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BBQ Grilled Prawns
with Garlic, Lemon & Chilli

These BBQ Prawns really are something to get fired up about. They’re so easy to make, utterly delicious, healthy, require just 5 ingredients and are ready to serve in 30 minutes. This is what easy summer entertaining is all about

BBQ grilled prawns with lemon garlic and chilli

Imagine an early evening BBQ surrounded by your nearest and dearest, with the heady aroma of smoky succulent prawns and a hint of garlic being grilled over glowing coals. And, they’re even better when enjoyed with terrific company, something cold and crisp and served with wedges of lemon and fresh crusty bread.

No doubt about it, your mouth should be watering, round about now.
And if you LOVE prawns, you should also check out this Thai Prawn Noodle Bowl recipe. 

My BBQ Prawns are Shrimply Irresistable

And yours will be too. I’m going to walk you through, step-by-step and show you how to achieve perfectly grilled, succulent prawns.  Let’s start at the beginning.  As with everything in life, what you put in is what you get out.  So you really want to start with great ingredients – and that includes the freshest prawns.

How to Choose Fresh Prawns

You want to start with a good fishmonger or market where the quality is reliable.

Then follow these guidelines for choosing the freshest prawns available:

  1. They should smell fresh – like sea water. Don’t buy prawns that smell fishy and if you smell ammonia, run in the opposite direction.
  2. Prawns must be translucent and firm to the touch.
  3. Their shells should feel hard when pressed, not cracked or crumbling.
  4. Prawn head and eyes should be firm and intact
  5. The whiskers should be firm and straight.
  6. Next, check that the legs are firm and translucent.
  7. Gently tug on the heads – you should feel some resistance. You can also hold them by their whiskers to check that the heads remain attached.
  8. Where possible, choose fresh over frozen prawns.  Seriously. Fresh prawns are much more flavourful and are also more tender.
BBQ grilled prawns with lemon garlic and chilli

The Secret to Amazing Aglio E Olio

The sauce we’re making is based on simple ingredients found in a classic Aglio e Olio – olive oil, garlic and chilli. We’re also adding some fresh parsley and the zest and juice of a lemon. And that adds a whole extra dimension of deliciousness to seafood.

There are two secrets to creating the perfect Aglio. Firstly, use a really good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and two: gently toast the garlic in the olive oil when frying, so it’s no longer raw. You’re aiming for a light golden brown. Too light and you’re missing out on the flavour, too dark and it’s a bit like your ex – all bitter.

When making the sauce, err on the side of generous, because remember some of that sauce will slide off as it cooks on the grill.

Getting Up in Your Grill

One of the mistakes rookies make when making BBQ prawns, or any seafood done over the coals for that matter, is too think that it should be cooked over lower heat. This is simply not true, in fact, when grilling seafood, the smaller the item, the higher the heat. So you need your coals to be HOT.  If I had to guess, the temperate should be around 280C.

You want to cook the prawns for between 2 and 4 minutes, so around 3 minutes, depending on the heat of your fire.  And this is absolutely the one time you want to get caught watching prawn.  You want a bit of a sizzle as this means they’re caramelising and developing a gorgeous flavour. You’ll know that they’re ready when their shells have turned a pinky orange (the technical description) and the meat is a pearly white.

And that’s really all there is to it.

So, let’s get the fire started!

Are These BBQ Prawns a Great Catch?

Did you put these BBQ prawns to the test? Tell us about it! How yum was it? Please leave me a comment, give this recipe a rating, and remember to tag your photo #theculinarycartel on Instagram so we can see what you come up with.


BBQ grilled prawns with lemon garlic and chilli

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I omit the chilli?

Yes. If you’re not a fan of spicy, simply omit the chilli and enjoy it the way you like it. 

What can I serve with these BBQ Prawns?

They’re utterly delicious on their own, just off the grill with a wedge of lemon, but if you like some fresh crusty bread of your choice makes a wonderful accompaniment and can be used to mop up the sauce. You could try a country style loaf, ciabatta or even a Portuguese Bolo de caco would be a great choice.  


BBQ grilled prawns with lemon garlic and chilli
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BBQ Prawns with chilli lemon and garlic

BBQ Grilled Prawns with Garlic, Lemon & Chilli

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  • Author: Jess Bunn
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2
  • Diet: Gluten Free


These BBQ Prawns really are something to get fired up about. They’re so easy to make, utterly delicious, healthy, need just 5 ingredients and are ready to serve in 30 minutes. This is what easy summer entertaining is all about.



From Your Pantry

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Your 5 Ingredients

  • 8 large Prawns (prepared with shells still on but vein removed)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 12 chillies
  • 1 Tbsp / 2g fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon – juice and zest


  • Fresh lemon wedges for serving
  • Fresh crusty bread of your choice for dipping in the sauce

For the Barbecue

  • Firelighters
  • Charcoal
  • Matches or lighter
  • Glass of water



  1. Get your fire started by placing a few firelighters into the bottom grill of the BBQ and once alight, top with charcoal, piling it in the middle to get a concentrated central heat source.
  2. While your BBQ is heating up, make the sauce for the prawns by adding the olive oil to a pan. Grate in the cloves of garlic. Using a sharp knife, finely slice the chillies and add it to the pan. Fry over medium heat for 2 minutes, then add the zest and juice of the lemon and cook gently so the garlic is no longer raw. Take care not to overcook the garlic.
  3. Pour half of the olive oil and garlic mixture over the cleaned prawns. Massage the marinade under the shell so the prawns are evenly coated to distribute the flavour.
  4. Check your BBQ. Your coals should all be white hot, with no black areas left. Place a clean grill over the coals and we are ready to cook.
  5. Your coals should be hot enough so the prawns sizzle when placed on the grill. You want the prawns to get slightly charred on each side but not burnt.  Flames may spring up and envelop the prawns as the oil drips onto the coal – make sure the prawns aren’t completely engulfed in an inferno. If the flames get too intense, sprinkle a little water from a glass with your fingers to calm the fire.
  6. Once the prawns are pink and charred on one side, (approximately 45 secs-1 min) flip them and cook on the other side. Once the shells are a pinky-orange and the meat is a pearl white, take them off the fire and place them onto a clean tray. Pour over the remaining garlic, lemon and chilli sauce.
  7. Serve immediately, with optional lemon wedges and fresh crusty bread.


  • Prep Time: 25
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Category: Mains, Fish Dishes
  • Method: Barbecue
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