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Grilled Firecracker Shrimp Skewers (with Shortcut Yum Yum Sauce)

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Add some zing to your dinner with our Grilled Firecracker Shrimp Skewers. These mouthwatering skewers are the perfect combination of sweet, sticky, and spicy.

Several shrimp skewers arranged on a plate with sliced scallions.

Perfect for a Main Course or Appetizer

These Grilled Firecracker Shrimp Skewers are addictive…if you’re into sweet, sticky, spicy goodness! 

The simple sweet and spicy sauce does triple duty as a marinade for the shrimp, as a basting sauce (where that sticky grilling magic happens), and to make a dipping sauce. It adds layers of flavor in every bite!

Perfect for a speedy weeknight meal, these shrimp skewers cook in minutes and are versatile enough to serve as a main course with grilled or stir-fried veggies and rice or noodles. 

Impress guests by serving the skewers as an appetizer alongside the dip or as individual canapés on top of crispy rice cakes…you’re so fancy!

Raw ingredients for firecracker shrimp arranged on a table.

Gather Your Ingredients

I’ve provided substitutions next to the key ingredient to help you tailor this recipe to your needs or personal taste.

  • Sweet chili sauce – I use bottled sauce to make this super easy; use your favorite brand. Have a recipe for homemade sweet chili sauce that you love? Go for it!
  • Coconut aminos – my favorite is from Trader Joe’s. You can also use low-sodium soy sauce or liquid aminos, such as Bragg.
  • Sriracha – most of the heat is coming from this chili sauce. Use less or more to adjust the spice. You can substitute with sambal oelek (a little spicier), gochujang (milder), chili crisp (chunkier) or your favorite hot sauce.
  • Fresh ginger – adds that hard to describe peppery, zingy, warm situation. If you can’t find fresh, use 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger instead.
  • Fresh garlic – although sweet chili sauce and sriracha both have garlic, I like to add some extra. You can certainly omit this and things will be just fine.
  • Mayonnaise – is the base for the shortcut yum yum sauce. I know mayo isn’t for everyone, so you can sub in sour cream or greek yogurt; just keep in mind the final flavor will be different. 
  • Rice vinegar – adds more sweet tanginess to the dipping sauce. Apple cider vinegar is a good alternative.
  • Fresh shrimp – wild caught is best. Frozen is totally fine, especially if you’re purchasing in advance or the fresh isn’t looking so great. Thaw it overnight in the fridge or submerge in cold water to quick thaw.
  • Garnishes – green onions + fresh cilantro.
Grilled firecracker shrimp skewers next to a bowl of dipping sauce.

Let’s Get Cooking

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you on your way.

  1. Make the marinade – Combine sweet chili sauce, sriracha, coconut aminos (or soy sauce), grated ginger, and minced garlic in a bowl until well combined.
  2. Make the yum yum sauce – Stir 2 tablespoons of marinade with mayonnaise and rice vinegar in a small bowl. 
  1. Marinate the shrimp – Toss the peeled and deveined shrimp with half of the remaining marinade in a shallow dish. Reserve the other half for grilling. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Thread the shrimp onto skewers.
  2. Grill the firecracker shrimp – Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. If using a grill pan, preheat it over medium-high heat. Lightly oil the grill grates or the grill pan. Place the shrimp skewers on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through, brushing them with the reserved marinade. Be careful not to overcook.
Shrimp marinating in a shallow bowl.

Serving Ideas

As a main course, serve these flavor bombs on a bed of steamed rice surrounded by grilled or stir-fried vegetables like broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, sugar snap or snow peas, mushrooms and bok choy. 

As an appetizer, simply arrange skewers on a platter with the dipping sauce on the side. Want to make them fancy like I mentioned earlier? Serve one or two shrimp or small crispy rice cakes as a canapé. 

To make rice cakes, start with leftover sticky rice (like sushi rice). Feel free to season it with a little rice vinegar, furikake or simply with a little salt. Shape the rice into small, flat patties with barely wet hands. Fry them in a small amount of oil over medium-high heat in a nonstick pan; about 3 to 4 minutes per side. 

No matter how you serve up your firecracker shrimp skewers, don’t forget to garnish with thinly sliced green onions, cilantro and of course, the shortcut yum yum sauce!

Common Questions

What size shrimp should I use? 

I recommend one pound precooked weight for 4 main dish servings or 8 appetizer servings, so size is up to you. Medium or large size are just fine for a main dish as they will be more bite-sized. Large or jumbo are great for appetizers, especially if enjoying as a finger food. 

Should I remove the tails or leave them on?

Personally, if I’m serving this over rice or veg, I take the tails off. It’s one less thing to worry about when you’re hungry and just want dinner. To serve it with just the sauce, I leave the tails on…makes for a nice presentation and something to hang on to when you dip.

What else can I use this marinade for?

So many things! Marinate or glaze chicken, tofu, tempeh, salmon, or any firm white fish. Toss a little into stir-fries from vegetables to beef and pork. Drizzle a little onto finish dishes like noodle or rice bowls. Or, just use it as a spicy dipping sauce all on its own.

What is shortcut yum yum sauce?

Homemade yum yum sauce includes mayo, ketchup or tomato paste, sugar, rice vinegar and other seasonings. Because the marinade includes ingredients that are similar in flavor, it’s easy to use as a mix-in to get a dipping sauce that is just as tasty as the OG…if not a little spicier. 

A grilled firecracker shrimp dripping with sauce on the end of a fork.

Storing and Reheating Firecracker Shrimp

Storing leftovers – Transfer cooled shrimp to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 2 days. Store the yum yum sauce in a separate airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. 

Reheating firecracker shrimp – This is trickier because shrimp can go from zero to rubbery in the blink of eye. Water is your friend here. Option 1: place the shrimp in a steamer basket. Simmer a small amount of water in a pot, add the basket and cover with a lid. Steam for 2 to 3 minutes. Option 2: wrap the shrimp in a wet paper towel and microwave in 30 second intervals until heated through. 

Option 3…eat them cold. Really. They’re still super tasty cold!

Shrimp + Skewers + Other Recipes!

Several shrimp skewers arranged on a plate with sliced scallions.

Grilled Firecracker Shrimp Skewers (with Shortcut Yum Yum Sauce)

Linda Feller
Add some zing to your dinner with our Grilled Firecracker Shrimp Skewers. These mouthwatering skewers are the perfect combination of sweet, sticky, and spicy.
Prep time.20 minutes
Cook time.6 minutes
Custom time.30 minutes
Total time.56 minutes
Course.Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine.Asian
Number of servings.4 as a main (8 as an appetizer)
Calories per serving.297 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

For the Marinade:

  • ½ cup sweet chili sauce
  • ¼ cup coconut aminos, or low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce, use more or less to taste
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Shortcut Yum Yum Sauce:

  • cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar

For the Shrimp:

  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled + deveined, any size from medium to jumbo
  • Skewers, if wooden, soak in water for at least 30 minutes

For Garnish:

  • 2 green onions, finely sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  • Make the marinade by combining sweet chili sauce, sriracha, soy sauce, grated ginger, and minced garlic in a measuring cup. Mix well.
  • Remove 2 tablespoons of the marinade and combine it with the mayonnaise and rice vinegar in a small bowl. (For a thinner sauce that you can drizzle, add a teaspoon or two of water, or more rice vinegar.)
  • Place the peeled and deveined shrimp in a shallow dish. Add half of the remaining marinade to the shrimp and toss to coat well. Cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. The rest of the marinade will be brushed on the shrimp as it grills.
  • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (about 400°F/200°C). If using a grill pan, preheat it over medium-high heat.
  • Remove the shrimp from the marinade and thread them onto skewers. Discard the marinade.
  • Lightly oil the grill grates or the grill pan. Place the shrimp skewers on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through, brushing them with the reserved marinade. Be careful not to overcook.
  • Arrange skewers on a platter. Sprinkle the grilled shrimp with the sliced green onions and chopped cilantro for garnish. Serve with Yum Yum sauce for dipping.

Notes

Storing leftovers – Transfer cooled shrimp to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 2 days. Store the yum yum sauce in a separate airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Reheating firecracker shrimp – Using steam or water will help the shrimp retain moisture. Reheat gently and only as long as needed so they don’t get rubbery. Option 1: place the shrimp in a steamer basket. Simmer a small amount of water in a pot, add the basket and cover with a lid. Steam for 2 to 3 minutes. Option 2: wrap the shrimp in a wet paper towel and microwave in 30 second intervals until heated through. Option 3…eat them cold. They’re still great cold!

Nutrition

Calories: 297kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.05g | Cholesterol: 151mg | Sodium: 1593mg | Potassium: 172mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 354IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Keywords.grill, seafood, summer
Did You Make This Recipe?Be sure to share a comment below!

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