Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Coconut Rice

The shrimp can either be peeled and deveined, with or without the tails left on, or for more flavor, you can leave the peels on.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3 to 4


  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1 pound (about 20 large) jumbo shrimp
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 cup of water
  • Salt
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, ribs removed, julienned
  • Juice of one lime (or 2 inches of white tender end of lemongrass, finely sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small cans (5.6 ounces) coconut milk (full fat)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of red chili powder or red chili sauce (to taste)
  • Cilantro for garnish (optional)


1 Cook the rice: Put 1 1/2 cups of long-grain rice, 2 1/2 cups of water, and 1 teaspoon of salt into a medium-sized, thick-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and lower the heat to the lowest setting and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes.

While the rice cooks, continue with the recipe.

2 Marinate the shrimp: Pulse garlic, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender, just a few pulses, so you can still see chunks of garlic. Pour over shrimp to marinate. Marinate for 10 minutes.

garlic water in blender

3 Strain and season the shrimp: Strain the water from the shrimp and garlic mixture. Add the lime juice (or finely sliced lemongrass), jalapeño, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the shrimp mixture.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp - Marinate the shrimp Julienned Jalapenos

4 Cook the shrimp: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in high heat in large sauté pan. Add shrimp. Cook one minute. Add 1 small can of coconut milk. Cook 30 seconds more. Mix in a teaspoon red chili powder or sauce.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp - cook the shrimp Spicy Garlic Shrimp - add the coconut milk

5 Make the coconut rice: When the rice is done cooking, transfer it to a large bowl. Mix in the second can of coconut milk to the cooked rice. Taste and add additional salt if needed.

6 Serve: Serve shrimp on rice. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro (optional).

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  • Elena

    What can I say?!!
    All your recepies are very,very good!
    Thank you very much!

  • Leslie B.

    I’m curious why you don’t cook the rice in the coconut milk!

    • Summer Miller

      Hi, Leslie! We make it the way our friend, Arturo Vargas taught us to make. If you try cooking the rice in the actual coconut milk, let us know how it turns out!

  • Liz

    I love this recipe! I have made it many times and always come back to it. I have added a few modifications since I have made it several times now. I like to add some coconut milk to the rice while it cooks, as well as about a tablespoon of sugar to help bring out the coconut flavor. I use brown rice for a little added health benefit (plus it tastes yummy). I also add cumin, which changes the flavor to more of a curry, but I am obsessed with cumin.


  • Leah

    Limey, garlicky, I added a whole whopping heap of the chili paste at the end for perfect amount of spice. I haven’t cooked shrimp in a long time but I was craving it and this recipe hit the spot, amazing! Used coconut oil instead of olive oil and accidentally bought coconut cream instead of coconut milk, but I’m obssessed. Happy and full :)

  • Lisa

    We were out of chili powder so we used smoked paprika instead- yum!!!!!!!

  • Shannon

    What a wonderful recipe! I made this last night and it was a HIT! I have already shared it with co-workers and can’t wait to make it again. Thank you!

  • Cindy

    Do you think this recipe would work with tofu as well?

    Now that’s an idea. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out. ~Elise

  • Patti

    I added a few julienne carrot strips for color and texture. I also used jasmine rice. Family loved it. I’m already thinking how I can tweak it to get more coconut flavor.

  • Alena

    We love this recipe! Have made it several times and am making it again tonight.

    Re: Coconut rice – I’ve found that we appreciate the taste and texture of coconut rice much better if we replace 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid with coconut milk and add in a few tablespoons of unsweetened flaked coconut prior to cooking. The rice comes out fluffy, moist and is the essence of coconut.

  • Sunny

    I made this dish yesterday and it was delicious. I didn’t use as much coconut milk as recommended because I wasn’t sure how I would like it but next time I will definitely use more. I think I will also try it with red chili sauce instead of the chili paper to also get more sauce. Thumbs up.

  • Inattentive / under supplied cook

    Okay, so mostly out of my own inattentiveness and empty refrigerator, we made the following adjustments:

    Substituted 1/4 onion for four of the cloves of garlic (sadly.. really wish I had garlic!)

    No jalepeno (lack of shopping)

    Substituted cayenne for chili powder (by accident but worked out well since I had no jalapeno)

    Despairing over modifications, added basil, scallions and crumbled Cojita cheese….

    Annd, it is really tasty! I bet the original is even better, but the modified version has me really happy right now. Wish I had some sugar snap peas, they would have been great in here.

    Great recipe, Elise! With the modifications, it reminds me of that baked tomatillo and shrimp recipe you have on here, which was my favorite thing I’ve eaten all year.

  • Lauren

    I stumbled across this recipe a few days ago and made it last night. The taste was different than I expected but it was amazing. Unlike anything I have ever eaten before. I will definitly make this for my friends although I may add more hot sauce or some of the seeds from the pepper. I like things a little spicy. Thank you!

  • Stacey

    Can anyone explain what it means to “de-rib” and “julienne” the jalapeno?

    When you cut a pepper in half lengthwise (any pepper, a bell pepper or a jalapeno) you’ll see “ribs” extending from the tip to the top of the pepper. In a jalapeno pepper these are quite hot, so you want to remove them. To “julienne” the pepper, you want to cut off the top, remove the seed base, remove the ribs, and then slice very thinly, lengthwise. BTW, the Wikipedia is a good source for answers for questions regarding cooking techniques. Here is their page on julienning. ~Elise

  • Thai

    I loved it! Red rice (like brown rice) has sooo much more flavor, I use it. I had some shrimp on hand and keyed in “shrimp and rice” and this was the recipe I got and I had all the ingredients, yes. Perfect! TSM

  • Karin Jung

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this dish! It was perfect and satisfied this need for coconut and lime that I had been craving for months. The jalapeno was perfect but I backed off on the cayenne a little because of my toddler. He loved it and he probably would have eaten it with the full amount of spice. Also, once the shrimp was cooked I removed it from the coconut mixture, (so it wouldn’t overcook) and added chopped asparagus so I had a veggie. The asparagus really worked well with the flavors.

    My rice was delicious but I did add maybe a 1/2 teaspoon of salt as it was cooking. A little bit of salt makes sweets taste sweeter.
    Thanks Elise, (& Arturo!) for another perfect dinner.

  • Myrna Carmona

    Again, my husband was so happy! I didn’t have rice, so I made pasta – thin spaghetti – and it was perfect. Next time I’ll do the rice, and I can’t wait to try with the rice. Thanks again!

  • Shelley

    Thank you so much for your wonderful site!! Tonight I cooked this for my family and everyone LOVED it. The only thing I did differently was served it with Jasmine rice. It was soooooo awesome!


  • Smith

    I concur. This was the perfect recipe. I never follow a recipe to the “T” though, so I tweaked it a bit (as far as proportions). I made spicy black beans on the side and the entire entree was the perfect accompaniment to a glass of cabernet sauvignon. I love lime with coconut, garlic, cayenne and spices. Heaven!!!

  • Theresa

    Dear Elise, I made it last night it was very very good! Thanks for sharing the good recipes. I don’t know what to cook and how to cook. Your recipe site makes my life easier. Thank you!

  • penny

    Finished this for dinner. The shrimp was excellent, excellent, excellent. I did peel the shrimp, but my pathological need to extract every bit of flavor led me to simmer the peels in a cup of water for for a 15 minutes, then let it reduce and added it along with the milk. Adds a bit of prep time (not much time though since I did this while waiting for the shrimp to marinate int the garlic). I can’t imagine it without that added shrimp flavor. I also added zest of the lime at the end, partly because I have a new zester and I must zest everything now.

    I have to concur with an earlier post that the coconut rice was a bit bland to me. I cooked it in coconut milk along with adding fresh grated coconut, so lack of coconut flavoring wasn’t a problem. maybe the mildness of coconut rice is just not my cup of tea. The shrimp sauce did flavor the rice a bit but I actually lamented losing the flavorful sauce into the rice leaving only a dilute flavor. Next time I think I may mimic some of the ingredients into the rice–like garlic, jalapeno, or something.

    Thank you for such a unique recipe, very easy and unlike anything I’ve ever done with shrimp at home.

  • Michelle

    This looks amazing, but I wanted to make this with brown rice. Any suggestions, or can I follow the same recipe for the rice?

    Just make sure you cook the rice according to the directions on the package. Brown rice usually takes 45 minutes to cook rather than the 15 minutes of white rice. ~Elise

  • Joseph

    I didnt have the stuff for the recipe so I used garlic, lime juce, and sauteed it with a little brown suger, (like a teaspoon) it was awesome for a little entree. Thanks for the idea.

  • Sunny

    I made this dish last night. It was sooo very good.Since I couldn’t find two 5.6oz cans of coconut milk, I just bought one big one and measured what was needed. Didn’t quite buy 1 pound of shrimp since it was just for my husband and I. Ended up as 3/4 pound.I did though make the rice as noted. Just enough left over for one serving. Thanks for giving us this receipe and many others.

  • Jess

    I just made this for dinner tonight. The shrimp were great but, I was surprised that the coconut milk didn’t have a stronger coconut flavor. Do different brands taste different? Is there another ingredient I could add to make it taste more coconutty?

  • Carolyn

    I just made this tonight and it was great. I used the red chili powder but next time, would like to try the red chili sauce. Simple yet flavorful..Coconut milk is wonderful.

  • Elise Bauer

    Hi Jen – we serve the shrimp in its sauce over the rice. The spicy sauce flavors the rice.

  • Jen

    I made this last night and the shrimp was good, but my coconut rice was incredibly bland. Any suggestions?

  • Jim

    I prepared this last evening and really enjoyed it. It was easy to prepare. I think I will start putting coconut milk in rice more often!

  • Sara

    When I read “coconut rice,” I think rice cooked in coconut milk instead of water. Any thoughts about stirring in the coconut milk after cooking the rice vs. cooking the rice in the coconut milk?

  • Cary

    I love the suggestion about throwing the peels in with the shrimp to cook and then removing them! Perfect compromise! Thanks Lisa

  • Christine

    Whoa. I read a great many food blogs…and this was the first time I ran home to make something the day I saw it. This was simply divine, plus fast and easy! And will certainly be added to the repertoire here.

    Thank you, Elise and Arturo. It was just fantastic. My rice-hating boyfriend even ate up all rice that the sauce had touched, a miracle of a feat.

  • Mari-C

    In Spain, we call this dish “gambas al ajillo”. I have cooked this dish on a weekly basis for many years. But most Spaniards cook a milder dish. In Spain, we use a couple of round, mild peppers (n~oras), and lots of garlic. The latter is what gives it the heat. Here in NA, I saute a large garlic clove and half of a long chilly pepper, cooked in olive oil. I add a bit a lemon to the pot and 6ozs of large prawns. As it is the case with any fish, it is very important no to overcook the shrimps. Serves 2.
    The gambas al ajillo are best when they are served in old Madrid’s bars with some crisp bread. One makes the tours of the bars and orders deep-fried calamares as well. These and other similar snacks are called “tapas” Great evening, but do not expect every bar to know how to cook them.

  • Me

    Just made this and it was GOOD! I used Sriracha hot sauce to spice it up.