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Grilled Shrimp Skewers With Pesto and Pernod

Kaili loves to cook—from comfort food to fine cuisine—and was the recipient of a silver medal in a food and wine matching competition.

This shrimp recipe goes really well with simple pasta dishes and summer salads.

This shrimp recipe goes really well with simple pasta dishes and summer salads.

Like this bbq shrimp recipe? Please rate it...

This shrimp recipe is so easy to prepare and so tasty, you will want to have it two nights in a row. Made with pesto sauce with a splash of Pernod that gives it a wonderful, slightly licorice flavor, this shrimp recipe requires very little preparation time.

This is among my favorite shrimp recipes, and it's a staple during barbecue season.

Ready? Let's get cooking...

What Is Pernod?

Pernod is a brand of liqueur from France that is made with star anise, herbs, and aromatic plants. It has a very distinctive licorice flavor that goes extremely well with shellfish and other fish dishes.

Other countries, including Greece and Spain, make their own variations on this licorice liqueur. If you don't have any Pernod on hand, try substituting some ouzo or even sambuca in the recipe.

Preparation Time and Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

10 min

20 min

Serves two people (1/2 pound of shrimp per person)


  • 1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup pesto sauce
  • 3 Tbsp Pernod
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil


  1. If you are using fresh shrimp, shell and devein them. Place shrimp in a colander and rinse them well under cold running water. Note: If you are using frozen deveined shrimp and forgot to take them out of the freezer, don’t worry. Simply run them under cold running water for a few minutes and then remove shells. You can also buy fresh shrimp already shelled and deveined from your local fish store.
  2. Add ½ cup pesto sauce to a mixing bowl. Note: The recipe illustrated here was prepared with store-bought pesto sauce, but you can use your own homemade sauce if you have some handy.
  3. Stir in the Pernod and the olive oil until well blended.
  4. Add the shrimp and stir to coat them completely. If the mixture is a little runny, add more pesto (see Tips below). You want it to adhere to the shrimp.
  5. You can now put the bowl of shrimp in the fridge for a couple of hours to marinate if you have the time. If not, proceed to the next step. We understand if you're in a hurry.
  6. Get your grill ready. If you are using a gas grill, preheat it to about 500°F and then turn it down to about 425°F. If using charcoal, wait until the coals are gray.
  7. Push the shrimp one-by-one onto bbq-safe skewers.
  8. Place the skewers on the bbq, and baste them with the pesto mixture that remains at the bottom of the bowl. Turn the skewers about every 2 minutes, basting after each turn. The shrimp should be done in about 10 minutes. Larger "jumbo" shrimp or scampi may take another minute or so.
  9. Enjoy!

Cooking Tips

  1. If you have time to marinate the shrimp ahead of time, you will find that this enhances both the texture and the flavor of the shrimp.
  2. Put a little oil on the rack on your grill or use a vegetable spray for the grill before lighting it. This will make cleanup easier.
  3. The pesto and Pernod mixture should be thick enough to stick to the shrimp and not simply run off. The amounts shown in the ingredients may have to be adjusted somewhat depending on how large your shrimp are and how thick your pesto sauce is to begin with. If the pesto Pernod sauce is too thin after adding the oil and Pernod, simply add another tablespoon or two of pesto. If it is too thick, add a touch more Pernod first, then a little more oil if necessary.
  4. Once the first shrimps are on a skewer, place them over a foil roasting pan or tray to catch the drips while you assemble the other skewers.
  5. Save the pesto and Pernod mixture for basting the shrimp while they are on the barbecue.
Zinfandel is a big fruit-forward wine that pairs extremely well with this dish.

Zinfandel is a big fruit-forward wine that pairs extremely well with this dish.

Red Wine With Shrimp? Really?

Yes, red wine! Don’t believe you can only drink white wine with shrimp. This shrimp and pesto recipe has a wonderful grilled flavor with a hint of licorice that stands up very nicely to red wine. Try a California Zinfandel, or a lighter one from Australia.

Seghesio Vineyards from Sonoma County makes wonderful Zinfandel. Their wines have lovely red and black berry flavors with a dash of spiciness and pepper, and a fabulous body and mouthfeel. The spice and black fruit in the wine brings out the Pernod in the shrimp. A perfect match!

© 2012 Kaili Bisson


Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on July 03, 2012:

Hello catgypsy. You are so welcome! It is a really great combination, especially done on the grill.

catgypsy from the South on July 02, 2012:

Sounds delicious...I love both shrimp and pesto and never thought of combining them in this way. Thanks for the great recipe!

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 25, 2012:

Hi Simone and thank you for the nice words about the pics :-) Pesto and shrimp is so good together, especially done on the bbq.

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on June 25, 2012:

I've never seen shrimp served with pesto, but I bet it's delicious! Thanks for the recipe- and gorgeous photos, BTW!

LetitiaFT from Paris via California on June 21, 2012:

Looking forward to those other pernod dishes! And that's a good question about the winter cooking contest. I was wondering that myself!

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 21, 2012:

Hi Green Lotus, yup and lots of protein. I have a couple of other Pernod recipes that are more winter dishes than summer...is there a recipe contest in the winter? :-)

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 21, 2012:

Hi Om, they go beautifully together. I am always on the lookout for fish recipes that I can serve red wine with.

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 21, 2012:

Hi Letitia, please give it a try and let me know what you think. The Pernod gives it just a hint of lovely anise :-)

Hillary from Atlanta, GA on June 21, 2012:

Wow and it's low carb too! Yummy. Thanks! I never thought of cooking with Pernod before.

Om Paramapoonya on June 21, 2012:

Very lovely! I can easily imagine how red wine would go wonderfully with these pesto shrimp!

LetitiaFT from Paris via California on June 21, 2012:

Another great flavor combo! I can definitely taste the shrimp with pesto with all the garlic it contains, the pernod is the real surprise! Must try this...

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 20, 2012:

Hi Koffee and thank you. Please try it and let me know if you like it. This is one of our summer faves.

Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on June 20, 2012:

Oh yes, guess what's for dinner tomorrow night. Up and awesome.

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 20, 2012:

Thank you teaches! Pesto is one of my favorite food groups :-)

Dianna Mendez on June 20, 2012:

This looks so elegant and your recipe is divine! Shrimp and pesto is one of my favorite flavors mingled in a dish.

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 20, 2012:

Thank you aviannovice. We had this for dinner last night and the kitchen still smells like yummy pesto!

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on June 20, 2012:

This looks like another good one.

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 20, 2012:

Thank you beaddve1800 from Toronto! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

beaddve1800 from Toronto on June 20, 2012:

Cool recipe! Shared :)

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