The best weeknight shrimp recipes

Shrimp is the fruit of the sea, or so said Bubba in the 1994 classic film, Forrest Gump. After all, it's delicious in almost any format. From pan fried to stir fried, from barbecued to broiled, these crustaceans of the ocean have become a seafood staple on the plates of Americans, and with good reason. Shrimp are high in protein, low in fat, and soak up flavor like a sponge while retaining their own unique texture and briny essence. To top if off, they cook super quickly, making them an ideal protein for fast weeknight dishes. So if you're looking for inspiration, here are the best weeknight shrimp recipes for busy home cooks.  

Asian noodles with shrimp and edamame

Shrimp is popular in a lot of Asian cuisine, whether in stir fry, satay, or stuffed in a dumpling. It pairs well with vegetables, tastes great with rice, and helps give summer rolls their amazing textural balance. So if you have some soba noodles on hand, try this recipe from the Food Network. It combines Asian flavors like garlic, ginger, sriracha, lime, soy sauce, sesame oil, and fresh cilantro (or scallions) with edamame, buckwheat noodles, and of course shrimp. And as long as you have a food processor on hand to puree some of the ingredients into a sauce, you'll be in and out of the kitchen in 25 minutes. You can use frozen, shelled edamame too, for further time savings.

Penne with shrimp and herbed cream sauce

Some of the best comfort food dishes out there are pasta dishes, like a good plate of spaghetti and meatballs, or creamy chicken alfredo with linguine. So if you're a devotee of Italian dishes like these, try making this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis over at the Food Network on your next weeknight. It has a distinctly Italian flavor profile, combining fresh herbs like parsley and basil with white wine, heavy cream, canned tomatoes, and a little bit of clam juice for a good briny note. Additionally, there's plenty of Parmesan cheese, fresh garlic, and of course, shrimp. The whole thing can be prepped and cooked in about half an hour, and will feed up to six people. 

General Tso's shrimp and broccoli

Some flavor profiles are so distinct they're in a category all their own, and General Tso's is definitely one of them. It has a fascinating history, with its roots in Hunanese cuisine, but it's most popular on the east coast of the United States. And while it's usually chicken that gets the General's treatment, shrimp are wonderful in this preparation as well. This recipe from Delish is a great go-to for busy nights when you're craving the classic, sweet-tangy-savory flavor. The dish is created by combining garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ketchup, and mustard all together, then using it to fry shrimp dredged in cornstarch. You can steam broccoli in a steamer or an electric pressure cooker — whichever works for you. Serve with white rice and garnish with sesame seeds.

Shrimp tacos with mango slaw

Is there anything better than tacos? Probably not, even considering the infinite number of possible taco combinations out there. As long as there's a tortilla and a protein, from tofu to tripe, along with fixings, chances are it'll be delicious. This taco recipe from the Food Network puts shrimp front and center, along with tropical, juicy mango for a perfect summer dinner. It also incorporates thinly sliced red onion, and lots fresh cilantro and lime, transporting you to an island taco stand. For kick, there's sriracha, which is balanced nicely by mayonnaise. And for time saving tricks, it calls for packaged coleslaw mix, which means you won't spend all evening shredding cabbage and carrots. You can use hard or soft taco shells, depending on your preferences. Finally, I like to add sliced avocado on top. 

Barbecue shrimp with avocado salad

If you're looking for a healthy and light but super flavorful weeknight dinner, a shrimp and salad combination is a pretty good bet. You can skip the carbs and focus on proteins and greens, as well as healthy fats. This recipe from Food & Wine is a perfect option for those light nights, pairing barbecue shrimp cooked in lots of Worcestershire sauce and a little dry white wine with an avocado salad with radishes, fennel, and romaine. There's also fresh thyme in the shrimp sauce, and of course some garlic and shallot for flavor. Olive oil and lemon are all you need to dress the salad, along with a little salt for seasoning. Garnish with sliced scallions. 

Easy pad thai

It might seem crazy to see the word "easy" next to "pad thai," especially if you've never cooked it at home before. But much like Indian cuisine, which can seem super intimidating to cook, it really is quite easy to master once you have the right ingredients on hand in your kitchen. So skip the take out and try this recipe from Delish for shrimp pad thai. The bulk of the flavor comes from a mixture of lime juice, brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, and cayenne pepper, which is poured over boiled pad thai noodles, chopped bell pepper, and shrimp cooked in garlic, salt, and pepper. Additionally, scrambled egg adds texture to the dish. Garnish with green onions and chopped, roasted peanuts. 

Herbed shrimp and white bean salad

Beans are an important part of a healthy diet as they bring fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates to your table. They're also inexpensive, which makes them a great addition to weeknight meals, especially if they're canned — no need to spend a lot of time soaking and cooking. And this recipe from My Recipes combines them with shrimp and colorful vegetables for a quick and nutritious dinner that's packed with good flavors and diverse textures. Broiled bell pepper brings a smokey sweetness to the dish, along with spicy arugula and fresh herbs like basil, parsley, and chives. There's also the bite of red onion, the acidity of fresh lemon, and toasted pine nuts to counter the brightness. Everything is ready in 30 minutes, giving you more time to relax and unwind.

Shrimp, chorizo, and corn salad

Corn is a hugely underrated vegetable, maligned by anti-corn nutritionists as a cause of weight gain and other health risks. But anyone who's hating on corn clearly has forgotten the amazing experience of eating fresh corn on the cob so sweet you don't need butter. And it's unique in its sweetness as a vegetable, as well as super affordable. Plus, in this recipe from My Recipes, it pairs beautifully with shrimp and spicy chorizo, as well as lots of green onions, quartered grape tomatoes, fresh basil, and a little bit of lemon and sriracha. You don't need to serve this delicious salad with anything, but a nice, toasted slice of homemade bread goes nicely with it if you're feeling the need for the carbs.

Quesadillas with shrimp and peppers

While some may consider quesadillas bachelor food, they can actually be elevated with a little ingenuity and fresh ingredients. Plus they're incredibly satisfying and popular with kids, so they make a great weeknight dinner option. This recipe from Ree Drummond at the Food Network will take a little over half an hour as you do have to chop onions and bell peppers, but it's worth it given how tasty the result is. The combination of those fresh veggies with chopped shrimp, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, and tortillas fried in butter is a home run in both flavor profile and textural balance. Serve with fresh cilantro, sour cream, and lime wedges. You can also serve them with your favorite pico de gallo or guacamole. 

Coconut shrimp curry

It's good to have a few curry recipes in your arsenal for when the craving strikes, like a Thai red curry or a classic Indian chicken curry. The dish is great on cool nights, filling your home with its unique, delicious scent, and bringing some warmth and spice to your busy evening. This recipe for coconut shrimp curry from Delish uses bold flavors like garam masala, curry powder, and chili powder in combination with a coconut and tomato base that rounds out the spices. Shrimp star in the dish, accompanied by chickpeas for additional texture and protein. Serve with steamed white rice to soak up all of the juices, and garnish with fresh, chopped cilantro for freshness. 

Bacon shrimp pasta

Just because shrimp is naturally low-calorie doesn't mean it always has to be prepared exclusively in super healthy dishes. In fact, sometimes you just want a decadent, comforting meal featuring delicious shrimp that will stick to your ribs and taste amazing. This easy pasta recipe from Delish does exactly that, combining the flavors of bacon, shrimp, heavy cream, and not one but two kinds of cheese — mozzarella and Parmesan — so you're guaranteed to be satisfied after this dinner. And all of the heaviness is balanced out nicely by fresh ingredients like tomatoes, spinach, garlic, and some crushed red pepper flakes for a kick. The fresh basil garnish also brings an herbaceous freshness to the dish, rounding it out nicely. 

Shrimp curry with chickpeas and cauliflower

Just as beans pair well with shrimp for a healthy and nutritious weeknight dinner, so too do canned chickpeas, with their unique texture and penchant for flavor absorption. Bring Asian flavors like coconut, ginger, red curry, lemongrass, shrimp paste, and fish sauce to the table, and you're in for a treat. This recipe from Bon Appétit has a complex flavor profile, but surprisingly, only takes a little while to put together and serve. The key is reducing the sauce, which imparts huge flavor to the shrimp, cauliflower, and chickpeas, and not overcooking the shrimp so they're tender and moist. Garnish with lime, fresh cilantro (or Thai basil), and shredded red cabbage, and serve over Basmati rice. 

Chipotle shrimp tostadas

If you're adept at frying things, tostadas are a welcome addition to your life. Tortillas taste wonderful when they're fried and crispy, and have a super pleasing, crunchy texture. Plus, crunchy tortillas are a great foil for tender shrimp, making this recipe from Food & Wine a great go-to for Monday night dinner. Plus, shrimp are great in a grilled format, especially with Chipotle powder, which gives them a nice spicy kick. And along with the tender, smokey shrimp and crispy tortilla is a delicious cabbage slaw, made from bagged coleslaw, tomato, scallions, lime, and sour cream. Top with fresh squeezed lime, fresh cilantro, chopped radishes, and avocado. 

Shrimp, avocado, and grapefruit salad

Fewer things in life are more satisfying than a fresh, sweet grapefruit, with its red flesh and delicious flavor, except perhaps a perfectly ripe avocado. So why not pair these wonderful fruits together with shrimp for a fresh summer salad? This recipe from My Recipes yields a simple yet exceptionally elegant dish, perfect for hot nights when you're pressed for time after a hectic day of work. A vinaigrette of grapefruit juice, olive oil, brown sugar, fresh tarragon, and chopped shallots pull the salad together, which is tossed with chopped romaine lettuce — I like to go heavy with romaine hearts especially, but the whole head will work just fine.  It's best served when the shrimp is warm, though it tastes just as good chilled.