Lemon butter shrimp is an easy, elegant meal that makes weeknights feel fancy. The sauce is fresh, tangy, and rich and great for using up leftover herbs. Busy folks, this one’s for you!
This lemon butter shrimp is straight up addictive. Oodles of golden grassfed butter? Yes. Lots of fresh herbs? Yup. Bright, tangy lemon? Got it. Best of all, this is a feelin’ fancy dish that cooks up in less than 45 minutes, and sometimes a girl just needs to feel fancy on a Monday – particularly when said girl hasn’t showed in two days, is drenched with baby spit-up, and hasn’t seen the better side of a full night’s sleep in about, oh, 8 years. Busy moms (and dads!) this one’s for you.
Lemon Butter Shrimp Recipe Notes
This herby lemon butter sauce is a terrific way to use up bits of herbs leftover from previous recipes. Most savory herbs will be delicious – I used parsley, basil, chives, and thyme. Rosemary and tarragon are fair game too, and I think a variation with cilantro, mint, and lime juice would be delicious.
The pan sauce comes together quickly and I love that I can prep most of it it first and then keep it warm until I’m ready to serve. The last bits of butter and are whisked into the still warm sauce and the result is an emulsified, creamy-without-cream, tangy lemon butter sauce.
Cooking Perfect Pan-Seared Shrimp
Perfect pan seared shrimp is easy as long as you have the right tools. Here are my tips and tools for getting it done right, time after time:
- Pat the shrimp dry and season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Use a heavy bottomed skillet that retains heat well – my favorite Lodge 10″ cast iron gets the job done perfectly.
- Use a neutral cooking oil with a high smoke point, like avocado oil.
- Use high heat so that your shrimp cook quickly (they don’t have time to get rubbery and tough).
- Don’t overcrowd the pan. Ideally you want your shrimp to hit the pan in, roughly, a single layer. If you’re cooking a larger portion (more than half a pound) cook in batches to avoid overcrowding. Overcrowding will result in your shrimp steaming, instead of pan searing, and they’ll heat unevenly in the pan.
- Work fast. Carefully watch the shrimp, tossing them continuously, until each side is pink and the centers at the fatter end of the shrimp are no longer opaque. This should take 3-5 minutes tops.
Make it Faster: Don’t have time for polenta? Toss the lemon butter shrimp and wilted greens with fresh cooked pasta of your choice.
Make it Grain-Free: Serve over spaghetti squash.
Make it Dairy-Free: Use ghee in place of butter, omit the cheese in the polenta. To keep the polenta creamy, use half almond milk and half water.
Lemon Butter Shrimp over Polenta with Wilted Greens
- 4 c. water
- 1 c. coarse yellow cornmeal
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 c. parmesan cheese
Lemon Butter Shrimp
- 4 tbsp butter divided
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 c. dry white wine
- 2 tbsp lemon juice from a fresh lemon
- 1/4 c. fresh herbs minced (I used chives, parsley, basil, and thyme)
- 2 tbsp avocado oil divided
- 1 lb shrimp shells removed and patted dry
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 4 c. baby greens
Start the polenta. Bring four cups of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, add the salt and whisk in the cornmeal in a steady stream. Whisk until the cornmeal is incorporated and no longer separating from the water. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook 30-35 minutes, whisking occasionally, until the polenta is thick and no longer lumpy.
Start the lemon butter sauce. Heat a small sauce pan oven medium heat. Add the butter and heat until it foams. Add the garlic and cook until it barely turns golden brown, about 2 minutes. Deglaze with the white wine, and then whisk in the fresh lemon juice. Continue to cook over medium heat until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. If you find it reduces before the shrimp is fully cooked, simply turn the heat off and cover.
While the lemon butter sauce is reducing, pan sear the shrimp. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet over high heat. Add one tbsp avocado oil and heat until it shimmers. Add half of the the dry, seasoned shrimp to the pan in roughly a single layer. Cook over high heat, stirring continuously, until the shrimp is pink and the centers at the fatter end of the shrimp are no longer pink, 3-5 minutes. Remove the cooked shrimp to a platter, add the second tbsp avocado oil, and cook the remaining half pound of shrimp.
Cook the greens. Wipe out the skillet and return to high heat. Add 1 tbsp avocado oil and heat until the oil shimmers. Add the greens and cook over high heat, stirring continuously, until wilted, 2-3 minutes.
Finish the polenta. Remove the cooked polenta from heat and stir in the cheese.
Finish the lemon butter sauce. Add two additional tbsp of cold butter to the lemon butter sauce. Whisk until the butter melts and is emulsified into the sauce. Whisk in the fresh herbs.
Plate and serve. Divide the polenta onto four plates. Top with one quarter of the shrimp and one quarter of the wilted greens. Drizzle the shrimp with the lemon butter sauce and serve immediately.
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