Grilled Shell On Shrimp Bayou Style

Grilled Shell On Bayou Shrimp

Last Updated on October 10, 2023 by adm1n2019

This post is sponsored by Omaha Steaks.  Rest assured all opinions are my own.

This recipe is an ode to of one of my favorite appetizers at Cooper’s Seafood House in Scranton, PA. Cooper’s bayou shrimp appetizer had shrimp in a zesty sauce that made in a cast iron skillet. It wasn’t spicy as in heat level but rather a delicious pungency. My interpretation grilled shell on shrimp bayou style is a beer based butter sauce that just feels like it came out of Louisiana.

The restaurant gave you a loaf of bread with dinner and you better believe you would sop up that extra sauce in the skillet. This recipe makes the shrimp even more flavorful by cooking them in their shells. Yes, it gets messy eating it but that is half the fun.

Many years ago, while taking my sister to eat at Cooper’s, I noticed a giant piece of coal.  I pointed to it, laughed and said “Now you know you’re in Scranton”.  Apparently, one of the owners was walking behind us and heard me.  I took out a little note pad, got my attention and asked if he could quote me. I laughed, gave him my name as he wrote it all down.  Months later, I visit again, and there, on that massive piece of coal, was a plaque with my words and my name.  I couldn’t believe it.  There it remained for many years.

A picture of my son at Cooper's Seafood Restaurant
My son when he was much younger, posing by the giant piece of coal at Cooper’s Seafood Restaurant

Shell On Or Shell Off Shrimp

I will be using shell on red Argentinian shrimp from Omaha Steaks for my version of this recipe.

Raw Shell On Red Argentinian Shrimp
Raw Shell On Red Argentinian Shrimp

Red Argentinian Shrimp

This variety of shrimp having a fresh, sweet taste and texture like lobster.  The shells add a depth of flavor to the meat while protecting them from overcooking which is why I love grilling them.  They also cook up quicker than other shrimp varieties.  A few minutes on each side on the grill and these shrimp are ready to eat.

Shell On Red Argentinian Shrimp
Shell On Red Argentinian Shrimp

For this recipe you have a few options:

  1. Grill the shrimp with the shell on then toss in the sauce
  2. Grill the shrimp with the shell on then remove the shells prior to serving in sauce
  3. Remove the shells, deveined the shrimp, grill or cook indoors then add to sauce
  4. Remove the shells, deveined the shrimp, grill or cook indoors then cook the shrimp in the sauce
Raw Shell On Red Argentinian Shrimp
Raw Shell On Red Argentinian Shrimp

Advantages Of Grilling Shrimp With The Shell OnThe advantage of cooking shrimp with the shell on, is that they retain moisture and a lot of flavor.  Grilled shrimp with the shell on takes the flavor up a whole other level.  Whether you are cooking over wood or charcoal, the extra flavor the grill provides is unmistakable.  In it’s simplest form, grilled shrimp sprinkled with Old Bay is so quick and easy to make and one of my seafood favorites.  Certainly you can alternately cook shrimp indoors on the stove top or in the oven.

Disadvantage Of Grilling Shrimp With The Shell On

It is messy to have to handle the shrimp and pull the shell off after they’ve been sauced.  However, if you remove the legs prior to grilling them, it’s much easier easier to pull the shell off when it is time to eat.

Raw Red Argentinian Shrimp On The Grill
Raw Red Argentinian Shrimp On The Grill
Grilled Shell On Red Argentinian Shrimp
Grilled Shell On Red Argentinian Shrimp

The Recipe

My Dad makes a version of bayou shrimp but only uses butter, beer and cajun seasoning.  While I know this would be delicious, I know that the one from Cooper’s is more complex than that.  The sauce is a darker brown hue with maybe a touch of red, thickened enough that it clings to the shrimp.  Herbs are present which I suspect being rosemary, thyme or a combination of both.  I’ve stared at that sauce and tried to analyze it for the better part of 30 years now.

Though my recipe isn’t exactly the same as Cooper’s it gives you a similar delicious sauce.  Don’t forget to get some great crusty bread to sop up the leftover sauce with as well!  The sauce gets it’s zest from the addition of cajun or creole seasoning and additional pepper.  Please note, though I don’t consider this spicy at all, I know my Mother would. Know the preferences of the people you are feeding.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Love shrimp recipes?  Check out my recipe for Coconut Shrimp With Dipping Sauce or my Shrimp and Couscous recipe!

Grilled Shell On Bayou Shrimp
Grilled Shell On Bayou Shrimp
Grilled Shell On Bayou Shrimp

Grilled Shell On Red Argentinian Shrimp Bayou Style

An easy grilled and zesty shrimp recipe you can make in under 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword shrimp, red Argentinian shrimp, shell on shrimp, grilled shrimp
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 2
Author Melissa Reome


  • 1 lb shell on shrimp may substitute shell off and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup beer, preferably a lager or light beer
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary, chopped may substitute fresh
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp minced garlic, fresh
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp cajun or creole seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper


Prep shrimp

  • Defrost shrimp if frozen. If using shell on shrimp, remove legs so they are easier to peel once cooked.
  • If using shell off shrimp, clean and devein shrimp prior to cooking.

Prepare sauce

  • Over medium heat, add all recipe ingredients except for shrimp into a small sauce pan. Heat and whisk until all ingredients are well combined. Once sauce boils, turn down heat and reduce until slightly thickened. Turn off heat and hold until shrimp are cooked.
  • Note: If using shrimp that have the shell removed, you may add it to the sauce now and cook the shrimp in the sauce until thoroughly cooked. Alternatively, you may cook the shrimp separately then add to the sauce prior to serving.

Grill Shrimp

  • Turn grill to medium high heat or approximately 400-450°F. Spray the grill grates with cooking spray or oil a paper towel and rub on the grates with tongs prior to grilling.
  • Note: If skewering shrimp and using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes prior to grilling. Metal skewers are excellent because you don't have to worry about them igniting. Grill baskets or grill safe pans are also great to grill shrimp on.
  • Grill shrimp until opaque throughout. If using large red Argentinian shrimp, approximately 2-3 minutes per side is adequate. If using an instant read thermometer, the shrimp are fully cooked at 140°F
  • Remove shrimp from grill and toss in sauce. Serve with sliced quality crusty bread and butter.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @grillmomma on Instagram to share your brilliance!

3 thoughts on “Grilled Shell On Shrimp Bayou Style”

  1. Hi Ma’am,
    I came across your post after looking for red shrimp recipes. Good read I thought.

    You’re making a version of a dish from New Orleans that’s somewhat famous. We call it BBQ Shrimp. The ingredients you use are really close… I use recipes posted online from some NOLA restaurants Mosca’s, Mr. B’S Bistro, and pascale manuals ( I think I misspelled the last one for a fancy version. And when I just wanna do them quick I just use a spice blend from Andy Roos called Louisiana BBQ shrimp.
    With Heads and shells on they are messy but the juices from the heads and shells are what give the dish more flavor.
    Hope this helps,

  2. Oh my goodness! It is like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pictures to drive the message home a bit, besides that, this is informative blog post. A outstanding read. I will definitely return again.

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