Cast Iron

Shell-On Shrimp With Rosemary, Garlic & Chile

December 14, 2021
17 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

This is a really easy quick dish that tastes delicious and—okay, okay—works even if you insist on peeling off the shells after cooking. But I hope you will trust me and give the whole shrimp a try. Frying the shrimp in hot olive oil quickly crisps the shells up and seals in the juices, and throwing the salt on hot shells just as they come out of the hot oil really bonds the salt on to the shell, granting plenty of flavor. I like to squeeze a little lemon over everything for the acidity, and also because it softens both the flavor and the texture of the shells. —Sara Jenkins

Test Kitchen Notes

This is one of the best ways to experiment with shell-on shrimp. With just a few ingredients, you'll be amazed by how much flavor you're able to get out of the shrimp. It's a one-pot wonder and it all comes together very quickly. You'll love it for an easy weeknight dinner, appetizer, or side. Serve over pasta or rice for a heartier meal. And yes, you can eat the shells. Though you may face some skeptics, that delicious, satisfying crunch will hopefully win everyone over after the first bite.

All you have to do is cook the shrimp in a heavy pan until crispy and pink. Add finely chopped garlic, finely chopped rosemary, and a dried chile. That's basically it! Serve with lemon wedges alongside for squeezing over and a final touch of acidity. If you have head-on shrimp, you can pull off the heads and then suck out the insides, or you could eat the shrimp heads as well. Doesn't get much more straightforward or easier than that. Of course, as the developer mentions, you can peel off the shells before serving, but if you find yourself making this recipe over and over again (which we believe you'll end up doing, as it's one of our favorite ways to use head-on shrimp), give it a try with the shells. And feel free to mix in whatever you need to use up. Try with red pepper flakes instead of the chile, or any kind of fresh herbs that you have on hand. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds whole, shell-on shrimp (if you can find them with the heads on, even better)
  • 1 dried chile, such as chile de árbol
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 lemons, cut into quarters
  • Flaky sea salt
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pan (a cast-iron pan is great for this), large enough for the shrimp to fit in one layer. When the oil is hot, start adding the shrimp to the pan—just a few at a time so as to not chill the oil. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the shrimp turn pink and the shells start to crisp up. Flip the shrimp and continue to cook on the other side.
  2. Add the chile, rosemary, and garlic and cook, tossing occasionally, for 2 to 3 more minutes, until heated through.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp with as much of the garlic and rosemary as you can get. Season immediately with salt so that it sticks to the shells.
  4. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over the shrimp. Eat everything: The shells will be crispy and flavorful.

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10 Reviews

angie544 March 2, 2022
This was so delicious . I cooked with shell on . I was not able to eat the shell it not as crispy to eat but the flavor was so good I made a mess. eating it.. But who cares it was great I will cook with shells off next time.
AnnDelicious January 28, 2022
OMG this was sooooo good. A definite keeper recipe. Thank you so much.
[email protected] March 11, 2021
Excellent. Straight forward recipe, easy and quick. Served with squid ink pasta. Delicious. Would definitely make again.
Marta August 31, 2020
Fabulous!!! Simple, quick, and over the top delicious! I've got to admit, not into the shells, but did try them and can understand liking the additional crunch and taste. These reminded me of shrimp I had in Mexico City in 1972! still remember them and have never had any quite the same - Thanks!!!
Vincefil486 July 1, 2020
The recipe was simple yet taste delightful. The garlic and rosemary blended very well.
Keri W. December 23, 2019
My entire family loved this! Three girls, who all love seafood, were still hesitant to eat the shells but after I tried the first bite, they dug in and fought over the last few shrimp!
Lar July 20, 2019
Made this 3 times. Delicious, but most delicious was made with large south Florida shrimp
Lar July 3, 2019
Made this twice, delicious both times. I used red pepper flakes, didn't have the other. The second time I bought the shrimp they were split, and still had the shells
It worked out fine.
noknok September 8, 2017
Is there some clever way to remove the 'vein' with shell still on? I find the digestive tract unpleasantly gritty & strongly prefer that shrimp be deveined.
Lynnie February 17, 2022
I have several pair of "shrimp or shellfish" scissors (they work good for shrimp and lobster); one is by Norpro and super easy to buy online. They have long, thin curved blades that fit easily under shrimp shells, allowing you to quickly cut along the back of the shrimp and clean out the vein. We eat a lot of shrimp and have been using them for years.