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Grilled Shrimp with Lemon Pepper Couscous

Eat Your FoodFamily-FriendlyGrillQuick and EasyCouscousShrimp

Grilled shrimp and lemon couscous makes for super simple summertime supper. Add some sautéed Swiss chard and you have a healthy, quick, and easy dinner ready in 15 minutes.

Photography Credit: Nick Evans

Everybody knows the classic 30-minute recipe, but what if I told you there was such a thing as a 15-minute recipe?!

The shrimp is about a five-minute grill, and the couscous is a five-minute cook. Even if you do them separately you are looking at a 10-minute project, but if you do them in tandem it is so fast.

Of course, my main issue isn’t time, but if my kids will eat this. Shrimp is notoriously tricky for kiddos. Check out the report card below to see how mine did with it. Let’s dive in!

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BEST SHRIMP TO USE FOR GRILLING

To be honest, it’s kind of personal preference here, but I like to use large shrimp for this dish. These usually come in around 35ish shrimp per pound, which means you can get six skewers with about six shrimp per skewer.

I wouldn’t go smaller than that on the shrimp or they will overcook on the grill. If you go larger, just do fewer shrimp per skewer. For dishes like this, I like to grill peeled shrimp so you can slide them from the skewer onto the plate!

Showing how to grill shrimp on skewers.

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR GRILLING SHRIMP

The main trick to grilling shrimp is to cook it on high heat for a short time. You want to get a quick sear on them and they are done. If you overcook them they will get rubbery.

  • To prevent your shrimp from sticking to the grill, rub the hot grill grates with oil right before you add the shrimp.
  • Grill shrimp over direct heat, or if you’re using a gas grill, medium-high to high heat (375°F-450°F).
  • For large shrimp, you only need about two minutes per side for nice and juicy shrimp.

WHAT ARE THE BEST SKEWERS FOR GRILLING SHRIMP?

There are two options when it comes to skewers: metal and bamboo. Metal are nice because they don’t burn, but they also let the shrimp rotate and are harder to manage. Personally, I like bamboo skewers for quick-cooking dishes like this. Just soak them briefly in water and they work great for shrimp.

IS THIS EASY TO SCALE UP FOR A COOKOUT?

Absolutely! Cook as many pounds of shrimp as you want. They cook so fast that you can feed a huge crowd with this recipe in just a few minutes! It’s a great backyard BBQ recipe, assuming that someday we will get to have parties again.

White plate with quick and easy grilled shrimp over couscous with lemon and pepper. To the left is a platter of additional grilled shrimp on skewers.

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR FLUFFY COUSCOUS

The only thing to remember about making perfect couscous is to cook it entirely off the heat. Bring the water to a simmer with butter and then add the couscous once the water is boiling. Let the couscous steam off the heat for about five minutes, and you’ll have perfect couscous every time.

SUGGESTIONS AND SUBSTITUTIONS

The seafood rub I use has cayenne pepper in it. You can adjust how spicy you like your shrimp by reducing (or increasing) the amount of cayenne. For a super spicy twist, serve this with hot sauce!

If spice isn’t your thing, skip the seafood rub. For a classic seafood flavor, you could use lemon and Old Bay on the shrimp instead.

CAN YOU SEASON THE SHRIMP AHEAD OF TIME?

You can season the shrimp up to 30 minutes in advance. More than that and the seasoning will start to pull a lot of water out of the shrimp.

CAN YOU FREEZE THE SHRIMP SKEWERS?

I don’t really recommend freezing these skewers before or after cooking them. They are best made fresh, cooked right away, and eaten right away. If you do have leftovers, they keep okay for a few days in the fridge, but I wouldn’t freeze them.

Grilled shrimp with couscous on a plate with a fork.

Eat Your Food - Dad AddThe DAD ADD

Sautéed Swiss Chard! I like to bring some big veg flavor to this plate. Sautéed chard with lemon and olive oil is a great addition to dinner. I actually tossed some on my kids’ plates, with mixed results.

Eat Your Food - Kid Report v2REPORT CARD

My kids actually like shrimp, but I know it can be tricky for some families. They have been eating shrimp since they were just starting to eat real food though so it’s pretty standard for them.

My three-year-old ate the shrimp straight off her plate with her mouth. It’s a complete mystery WHY she chose to eat this meal in this manner, but I’ll just add it to my ever-growing “Kids Be Crazy” list.

The couscous was also a complete hit with the kids. They loved the tiny texture and the lemon pepper flavor was new to them but awesome.

All-in-all, this recipe was a success with the family, and did I mention that it took me 10 minutes to cook it?!

MORE GREAT SHRIMP RECIPES

Grilled Shrimp with Lemon Pepper Couscous Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

For the shrimp:

  • 1 pound large shrimp (31-35/pound) shelled
  • 1 tablespoon seafood dry rub
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Lemon Pepper Couscous:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper, or 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

For the Sautéed Swiss Chard:

  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt

Special equipment:

Method

1 Preheat the grill and make the rub: If using bamboo skewers, soak them in a bowl of water to prevent them from burning on the grill. Pre-heat the grill to medium-high heat, about 400°F. In a small jar with a lid, toss together the seafood rub ingredients.

Plate with a variety of spices to make grilled shrimp with couscous and greens.

2 Prepare the shrimp: Peel and devein shrimp if necessary. Then skewer shrimp on soaked bamboo skewers. Six shrimp per skewer is a good amount. Season shrimp liberally with seafood rub—you won’t use all of it.

Raw shrimp on skewers covered in spices. The skewers are laid across a glass baking dish.

3 Oil the grill and grill the shrimp: Fold up a thick wad of paper towels. Using tongs, dip the paper towels in oil and rub the grill grates. Add the shrimp skewers to the freshly oiled grill grates. Cook for 2 minutes per side until they are just cooked through and have a few grill marks.

4 Cook the couscous: In a small pot set over medium-high heat, bring water and butter to a simmer. When butter is melted, stir in couscous and remove from heat and cover with a lid. Let steam for five minutes to cook couscous. Then stir in lemon pepper and fresh lemon zest.

Couscous in a bowl with black pepper and lemon to make quick and easy grilled shrimp.

5 Make the Swiss chard (optional Dad Add): Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add Swiss chard and cook, stirring occasionally until Swiss chard wilts down—this should only take a couple of minutes. Add lemon juice and salt, toss to coat, and keep warm over low heat until ready to serve.

Swiss Chard in a bowl for Grilled Shrimp with Couscous and Greens.

6 Serve: Shrimp and couscous are best to serve right away. If you have leftovers, reheat shrimp in a skillet over low heat until warmed through. Do not microwave. Shrimp will keep in the fridge for a few days.

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Nick Evans

Nick has been writing delicious recipes for the home cook for almost a decade. He lives in Denver, CO and embraces a delicate balance of diaper changing, trail running and beer drinking. His website is Macheesmo and his first book is Love Your Leftovers.

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White plate with quick and easy grilled shrimp over couscous with lemon and pepper. To the left is a platter of additional grilled shrimp on skewers.Grilled Shrimp with Lemon Pepper Couscous