Here's How You Grill Shrimp Without Drying It Out

Do you ever find that grilling shrimp isn't worth it? That it means either compromising on texture or flavor? You're definitely not the only one. Shrimp is the quickest-cooking protein you can grill, which doesn't leave much room for error (via The Kitchn). Grilling them in their shells will definitely lead to a juicer outcome, but this method means any seasoning you add is then stripped away with the shell. Then again, grilling shrimp that is pre-shelled can cause them to turn rubbery or dry out before they even char. Luckily, there's a solution.

America's Test Kitchen found that, when it comes to shrimp, size really does matter. Jumbo shrimp are easier to grill to perfection because they're larger, which gives them enough time to char before they're overcooked. Unfortunately, regular shrimp are too, well, shrimpy, which is why they're so easy to overcook. But not everyone has the money to spend on jumbo shrimp for every barbecue. Luckily, America's Test Kitchen has also come up with a two-step grilling process that produces juicy, flavorful shrimp every time, without having to shell out for the premium shellfish.

How to grill shrimp perfectly every time

The first step, which should never be skipped, is flavoring the shrimp. The Kitchn recommends using full-fat yogurt mixed with lemon and herbs for this job, because the acidity will tenderize the shrimp while the fat will prevent it from drying out. America's Test Kitchen, on the other hand, recommends a simple salt, pepper, and sugar mixture for this step. The sugar, while it might sound unusual, is there to promote quick charring. The real flavor in their recipe comes by finishing the shrimp in a tomato-based sauce that's also simmering on the grill — simply pull the shrimp off the grill right before it's done cooking. 

Meanwhile, properly grilled shrimp starts with a good, water-soaked skewer. If you're not grilling jumbo shrimp, pack them tightly together on the skewers. This will give you a little more time to get that nice char on the outside without the risk of your shrimp drying out. Plus, it will let you turn them all over at the same time for more consistent cooking. 

You may be tempted to turn down the grill, but resist. Cooking hot and fast will help with charring, and keep your shrimp moist at the same time. They should only take a few minutes per side (via Detroit Free Press). The result? Perfectly juicy and flavorful grilled shrimp every time.