This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.
Sweet, sticky, and savory, this super easy Honey Bourbon Shrimp has everything you love. Pan-seared shrimp and veggies are quickly simmered in a simple richly-flavored sauce. It is a delicious 30-minute seafood dinner you can serve over rice, noodles, and more.
What is Bourbon Shrimp?
As you’ve roamed the food court at the mall, you’ve probably seen people giving out samples of bourbon chicken. While it’s often on the menu at Chinese eateries, it actually originated in Louisiana and is named for both Bourbon Street and the bourbon in the sauce. That’s why you also see it at Cajun fast food places.
It generally consists of pieces of chicken breasts or thighs simmered in a sticky sweet and tangy brown sauce and is often served over rice. This Bourbon Shrimp recipe replaces the chicken with succulent shrimp, and even tosses in some bright veggies for good measure. In fact, I was inspired by this Bourbon Chicken recipe.
You’ll love how quickly it all comes together, and the fact that you can cook it in one pan is a huge bonus – fewer dishes to wash!
The crave-worthy sauce will have everyone eating their seafood and vegetables, and maybe even trying to lick their plates clean at the end.
If you are gluten free or do not consume alcohol, you may wonder if you can make this recipe. The answer is YES! But let’s see what you’ll need to do in order to enjoy it.
Does Bourbon Shrimp contain alcohol?
This recipe does call for a quarter cup of bourbon, so technically it does contain alcohol. For reference, bourbon is typically 80 proof or 40% alcohol. This dish has about a tablespoon per serving (keep in mind a shot is 1 1/2 ounces, and a tablespoon is half an ounce.
Plus, some (though not all) of the alcohol will evaporate during the cooking process. Therefore, it is likely less than you would need to be concerned about (i.e. you won’t get drunk) unless you are highly sensitive to alcohol or abstain completely.
Is bourbon gluten free?
The mash used to make bourbon does typically contain wheat, barley, and/or rye. However, gluten proteins are left behind in the distillation process. Therefore, according to beyondceliac.org, bourbon is generally considered gluten free and safe for celiacs.
That being said, always consult your doctor and try small amounts first. There is always a possible risk of cross-contamination due to the handling of these grains. Some people who are highly sensitive may have a reaction to bourbon.
Also, this only applies to pure bourbons. Some flavored bourbons may have flavors, additives, or other gluten-containing ingredients added to them.
What can I substitute for bourbon?
If you want to avoid the bourbon altogether, you can still make this dish. The flavor will vary slightly, but it will still be delicious.
- An equal amount of orange or apple juice
- Half apple juice and half apple cider vinegar
- A half teaspoon vanilla extract plus an equal amount of water
While it seems like a lot of ingredients, many are pantry staples. It’s mostly a matter of stirring together the sauce ingredients. There really is minimal prep work.
For the bourbon sauce
- Bourbon. Or use another type of whisky or one of the non-alcoholic substitutes mentioned above.
- Ketchup. I usually just use some from a bottle, but you can use my homemade ketchup recipe.
- Soy sauce. Be sure to use a gluten free brand or tamari, if needed.
- Honey. For a slight variation on the flavor, you can try maple syrup too.
- Ground ginger. You can also try about a tablespoon of fresh ginger.
- Fresh garlic. Minced.
- Cornstarch. For thickening.
For the shrimp
- Large shrimp. Peeled and deveined
- Salt and pepper.
- Onion powder.
- Sesame oil. If you don’t have any, you can use coconut, vegetable, or olive oil. But the sesame flavor truly adds to this dish.
- Zucchini. Quartered lengthwise and cut into cubes.
- Red pepper. Chopped. Yellow or orange work too, but green might be too bitter.
- Green onions. Sliced for an optional garnish.
- Sesame seeds. Toasted for an optional garnish.
Similar to a stir fry, Bourbon Shrimp is an easy dish that comes together in minutes.
Make the sauce mixture. In a medium bowl, combine bourbon, ketchup, soy sauce, honey, ground ginger, minced garlic, and cornstarch. Whisk together.
Season the shrimp. Place shrimp in a bowl and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt, pepper, and onion powder, and toss to coat.
Cook the shrimp and vegetables. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add sesame oil. Add shrimp and cook for 2 minutes per side. Add the zucchini and red peppers. Saute for 3-5 minutes until starting to get tender and brown.
Thicken the sauce. Drain all liquid from the pan. Return skillet to stove and add the sauce mixture. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat to low. Stir often and allow to simmer 5-7 minutes or until thickened and the veggies are as tender as you like them.
How to Serve Bourbon Shrimp
Serve the shrimp and veggies over something that will soak up that mouthwatering sauce. Don’t forget to garnish with some sliced green onions and sesame seeds.
Spoon bourbon shrimp on top of:
- Rice: Basic white rice or brown rice is perfect, but you can also try basmati or a wild rice blend.
- Gluten Free Grains: You can also try something like quinoa or polenta.
- Noodles: Gluten free ramen or rice noodles are a fun choice, and what my kids prefer.
- Veggie alternatives: While this isn’t a low carb dish, you can reduce the grains and carbs in your meal by making cauliflower rice or zoodles. You can even try lettuce wraps!
Tips for Success
- I like to make this using large shrimp, but you can go with extra large or medium if that’s what you have. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time.
- Draining the liquid before adding the sauce is important. The shrimp and veggies give off a lot of moisture, and if you leave it in the pan, the sauce will be too watery.
- If you aren’t a fan of zucchini and peppers, feel free to switch it up with broccoli, mushrooms, or carrots. You can even skip the vegetables altogether and just serve some on the side. I do like the texture and color they add to the dish.
- Bourbon Shrimp is a great recipe for meal prep. Put it into containers with your preferred side dish so you can bring it to work with you.
Storage and Reheating
Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 or 4 days. You can also freeze it, tightly sealed or wrapped, for up to a month, just be sure to thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Gently warm the bourbon shrimp in a skillet over medium heat. Or reheat them for 2 or 3 minutes in the microwave, until steaming hot.
More shrimp recipes
Honey Bourbon Shrimp
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup soy sauce or tamari, gluten free if needed
- ½ cup honey
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into cubes
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions, optional garnish
- Sesame seeds, optional garnish
- Rice, noodles, etc. for serving
- In a medium bowl, combine bourbon, ketchup, soy sauce, honey, ground ginger, minced garlic, and cornstarch. Whisk together and set aside.
- Place shrimp in a bowl and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt, pepper, and onion powder and toss to caot.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add the sesame oil. Add shrimp and cook for 2 minutes per side. Add the zucchini and red peppers. Saute for 3-5 minutes minutes until starting to get tender and lightly browned.
- Drain all liquid from pan. Return skillet to stove and add the sauce mixture. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer 5-7 minutes or until thickened, stirring often.
- Serve with rice or ramen noodles and garnish with green onions and sesame seeds, as desired.