This pan-fried garlic butter prawns recipe is simple yet totally impressive for a dinner party or a treat-yourself night in. Whole shell-on prawns cooked in butter and garlic with a few squeezes of lemon juice to brighten the dish, does it get any better?
Buying your raw prawns with the shell on may seem intimidating, but a few simple steps will ensure you can easily devein and cook the prawns. Cooking prawns with the shells on not only means added flavor but also helps to protect the shrimp from overcooking quickly while they are sauteed.
This recipe is inspired by my ginger prawns with soy sauce, also available on my blog. These simple butter garlic prawns are so good they may get eaten before they even make it to the table. This recipe pairs great with some crusty bread or this pear and rocket salad with a side of rice and a few lemon wedges.
When it comes to prawn dishes, this one takes the cake for simplicity and mouth-watering flavour of all the latest recipes I’ve worked on. Enjoy these garlic butter prawns anytime, but I picture them as a great summer dish or an easy meal for entertaining.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Lots of flavour and simple ingredients
- Quick and easy cook time
- Only takes one pan
Equipment Needed for This Recipe
- Sharp knife – use a knife to devein your prawn’s intestinal tract before cooking them. Run your knife along the back side of the prawn, ensuring that the intestinal tract is exposed, then simply remove the vein with the tip of your knife.
- Cutting board – a good plastic cutting board is key for preparing prawns. Plastic is the easiest material to keep sanitary after handling raw prawns.
- Large frying pan – a large pan will give you plenty of room to cook prawns without crowding them. When you cook prawns, it is important to give them plenty of space so that they fry evenly.
- Tongs – rubber-tipped tongs are the best tool for flipping your garlic prawns. These tongs will protect the pan and are heat safe.
- Citrus juicer – this tool is optional, but I find it easiest to squeeze lemon juice with a juicer to eliminate any rogue seeds from getting into your juicy prawns
Ingredients You Need for This Recipe
- Fresh prawns – use fresh prawns instead of frozen prawns for the best results in this garlicky dish. You can buy shelled prawns, but I recommend buying some with the shells on for added flavour and protection during the cooking process. Tiger prawns are large and very delicious, and king prawns are even bigger, making either of them the best choice for this dish. You may find that tiger prawns are easier to come upon, so they are probably your best bet when making this garlic prawns dish. You will recognize a tiger prawn by its blue or black stripes that turn a lovely pink after cooking.
How to Make This Recipe
Melt the butter and oil in a large frying pan.
Add the garlic and let it sizzle for a minute.
Add the prawns to the pan in a single layer.
When the edge of the prawns start to turn pink, turn them on their other side using tongs.
Squirt lemon juice on top and cook for 1 minute. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Devein and butterfly the prawns ahead of time to make this quick and easy dish even faster to get on the table.
What to Serve/Pair With Your Garlic Butter Prawns
These irresistible garlic butter prawns are simply perfect as a main dish with lots of versatility. Here are some different ideas to pair with your
- Cucumber salad with avocado and cashews – the ingredients in this salad are easy to find and come together to create a light and refreshing side or main. Paired with these garlic butter prawns and you have a perfect meal for hot weather days
- Sugar snap pea salad – this vegan salad is another crisp and healthy side that takes some simple Asian flavours and creates a delicious dish. This salad comes together so quickly that it can be tossed together while you cook prawns
- Mousseline potatoes – the garlicky flavour of this creamy mashed potato side is a great compliment to this prawn dish.
- Caramelized brussels sprouts – the tart and sweet flavors of this veggie side dish cut through some of the richness of the buttery prawns.
Nothing completes an incredible meal like a sweet dessert at the end of a long day. Try these dessert recipes for an added treat!
- Dessert tortilla wraps – these simple dessert tortillas have a little boozy twist with some Amarula coffee cream cheese added. A nice little spiked present for the adults.
- Carrot cake cupcakes – take the classic large format carrot cake and make it into single-serving cupcakes that are moist and delicious. Add cream cheese frosting, and these cupcakes are completely amazing for dessert!
- Strawberry flan – this cake-based dessert with a custardy filling is fruity and rich. Top with some whipped cream for more decadence.
- Apricot tart – who doesn’t love a late summer tart? Fresh apricots and a crunchy crust make a perfect combination to enjoy after any meal.
- Gin and gingerbeer cocktail – this summertime cocktail is spicy and floral from the gin
- White wine – white wine goes great with prawns, especially when there’s garlic involved.
- Long vodka – another simply summertime drink that is refreshing and easy to sip on
Popular Substitutions for This Recipe
- Oil – cook prawns in olive oil instead of vegetable oil for a different flavor. Be sure to use regular olive oil and not extra virgin olive oil since it has a higher smoke point and will give you the best results
Variations to This Recipe
Add some heat to your cooked prawns by incorporating some chilli sauce into the pan while the shrimp are cooking.
Instead of pan frying the prawns, you can cook them over a hot grill instead. Toss the prawns in oil and place the prawns with their shells onto the grill until they turn pink on one side. Turn them over and cook the other side. You will know the prawn is cooked when it is completely pink.
You can make a garlic butter pan sauce separately in a pan by following the recipe and pouring it over the prawns or put it in a bowl as a dipping sauce.
A good way to make sure the shrimp are not overcooked is to look at the tail and body. If they create a C, the shrimp is not overcooked, once it makes an O shape, the shrimp has cooked for too long.
How Do I Store Leftovers?
Store leftover garlic butter prawns in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
How Long Will This Food Last in The Fridge?
It is a good idea to finish off leftover seafood within two or three days of storing it in the refrigerator. Seafood is always best the freshest it can be.
How Do I Reheat This Dish?
Reheat your prawns by placing them in a microwave-safe bowl with a little water and butter to allow them to quickly heat with steam. You can also do this on the stovetop so that you can keep a close eye on the prawns.
Other Prawn Recipes You’ll Love
- Prawn cocktail – this prawn cocktail recipe is a classic holiday staple. Usually served dangling over the side of a martini glass juicy prawns, this prawn cocktail recipe accompanies them with crisp iceberg lettuce and a tangy sauce.
- King prawn butterfly – crispy fried king prawns are flavourful and full of meat, and they can be modified for your spice preferences
- Chilli prawn pasta – an Italian dish with a little spice from dried chilli flakes and some bursts of flavor from cherry tomatoes
- Prawn puri – these simple meal starters are excellent for the Indian food lover! Spicy curry and tender shrimp on top of crispy puri hits the spot
These Pan-Fried Garlic Butter Prawns are easy to make but look and taste impressive, perfect for a dinner party.
- 20 whole shell-on prawns, weighing about 600g (2 lb)
- 30ml (2 tbsp) butter
- 5ml (1 tsp) vegetable oil
- rock salt
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ lemon, juice only
- Devein the prawns. With a sharp knife, score down the back of the shrimp. Remove the thin, digestive tract with the tip of the knife. Repeat with the rest of the prawns.
- Rinse the prawns under running water and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients which won’t take long.
- Melt the butter, add the oil and generously grind salt in a large frying pan.
- Cooking the prawns. When the butter mixture starts bubbling, add the garlic and prawns in a single layer. Fry over a high heat for about 3 minutes, or until the sides of the prawns turn pink.
- Using tongs, turn the prawns on their other sides and arrange in a single layer again.
- Sprinkle lemon juice all over the prawns and cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. The prawns should be completely pink all over, no gray bits.
- Serve immediately on a bed of rice, with green salad and a glass of white wine. Enjoy!
- To serve more people, simply multiply the ingredients accordingly.
- If you like sauce as much as I do, I suggest you do the following. Once you’ve removed all the prawns from the pan, ensure you scrape off all the garlic too, otherwise it will burn. Sticking to the ratios in the recipe, add more butter, oil and garlic to the pan and let it sizzle. Once the garlic has softened, pour in the lemon juice and give it a stir. At this point you can decide whether to pour the lemon butter garlic sauce in a pot for dipping purposes, or drown the prawns in sauce instead. Use crusty bread to mop up all the sauce!
- You can use peeled prawns in this recipe but the shell-on version tastes so much better!
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Pan fry
- Cuisine: South African
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