beasts to our backyard kitchen.
Whether you use a propane-powered or electric smoker, a name-brand pellet grill (think Traeger and Big Green Egg), a charcoal smoker, or even a kettle grill with a smoker box, you can smoke anything! Don’t be intimidated!
And your first step can be right here – learning how to smoke shrimp on a pellet grill.
Whether it’s a backyard barbecue or a quiet dinner for two, this shrimp recipe is guaranteed to please!
- RAW extra large or jumbo shrimp – peeled and deveined, your choice on leaving the tails on or not. Don’t use pre-cooked shrimp – they will be way too rubbery to enjoy properly.
- Tequila – blanco, reposado, or añejo, whatever you prefer (though I always rec the cheap blanco/silver for marinades). It wouldn’t be tequila lime shrimp without it!
- Limes – zested and juiced.
- Olive oil
- Garlic – either fresh or pre-minced in a jar, whatever you’ve got.
- Fresh cilantro
- Black pepper and red pepper flakes
For exact ingredient measurements and recipe instructions, scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the post!
Do I have to use tequila in this recipe?
Nope! You can leave the tequila out completely if you don’t like alcohol, or are simply out of it.
The intoxicating alcohol in the tequila does cook out as the shrimp smokes, so keep that in mind if you’re on the fence about feeding these to kids and folks who abstain. The shrimp don’t marinate for too long in it anyway, so it’s really all about adding the earthy flavor!
How to make smoked shrimp
- Whisk together the tequila, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cilantro, paprika, and peppers in a mixing bowl until well blended. Add the shrimp, tossing them to ensure they’re all coated, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, if you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in water to keep them from burning. Skewers are not necessary for this recipe, but they making the cooking process a whole lot easier!
- Preheat your smoker or pellet grill to 225 degrees F. Make sure the wood chips or pellets are full!
- Drain and discard the marinade from the shrimp. Thread 4 to 5 shrimp on the skewers and place them on a platter.
- Set the skewers on the grill grates and smoke for 30-35 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until they are bright pink and reach an internal temperature of 120 degrees F.
- Remove the shrimp from the smoker and serve immediately.
Can I use frozen shrimp for this recipe?
Yep, just make sure to thaw them completely and pat them dry before proceeding with marinating. Also stick with jumbo or colossal-sized shrimp, since they cook so quickly.
Can I adjust the seasoning to my preference?
Of course! The beauty of smoking shrimp (and anything, really) is that flavors are incredibly customizable.
Try adding cajun or creole seasoning to your marinade. Substitute the lime juice for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Add a little Asian flair by soaking the shrimp in teriyaki sauce before skewering them. Basically, go forth and be free – experiment with different flavors until you find your favorite!
Which wood chips or pellets are best for smoking shrimp?
I personally love using fruity chips and pellet for seafood. Apple or cherry lend a subtle sweetness that complements the shrimp beautifully. If you want something a bit bolder, try hickory or pecan.
I don’t have a smoker – can I grill the shrimp instead?
Absolutely! If you’ve got a smoker box, add that to your grill for a similar effect. Otherwise, keeping the grilling time to 2-3 minutes per side over an indirect medium-high flame, until the shrimp are pink and opaque.
How to enjoy smoked shrimp
Aside from simple eating them right off the skewer, smoked shrimp are delicious in salads, or over rice, or pasta. Love surf and turf? Pair them with a lovely ribeye steak. Try them in tacos with a simple vinegar-based slaw, or as the protein in fajitas or a cheesy quesadilla. Serve them up as a unique part of a seafood boil, add them to ceviche, paella, or jambalaya – the possibilities are endless!
More shrimp recipes to enjoy!
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- 3 tablespoons tequila
- 1 lime zested and juiced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh cilantro tender stems and leaves, chopped (optional)
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛-¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 pound extra large or jumbo shrimp peeled and deveined, tails on
- Whisk together the tequila, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cilantro, paprika, and peppers in a mixing bowl until well blended. Add the shrimp, tossing them to ensure they're all coated, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, soak wooden skewers in water if using.
- Preheat your smoker or pellet grill to 225 degrees F.
- Drain and discard marinade from shrimp. Thread 4 to 5 shrimp on the skewers.
- Place the skewers on the grill grates and smoke for 30-35 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until they are bright pink and reach an internal temperature of 120 degrees F.
- Remove shrimp from the smoker and serve immediately.