Easy and delicious creamy garlic prawns (shrimp) done in 15 minutes that's big on flavour and deliciously creamy!
The trick to getting this dish tasting extra delicious is by 'cooking out' the undesired raw tartness of the tomato paste. It'll add a well-balanced depth and complexity to the rich creamy sauce.
The perfect solution to a quick weeknight dinner, this easy creamy prawn recipe is fantastic served with rice or some crusty bread.
- Peeled and deveined prawns (shrimp) - For this recipe, it is easiest to buy frozen, peeled and deveined prawns and you'll be good to go. If you are using prawns with shells and heads on, peel and devein them before cooking. I've got a detailed how-to in my easy garlic prawn pasta recipe for reference.
- Tomato paste - adds depth and well-rounded acidity (see below where we 'cook out' excess tartness).
- Garlic - like all recipes, it is always a good idea to use fresh garlic. It is the key to getting that delicious garlicky flavour profile! Do not use jarred minced garlic as the flavour is just not the same (plus, I find it has a funky smell..).
- Fresh parsley - adds a refreshing layer of flavour and lightness to the creamy garlic prawns. However, it is no deal breaker if you don't have it on hand.
- Heavy cream - can use light cream (low fat) if preferred.
- Stock - chicken or vegetable stock are both okay to use. I use stock powder mixed with water as it is very convenient!
How to make creamy garlic prawns
Just like my garlic prawn pasta, this easy creamy garlic prawns recipe takes just 15 minutes to make from prep to serve!
Optional: remove excess moisture
When handling rinsed and defrosted prawns, I like to drain excess water out of them and then pat dry excess moisture out using paper towels.
This will ensure the prawns will cook perfectly by getting as much colour (a little browning) on them and thus creating depth of flavour through high heat pan-searing.
This step is optional yet particularly useful if you're pan searing a large amount of prawns at once.
Excess water = takes longer to brown prawns = can lead to overcooking.
Pan-sear prawns over high heat
Now in a large bowl, season prawns with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and black pepper. Mix well and set aside.
There is no need to allocate marination time. Seasoning just before cooking alone will add great flavour to the prawns!
To pan-sear the prawns, first, preheat a large frying pan over high heat.
Once the pan is really hot, add seasoned prawns. Spread them out in a single layer so that each piece gets direct heat from the pan.
Cook over high heat for about 1 minute, undisturbed.
Then, flip the prawns and pan sear the other side over high heat for 1 minute. Remove the prawns into a bowl and set them aside.
Note: if your frying pan is on the smaller side, it is best to pan-sear the garlic prawns in two batches (I probably should have when filming this recipe as the prawns were a bit snug in the pictures above).
Make creamy garlic sauce
Now time to make that delicious and rich creamy garlic sauce!
In the same pan (no need to wash), saute minced garlic with olive oil for 30 seconds then add in tomato paste.
Turn the heat down to low and cook the tomato paste for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Note: the tomato paste will spit a little (see picture above), so be mindful of that.
This step is crucial in 'cooking out' the undesired raw tartness from the tomato paste (a technique used in my chilli garlic prawn pasta recipe). It also creates depth and complexity to the overall dish.
Lastly, add chicken stock and heavy cream. Stir well and bring up to a gentle simmer.
Finish up and serve
To finish up, add pan-seared garlic prawns back into the pan with the creamy sauce.
Bring up to a gentle simmer and cook for 1 minute. To serve, top with lots of finely chopped fresh parsley.
That's it! Quick and easy creamy garlic prawns done in 15 minutes that's rich in flavour!
Serve with freshly steamed rice or some crusty bread for a wholesome comfort food dinner.
Useful tips and tricks
- Do not overcook prawns or it'll become tough. Overcooking will change the texture of the prawns, turning them tough and rubbery (which we don't want). Pan searing 1 minute per side over high heat then simmering for 1 to 2 minutes in the sauce is enough. Note: cooking time will be longer if cooking prawns with shells like my butter garlic prawns.
- Drain out as much water as possible from the prawns for maximum flavour. If there's excess water when pan-searing, the prawns will become cooked before any browning/caramelisation can occur. We want a little browning on the prawns as colour = flavour!
- Use large prawns as they're more forgiving! Large prawns take a little longer to cook than small ones thus there's a lower chance of overcooking.
- If you've got the time, peel and devein prawns yourself as they're always more flavoursome than the peeled versions.
- Defrost prawns quickly using cold tap water. Running cold tap water onto frozen prawns will very quickly defrost them!
How to defrost prawns quickly
There are 2 methods:
- The long way: take the prawns out of the freezer the night before into the fridge, covered. It'll be defrosted the next day.
- The short way: with cold tap water (for a spontaneous meal). Submerge frozen prawns in cold tap water for a couple of minutes then drain and refill with cold tap water. Soak for a further 5 to 10 minutes and it'll be ready to go.
To cook raw, peeled prawns, pan-sear over high heat for 1 minute per side is just right! Pan sear for no longer than 3 minutes to prevent overcooked, rubbery prawns.
Absolutely! Frozen prawns contain a lot of excess water which will prevent the prawns from browning when pan-searing (thus leading to overcooking and less flavoursome).
Yes, simply rinse until cold tap water to wash off any potential gritty bits. This is also a very quick way to defrost frozen prawns!
Leftovers and storage
Any leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days, stored in an airtight container. However, it is best to just finish it on the day like all seafood recipes.
I do not recommend freezing any leftovers as almost all prawns you buy have already been frozen once (usually as soon as they're caught). In general, never refreeze any kind of meat and seafood.
If you're not sure, ask your fishmonger whether the prawns can be frozen at home (ie, the ones you're about to buy have not been frozen already).
Made this recipe? Let me know your thoughts or questions by dropping a note in the comments section below! I'd love to hear from you. 🙂
Happy cooking! - Gen
Creamy Garlic Prawns (Shrimp)
- 500 g (1 lb) raw prawns (shrimp) peeled, deveined & defrosted (note 1)
- ½ cup heavy cream substitute: light/low fat cream
- ⅓ cup stock chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh parsley finely chopped
Prawn (shrimp) seasoning
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Flash cook prawns (shrimp)
- In a large bowl, combine prawns (shrimp) with prawn seasoning. Mix well and set aside.
- Preheat a large frying pan over high heat until very hot then add seasoned prawns. Spread the prawns out into a single layer without overlapping. Cook over high heat for 1 minute then flip and cook the other side for 1 minute (note 2). Remove prawns into a bowl and aside.
Make creamy sauce
- In the same pan (no need to wash), add olive oil and garlic. Saute over medium-low heat for 30 seconds then add tomato paste. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly (note 3). Stir in stock and cream and bring up to a simmer.
Finish off and serve
- Add prawns back into the pan and simmer for 1 minute over medium heat. Turn the heat off, taste the sauce and adjust with salt and black pepper if desired.
- To serve, top with fresh parsley.
- Take the prawns out of the freezer the night before into the fridge, covered. It'll be defrosted the next day.
- With cold tap water (for a spontaneous meal). Submerge frozen prawns in cold tap water for a couple of minutes then drain and refill with cold tap water. Soak for a further 5 to 10 minutes and it'll be ready to go.