Frozen shrimp is among the most underused sources of protein in the family kitchen. Not only are shrimp nutritionally dense—according to the World’s Healthiest Foods, shrimp are a great source of vitamins D and B12, iron, omega-3 fatty acids and, of course, protein—but they also cook in minutes. Literally. And all that stuff about shrimp being high in cholesterol? Research shows that shrimp raise levels of good cholesterol enough to offset the smaller increase in the bad kind.
A good-for-you protein that goes from pan to plate in minutes and comes frozen—as in, you can always have some on hand? This is family dinner gold, mamas.
So grab a bag of peeled shrimp (cooked or uncooked, depending on the recipe) from the freezer section of your supermarket and whip up one of these 8 kid-friendly, super fast shrimp dinner recipes the next time you only have 30 minutes or fewer to make dinner.
Edited to add: Please read up on this article about unethical shrimp farming practices, so you can seek out shrimp that isn’t linked to labor abuses or detrimental environmental impact. Shrimp certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council is a good bet, as are domestic shrimp from places like Alaska, Texas, Louisiana, Florida and North Carolina. It may cost a little more but it will taste a whole lot better — and you may sleep better at night, too. – Eds.
(h/t reader Heidi)
Related: Six delicious 30 minute dinner recipes that truly take 30 minutes (or less).
Cooking with frozen shrimp is a no-brainer—mostly. If you’ve never done it before or you’re just not much of a cook, frozen shrimp will become your best kitchen friend, but not before you check out these tips on how not to screw up cooking with frozen shrimp at Bon Appetit. There’s nothing too intense here, but getting a lay of the land, so to speak, will help make sure your super fast meals come out super delicious, too.
Once you’ve reviewed the tips, it’s time to start cooking. What better way to start a list of fast, kid-friendly recipes than with tacos. These Shrimp Tacos with Garlic Avocado Crema at FoodieCrush are particularly great because the avocado crema comes together with a simple whir of the food processor and, packed with nutrient rich avocado and paired with store-bought broccoli slaw, it doubles as the night’s vegetable, too. Genius.
Garlicky shrimp scampi is a classic recipe and this version of Baked Shrimp Scampi at My Kitchen Escapades cooks in about 15 minutes, hands off in the oven. While prepping, Carole takes time to butterfly the shrimp, but you can easily buy frozen, deveined shrimp and skip that step to make this go even faster. She also gives adaptations to make this gluten-free or turn it into a freezer meal. You’re going to want to bookmark this one.
Related: 5 great dinners that make even better leftovers.
An even simpler buttery, garlicky shrimp dish, the recipe for Garlic Butter Shrimp at Damn Delicious takes 20 minutes, start to finish. And all that butter sauce goodness? Serve it spooned over the shrimp and pasta, rice or, if you’re trying to skip carbs, spaghetti squash cooked in your slow cooker. If you’re not trying to skip carbs, maybe just sop it up with some cheesy garlic pull-apart bread.
Skip a sauce all together and coat defrosted shrimp with a simple combination of spices using this recipe for Spiced Shrimp with Cilantro and Lime at Dinner a Love Story. I happen to make this super-fast meal all the time and especially love serving it with the quick Indian-Style Spinach with Chickpeas (above & top) at my own site, One Hungry Mama. The shrimp cooks in little more than 5 minutes and the spinach in 15 minutes. Serve with store-bought flat bread and you have a seriously well-rounded and nutritious meal in fewer than 30 minutes total.
These gorgeous Shrimp and Mango Lettuce Wraps at Cooking for Keeps come together in about 20 minutes, and that’s not even the best part. Hand over a pile of lettuce and a big plate of the shrimp and mango and let the kids do the wrapping and rolling. It’ll be so much fun that they’ll forget to whine about dinner. Maybe.
Related: 6 no-cook dinner recipes for easy no-cook nights.
Another classic shrimp meal, these Sesame Shrimp and Noodles at Martha Stewart are a 30 minute meal that any Chinese take-out fan will love. I’ve made this and really enjoyed it—maybe because my kids really enjoyed it—so was surprised to see that the recipe didn’t get as many stars as I would have expected. When you look at the comments, though, you’ll find that lots of other people really enjoy this, too. The flavor is good and the timing even better. Plus, kid-friendly noodles. I say give this one a try.
If your family is more into fried rice than sesame noodles, give this Shrimp Fried Rice at Steamy Kitchen a try instead. The recipe takes 20 minutes, including prep time, and Jaden gives great tips on how to make fried rice the right way to help make sure that yours comes out perfectly—as in, not mushy and full of fresh flavor. Yum.
I admit that this Shrimp Pasta with Broccoli Pesto at Gimme Some Oven takes a little longer than the other recipes—more like 40 minutes start to finish. That is, if you make it all at once. If you like the sound of this, but want to keep it quick, make the broccoli pesto ahead of time and freeze it alongside the shrimp. Then you’ve got a 15 minute meal on your hands. And broccoli pesto? Can you think of a smarter—or more delicious!—way to get good, dark green veggies on your kids’ plates?