Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp

Feel a burst of the islands’ flavors with Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp! This masterpiece food with lots of garlic goodness encases succulent shrimp and genuine buttery deliciousness is an iconic symbol of Hawaii’s vibrant food trip. Every bite captures the essence of Hawaiian culture on the plate: the melding of foods from different backgrounds and the tropical paradise that makes its taste unforgettable. Your Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp and discover your gateway to paradise through an explosion of exhilarating tastes!

What is Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp?

Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp is a true embodiment of the island’s culinary heritage, highlighting the rich and multiple influences and bold flavors of Hawaiian dishes. Characterized by its strong, overpowering taste, the meal usually involves big shrimp, a large amount of garlic, some butter, and additional condiments, ranging from lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and spices. A meal is often paired with white rice, creating a mixture of tastes and savory ecstasy. It’s served in all parts of Hawaii and enjoyed by the entire nation, including tourists.

Origin and history

Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp was born out of Hawaii’s complex and multi-faceted cultural history, incorporating cultural culinary traditions brought to the islands by different immigrant communities. It all began with Portuguese immigrants who had a preference for the distinctive flavor of garlic inside their dishes. While the culinary aspects remain from the Portuguese, the native elements of Hawaiian cuisine and cooking techniques have combined to form the distinct taste of the Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp. Culturally, the Hawaiian Shrimp also incorporates other cultural aspects in the region, especially from the Chinese and Japanese immigrants. The Hawaiian-style shrimp arises as Hawaii becomes a melting pot of different cultures and a local meal preferred by the locals and tourists alike.

In other words, this dish represents an evolution from traditional shrimp dishes that came centuries ago from Portugal. Portuguese immigrants brought it and then adapted it to the Hawaiian kitchen. Such an exotic combination guaranteed success and today, we are talking about the signature offering of Hawaiian cuisine, which is an integral part of pretty much every restaurant and food truck across the islands. Moreover, it is a favorite, both among the domicile population and tourists, thanks to such a unique mix of rich and savory flavors.

Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp Origins in Short:

  • This dish comes from the culinary tradition of Portugal, brought by the immigrants, as one of the many garlic-infused dishes.
  • A few centuries later, the dish is completely different from the original recipe, influenced by all kinds of local ingredients, so the dish is called Hawaiian garlic shrimp for a reason.
  • Besides locals, a lot of influence also came from Asian immigrants. Japanese and Chinese cuisine also had a big impact on the recipes, with their complex flavors.
  • Today, we are talking about the stable food of the islands. It is a dish enjoyed both by residents and visitors, a perfect representative of Hawaiian diversity. 
  • The recipe is simple but includes a lot of flavors, and that’s its main beauty. Butter sauce, garlic, and succulent shrimp represent an unmistakable foundation for this gorgeous dish.

Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp Origins in Short


As I’ve just mentioned, the ingredients are rather simple. However, there is such a colorful mix of flavors that makes it so delicious. Let’s break down the dish and check the key ingredients.

  • Shrimp: Of course, it all starts with shrimp as the key ingredient. Succulent and juicy texture is the basis of this dish and as Hawaiian waters are full of shrimp, this seems like such a natural choice.
  • Garlic: Then, there is the Mediterranean influence, coming directly from Portugal, which involves a massive use of fresh garlic. In that way, the dish gets the needed dose of robust flavor. Minced or sauteed in butter, it depends on the chef.
  • Butter: Once again, the massive influence from Europe. Butter serves to suate the garlic and coat the shrimp. But more than that, it adds that rich flavor and ensures excellent texture of the sauce. The dish simply doesn’t work without it.
  • Seasonings: Then the seasonings come. The Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp is rich with flavours and one of the reasons is the massive use of seasonings. There is no need for anything too exotic. The best way to start is with typical things, such as salt and pepper. Paprika is a good choice too. For start, that’s plenty enough to get depth and complexity and enjoy the excellent taste.
  • Flour: Depending on the recipe, there is also flour, which is used for dredging the shrimp before cooking, which is essential if you want to get that crust and ensure a more substantial coating of the shrimp.


OK, I’m pretty sure you want to try to make it at home. The good news is that things are pretty simple and straightforward here. After all, that’s one of the main reasons why this dish has got such wide popularity in Hawaii.

  • Preparation of Shrimp: Of course, there is no other start than to begin with peeling and deveining the shrimp.  
  • Seasoning: Once the cooking process starts, it’s time for seasoning. As mentioned, you can use paprika, or garlic powder to get an even more intense aroma, while flour dredging is the step you definitely don’t want to skip. Of course, don’t forget salt and pepper.
  • Sautéing Garlic: This is one of the most important steps, which starts with melting butter in a pan at medium head. Then the minced garlic comes and the whole sauteing process, which requires patience and a lot of attention, because you don’t want to burn the garlic.
  • Cooking Shrimp: Once you prepare the garlic, it’s time to start cooking the shrimp. Add previously seasoned shrimp and cook for a few minutes on each side. until they get the right color. it’s important not to overcook the shrimp.
  • Adding Additional Ingredients: When the cooking is done, it’s time to get on the additional ingredients. That’s the way you add even more flavor to the dish. Lemon juice and parsley are just some of the things that come to mind.
  • Serving: Finally, it’s time for serving and this dish is served hot. Depending on the occasion and quantity, you can serve it individually or on a family-size platter. Then, add some garnishing, with parsley, green onion, and similar things. Don’t forget the rice either.


Besides fantastic flavors, serving is another important aspect, that ensures a delightful experience. As mentioned, this dish can be served individually or on a family platter, allowing guests to help themselves with this delicious food. As usual, a properly served plate isn’t just about the dish itself. Garnishing plays an important role as well and in the case of Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp, one of the most common elements is chopped parsley. The dish is also usually served along with a generous portion of steamed rice, which serves to soak up the garlic and butter sauce.

  • Individual or Family-Style: As mentioned, Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp can be served in two ways, either as an individual dish or family style. 
  • Garnish: Chopped garlic and green onions are a typical garnish that adds visual apparel and freshness. 
  • Accompaniment: The shrimp is usually served with steamed white rice to complete the meal. 


Like pretty much every dish, this one also comes in numerous versions. After all, that’s the way it was created, as a variation to how Portuguese shrimps were prepared back in the day. And when we talk about variations, it’s all about personal taste and preference. It may be a spicy approach, but we can also see versions with tropical or Asian-inspired flavors. possibilities are endless.

  • Spicy Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp: This is the most common alteration of the original dish. For those who like to add a kick of heat, the way to go is by adding chili flakes, diced jalapenos, hot sauce, and similar things.
  • Coconut Garlic Shrimp: For those who prefer tropical flavors, one of the best options is to include coconut milk or shredded, adds subtle sweetness and richness to the sauce, and it works great with garlic.
  • Pineapple Garlic Shrimp: Fruit always goes with shrimp and in a typical Hawaiian fashion, pineapple is the way to go. Fresh pineapple works fantastic, as it gives a delicious contrast to garlic and butter.


Here is a good Recipe for Classic Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp:


  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Chopped parsley for garnish
  • Cooked white rice, for serving


Prepare the Shrimp:

  • Start by rinsing the shrimp under cold water and patting them dry with paper towels.
  • Then, in a shallow dish, make sure to combine the flour, paprika, salt, and pepper. Also, dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture until evenly coated.

Cook the Shrimp:

  • It’s cooking time! So, make sure to heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Then, what comes next is adding the shrimp to the skilled and cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Finally, remove the shrimp from the skillet and set aside.

Make the Garlic Butter Sauce:

  • Use the same skillet to melt the butter over medium heat. Then, add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Make sure to stir frequently, until it becomes fragrant.


  • When ready, get back to the shrimp and return it to the skillet.


  • Transfer the Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp to a serving platter.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley.
  • Serve hot with cooked white rice on the side.
  • Try with a pinch of chili flakes or hot sauce. It’s perfect if you like hot food.