One-Pot Wonders

Flamin' Cajun Shrimp

March 23, 2011
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Actually, I think the spicing of these shrimp is a little more Creole, but that doesn't make a slant rhyme with flamin' now does it? Anyways, this is actually a recipe from a college boyfriend of mine. I think I've said it before (I have a terrible habit of repeating myself), but I'll say it again, there is no relationship that doesn't wind up leaving you with something worthwhile, and this dish is certainly one of those things. It's one of my very favorite dinners—super fast, super easy, and super delicious. I've tweaked it over the years, and now I finally decided it was time to let it go up in flames, but only literally. The addition of cognac and the lick of the flame over the shrimp adds a whole new dimension of wonderful flavors to those already in the dish. Make sure to have lots of good French bread on hand because you really don't want to let any of the sauce go un-sopped up. This dish is fabulously messy, as you have to peel the shells off of the sauce slicked shrimp as you go. And then you get to lick your fingers, yum. If you need to, you can use peeled shrimp, but I really recommend shell on shrimp because the shrimp meat cooks to a nicer texture and has more delicate flavoring, while the sauce also winds up with better flavor. —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

Tender and garlicky, fiveandspice's shrimp skew more towards gumbo than other boozy shrimp dishes like scampi or shrimp with beurre blanc. There's a subtle background tingle of cayenne, and fiveandspice capitalizes on both the fragrance of lemon zest and the gentle astringency of its juice. Worcestershire sauce and paprika give the sauce an earthy quality, while the Cognac envelops the shrimp like a warm, sweet blanket. We love any recipe that embraces the ritual of peel-and-eat, and like fiveandspice, we suggest serving this with plenty of crusty bread to sop up the sauce. - A&M —The Editors

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 12 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 4
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, zest of
  • 30 large shrimp, shell-on
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon shallot, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup cognac (or brandy)
In This Recipe
  1. In a bowl, combine the shrimp with the spices and the lemon zest. Toss the shrimp to coat it well.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Stir in the garlic, shallot, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. Sauté for about 2 to 3 minutes, until the garlic and shallot have softened. Then, add the shrimp and sauté until they just turn pink, about 3 minutes.
  3. Carefully tilt the pan away from you, pour in the cognac with a ladle and use a long match or one of those lighters with a long handle to light the cognac. Let it blaze itself out—this should only take 15 or so seconds. I once had a friend add way too much cognac to a flambe and the fire just kept going and going...if this happens, please just blow it out!
  4. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the remaining butter until melted. Serve with lots of crusty French bread, a big green salad (and heck, why not eat that with your fingers too?!) and some cold beer.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Smaug
  • Sylvia9000
  • phyllis
  • frog
  • biocarolyn
I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.

    99 Reviews

    fearlessem August 4, 2020
    Just confirming that the shrimp don't need to be in one layer in the pan for this? It seems like 30 shrimp would really crowd even a really large pan?
    Smaug January 18, 2017
    "Large" shrimp is pretty equivocal- I'm guessing this is about 1 lb.
    Sylvia9000 March 8, 2014
    Oops. That's my family's favourite way to eat it. Here's a note, if you don't have prawns, it works with scallops too. Rum works equally well but it seems to flambé MUCH more dramatically.
    Sylvia9000 March 8, 2014
    I love this dish. Absolutely.
    It goes well with pasta and Carrots Cooked Forever really well. That's my fam'
    phyllis October 23, 2012
    I just found and cooked this and it was delicious. I only had peeled raw shrimp and we were only two, but with a little smile arithmetic, it worked perfectly. Will definitely cook this again. Thank you.
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice October 25, 2012
    Excellent! Happy to hear it!
    frog September 9, 2012
    This is definitely more Creole, not Cadien. Add beer and rosemary and you have New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp.
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice September 9, 2012
    Fay W. October 16, 2017
    Yes I make New Orleans BBQ shrimp (Paul Prudomme’s recipe) and just love the sauce!
    Elizabeth G. July 14, 2012
    Oh my Lord! Just made this and it was awesome. I used peeled shrimp and no butter but it was so awesome! With butter it will be TO. DIE. FOR.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice July 15, 2012
    That's great! Really glad you liked it so much!
    biocarolyn June 21, 2012
    Made this about four times in the past three weeks! It has definitely entered our rotation, delicious and I'm not really a shrimp person. Really great recipe, thank you!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice June 21, 2012
    That's so fantastic!!! I'm absolutely thrilled!
    nesticlose May 9, 2012
    Made this last night. It was absolutely Yummy; will definitely make again. We did add a little beer to the sauce so there would be more to sop. I didn't get the too much sodium comments at all.
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice May 9, 2012
    Glad you liked it! And, I love the idea of adding a little beer to the sauce. Yum! Also, I think the sodium comments were just from the perspective of someone who is sodium sensitive and therefore has to really severely restrict their intake. For someone with that kind of diet Worcestershire sauce, and even shrimp, can be too high sodium. But, for people with a normal sodium tolerance, it should be no problem.
    em-i-lis February 21, 2012
    Happy Mardi Gras fiveandspice. Just made these for our expat LA dinner (here in DC). Delicious!!!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice February 22, 2012
    Happy (belated) Mardi Gras to you! I hope you all had a completely wonderful party! And, I'm so happy you enjoyed the shrimp!
    HungryForMore February 14, 2012
    Just made this over the weekend! It was totally awesome and I am immediately putting it into my regular rotation!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice February 14, 2012
    That's wonderful! Thanks so much for letting me know!
    silverspringcat July 20, 2011
    This looks spectacular but too high in sodium for me BUT I will make it for friends and watch them jealously enjoying it - love your recipes
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice July 20, 2011
    Thank you! I'm sorry you won't be able to eat it. But, between the salt and the Worcestershire, I can definitely seeing it be pretty high in sodium. I hope your friends like it. And I hope you prepare something absolutely Fabulous for yourself as well!
    silverspringcat July 20, 2011
    This looks so delicious and I will have to make it for my friends - for me though it has got to be very high in sodium so I will enjoy them enjoying it
    bricksoj July 19, 2011
    Made this over the weekend for a dinner party - amazing. The best part was sopping up the sauce with warm french bread. Will definitely add into heavy rotation in my kitchen!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice July 19, 2011
    Yay! I'm so happy you liked it! And, I'm so with you on sauce sopping as being the best part.
    chef L. April 25, 2011
    Congratulations. This is a fine and fast dish. Shells on always makes for more flavor. I served this with mashed potatoes instead of rice, the sauce substituting for gravy. Pascale Manale's got nothing on these shrimp. Great work..
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 26, 2011
    Thank you! I'm so happy to hear you liked it! And, I bet mashed potatoes were quite delicious with the sauce.
    lorigoldsby April 7, 2011
    Congrats! We make a very similar dish but with dark beer--but like a fool, I've been peeling the shrimps for everyone! Thanks for the "peel and eat" idea.
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 7, 2011
    Mmm, bet a beer version would be very tasty! And, definitely go for the peel and eat - it's fun for everyone!
    debbinick April 7, 2011
    Just made it with my kids (age 4 & 5) without the alcohol and they were practically licking their plates!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 7, 2011
    I'm so happy they enjoyed it! Thanks for letting me know.
    Waverly April 7, 2011
    Congratulations! I make a version of this often (in the oven and without the brandy and flame) and know how outstanding it is. Lemon, butter, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and shrimp...there is no better combination of food!
    Waverly April 7, 2011
    Add some brandy....I must try this soon.
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 7, 2011
    Thanks Waverly! And it's true, pretty much the only thing that can make shrimp, lemon, garlic, butter and Woozy-sauce better would be brandy! That's why I gave it a try! :)
    kmartinelli April 7, 2011
    Congrats! I love the simplicity of this recipe and amazing flavors. Can't wait to try!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 7, 2011
    Thanks kmartinelli! You're so kind!
    cheese1227 April 6, 2011
    Fabulous dish. Congrats on the win! Perhaps I will make this for the main and your salted caramel pudding for dessert.
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 7, 2011
    Mmmm, that sounds like pretty much a perfect meal! I may copy you! :)