If you love glazed shrimp on the grill, stick around for this quick and easy recipe with homemade pineapple bourbon brown sugar glaze. Use the biggest, freshest shellfish you can find for this bourbon shrimp recipe and fire up the grill! You don’t need a fancy liquor for the bourbon glaze (a splash of Jim Beam will do) and this simple dish is ready to eat in about 20 minutes. Great served over white rice or mashed sweet potatoes.
This pineapple bourbon brown sugar glaze recipe is based on Steve Raichlen’s pineapple glaze and it’s a doozy. It’s sweet and tangy with a distinct bourbon flavor that’s good on everything from chicken, to pork and yes, these glorious glazed shrimp kebabs. His version lacks heat — something that my family craves, so I’ve added crushed red pepper flakes for that delightful tingle on the tongue. Skip it if you have an aversion.
Bourbon Glaze Ingredients
- Brown Sugar
- Pineapple Juice
- Lemon Juice
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Black Pepper
What I love about this simple pineapple bourbon brown sugar glaze is that it’s made with pantry staples and it only takes a few minutes to assemble and cook.
Making bourbon glaze
- Melt the butter over medium heat and add sliced garlic. Cook until the butter is foamy and the garlic starts to turn a little golden, but doesn’t brown or burn.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes to cook off some of the alcohol and the glaze thickens slightly.
- Remove from heat to cool while you prep the shrimp.
Use freshest seafood for bourbon glazed shrimp
There is nothing like freshly caught shrimp. It smells sweet, the flesh is firm and it “pops” when you bite into it. Use the freshest shrimp you can get for these bourbon glazed shrimp, preferably from your local fishmonger. Try to avoid frozen shrimp. It’s just not the same.
What size shrimp to use?
Large to Extra Large (U-12 to U-20 shrimp are best, but you can go as small as U-25). The reason you want large shrimp (aside from the eye popping looks) is because we’re kebabing the shellfish and if you’re shrimp are too small, it’ll be tough to get them on (and stay on) the skewers. Save your popcorn shrimp for another use.
What is a U-Count for seafood?
“U” stands for “under” which means that it takes a certain number or under of that item to equal one pound. The smaller the number, the BIGGER the seafood. So, U-10 would mean it would 10 or less shrimp to make a pound (that’s a BIG shrimp). This is also the way to determine the size of diver scallops.
With large shrimp like these, there’ll probably be a noticeable “vein” running down the length of the crustacean. Consequently, you’ll want to clean the shrimp before putting them on the skewers. Here’s how:
Peel and devein shrimp
- If the shrimp are head-on, hold the body with one hand and twist the head off with the other hand. (Save shrimp heads to make a stock).
- Hold the shrimp with your less dominant hand, so that the legs are facing up. Take hold of the legs with your other hand and pull gently away from the body. The shell will start to come away as well.
- Remove the legs and shell down to the first segment above the tail, leaving the last segment and tail intact.
- Use a sharp pairing knife and make a shallow cut (about 1/4″ deep) down the back of the shrimp.
- Remove the dark vein (that’s the shrimp’s digestive tract) and discard.
How to make shrimp kebabs (a.k.a. kabobs)
- If you’re using wooden skewers, you’ll need to soak them for 45 minutes to an hour before kebabing the shrimp (that’s so that when you put them on the grill, the skewer doesn’t burn – literally). If you’re using metal skewers, there’s no need to soak (obviously).
- So that the shrimp doesn’t spin around on the skewer and cooks evenly, you’ll need to pierce and skewer the shellfish in two spots. Once toward the top and again through the bottom of the shrimp just above the tail.
- Brush the shellfish with olive oil and sprinkle with a little kosher salt.
Now for the good part – grilling the pineapple bourbon glazed shrimp. It doesn’t take long at all, so pay attention!
Grill and glaze the bourbon shrimp
- Preheat the grill to a medium heat (about 400°-425°).
- Place the shrimp on the grill and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Flip the shrimp and brush with pineapple bourbon glaze. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Flip the shrimp one last time and brush with more bourbon brown sugar glaze.
Despite their larger size, it won’t take these shellfish long to cook, so as soon as bourbon glazed shrimp are pink and firm, they’re done. Be sure not to overcook them, because you want them to be juicy and tender. Over cooking will make the shellfish, rubbery and dry.
Grilled and glazed shrimp is always a treat and when they’re lacquered with a sweet, tangy pineapple bourbon glaze, so much the better. This simple recipe is a standout. The bourbon glaze has layers of flavor, and the bourbon adds a noticeable warm, smoky flavor.
To go with pineapple bourbon glazed shrimp:
- Steamed white rice
- Traditional Southern Coleslaw
- Mashed sweet potatoes
- Turmeric Pearl Couscous
- Roasted Duck Fat Potatoes
More shrimp recipes:
- Grilled Shrimp Caesar Salad
- Poached Shrimp Salad Sandwich
- Italian Grilled Shrimp and Polenta
- Tangy Garlic Lime Shrimp Tacos
Easy Grilled Shrimp with Pineapple Bourbon Glaze
- skewers (can use metal or wood – but if using wood, soak them in water for at least 40 minutes before threading the shrimp – so the wood doesn't burn).
FOR THE PINEAPPLE BOURBON GLAZE:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 large cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup bourbon (I used Jim Beam)
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
FOR THE GRILLED SHRIMP KEBABS
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound extra large shrimp preferably fresh (not frozen) Gulf shrimp
- pinch kosher salt
FOR THE PINEAPPLE GLAZE
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic slices and cook until the butter is very foamy and just starting to brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and continue to stir the butter and garlic. The garlic will be fragrant and just starting to turn golden.
- Add the brown sugar, bourbon, pineapple juice, ketchup, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and black pepper and stir well. Bring the pineapple mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a bubbling simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, or until the glaze thickens. Remove from heat.
FOR THE SHRIMP:
- Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the last segment of the shell and the tails intact.
- Thread the shrimp onto skewers piercing each shrimp twice, once through the top of the shrimp and the other through the tail. This will keep them in place on the skewer without spinning around. Transfer the shrimp to a sheet pan and brush lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt.
- Heat the grill to medium high heat, about 400°-425°. Place the shrimp on the grill over direct heat and cook for 1-2 minutes. Flip the shrimp and brush with some of the glaze. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes or until the shrimp turn a pinkish orange. Flip one more time and brush with additional glaze. Grill the shrimp for one minute (no more than 5-6 minutes TOTAL) and transfer to a platter.
- Serve shrimp with additional glaze and fresh cilantro. Great over rice.