These juicy sauteed shrimp in Cajun sauce provide the perfect balance of sweet, spicy, and savory flavors. Made with homemade Cajun seasoning and a smoky butter sauce, you can whip up this cajun shrimp dinner in just 20 minutes or less!
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About this shrimp in cajun sauce
When I first shared my recipe for homemade Cajun seasoning, I knew that I needed a special dish to show off the wonders of using homemade seasoning that anyone at any level of cooking would feel comfortable and inspired to make. This Sauteed Shrimp in Cajun Sauce is that dish!
It’s incredibly easy to make in 20 minutes or less, loaded with fragrant Cajun spice and cooked in a silky, buttery, smoky and spicy sauce with a hint of citrus. Yummy!!
Once the plump and succulent shrimp have been cooked to perfection, they’re garnished with a sprinkling of herbaceous parsley for freshness and pretty presentation.
Serve this fragrant and filling cajun seasoning shrimp with crusty bread and rice, grits, or vegetables for a hearty and delicious dinner that will transport you straight to Louisiana. Or, they’re just as good as a party appetizer too!
Why you’ll love this sauteed cajun shrimp
An easy weeknight dinner that packs a ton of flavor! Here’s why you’ll love this dish:
- Flavorful. This dish is the perfect balance of sweet, spicy, and savory with homemade Cajun seasoning and a rich marinade.
- Customizable. Easily adjust the level of spicy heat in this cajun sauce shrimp by adding extra cayenne pepper to the mix!
- Make ahead. Make the cajun marinade for shrimp in advance to reduce the recipe time.
- Appetizer or main meal! Serve these shrimp with cajun sauce as a tasty party appetizer or as a main meal for a family dinner when combined with pasta, rice, or grits.
Ingredients for cajun seasoning shrimp
Get ready for one of your newly favorite Cajun-seasoned meals with juicy marinated shrimp that can be enjoyed as a party snack or main meal. Here’s everything you need:
- Large shrimp – Cleaned and peeled.
- Substitution: While I’ve used large shrimp, you can use any size that you prefer as long as you adjust the cooking time.
- Cajun seasoning – Use store-bought or homemade Cajun seasoning. The benefit of making your own is having full control over the spices used.
- Marinade – This consists of minced garlic, lemon juice and zest, Worcestershire sauce, honey, fine sea salt, and ground black pepper.
- Butter – If in doubt use unsalted butter as it gives you better control of the sodium level in this dish. Using butter to saute the shrimp adds a rich and decadent flavor.
- Fresh parsley – Roughly chopped and sprinkled over the cooked shrimp when serving.
- Optional garnish – Garnish this cajun sauce shrimp with lemon wedges, diced tomatoes, sliced green onions, and your favorite micro greens.
- Shrimp size. I enjoy using large shrimp for this sautéed cajun shrimp, but smaller-sized shrimp can be used instead if that’s what you prefer or have access to. Make sure to adjust the cooking time when using smaller shrimp, otherwise it will overcook and become rubbery.
- Seasoning. You can make this dish spicy by either adding cayenne pepper to your store-bought Cajun seasoning or increasing the amount of cayenne pepper to your homemade Cajun seasoning.
- Grill. Get outside during the warmer months and grill your shrimp instead of sautéing indoors. You could also use an indoor grill. Grilling adds a delicious char to the shrimp and you won’t need to skewer the shrimp when using the larger variety, which are easier to handle.
- Marinade time: If you are rushed for time, marinating the shrimp for only 15 minutes will still produce juicy and flavorful shrimp. Luckily, shrimp are naturally briny and sweet.
How do you make cajun shrimp?
- Thaw and Clean: First, you’ll want to make sure you thaw any shrimp are frozen. You’ll also need to clean shrimp by peeling and deveining.
- Next, whisk together the sauce by combining the garlic, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
- In a large bowl, add toss the prepared shrimp with cajun seasoning. Drizzle on half of the sauce and stir to coat. Set aside in the refrigerator to marinate.
- Cook the shrimp by melting two tablespoons of butter in a large-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Then, add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until shrimp are just starting to turn pink.
- Add in the remaining sauce mixture and 2 more tablespoons of butter to the skillet. Continue to cook until the shrimp is opaque and the butter coats the shrimp.
- Garnish the cajun sauce shrimp with fresh herbs, smoked paprika, and lemon wedges. Enjoy!
Tips for the best Louisiana shrimp
- While I used large shrimp for this cajun butter shrimp recipe, you can use any size shrimp you would like, just be sure to adjust the cook time up or down accordingly.
- I left the tails on the shrimp for aesthetic purposes only. Feel free to remove the tails or leave them intact.
- You can purchase Cajun spice mix at the store, or you can make your own. I highly suggest you make your own so you can control what is in the spice blend and adjust it to your own tastes. Besides, you probably already have all the seasonings needed in your pantry, and making your own is cheaper than buying a prepared one. The recipe for homemade cajun spice blend is in the notes section of the recipe below.
FAQs: frequently asked questions
What’s in Cajun seasoning?
Cajun seasoning is a blend of salt with a variety of dried spices, most commonly including cayenne pepper, paprika and garlic.
The homemade Cajun seasoning recipe for this butter shrimp is made up of salt, cayenne, paprika and garlic as well as onion powder, dried thyme, dried oregano and freshly ground black pepper.
Is Cajun shrimp spicy?
Cajun shrimp is mildly spicy.
The main heat source for cajun butter shrimp is cayenne pepper. However, there is less cayenne pepper in Cajun seasoning compared to the other spice ingredients, therefore cajun seasoning (either homemade or store bought) is normally quite mild.
If you like your cajun shrimp more or less spicy, simply adjust the amount the of cayenne in the cajun seasoning accordingly.
What is cajun sauce shrimp?
Cajun shrimp is a dish consisting of Cajun-seasoned shrimp that’s cooked in melted butter in a pan or skillet. In my butter cajun shrimp recipe, I’ve also marinated the shrimp before seasoning in Cajun seasoning and reserved some of the marinade sauce for thickening in the skillet towards the end of the cook as a delicious sauce to serve over the shrimp!
What type of shrimp should I use?
Large shrimp, also known as jumbo, extra jumbo, or extra large are ideal for pan frying as they are easy to peel and prepare compared to smaller shrimp. The large shrimp are great for adding volume to any main meal and offer a decent-sized appetizer too.
You can opt for shell-on shrimp or peeled, deveined shrimp with tails on. The shrimp I used for this cajun butter shrimp had their tails intact, which I left on for aesthetic purposes.
Can I use frozen shrimp in this recipe?
While frozen shrimp that has been thawed can be used in this cajun sautéed shrimp recipe, there is always a risk of it drying out quickly and becoming tough compared to fresh shrimp. I recommend using fresh shrimp for best results and flavor.
How can I make this cajun shrimp recipe spicier?
Add extra cayenne pepper to the Cajun seasoning or add some hot sauce or sriracha to the marinade.
What type of Cajun seasoning should I use?
Feel free to use your favorite brand of Cajun or Creole spice mixes that are available to you. I personally love to use homemade Cajun seasoning as it provides the most robust flavor and is easy to adjust to suit your preferences.
If you decide to use a store-bought Cajun seasoning, make sure that the mix of spices includes paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper to better replicate the flavors of this cajun sautéed shrimp recipe.
Serving shrimp with cajun sauce
This cajun sauce shrimp recipe eats like a full meal. However, of course it also pairs well with a variety of side dishes.
- Breads: Whenever a sauce is involved, especially a cajun butter one, I will always recommend some sort of bread for sopping. I love garlic bread or cornbread here, but use what you love.
- Sauces: If the cajun honey butter isn’t enough zhuzh for you, serve your shrimp with a side of creamy sauce remoulade.
- Rice and Grains: White or brown rice, cajun rice, and grits are all excellent side options here.
- Pastas: If you prefer noodles to grains, that works too. Penne, fusilli, or rotini are great options to soak up the cajun sauce and creole shrimp.
- A side of vegetables, like these Sauteed Peppers and Onions, asparagus, mushrooms or your favorite roasted seasonal veggie works as well.
Storing cajun shrimp recipes
- Store leftover cajun prawns in an airtight container in the refrigerator with leftover sauce for 3-4 days.
- Make the cajun shrimp marinade a day in advance and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
Can I freeze this?
Yes, you can freeze leftover cajun butter shrimp for 1-2 months but the texture is likely to change. However, do NOT freeze your sautéed cajun shrimp if you used frozen shrimp to make this recipe as refreezing any food is not advised.
Reheat leftover cajun prawn in a pan or skillet with a splash of olive oil or melted butter over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes or until they are heated through. Avoid reheating the shrimp for much longer than this as it can cause the shrimp to become rubbery from overcooking. Add any remaining sauce to the pan and toss to coat the shrimp.
Ready in 20 minutes or less and made with the ease of one skillet, these sauteed shrimp in Cajun sauce deserve to be on your dinner table tonight!
Until next week, friends, cheers – to succulent shrimp!
More Cajun dinner recipes!
The best Cajun Butter Shrimp recipe👇
Cajun Honey Butter Shrimp
Optional for garnish: lemon wedges, diced tomatoes, sliced green onions, micro greens
Optional for serving: rice, grits, pasta
- Make the sauce/marinade: In a small bowl whisk together: garlic, lemon juice, zest, Worcestershire, honey, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Marinate: Place the shrimp in a large bowl and add Cajun seasoning. Toss to coat. Add in HALF of the sauce, reserving the other half (reserve about 3 TBS) of the mixture for later. Stir shrimp to coat. Transfer shrimp to the refrigerator to let marinate for 30 minutes.
- Cook: Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp to the skillet, discarding the marinade. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently to ensure even cooking, for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp are just starting to turn pink. Pour in the reserved honey mixture and remaining butter. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are cooked and the butter coats the shrimp, about 2-3 additional minutes. Remove shrimp from skillet with a slotted spoon and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Increase heat to high and cook sauce, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Taste sauce and adjust for seasoning with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pour sauce over shrimp in serving bowl.
- To serve: Sprinkle shrimp with parsley and garnish with optional lemon wedges and green onions if using. Enjoy!
- You can use any size shrimp you would like, just be sure to adjust the cook time up or down accordingly.
- I left the tails on the shrimp for aesthetic purposes only. Feel free to remove the tails or leave them intact.
- You can purchase Cajun spice mix at the store, or you can make your own. I highly suggest you make your own so you can control what is in the spice blend and adjust it to your own tastes. Besides, you probably already have all the seasonings needed in your pantry! The best Cajun Seasoning: https://www.nospoonnecessary.com/cajun-spice-homemade-cajun-seasoning/
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