Spicy Shrimp, New Orleans Style

spicy New Orleans shrimp

Spend time in New Orleans and you are bound to hear about a spicy shrimp dish of large, head-on shrimp served in a garlicky, peppery butter sauce referred to as barbecue shrimp. Pascal’s Manale, one of the oldest restaurants in the city originally created this delicious but messy dish.

Pascal’s Manale, founded in 1913, is one of the oldest Creole Italian restaurants in New Orleans and is famous for its barbecue shrimp. One of the city’s most distinctive and copied dishes, it is a far cry from what we typically envision when we think of barbecue. The shrimp have never been near a bbq grill or smoker, and are not covered in your typical barbecue sauce. Instead, the heads-on shrimp are served in a brothy sauce of butter, Worcestershire sauce and black pepper along with crusty French bread for mopping up the yummy sauce.

Years back, my husband and I had been told that we “must try” this famous dish when visiting the Crescent City. Dressed for an evening out, we headed to Pascal’s Manale and ordered the shrimp as an appetizer. Granted you are given a bib and lots of paper napkins but they are very messy to eat as you must peel and eat the shrimp with your fingers. It was delicious but fair warning…roll up your sleeves and have lots of napkins to wipe away the butter that drips down your elbows as you pull apart the shrimp.

Original Pascal’s Manale Barbecue Shrimp

Just as chefs all over New Orleans have tinkered and tweaked the recipe for their own restaurants, so have I. Each time I prepare the spicy shrimp, I make a few changes to the recipe. Two changes that I’ve kept over the years are to use headless, peeled and deveined shrimp and to use much less butter and black pepper. I use frozen shrimp but if you happen to live near the Gulf Coast and have access to fresh shrimp, all the better. The recipe is very flexible and can be adapted to your own preferences. In my version, I thickened the broth to a sauce like consistency so that it is easier to eat.

Spicy New Orleans Style Shrimp

Serves 2 – 4, adjust the recipe accordingly

  • 8 to 12 colossal sized shrimp, 3 or 4 per serving
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/4 tsp. dried basil, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. anchovy paste
  • 2 tsp., more or less, tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 to 2 tsp. Tabasco or to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. Wondra ( a special instant flour that doesn’t create lumps, regular flour can be substituted)
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • broth from shrimp shells*

*Peel and devine shrimp but leave tail on. Place the shells in 1 cup of water and bring to boil. Cook for several minutes until the shells have turned pink, remove from heat, discard shells and save the shrimp broth to use for thinning the sauce, if necessary.

Notes From the Kitchen

Toss the shrimp with the herbs and spices in a bowl then set aside.

Melt the butter and olive oil in sauté pan over medium high heat, add the onions and garlic, cook until translucent. Add the shrimp and sauté about one minute on each side until they turn bright pink. Remove the shrimp from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the anchovy and tomato pastes and stir to incorporate. Sprinkle Wondra over, stir and cook the flour about a minute but do not let brown. Pour in the wine, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens slightly. If the sauce gets too thick, use some shrimp broth to thin. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Add the shrimp back to the pan along with the lemon juice and cook for approximately one minute more on each side. Serve immediately.


The shrimp recipe, prepared New Orleans style, is a spicy, flavorful dish that can be enjoyed anytime of the year but especially when with weather is cooler. Served with a side of rice and a slice or two of crusty bread to soak up some of the delicious sauce, it makes for a fine meal. Enjoy!

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I travel the back roads of the world, sharing great food and interesting places and enjoyable pastimes.

38 thoughts on “Spicy Shrimp, New Orleans Style

  1. The best shrimp I’ve ever had was when we visited New Orleans. However, I don’t think I ever had spicy shrimp. I did have bbq shrimp, which like you say isn’t what we think of as bbq. I’ve got to try this recipe.

  2. That looks delicious – I will make this for my Catalan friends, they loved the gumbo I cooked last week. You don’t see much New Orleans cuisine in Spain, in spite of Louisianan, Florida and Texas being Spanish colonies.

  3. Sigh. I love this dish. LOVE it! And love Pascal’s Manale, too — what a great restaurant. Although the only think I’ve ever ordered there was this dish , and probably a salad to start (I like this as a main course). Your version looks SO good. And I have shrimp in the freezer. Hmmm . . . 🙂 Good stuff — thanks.

  4. Your Spicy Shrimp sounds like some of the dishes we enjoyed a few years ago while in New Orleans. All the food there is second to none! Love your recipe!

  5. Thank you, Karen! I’m excited to try this. I’m not a huge seafood fan unless it has a nice sauce or is in a soup or gumbo. But I truly enjoyed shrimp done up cajun style when we visited NOLA.

    I have everything but the shrimp and Wondra so it will be something on the dinner menu this week. And an aside, I always wondered what Wondra was!!!

    Jane ❤️

  6. Karen, this is a lovely recipe. I have a garlic prawn recipe that similarly keeps the head and shell intact during the cooking to lock in extra flavour. There’s nothing like eating with my fingers, pulling the head off and sucking out all the juices.

  7. This is a really unique way to prepare shrimp, and I’m intrigued. I haven’t had anything quite like it, I’m sure. In fact, I had to stop and think if I’ve ever had Creole Italian in any city! I am sure this is a definite winner. 🙂

  8. Wow, that does sound good, will give it a try.
    Now winter has arrived I hope to keep up more with blogs, sorry summer was a busy time for me with the garden and the kitchen.
    Keep safe Diane

  9. i do love prawns but they can be so very messy. we used to go to an uruguayan restaurant here which served them shell-on. I didn’t want to get my jacket dirty so i only ate one or two. i hated to tell the owners why…

  10. I need to try this recipe! I love anything seafood and spicy. Defintely Creole cuisine is one of my favourite ones and you represented it well in this recipe

  11. JT has never been a fan of diving in to a saucy dish with your hands so I’d probably have to peel the shrimp before I served them. The sauce looks so glistening and tasty and with the cooler temperatures, this dish is perfect.

  12. Karen – one of my all-time favorite dishes! I’ll never forget lunch at pascal’s Manale! 8 of us around the table, each with a big bowl of these outrageously yummy shrimp!

  13. I love getting down and dirty with my seafood. The Pascal’s Manale Barbecue Shrimp sounds like my kind of food. This spicy shrimp looks fabulous and the sauce sounds so flavorful!

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