Most people will agree that food cooked on the barbeque is simply delicious. Yet, many limit themselves to burgers, steaks, and ribs. There is a whole planet of food that is awesome when barbequed, including one of Australia’s favourite seafood options (and one of my personal favourites). If you want to learn how to cook grilled prawns like an expert, you’ve come to the right place.
Preparing Prawns for the Barbeque
Keep or remove the shell
First, you must decide if you will leave the shell on or remove it.
While it is safe to prepare prawns either way, some people have very strong feelings one way or another. I prefer to keep the shell on but it comes down to individual preferences.
For the easiest experience for diners, remove the shell. As the chef, you will save some time and work by preparing your BBQ prawns in shells. Some chefs straddle both lines and leave the head and tail on, removing the shell over the body and clearing away the digestive tract.
Most diners agree that whether the shell is on or removed, they prefer to have the intestinal tract removed when eating prawns. This is called deveining. To do this, simply:
Bend the prawn and break the intestinal tract near the tail with a toothpick or skewer
Insert a toothpick behind the head and pull out the intestinal tract
Rinse the prawn in running water
I always recommend rinsing the prawn afterwards to make sure you don’t get any funky flavours later on.
This step is optional, but I do it to make barbequing a bit easier. To place your cleaned prawn on a skewer, insert the tip near the tail (or where the tail was attached).
A handy tip for those learning how to cook prawns on the BBQ is to take kitchen shears and trim the prawn’s whiskers, legs, and tail. You do not need to cut any part back very far. However, the delicate ends of these parts burn easily, and it is better to avoid charring your dinner. This step is unnecessary if you remove the head, legs, and shell.
Make Sure the Grill is Clean
Use a wire brush to remove any burnt-on food debris from previous grilling. Doing this will ensure better contact between the food and the grill grate. Also, you reduce the chance of your food picking up the burnt taste of whatever is clinging to the grill. If you keep up with the task before you grill, it will become easier and eventually second nature.
Heat Your Grill
Poor heat control has ruined many beautiful meals. Typically, most people do not make the grill hot enough. If you put food on a grill that is not hot enough, you have a good chance that your food will stick, tear, and fall apart. A good all-purpose temperature for your grill is 230°C.
Oil the Grill Grate
This simple step will make grilling easier. You remove burnt char dust left from your cleaning by oiling the grill grate. Also, foods are less likely to stick to an oiled grill. To oil your grill grate, get a clump of paper towels or a kitchen cloth and rub some oil on it. Then wipe your grill with the towel. Remember to use a plain oil with a high smoke point so your food does not pick up any strong flavours or smoke. I recommend grapeseed oil for grilling (and other types of cooking) because it has a high smoke point and a mild taste.
Don’t Set the Food on Fire
This seems self-explanatory, but novice grill masters sometimes believe that food on fire is a good thing. Do not put food directly into the flames unless you enjoy burnt food.
How to Cook Prawns on a BBQ
Fiery BBQ Grilled Prawns
Moist and tender prawns meet Hot and Nashty seasoning – a match made somewhere south of heaven.
20gSPG(if you don't have our SPG rub, mix salt, pepper, and garlic to taste)
18-24very large prawns(cleaned, deveined, and skewered)
Combine the first five ingredients to make a marinade.
Place prawns in a baking dish or other large container and pour enough marinade to cover the prawns. Cover and refrigerate for 20- 30 minutes. Flip prawns after 10 minutes and reserve the remaining marinade for later use. Note: If you are leaving the shell on, be sure to marinate the shell side down first.
Ensure your grill is ready at 230C by preparing it while the prawns marinate.
Place prawns on a hot grill and brush lightly with the remaining marinade.
Grill for about five minutes a side then remove from heat. While the prawns are cooking, they will turn completely orange.
Move them onto a serving plate and eat right away with your favourite side dishes.
Feel free to adjust the spice level to suit your taste. If you prefer a tasty prawn without the heat, I recommend our Bush Tucker seasoning and rub. This seasoning is warm, smokey, and a little sweet all at the same time. Your guests will love it, and you will look like a pro.
There are many ways to add unique flavour to your BBQ prawns. No matter what your taste, we have a spice blend (or two) that you will love.
Check out our handy spice pairing guide below for expert spice recommendations to take your BBQ game to the next level.
When preparing prawns for the BBQ, you must decide whether to leave the shell on or remove it, but I always recommend removing it. Most people also prefer to have the intestinal tract removed when eating prawns, which is called deveining.
To cook prawns on a BBQ, you need to ensure that the grill is clean and hot enough, and you should oil the grill grate to make grilling easier. Finally, you can add unique flavour to your BBQ prawns by using our Hot & Nashty seasoning.
So, there you have it! Go forth and enjoy some seriously-good seafood.
How Do I Pick the Right Prawns?
Prawns are an example of a brilliant choice of protein to cook on your barbeque. They are a favourite in Australia, and locally sourced prawns are easy to find.
When possible, opt for Australian king prawns. These are renowned for their moist flesh, firm texture, and rich taste. Typically, you will have a choice between fresh or frozen when planning to barbeque prawns. Your best option is to go with the fresh ingredients.
It is in your best interest to avoid prawns that have:
A flimsy head which indicates the prawn is old
Loose legs and a weak shell mean the prawns are old
A mushy texture
Any black colour on the head
A slimy coating on the prawn’s body tells you the prawn is stale and old
Pungent odours rather than a fresh scent of the sea
Can You BBQ Cooked Prawns?
Yes, you can BBQ cooked prawns. BBQing cooked prawns is a quick and easy way to add a smoky flavour to the prawns and reheat them if they have been previously cooked.
How Long Should I Cook Prawns on the BBQ?
Set your grill to 230°C and cook for 5 minutes each side until completely orange.
I love cooking with different textures and flavours, and it’s no secret that I enjoy a good BBQ. I find that the combination of good quality meat and vegetables, combined with spices, smoke, and time, can create some of the most delicious and complex flavours.