Easy Garlic Shrimp and Quinoa Recipe in 30 Minutes

One of the best shrimp dishes is this easy garlic butter shrimp with spicy quinoa.

If you are a fan of seafood, you know what I mean. Garlic enhances the taste of shrimp and combined with chilies from the quinoa will make your taste buds explode.

Easy Garlic Shrimp and Quinoa Recipe

There are numerous healthy shrimp recipes but I like this best because it has lot of flavors that pair really well together. This dish is suitable for a quick lunch if you are at home or even an appetizer for a party.

America is extremely fond of shrimps.

Even though nearly 650 million pounds of shrimps are harvested each year, people still crave this food. This number is bigger in here than anywhere else in the world. But it is not enough. Therefore, US has to import another 200 million pounds each year.

The reasons why shrimps are the most popular shellfish in US are the delicious taste and high nutritious value.

The best news is that you can find shrimp all year round thanks to shrimp farming. You can buy it from grocery stores and supermarkets. It is one important ingredient for appetizers, main dishes, chowders and salads.

Short History of Shrimp

“Shrimpe” in Middle English can be translated as “pygmy” or as a reference to the crustacean itself. Middle English is an old form of the language, spoken after the Norman conquest in 1066 until the end of the 15th century.

You should know that Chinese were familiar with shrimp dishes from ancient times. In fact, in the 7th century, the majority of their diet consisted of various seafood. Things haven’t changed much nowadays either. Marco Polo was astonished about the great amount of shrimp and other seafood in China.

Americans started harvesting shrimps in the 17th century. Residents of Louisiana bayou began to use seines with a circumference of up to 2000 feet to take out the crustaceans. Mechanical techniques of harvesting shrimp were born after 1917.

Types of Shrimp

There is a large variety of shrimps, some bigger, some smaller. We may encounter over 300 types of shrimp. Yet, the most popular are the pink, white and brown ones from the Atlantic Ocean. This is the color the shellfish has before it is cooked. Generally, the smaller and more succulent shrimps are to be found in really cold waters.

Some other popular variety is the tiger shrimp. It is bluish-white and has dark stripes. After cooking, it gets a dark orange color because a chemical reaction happens when exposed to heat. Once cooked, all shrimps look pretty much the same and you won’t be able to distinguish between different types.

Another popular variety is rock shrimp. This type has a shell hard as a rock and its flavor and texture resembles the spiny lobster. If you remove the head of the rock shrimp, it looks exactly like a lobster in miniature even though the largest rock shrimp available in stores is under 2 inches in length.

All of these can be used for healthy shrimp recipes.

How to Select Shrimp?

This shellfish is highly perishable and it needs a great amount of care from the moment it’s harvested to the time it reaches on your table top waiting to be cooked.

You may buy it frozen or fresh

Depending on the area you live in and when you want to cook it, you’ll have to choose which way to buy it.

The perfect shrimp has to be firm and its scent mild. In case you feel any hint of ammonia, be sure that it isn’t fresh anymore and is way past its prime.

If you notice any spots, don’t buy it. 

This is a sign that it wasn’t handled properly. Usually, manufacturers defrost commercially sold shrimps and their flesh will look opaque. Only the fresh shrimp will have a translucent appearance.

The term “fresh” on the package or label doesn’t necessarily mean “never frozen”. Let’s be honest: there are tiny chances to find fresh shrimp from the ocean. This could happen if you harvest it yourself or if you know a shrimper. But we shouldn’t get sad about it.

These days, the harvesters clean and freeze the shellfish directly on the boats. This way they keep the product safe until it reaches the markets.

Another story begins at the market. Merchants should take it directly to the freezer. Handling it like this is the best thing. They can also take it to the seafood counter. It will defrost there, but icing it is always a good idea.

Considering all these, my advice is to buy frozen shrimp and defrost it yourself to cook shrimp dishes. Place it in the fridge and leave it there. It won’t take that long.

Storage of the Shrimp

If you buy raw shrimp, you have the option of freezing it yourself. You can do it with or without the shell, deveined or not but you need to remove the head.

Keep them in the freezer for maximum six months. If you buy the seafood already frozen, it will last longer since it was frozen fresh without being handled too much.

If you cooked healthy shrimp recipes, they can also be frozen. Don’t forget to consume them in about two months.

When you want to enjoy the shellfish, it would be better to thaw in the fridge in advance. On the assumption that you don’t have enough time to wait for uncooked shrimp to defrost, place under cold water. No, that's not the Shrimp and Quinoa we're talking about.

Using warm water will start the cooking process.

If you just want to store the shrimp dishes for a couple of days, place the dish in a sealed bag or an airtight container and place in the coldest part of the refrigerator.

Grocery stores shelves also offer canned shrimp. It is also called baby shrimp and it’s ideal for salads. Make sure you rinse them thoroughly and discard anything that looks odd.

From the large variety of frozen shrimp recipes which pair it with numerous foods, I chose to use quinoa because of its special aroma.

What is Quinoa and How to Cook It?

For a lot of time, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this pseudo-cereal. I couldn’t understand if I had to like that dull taste.

Let’s face it: when cooked alone, the taste isn’t… tasty at all. 

Especially if you don’t rinse it well. In this case, it will have a fish resembling savor. Which isn’t really appealing. 

How to Cook Quinoa in a frying pan

So, the first top secret is to rinse it under cold running water for about two minutes.

And then learn how to cook it properly because if you don’t enjoy at least one quinoa bowl per month you are really missing out. 

  • Stop using water to boil it. Substitute for vegetable or beef broth. It will be way more delicious.
  • Try toasting in oil before cooking it. Place the quinoa in a stainless steel pan. Nonstick pans will work as well. add some olive oil and toast it until it browns a bit. It takes about three minutes. This process will enhance the flavor. After that, you can add water and simmer until it softens.
  • Bring in herbs and spices. Any fresh herb will do. Choose between parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary. Spice it up a bit with pepper, cayenne, chilies, garam masala, nutmeg or anything else you like.
  • Onion and garlic can bring flavor to any dish so don’t be afraid of adding some (many) cloves of garlic and a chopped onion previously sautéed in a tablespoon of olive oil.
  • If you want to add to sweet dishes, you have endless options: cook it like a porridge, make quinoa puddings, add it to muffins, combine it with coconut, or include the grain in homemade granola.

Where Does Quinoa Come From?

Quinoa has a long history and knew some of the most powerful civilizations on the American continent. It was popular during the Incas reign in the mountains of Peru, Chile and Bolivia. 

Quinoa is considered a staple for the Incas. It still is a main food source for their descendants, called Aymara and Quechua people. Quinoa was considered the mother of all grains, “chisaya mama”. The emperor used to plant the first seeds every year in a great ceremony.

The Spanish conquistadors destroyed a lot of quinoa fields after conquering Peru. Only small crops managed to survive in high mountains. This is how we almost lost quinoa.

The grain came back in 1970s when people found out about its high nutritious value.

How to Make Shrimp and Quinoa?

Shrimp and Quinoa in a stone frying pan

Usually, frozen shrimp recipes are quite easy to prepare. So, making a quinoa bowl with shrimp is not a complicated thing. The two main ingredients should be cooked separately and then joint in the end.

You will need about 0.5 pound of shrimps, a few garlic cloves and one tablespoon of butter. Fat free butter works as well. The thawed shrimps need to be cooked until no longer translucent.

For the quinoa, the quantity needed is about one cup of uncooked grains. I love to add some veggies to it, like red bell pepper. This will bring color, as well as a great taste and flavor.

I also spiced it up with dried chilies, onion, garlic and cilantro. In case you don’t like cilantro (many people don’t), feel free to replace it with parsley, which has a more subtle flavor.

What Pairs With Shrimp and Quinoa?

There are various ways of serving a quinoa bowl with garlic butter shrimp. It can be enjoyed as a light dinner, lunch or even as an appetizer in case of a party.

Frozen shrimp recipes are best served with a salad of various veggies, dressed with a vinaigraitte made of lemon juice and olive oil. You may also add some avocado or fresh coconut near the shrimps. 

What Vegetables Go With Shrimp and Quinoa?

Vegetables Go With Shrimp and Quinoa

You certainly have a large variety of veggies to add here.

In my opinion, greens are the best with garlic butter shrimp. Choose between asparagus, broccoli or green peas. But don’t be afraid to try anything that comes to your mind. This way you can tailor the recipe to suit your preferences.

How Many Calories does Shrimp and Quinoa Have?

Good news: this dish has about 220 calories/portion, depending on what vegetables you add.

But this is the number, more or less, since veggies are usually low in calories.

Easy Garlic Shrimp and Quinoa Recipe

Easy Garlic Shrimp and Quinoa Recipe in 30 Minutes

Although low in calories, you will find this dish full of flavor and extremely fulfilling. It is packed with nutrients and proteins.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Garlic Shrimp, Quinoa, Shrimp
Servings: 4
Calories: 230kcal



For the Shrimps

  • 0.5 lb. shrimps
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the Quinoa

  • 1 cup dried quinoa
  • 2 cups homemade vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 dried chili, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley/cilantro, chopped


  • Place the quinoa in a sieve and rinse for 2 minutes under cold running water, to remove the bitter coating.
  • Transfer to a pot, pour the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Discard any liquid left and fluff it with a fork.
  • Sautee the onion and garlic for 3 minutes in a large skillet.
  • Add the dried chili and red bell pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes until the pepper is tender but still crunchy.
  • Bring in the quinoa and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes more. Add the cilantro, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, stir well and turn off the heat.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a separate pan. Add the shrimps and cook for about 5 minutes, until no longer translucent. Bring in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
    Garlic Shrimp and Quinoa Recipe
  • Transfer the shrimps to the quinoa pan and stir well. Drizzle the lemon juice.
  • Serve immediately!
    Garlic Shrimp and Quinoa Recipe


There are many variations of the shrimp dishes.
  • One of them could be easy lemon garlic shrimp and quinoa. In this case you will add some lemon juice and zest while the shrimp is cooking so the flavors will combine.
  • Pineapple and shrimp fried quinoa is another delicious dish. This Asian alternative is served in a pineapple half and contains a lot of specific ingredients such as coconut milk, ginger and raisins.
  • You can also cook shrimp and vegetable quinoa fried rice. This follows the step of the classic fried rice and requires for eggs and various veggies.


Calories: 230kcal | Carbohydrates: 32.8g | Protein: 17.4g | Fat: 7.3g
Tried this recipe?Mention @StoneFryingPans or tag #StoneFryingPans!

About the author 

Jesse Spitzer

Jesse is a father of two and an aspiring chef. He has worked in the kitchen for over 7 years. He loves cooking and is passionate about finding ways to cook easier and more efficient. When he's not in the kitchen, Jesse can be found on on the golf course, reading a productivity book or sipping a glass of nice pinot.

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