Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp

Say aloha to Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp—it’s easy, amazing, and every bite is a virtual trip to the islands!

Say aloha to Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp—it’s easy, amazing, and every bite is a virtual trip to the islands!

If you’ve been, you don’t need me to tell you—Hawaii is wonderful. Yes, beautiful beaches and scenery. Yes, lovely weather. But there’s something more going on. There’s an attitude of enjoying life and appreciating the outdoors and taking it, well, easy. It’s all sort of “ahhhhhh,” you know?

A lot of it has to do with the aloha spirit. But also because, when most of us spend time there, we’re on vacation!

There’s so much to love about Hawaii, but two of my favorite things are the food and food trucks. And one of my favorite food truck dishes is Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp. In fact, I love it so much, I figured out how to make it at home.

(How could I not? I love pretty much anything shrimp—coconut shrimp, shrimp rolls, grilled shrimp, you name it!)

What Exactly is Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp?

Shrimp trucks are pretty much everywhere in Hawaii, but the most famous is probably Giovanni’s in Oahu. They marinate their shrimp in olive oil, garlic, and lemon butter, then cook it and serve it drizzled with more garlic lemon butter and two scoops of rice. (Many things in Hawaii are served with two scoops of rice!)

It sounds a lot like shrimp scampi, and it is. But with a few key differences. One, more garlic—tons of it, in fact, cooked to caramelized perfection. Two, Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp is made with lemon juice instead of wine. And three, while scampi has a white tablecloth Italian restaurant feel, Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp has an eat-it-outdoors, get messy, and have fun feel—which it gets from using peel-and-eat shrimp, serving it with those quintessentially Hawaiian scoops of rice, and the fact that you’re eating it at a food truck!

The Best Shrimp for Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp

In Hawaii, the shrimp is local and super-fresh. If you don’t have shrimp like that available, I recommend using frozen—because frozen shrimp are frozen right on the boat when they’re caught. So it’s about as close to fresh as you can get. For this dish, defrost your shrimp soon before cooking (here’s how to thaw shrimp quickly), and then gently pat them dry so they won’t be watery going into the skillet.

I also prefer shrimp that’s already been peeled for this. It’s not as authentic, but it just makes the shrimp much easier to eat. Since the shells do add flavor, I split the difference and use peeled tail-on shrimp for my Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp. Those tails add a bit of flavor, a casual attitude, and they make a nice little “handle” for picking up the shrimp and eating it with your fingers.

A Word About the Garlic

Usually when I cook with garlic, I mince it. But for this recipe it’s merely finely chopped. The difference is slightly bigger pieces, which helps get it nicely caramelized without getting overcooked and bitter. Plus, it gives you nice garlic chunks to sink your teeth into—which is also part of the fun of Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp.





Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp

  • Author: Jill Hough
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 9 minutes
  • Total Time: 29 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings


Say aloha to Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp—it’s easy, amazing, and every bite is a virtual trip to the islands!


  • 1 and 1/2 pounds large raw shrimp (2040 per pound, peeled, deveined, ideally tail on)
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt, or more to taste
  • 3/4 tsp. paprika
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 10-12 pieces, divided
  • 1820 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus lemon wedges for serving
  • Rice, ideally sticky rice, for serving


  1. In a large bowl, combine the shrimp, flour, salt, and paprika, tossing to coat. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil and half of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. When the butter has melted, add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the shrimp mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is just cooked through and the garlic is browned, about 3 minutes. Be sure to scrape up and mix in the garlic in the bottom of the pan as you stir so it doesn’t overcook.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and remaining half of the butter. Add more salt to taste.
  6. Serve with the lemon wedges and rice on the side.
Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp

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