Garlic Cilantro Lime Shrimp Marinade is a cinch to put together and your shrimp will be deliciously flavored and ready for the grill in just 15 minutes!
I entertain a lot. (And I mean more than just entertaining my children.) My family stops by a lot, friends come over, and we have some formal-ish dinners at time for coworkers or neighbors that we plan in advance. For this reason, I feel like it’s a definite necessity to keep some easy marinades in my back pocket.
While I definitely don’t want to be seen as a one-trick pony, I feel like shrimp is one of those easy foods that you can fix so many different ways and it always tastes amazing. It’s also generally pretty well-liked as far as seafood goes, and if you serve it as an appetizer along with a couple of other choices, then if someone doesn’t like it, that’s okay too because they’ll still have dinner to look forward to.
Whether it’s one of those dinners that’s planned or impromptu, you’ll typically find some shrimp thawing in the sink and me whipping up a quick marinade for it. That’s another thing that makes marinating shrimp so great — they thaw super fast and they don’t need any longer than 15 minutes to take on the flavors of the marinade. (If you let shrimp soak in any kind of acidic marinade too long, it will start to cook and break down and get mushy…ick.)
I tend to have my shrimp thawed and headed into the marinade just about the time my guests are due to arrive. (Or, if we have unexpected guests, then they just get to talk to me while I get the shrimp going.) Within the hour, we’re all enjoying a yummy, citrusy app and one another’s company.
Do Cilantro and Garlic go together?
This is a question I get asked a lot; “What goes with ______?” And the answer is easy…and hard. There are always the go-to spice/flavor combinations that work well every time. And then there are some that are more experimental and “go together” if you like that flavor combination. My advice there is to just try it and see if you like it. If not, then you know that’s not a good combination for you.
I also think garlic goes with just about an herb you can pair with it. Cilantro and garlic are common spices in Mexican/Tex Mex food. I can’t think of one single Mexican-inspired recipe that doesn’t include those two ingredients.
Cilantro goes with a lot of other herbs and spices too — try adding it together with basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, mint, or parsley. Garlic should go with any and all of these as well, in my opinion.
Great Side Dishes for Shrimp
As I mentioned, I often use this Garlic Cilantro Lime Shrimp Marinade as an appetizer, however, I also have been known to eat it a time or two or three for dinner. I do like to have something with it — usually several somethings — to round out the meal.
- Rice. This grain ALWAYS pairs well with shrimp. Next to it, under it, in a dish near it. You name it, I love all the rice. If you want a little sauce with your rice, double (or even triple) the marinade. Use one serving for the shrimp and cook down the rest in a skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. Time the rice so that it’s done when the shrimp is done. Plate your rice, shrimp, and then top with more of that hot sauce. (NOTE: Do not reuse any of the leftover marinade you might have from the shrimp — it can make you sick. Throw that out and use fresh marinade for a sauce.)
- Salad. Simple side salads are the bees’ knees. Whether you use a lettuce-based salad or corn, you can typically throw one together with whatever you have on hand and pair with a cilantro dressing. Yum!
- Roasted Veggies. Veggies like Brussels sprouts, green beans, and roasted beets are all tied for my favorite side dishes.
- Dips. If you are looking for a complementary app to go along with the shrimp or you’re just having a finger-food kind of party (my favorite), then serve this dish with Mexican Volcano Dip, queso party dip cups, and other Southwestern-flavored dishes.
Potatoes. Whether roasted, mashed, or grilled, potatoes pair up with just about anything and everything.
How Long can you Marinate Shrimp
As I mentioned before, shrimp doesn’t need that long to marinade at all. I typically give it 15 minutes, but anything more than 30 minutes, and it will start to break down, especially if there are any acids in the marinade (lemon, lime, vinegars) like this one.
Garlic Cilantro Lime Shrimp Marinade
- 1-2 pounds medium or large raw shrimp (see note)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2-3 juicy limes)
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
- 3 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Whisk together olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, salt, soy sauce, and crushed red pepper flakes. Pour mixture into a large resealable bag.
- Add shrimp to the bag, press the excess air out, and seal. Chill for 15 minutes.
- GRILL shrimp on skewers or on a grill pan over medium heat, 3-4 minutes on each side until pink and cooked through. Or BAKE shrimp in a single layer on a greased sheet pan at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes until pink and cooked through.
- Garnish with extra lime juice and cilantro if desired and serve.