Seafood BBQ: From Shrimp to Salmon

Seafood BBQ: From Shrimp to Salmon

Grilling seafood adds a delightful smoky flavor and enhances its natural sweetness, making it a favorite for outdoor gatherings and summer meals. Whether you're grilling shrimp skewers, salmon fillets, or even a whole fish, mastering the art of seafood BBQ involves understanding marinades, seasoning blends, grilling techniques, and tips for achieving moist, flavorful dishes. In this guide, we'll explore everything you need to know to create stunning seafood BBQ dishes that will impress your guests.

Choosing the Right Seafood


  • Size: Opt for large or jumbo shrimp for grilling, as they hold up well and cook evenly.
  • Preparation: Leave the shells on for added flavor or peel them for convenience.
  • Marinades: Shrimp absorbs flavors quickly, so marinades with citrus, garlic, and herbs work well.

Salmon Fillets:

  • Freshness: Choose fresh salmon with firm, bright flesh for the best results.
  • Skin-On or Off: Grill with the skin on to keep the fillets moist, or remove it before grilling for a crispy texture.
  • Seasoning: A simple mix of olive oil, lemon juice, dill, salt, and pepper complements salmon's rich flavor.

Whole Fish (e.g., Sea Bass, Trout):

  • Preparation: Clean and gut the fish, leaving scales intact for protection during grilling.
  • Stuffing: Fill the cavity with herbs, citrus slices, and garlic to infuse flavor from the inside out.
  • Grilling: Use indirect heat and flip carefully to prevent sticking, ensuring even cooking.

Marinades and Seasoning Blends


  • Citrus Marinade: Lemon or lime juice, olive oil, garlic, and herbs like thyme or parsley.
  • Asian-Inspired: Soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, and a touch of honey for a sweet-savory glaze.
  • Herb and Garlic: Olive oil, minced garlic, fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil), salt, and pepper.

Seasoning Blends:

  • Cajun Spice: Paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried herbs.
  • Mediterranean Blend: Olive oil, oregano, basil, parsley, garlic powder, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
  • Smoky Chipotle: Chipotle powder, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, lime juice, and olive oil.

Grilling Techniques for Seafood

Direct vs. Indirect Heat:

  • Direct Heat: Ideal for shrimp and smaller seafood items that cook quickly.
  • Indirect Heat: Use for thicker cuts like salmon fillets or whole fish to ensure even cooking without burning.

Grill Preparation:

  • Preheat: Ensure the grill grates are clean and well-oiled to prevent sticking.
  • Temperature: Aim for medium-high heat (around 400°F to 450°F) for seafood grilling.

Cooking Times:

  • Shrimp: Grill for 2-3 minutes per side until pink and opaque.
  • Salmon Fillets: Cook skin-side down first for 4-5 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
  • Whole Fish: Grill for about 10-15 minutes per side, depending on the size and thickness, until the flesh flakes easily with a fork.

Tips for Moist and Flavorful Seafood

  1. Oil the Seafood: Brush seafood lightly with olive oil before seasoning to prevent drying out.
  2. Use Skewers: Thread shrimp onto skewers to prevent them from falling through the grill grates.
  3. Watch Closely: Seafood cooks quickly, so keep a close eye on it to avoid overcooking.
  4. Resting Time: Let grilled seafood rest for a few minutes before serving to allow juices to redistribute.

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