Firecracker Shrimp is my absolute favorite shrimp dish! I love making it in my cast iron skillet, served with some good, crusty bread for sopping up the sauce. I prefer making Firecracker Shrimp with raw, shell-on shrimp because the shells “cocoon” that delicious sauce around the shrimp, making them even more flavorful.
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So I’m telling you right now that you haven’t LIVED until you’ve experienced Firecracker Shrimp! This recipe came to me via my friend, Chef Horst Pfeifer, and I fell in love with it immediately. Not only is it super flavorful, it’s also a super speedy….you can have done in about 20 minutes flat. Absolutely one of the best shrimp recipes in the history of ever!
What do you need to serve alongside this easy skillet shrimp? Some good, crusty bread for soppin’ up all the delicious sauce….and that’s it.
How to Make Spicy Shrimp In Your Cast Iron Skillet
Shrimp. We don’t have a lot of options for fresh shrimp here in Kansas. Since we are land-locked here with no coast for thousands of miles, pretty much any shrimp we have access to has been frozen somewhere along the way to our local grocers. And because it’s a good 30 minutes to a big grocery store for me, I typically always have a couple bags of frozen shrimp in my freezer. (You can never have too much shrimp on hand, right??)
Olive oil, yellow onion, red bell pepper, and garlic. This is the aromatic layer of this dish, providing a good solid foundation of flavor. You could even add a diced jalapeno here if you want to amp up the spicy-ness….and the color. Pull out your garlic press and crush your garlic fresh – so worth it and there’s not need to PEEL it – yay!
White wine, Caesar salad dressing, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, chipotle sauce, salt and pepper. These ingredients create the sauce for Firecracker Shrimp. I usually cook with the wines on hand that I’m drinking, but if you have to purchase cooking wine at the grocery store for this recipe, it’s not a terrible crime. The Worcestershire sauce gives depth to the sauce and the chipotle sauce (or substitute minced chipotles in adobo) brings the heat! Because both the Caesar dressing and the Worcestershire sauce can have quite a lot of sodium content, I always taste my sauce before adding any salt and pepper.
French bread. Any good, crusty bread that’s slathered in butter and garlic works great. I often make my Peasant Bread for this dish and I bet you’d love it as much as we do…..there’s no kneading involved, either. You just stir it up, let it raise, and bake.
Easy Recipe Tips for Making Pan-Seared Shrimp
- How do I know which kind of shrimp to buy?
I look for the 16-20 count shrimp which means there are 16-20 pieces of shrimp in every pound, so these guys are pretty big. I also make certain the shrimp I purchase are deveined because de-veining shrimp is no fun at all, trust me! You can use any size of shrimp for this recipe, but if you’re going for the shell-on type shrimp (which I really prefer for this particular recipe) keep in mind that it’s MUCH easier and faster to peel bigger shrimp as you’re eating. The shells hold the sauce really close to the shrimp and I swear this helps make the shrimp even more flavorful, making it worth the extra work to have to peel the shrimp as you eat them…..I promise!
- Does it matter if I purchase frozen shrimp instead of fresh shrimp?
Nope. Just thaw your shrimp in a cold water bath or in your fridge, then rinse and drain them well before adding them to the simmering sauce.
- How can I tell when the shrimp is done when I’m cooking it?
Great question!!! Don’t be tempted to over-cook the shrimp, fearing it’s not done. When you add the shrimp to the simmering sauce in the cast iron skillet it will cook faster than you can shake a stick! All you gotta watch for is one thing: When the shrimp turn from gray to pink (if they’ve got shells on), they are done and get them off the burner quick. Also, the shrimp are going to continue to cook from residual heat from the sauce as they sit, too, so keep that in mind.
- How should I serve this Firecracker Shrimp?
Because this dish is really saucy and spicy, I love serving it over bowls of polenta or warm rice, as a main dish. However, Firecracker Shrimp also makes a great appetizer. Sometimes when we are flat starving, we just eat it with lots of bread, straight from the skillet, using the bread to sop up sauce as we stuff it into our faces. **Let the record state that if I die while gorging on Firecracker Shrimp, it is totally fine by me. 🙂
Looking for Other Tasty Skillet Meals? Here you go!
Low-Carb Skillet Baked Zucchini Lasagna Roll Ups – For when you’re craving the perfect blend of vegetables and meat in a rich sauce. You’ll never miss the carbs in this big pan of goodness.
Loaded Skillet Fries with Beef and Bacon – gooey cheese, tender shredded beef, and crispy bacon makes the perfect party appetizer recipe, all layered up with french fries and baked in a cast iron skillet.
Printable Directions for Firecracker Shrimp – Just Print and Go!
Firecracker Shrimp is my absolute favorite shrimp dish! I love making it in my cast iron skillet, served with some good, crusty bread for sopping up the sauce. I prefer making Firecracker Shrimp with raw, shell-on shrimp because the shells seem to "cocoon" that delicious sauce around the shrimp, making them even more flavorful.
- Spices: 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, 1/2 Tbs. dried oregano, 1/2 Tbs. paprika, 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 Tbs. good olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 1 sweet red bell pepper, seeds and membranes removed
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- ½ cup bottled Caesar salad dressing, I love to use Cardini's Casesar Dressing
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp. chipotle sauce
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 lbs. large raw shell-on deveined shrimp
- French bread, sliced thick, toasted and slathered in garlic butter
Bloom spices in a large, dry non-stick skillet over medium heat for a few seconds, just until fragrant.
Add olive oil to spices in pan, then stir in onion and pepper; cook for 3-4 minutes, until onion is softened and translucent; add garlic and cook just until fragrant, approx. 30 seconds longer.
Stir in the wine to deglaze the skillet, bringing up any bits of fond attached to the bottom of the pan; increase the heat to medium high; add dressing, woozy, bay leaf, and chipotle sauce; bring to a high simmer; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Add shrimp and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, cooking just until shrimp turn from gray to pink in color; remove from heat. Serve at once using the grilled bread to sop up the sauce.
Delicious served over rice or polenta!
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