Spiced, grilled shrimp with Alabama white sauce is a fantastic recipe inspired by America’s ‘Southern’ cuisine. Serve at your next barbecue or summer party or turn these into grilled shrimp bowls over rice or salad with some sweet corn, green onions and avocado, plus that delicious sauce drizzled on top.
About This Grilled Shrimp Recipe
Grilled shrimp or prawns as we call them in Australia can be served in many ways and it’s a delicious and healthy protein option. Shrimp can be simply seasoned, rubbed in a spice blend, or marinated before being grilled on a barbecue, pan-fried on the stove or broiled in the oven.
In this recipe, I wanted to use frozen shrimp as it’s more affordable and I always have a stash in my freezer. Great thing is that you can use pre-cooked or raw frozen shrimp here, or fresh, of course. It’s a forgiving kind of recipe!
I wanted to use a BBQ spice rub to season the prawns – a little bit influenced by Cajun or Creole flavours – and to serve, I decided to try Alabama white sauce (read more below)!
Once rubbed in a spice flour mix, the prawns can be grilled on a barbecue or pan-fried in a skillet until golden browned and crispy. You can serve them on a platter or a board with the sauce drizzled over and some in a bowl on the side.
I also had a vision of serving this dish as grilled shrimp bowls over salad or rice with some sweet corn, tomatoes and avocado and have that uniquely flavorful and tangy white BBQ sauce drizzled on top.
What Is Alabama White Sauce?
If you’re not from the United States, you might not be familiar with Alabama white BBQ sauce. It was invented by Robert Gibson at Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q in Decatur, AL, where smoked chickens were pulled from the pit and dipped in a delicious, tangy white sauce made primarily with a mixture of mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and pepper.
Today’s recipes for Alabama white sauce include a variety of ingredients and range from cook to cook. And while this white BBQ sauce is usually served with barbecued or grilled chicken, I thought it would work well with grilled shrimp too.
What Does Alabama White Sauce Taste Like?
Alabama BBQ sauce is quite different from the traditional red, tomato-based BBQ sauces. For starters, there are no tomatoes! The taste is quite complex: it’s quite tangy, and slightly sweet, with lots of umami (that fifth savoury flavour) and a bit of spice to keep things exciting. It’s almost like a creamy, white salad dressing!
It goes well with any traditional barbecued or grilled meats, especially poultry, but you can also repurpose it in a potato salad, coleslaw or over grilled vegetables.
How To Make Alabama White Sauce
Step 1. Gather the ingredients: mayonnaise for the base, apple cider vinegar (white vinegar or lemon juice will also work here), salt and pepper, Dijon mustard, horseradish cream, Worcestershire sauce (if you have it), garlic and onion powder, and cayenne pepper (or a little red chilli).
Step 2. Combine and whisk together, it should have ranch dressing consistency and a little pink tint to it. Store in a jar in the fridge if made ahead of time. It should keep for a week.
How To Make Spiced Grilled Shrimp
Step 1. Defrost the shrimp if frozen. Place in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot!) water for 5-10 minutes. Once the water is very cold, swap for warmer water again. The shrimp will thaw out pretty quickly this way. Once defrosted, strain and pat dry with a kitchen paper roll. If using fresh shrimp/prawns, peel the shell but leave the tails on.
Step 2. Gather ingredients for the spice rub: a little flour of choice, garlic and onion powder, smoked paprika, cumin powder, salt, pepper and cayenne or chili. There is also a little bit of either brown sugar or a sugar-free alternative.
Step 3. In a bowl, combine the spice rub and the flour (if used). Sprinkle all of the prawns or toss the prawns through, whichever way will coat them evenly. Do this just before cooking the prawns!
Step 4. If pan-frying: heat a thin layer of oil in a large frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Once sizzling hot, add the prawns without overcrowding the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy, usually longer on the first side. You may have to do this in batches.
If grilling outside: heat a barbecue grill plate to sizzling hot and spray with a little oil, cook the shrimp for about 2 minutes on each side.
Serve the shrimp on a platter or a wooden board with the sauce, some of it drizzled over. Garnish with some herbs (cilantro/coriander or chopped green onions). Or, you can assemble grilled shrimp bowls.
Grilled Shrimp Bowls
Another option is to turn this recipe into grilled shrimp bowls, which make for a nutritious and complete meal. Think Buddha bowls or those ‘healthy nutrition bowls’ with lots of colours, textures, fun ingredients and a fabulous sauce, of course.
For the base of the bowls, you can use regular white rice, brown rice quinoa, cauliflower rice or shredded lettuce. I love lots of colours so I used red cherry tomatoes, yellow sweet corn, green avocado and green onions as other toppings.
If using corn, I recommend charring or grilling it slightly after boiling. You can do this on a barbecue or in a frying pan. Canned or frozen corn is also okay to use here.
Prepare the toppings/ingredients for the bowls ahead of time. Some of it can be chopped while the shrimp/prawns are cooking. You can use store-bought pre-cooked rice or quinoa or black rice/quinoa packets. Once everything is ready, assemble the bowls and top with grilled spiced shrimp.
I love to drizzle the sauce on top but you can serve it on the side.
There aren’t too many calories in grilled shrimp, which makes them a great choice for those watching their daily calories or trying to lose weight. You’re looking at about 155 calories in 100 grams (3.5 oz) of grilled or baked shrimp. That’s about 10 pieces. This number doesn’t take into account spices, flour, any oil it might be cooked in or the sauce. But, it’s a great low base with lots of protein and minerals!
Spiced and coated in a little flour, this grilled shrimp is still low in carbohydrates and gluten-free (flour dependent) and can be Paleo and Whole30 friendly if use something like tapioca/cassava flour for coating. You can omit flour altogether, but it does add extra crispiness.
As I mentioned above, you can turn the finished shrimp into a complete meal by serving a few vegetable sides or making shrimp bowls with your choice of vegetables, grains, herbs and so on.
Grilled shrimp & sauce. Per serve (10-12 prawns + 2.5 tbsp sauce): 423 calories, 5.4 g total carbs, 0.8 g fibre (4.5 g net carbs), 24 g protein, 8.1 g fat.
Grilled shrimp bowls with rice & sauce: 650 calories, 45.8 g total carbs, 5.4 g fibre (40.4 g net carbs), 29 g protein, 14.3 g fat. Includes shrimp and sauce as above, 1/2 cup cooked white rice, 1/4 cup corn, 1/4 avocado, 4-5 cherry tomatoes, and 1/2 cup lettuce.
More Healthy Shrimp Recipes
- Lemon Garlic Shrimp Zucchini Pasta
- Keto Spaghetti Squash & Shrimp Bake
- Golden Coconut Prawns With Honey Lemon Glaze
- Grilled Shrimp Caesar Salad
Full Recipe & Ingredients
Find the full list of ingredients, instructions and extra cooking notes below. If you have questions or cook this recipe, please let me know in the comments and rate this recipe so it’s easy for others to find.
For the shrimp/prawns
- 450 g frozen peeled shrimp cooked or uncooked, fresh can also be used - see notes (1 lb.)
For the shrimp spice seasoning
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon chilli or cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar or sugar-free sweetener for a low-carb version
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free flour or regular flour (can be omitted)
- 2 tablespoons oil olive, avocado, or coconut for cooking
For Alabama White BBQ Sauce:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1.5 tablespoons horseradish cream or grated horseradish from a jar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce if you have it
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red chilli
- A pinch of salt and pepper
- For garnish: coriander/cilantro or green onions
For Grilled Shrimp Bowls
- 2 cups cooked rice white or brown, see notes for other base options
- 1 cup sweet corn
- 2 cups leafy green salad of choice or shredded lettuce
- 1 avocado sliced or diced
- 1 punnet cherry tomatoes halved
- A handful of chopped green onions or thinly sliced red onion
- Make the sauce ahead of time to save time.Combine all ingredients in a bowl or a jar. Whisk or shake well until smooth and set aside. Can be left in the fridge for a few days.
- Defrost the shrimp if frozen.Place in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot!) water for 5-10 minutes. Once the water is very cold, swap for warmer water again. The shrimp will thaw out pretty quickly this way. Once defrosted, strain and pat dry with kitchen paper roll.
- Season the shrimp.In a bowl, combine the spice rub and the flour (if used). Sprinkle all of the prawns or toss the prawns through, whichever way will coat them evenly. Do this just before cooking the shrimp/prawns!
- Grill the shrimp.Heat a thin layer of oil in a large frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Once sizzling hot, add the shrimp without overcrowding the pan. Cook for 1.5-2 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy, usually longer on the first side. You may have to do this in batches.
- Make shrimp bowls.Prepare the toppings/ingredients for the bowls ahead of time. Some of it can be chopped while the prawns are cooking. You can use store-bought pre-cooked rice or quinoa or black rice/quinoa. Corn can be out of the can or you boil some corn on the cob and even grill it in a pan for extra colour, not essential though. Dice up the veggies and set aside.
- Serve the shrimp on a platter or a wooden board with the sauce, some of it drizzled over. Garnish with some herbs (coriander/cilantro or green onions). Alternatively, assemble the shimp bowls with sauce over the top.
- Shrimp - I use shrimp and prawns interchangeably here, as in Australia we say prawns or king prawns for large shrimp. I use frozen shrimp as it's more affordable and for this recipe, it can be frozen raw or frozen pre-cooked. In both cases, you will defrost it, coat in the spice rub and grill/pan-fry until crispy. If it's raw, it will cook just fine and if it's pre-cooked, it will just get crispy on the outside and heat up. If using fresh raw shrimp, simply peel the shell and remove the vein but leave the tails on.
- Base options for grilled shrimp bowls: 1/2 cup of cooked white or brown rice, quinoa, 1 cup cauliflower rice, 1-2 cups shredded lettuce, and 1/2 cup of beans of choice. You can use pre-cooked pouches of black rice or mixed rice and quinoa as well.
- Corn can be canned or frozen or corn on the cob, maybe ⅓ or ½ of the cob in a bowl per serve, corn can be grilled or just cooked in boiling water.
- The nutrition label below is for grilled shrimp, sauce, and rice (all ingredients listed in recipe).