Garlic Prawns – who feels like a big pile of plump juicy prawns laced with lemon garlic butter?? Hands down, my favourite way to cook prawns! Quick and easy, never fails to impress. The secret ingredient? A splash of white wine. It makes all the difference.
This is a reader-favourite recipe included by popular demand in my debut cookbook “Dinner”!
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 with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt and pepper for just 20 minutes, if you have time (otherwise skip it). Don’t marinate for longer as the salt will draw too much moisture out of the delicate prawn flesh and make them watery.
No garlic – I used to marinade the prawns with the garlic assuming it would infuse the flesh with garlic flavour. But actually, it doesn’t. Not with such a short marinating time. But you do end up with little burnt bits of garlic!
So these days, I add the garlic partway through cooking the prawns so it doesn’t burn. Better result, better garlic flavour!
Sear in batches – Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large non stick pan over high heat. Place half the prawns in the pan and sear each side for 45 seconds, using tongs to turn individually.
Remove the first batch onto a plate then sear the remaining prawns for 45 seconds on each side.
TIP: don’t crowd the pan! Less prawns = better colour = easier to handle = won’t overcook.
Garlic – Return the first batch of prawns into the pan then add the garlic and toss for 30 seconds.
Wine – Add the 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)
Butter – Once the wine has mostly evaporated, add the butter and lemon juice then swirl the pan to make it melt.
Parsley – As soon as the butter has melted, quickly toss through the parsley then transfer the prawns and all the butter sauce onto a plate.
Serve straight away, freshly cooked!
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 prawns. I’ll fight you for the butter!!😂
(PS Use this crusty artisan bread recipe. Pretty sure it’s now been officially crowned as the world’s easiest yeast bread recipe!)
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;
Butter + oil – butter provides flavour, but butter burns at high heat. To counteract this, we use a combo of butter + oil here. Oil to sear, then butter for sauce flavour!
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.
Want a creamy sauce for Garlic Prawns?
Use this Creamy Garlic Prawns recipe – same garlic marinated prawns, PLUS a garlicky creamy parmesan sauce!
What goes with Garlic Prawns
Crusty bread for mopping up that tasty garlic butter sauce is essential! For homemade options, try one of these (I especially recommend the crusty Artisan bread – insanely easy recipe!):
Round out your meal with some sides – here are some classics for warm summer days:
Prawns cooked on the BBQ!
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
This recipe features in my debut cookbook Dinner. The book is mostly new recipes, but this is a reader favourite included by popular demand!
Garlic Prawns (Shrimp!)
- 500g / 1lb prawns (shrimp) , peeled and deveined, tail on (unpeeled weight 1kg/2lb, Note 1)
- 1/2 tsp cooking/koshfer salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (separated)
- 3 tsp finely minced garlic cloves (~ 4 cloves) (use knife, not crusher/mincer)
Garlic butter sauce
- 40g / 3 tbsp unsalted butter , cut into 1.5cm / 1/2" cubes (Note 2)
- 1/4 cup chardonnay or other dry white wine (Note 3)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped (garnish)
- Lemon wedges
- Bread for mopping!
- Marinade: Place the prawns, 1 tablespoon olive oil and pepper in bowl. Gently toss then set aside for 20 minutes (no longer else the prawns will sweat from the salt),.
- Sear in batches: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Place half the prawns in the pan then sear each side for just 45 seconds, using tongs to turn.
- Remove & repeat: Remove prawns onto a plate, heat the last 1 tablespoon of oil and cook each side for 45 seconds.
- Return first batch of prawns back into pan.
- Garlic – Add garlic then stir for 30 seconds.
- 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 butter across pan, add lemon juice. Swirl butter around the pan until it melts, then toss through the parsley.
- Serve: Transfer the prawns and all the butter sauce onto a serving plate. Serve with extra lemon wedges. Bread for mopping is essential – try this simple Crusty Artisan Bread!
- Chop garlic, don’t use mincer because it will burn at the high heat
- Add garlic partway through cooking, else it will burn and you’ll end up with little bitter bits of burnt garlic.
- Marinading is optional
- Cook in batches, don’t crowd the pan – the prawns will stew rather than sear.
- Use tongs to turn each prawn individually so they cook evenly. Don’t try to toss the prawns with a wooden spoon.
- 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 – Sear the prawns in oil to get nice colour on them (butter burns!), then add butter at the end to create the sauce.
- SALT – you shouldn’t need loads because prawns are naturally salty.
Originally published May 2017. Updated with better video and photos in 2020, then recipe process improved when I decided to include this recipe in my cookbook. Because it’s a personal favourite recipe and it deserves the best I can do! 🙂
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Life of Dozer
Even if garlic wasn’t bad for dogs, he still wouldn’t get one. They’re for someone else!