Easy Sesame Shrimp – Quick and easy healthy shrimp stir fry with a sweet, tangy sesame sauce. We LOVE this easy dinner! (Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly)
I hit a bit of a wall over the weekend. Anyone else feel that way lately?
Whenever I’m overwhelmed or feeling DONE, it helps me to automate as much as possible and to trim things down as much as possible. Right now, that looks like keeping some things in a regular routine (only checking emails/comments/messages at certain times in the day, ordering groceries once a week, sticking to a set bedtime, etc.), letting some of the less-essential cleaning projects go, and simplifying meals.
I’ve been craving simple meals lately–things like pots of soup or chili on the weekend, and plenty of easy staples like blender pancakes and DIY salad bar. Lately, I’ve also been making good use of kitchen shortcuts and time-savers to make life easier. I love that eating simply doesn’t have to mean eating bland or boring food–this sesame shrimp stir fry is a perfect example!
The whole dish is done in about 30 minutes, and I can keep things simple on the side with pre-cooked rice or frozen cauliflower rice, steam-in-the-bag veggies, or frozen stir-fry blends. And when it’s done? You have tender, perfectly cooked shrimp in a savory sweet sesame sauce (say that 10x fast!) plus some veggies + carbs to round things out. It’s a gorgeous (delicious!) easy dinner that checks all the boxes.
Here’s all you need to get started on our simple, healthy Sesame Shrimp recipe…
HERE’S WHAT YOU’ll NEED FOR OUR EASY SESAME SHRIMP RECIPE:
- Peeled, Deveined Shrimp + A Little Oil. We live in the middle of the desert, so we tend to use thawed frozen shrimp. (Thrive Market can be a great place to order sustainably caught shrimp! Get 25% off your first order with this link.) Then, you’ll just need a little oil to cook it in.
- Gluten-Free Tamari (Gluten-Free Soy Sauce). To keep the sodium a bit more reasonable, I prefer using low-sodium tamari for sesame shrimp. If you prefer, you can use coconut aminos (paleo-friendly) or low-sodium soy sauce depending on your dietary needs.
- Pure Maple Syrup or Honey. To sweeten the sauce, you’ll need a little pure maple syrup or honey. Maple syrup is my go-to, since the flavor is a bit more neutral, but honey can be nice with the sesame, garlic + ginger!
- Rice Vinegar. To add some brightness and tang to the sesame shrimp sauce, you’ll add a splash of rice vinegar. (See the FAQ if you’re paleo!)
- Toasted Sesame Oil. Toasted sesame oil has a rich sesame flavor, and a little goes a LONG way. Do know that regular sesame oil doesn’t have the same deep flavor, so you want to be sure you’re using toasted sesame oil!
- Garlic + Ginger. Fresh garlic and ginger MAKE this sauce! Feel free to use frozen or fresh. (Frozen cubes keep for ages and tend not to have any additives. I love them!)
- A Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes. For a little warmth without much heat, I like adding a small pinch of red pepper flakes. If you want things spicier, feel free to add more!
- Sesame Seeds. To finish things off, I add some sesame seeds. They look pretty and taste great!
- A Slurry To Thicken The Sauce. Lastly, you’ll thicken the sauce with a cornstarch or arrowroot slurry. (Cornstarch or arrowroot mixed with water) This will give the sesame sauce a gorgeous texture and help it coat the shrimp.
MAKE IT A MEAL. HERE’S WHAT TO SERVE WITH SESAME SHRIMP:
RICE. Good old white or brown rice makes a great base to soak up all that lovely sauce from the sesame chicken. (Learn how we batch cook brown rice in an Instant Pot here–it freezes + reheats like a dream!)
CAULIFLOWER RICE OR CAULIFLOWER FRIED RICE. If you’re aiming for something lower carb or higher in veggies, cauliflower rice can be a great way to go. I love keeping frozen bags on hand. It cooks up in no time and is nearly identical in nutrients to fresh! If you’re feeling fancy, you can take it a step further and try our cauliflower fried rice!
GREEN VEGGIES. Adding some quick green veggies is a great way to round out the meal. Try stir-fried zucchini, steamed broccoli, or some snow or snap peas. Yum! Or, add some more color by cooking up a blend with carrots and bell peppers, too.
THAI CUCUMBER SALAD. Or, if you want something cool and refreshing, our Thai Cucumber salad is lovely next to a warm cozy stir fry!
ORANGES OR PINEAPPLE. I like including fruits and veggies at most dinners, and I think something cool and fresh like orange slices or pineapple is delicious next to a sesame shrimp stir fry. So good!
FAQ + TIPS AND TRICKS FOR THE BEST SESAME SHRIMP:
A TRICK FOR THAWING SHRIMP. Frozen shrimp thaws quite quickly, but you want to make sure you do it safely. (Leaving it on the counter for hours isn’t safe!) Instead, I like to put my bag of frozen shrimp in a large bowl or baking dish and cover with cold water (not hot or it might start to cook the shrimp!). It should thaw in the refrigerator in just about 1.5-3 hours depending on how its packaged. (Vacuum sealed shrimp thaws faster)
HOW TO AVOID OVERCOOKING SHRIMP. Overcooked shrimp gets rubbery and tough quickly if you’re not careful. I suggest cooking your shrimp just 60-90 seconds per side, or until it’s pink and opaque on the outside but still the *tiniest* bit translucent in the center. It will either finish cooking as it sits on the plate with the residual heat or finish as you stir it into the warm sauce. You definitely want it opaque all the way through before eating, and getting it *almost* all the way there before adding it to the sauce will help keep the shrimp tender and perfectly cooked.
PALEO? TRY THIS! If you’re following a paleo diet, this recipe is super paleo-friendly. You’ll use coconut aminos in place of the gluten-free tamari, arrowroot instead of cornstarch, and (depending on how strict you are) you can substitute apple cider vinegar in place of the rice vinegar.
TRY FROZEN GARLIC + GINGER. I’ve mentioned this before, but every time I do it reaches someone new: try frozen garlic and frozen ginger! They’re frozen from fresh with no added ingredients and taste just as vibrant and delicious as fresh. Plus, they stay fresh for ages so you won’t reach for your garlic bulb or ginger root only to find its gone bad.
ADD SOME GARNISH! You know I love making a recipe pretty! I love garnishing our healthy sesame shrimp with sliced green onions or finely minced cilantro for a bit of green, plus a sprinkle of extra sesame seeds (and sometimes a few more red pepper flakes) for good measure.
CRAVING MORE TAKE-OUT FAKE-OUT? YOU MIGHT ALSO LOVE:
- Healthy Orange Chicken
- Paleo Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- Healthy Beef & Broccoli
- Egg Drop Soup
- Healthy Sesame Chicken
- Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce
- Cauliflower Fried Rice
SHOP OUR FAVORITE TOOLS + INGREDIENTS FOR SESAME SHRIMP:
Quick and easy healthy sesame shrimp stir fry with a sweet, tangy sesame sauce. We LOVE this easy dinner! (Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly)
- 1 lb. shrimp (fresh or thawed from frozen), peeled and deveined, tails removed
- 1 Tbsp. avocado oil (or olive oil, or another neutral oil)
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 Tbsp. reduced-sodium gluten-free tamari (can sub coconut aminos* or low-sodium soy sauce)
- 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup (or honey)
- 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar*
- 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/2–1 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger
- Pinch red pepper flakes (1/8 tsp. or less), optional.
- 1 tsp. sesame seeds (plus extra for garnish)
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch or arrowroot*
- 1 Tbsp. water
- Optional garnishes: additional sesame seeds, sliced green onion, finely minced cilantro, or more red pepper flakes
- First, mix up your sauce. In a medium bowl or large glass measuring cup, whisk together 1/2 water, tamari, maple syrup, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and sesame seeds.
- In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch + 1 Tbsp. water until smooth. (This will make the slurry to thicken the sauce.)
- Stir in the cornstarch slurry into your sesame sauce and whisk to combine. (The sauce should now look cloudy.)
- Next, cook your shrimp. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, add the shrimp to the pan and cook 60-90 seconds per side, or until the edges are pink and opaque and the center is just *barely* translucent. Remove the shrimp and set aside on a clean plate. Repeat this process with remaining shrimp, until all the shrimp are cooked.
- Whisk the sauce one more time, then pour the sauce into the warm pan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the sauce bubbles and thicken.
- When the sauce is thickened and glossy, return the cooked shrimp to the pan. Stir to coat with sauce and heat through 1-2 minutes. (This will ensure your shrimp finishes cooking.)
- Garnish with any desired garnishes and serve with rice or cauliflower rice, and/or veggies.
*PALEO? TRY THIS! If you’re following a paleo diet, this recipe is super paleo-friendly. You’ll use coconut aminos in place of the gluten-free tamari, arrowroot instead of cornstarch, and (depending on how strict you are) you can substitute apple cider vinegar in place of the rice vinegar.
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stir Fry
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: sesame shrimp, paleo sesame shrimp, gluten-free sesame shrimp, gluten free sesame shrimp, healthy sesame shrimp