Garlic Prawns – who feels like a big pile of plump juicy prawns marinated in garlic, seared until golden and laced with a lemon garlic butter?? Hands down, my favourite way to cook prawns!
Quick and easy, never fails to impress. And the secret ingredient that makes all the difference? A splash of white wine which adds an extra edge of flavour. Restaurant secret!
This is a spectacular way to cook prawns that’s been a family favourite for as long as I can remember.
- Just 6 ingredients – prawns, garlic, white wine, butter, olive oil and lemon (I get salt and pepper for free). Prawns are delicious plain, so simple is best!
- Quick to cook – just 6 minutes. Any longer and you’ve over cooked the prawns
- Though the recipe calls for a 20 minute marinade, it’s optional; and
- It’s always a hit. ALWAYS!!
A splash of white wine is the secret ingredient that makes these prawns amazing!
What you need for Garlic Prawns
Here’s what you need. The key ingredient here that makes all the difference is white wine. Wine adds complexity and depth of flavour to this otherwise simple dish.
Use any white wine you have. Dry white wine is best but even sweet ones work great. Rose and Champagne are also terrific!
How to make garlic prawns
This is a 6 minute recipe so make sure you have all the ingredients on hand, ready to throw into the skillet!
- Marinate prawns in olive oil, garlic and pepper for just 20 minutes, if you have time (otherwise skip it). PRO TIP: Add salt just before cooking so it doesn’t draw juice out of the prawns = less juicy prawns and not as golden!
- Sear in batches – don’t crowd the pan! Less prawns = better colour = easier to handle = won’t overcook. (PRO TIP: We use butter AND oil for searing. Butter = better flavour, but if you only use butter, it burns at the high heat required to make prawns golden)
- Wine – it will sizzle and steam when the wine hits the hot pan which is GOOD! This means it reduced down very quickly (~30 seconds) which is exactly what we want (fast cook = juicy prawns)
- More butter (optional) – this is optional, it will create extra sauce for wow factor when you plate it up (pictured!) and provides plenty of sauce for mopping up with bread. PRO TIP: This is added at the end because if you add it at the start, you end up deep frying prawns in butter!
- Lemon – an essential finishing touch;
- Parsley – a little sprinkle for garnish!
Oh – here’s the reason I like to make extra sauce: FOR MOPPING UP WITH BREAD. All that garlic and the juices from the prawns makes the most outrageously delicious butter.
Some people start fist fights over the Garlic Prawns. I’ll fight you for the butter!!
Garlic Prawns are super easy to make, but I do have a few tips to make sure you nail it every single time!
Tips for the BEST Garlic Prawns
- CHOP the garlic, don’t use a garlic press. Garlic press = finer garlic that’s also juicy which will burn at the high heat we use to cook the prawns;
- Fresh is best, but frozen is really great nowadays! 5 years ago, I never would have said that. But nowadays, there are very good quality frozen prawns. Look for big, plump frozen ones – they work best if using frozen;
- Dry prawns – especially if using thawed frozen prawns. Wet prawns will not get that lovely golden sear in the short time it takes to cook prawns and you’ll end up with stewed prawns;
- Fast cook – overcooked prawns are rubbery and hard, rather than juicy and plump. They take 3 minutes max to cook (medium to large);
- Cook in batches – don’t crowd the pan! Crowded pan = stewed prawns rather than seared. We want to sear for maximum flavour. Remember, colour = flavour! So cook half the prawns then remove, then cook the other half. Also, cooking less prawns at a time is easier to handle ie turning them one at a time.
- High heat, large pan – to help cook the prawns perfectly and get a nice sear on them;
- Use tongs not a spatula – turn each prawn individually, don’t stir them;
- Sear in butter + oil – butter provides flavour, but butter burns at high heat. To counteract this, we use a combo of butter + oil here;
- Wine will SIZZLE and STEAM! The pan should be super hot when you pour the wine in so it sizzles and evaporates quickly (30 seconds or less). If your prawns simmer in a pool of wine, then you’ll simmer away the seared surface = loss of flavour
- 6 minute rule – This should take 6 minutes or less to cook. Any longer, and the prawns will probably be overcooked……
- Be generous with lemon! Seafood loves lemon. I make garlic prawns with a medium amount of lemon in it, but I always serve with extra wedges for people to serve themselves.
What goes with Garlic Prawns
Crusty bread for mopping up that tasty garlic butter sauce is essential! For homemade options, try No Knead Soft Dinner Rolls or Irish Soda Bread (my emergency bread loaf).
Round out your meal with some sides – here are some classics for warm summer days:
Also – BBQ option!! This recipe I’m sharing today is for Garlic Prawns cooked on the stove. For larger get togethers, I tend to do big batches on the BBQ and I make the sauce separately – here’s my Grilled Garlic Prawns/Shrimp with Lemon Garlic Butter.
You will love how crispy you can get the prawns on the barbie! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Garlic Prawns (Shrimp!)
Garlic marinade for praws:
- 500g / 1lb prawns (shrimp) , peeled and deveined, tail on (unpeeled weight 1kg/2lb, Note 1)
- 4 garlic cloves , finely chopped (don’t use crusher/mincer)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (separated)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1.5 tbsp olive oil
- 50g / 3.5tbsp unsalted butter , cut into 1.5cm / 1/2″ cubes (Note 2)
- 1/4 cup (60ml) dry white wine (Note 3)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped (garnish)
- lemon wedges
- Bread for mopping!
Marinade: Place the prawns, garlic, olive oil and pepper in bowl. Gently toss then set aside for 20 minutes.
Salt: Add salt into prawns just before cooking and toss.
Sear in batches: Heat oil and about 1/3 of the butter in a large heavy based fry pan over high heat. When the butter is melted, add half the prawns – don’t crowd the pan.
Cook for 1 minute until light golden then turn with tongs. Cook 1 minute then remove onto a plate. Cook the remaining prawns also for 1 minute each side (you shouldn’t need more oil).
Return first batch of prawns back into pan.
Add wine – it will sizzle and be steamy! Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan, until wine mostly evaporates – around 30 seconds.
Butter & lemon: Scatter remaining butter across pan, add lemon juice. After butter melts, stir for 30 seconds, then remove from stove.
Garnish & serve: Transfer to serving plate, sprinkle with parsley and serve with extra lemon wedges. Bread for mopping is essential!
If using fresh/whole prawns, use 1kg/2lb (peeled weight is about half).
2. Less butter – you can skip the extra butter added at the end to reduce calories. Creates sauce and makes this extra indulgent, but it’s super delicious even without.
3. Wine – A dry white wine is best. Wine adds an edge to the flavour that takes this up a notch, so don’t skip it!
If you can’t consume alcohol, use chicken or vegetable broth.
- Chop garlic, don’t use mincer because it will burn at the high heat
- Marinading is optional
- Cook in batches, don’t crowd the pan – the prawns will stew rather than sear.
- You don’t get charring on the prawns because of the addition of the wine. It’s what stops the garlic from burning.
- Oil + butter stops butter from burning and smoking out your house
- SALT – you shouldn’t need loads because prawns are naturally salty.
Cook on BBQ: See this recipe.
5. HOW TO TELL A PRAWN IS COOKED: Prawn hangs straight = raw, curled in “C” shape = perfectly cooked, curled tightly in an “O” shape = overcooked (noooo!!!)
6. Nutrition per serving including ALL the sauce!
Originally published May 2017. Updated with better video and photos – because it’s a personal favourite recipe and it deserves the best I can do!
More prawn recipes
Life of Dozer
Even if garlic wasn’t bad for dogs, he still wouldn’t get one. They’re for the homeless man! Shame on you Dozer!!!
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