As I planned the menu for my summer dinner party featuring succulent garlic shrimp as the main dish, I contemplated the perfect side dishes to serve with shrimp. Through trial and error from hosting past gatherings, I’ve learned that shrimp pairs well with a variety of flavors and textures. The key is selecting sides that will nicely complement, but not overwhelm the star of the show – the shrimp.
After researching many options, I’ve identified 14 delicious shrimp side dishes for any occasion. These what to serve with shrimp ideas run the gamut from classic salads and veggies to decadent comfort foods. With lighter and heavier sides to choose from, you can easily create a cohesive shrimp-focused meal. Keep reading for tasty recipe inspiration!
1. Roasted Parmesan Asparagus
Asparagus is a versatile and healthy vegetable bursting with flavor. Its slender spears add attractive height and vibrant green color to plates. What to serve with shrimp? For a classic pairing, you can’t go wrong with roasted asparagus. The high heat concentrates the vegetable’s sweet, earthy notes. A sprinkling of salty Parmesan cheese introduces rich, savory contrast to sweet shrimp. With just a few key ingredients, this easy roasted asparagus recipe spotlights the main ingredient’s flavor. Feel free to get creative with spices and herbs in the seasoning blend too.
2. Macaroni Salad
No summer barbecue or picnic is complete without macaroni salad gracing the table. This hearty, creamy fan favorite acts as the perfect foil to plump, juicy grilled shrimp. Tender macaroni noodles provide a base to capture the tangy dressing. For variety, try subs like pasta shells, spirals or bowties. Hard boiled eggs lend protein while celery and bell peppers contribute welcome crunch. The pasta soaks up the dressing to achieve an ultra-rich, cool flavor and texture. Mac salad’s mellow flavor profile lets spicy, blackened or heavily sauced shrimp shine.
3. Pesto Zoodles
Seeking a lighter, veggie-centric side dish idea? Enter pesto zoodles. Zoodles are spiralized or julienned zucchini noodles packing a fraction of the carbs of wheat pasta. Their mild taste allows bolder ingredients to take center stage. Basil pesto infuses the dish with intense herby flavor to excite tastebuds. Toasted pine nuts or walnuts introduce textural contrast while Parmesan offers a salty, nutty punch. Hearty chickpeas add protein and substance. The pesto zoodles’ freshness stands up well to Asian-inspired shrimp sides with bold citrus, garlic and ginger notes.
4. Greek Veggie Salad
This Mediterranean-inspired salad overflows with the bright, sunny flavors of summer. Juicy red tomatoes, cool cucumbers, crisp bell peppers and red onions offer health perks through antioxidants and nutrients. They also contribute diverse flavors, colors and textures. Briny olives, tangy feta and red wine vinaigrette tie it all together. The salad’s light and vibrant flavor profile pairs seamlessly with heavier shrimp dishes. It shines next to cheesy baked shrimp, coconut curry shrimp or shrimp over pasta.
5. Grilled Kabobs
Fire up the grill for these easy yet impressive shrimp sidekicks. Skewered meat and produce char to smoky perfection over the flames. Try alternating bite-size veggies like zucchini, squash, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and chunks of pineapple or stone fruits. Kabobs encourage creativity, so have fun with combinations. Fruit options become downright decadent glazed with teriyaki or other sticky Asian marinades. The high heat caramelizes natural sugars and concentrates flavors ten-fold. Served alongside each other on plates, the shrimp and vegetable kabobs exchange complex flavors.
6. Couscous Primavera
In place of heavy pasta, try nutty, fluffy couscous. It soaks up flavors from onion, garlic and bold seasonings easily. Couscous primavera showcases the vibrant tastes of spring produce like sweet peas, slender green beans and carrots. Their bracing flavors and varied textures mingle beautifully with plump shrimp. For extra complexity, finish the couscous with a drizzle of lemon juice, red pepper flakes or citrusy herbs like dill, basil or mint. Couscous’ mild flavor profile plays well with assertive seasonings on shrimp like Cajun spices or tangy jerk marinades.
7. Mango Guacamole
Transport your meal south of the border with sweet mango guacamole. At their peak of ripeness, mangoes offer tropical flair through vibrant sunshiny flavor and color. Their juicy sweetness and smooth texture effortlessly pair with rich, fatty avocados. Classic guacamole ingredients like lime juice, cilantro, onions and tomatoes make it shine. A touch of heat from jalapeños or chili powder adds depth. This fresh, chunky dip complements crispy coconut shrimp without overshadowing it. Scoop up the combo with tortilla chips for textural contrast.
8. Pascagoula Potato Salad
Give traditional potato salad Southern flair with sharp cheddar, bell peppers and honey mustard dressing. Chopped eggs lend protein while celery contributes welcome crunch. The potatoes soak up the rich, tangy dressing and plump to creamy perfection. Sweet peppers and smoky cheddar cheese introduce bolder flavor and texture. This loaded spud salad has the substance to stand up to hearty blackened, Cajun-style or crispy battered shrimp. The contrasting flavors and textures marry seamlessly.
9. Caprese Salad
Transport diners to an Italian café with a classic caprese salad side. At its simplest, caprese shines a spotlight on juicy red tomatoes, milky fresh mozzarella and fragrant basil leaves. Their flavors sing loudest when sourced in season and locally. A light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar adds just enough contrast without overcomplicating things. The salad’s clean, bright simplicity serves as the ideal counterpoint to boldly seasoned shrimp scampi or arrabbiata.
10. Elote-Style Corn
Fire-roasted sweet corn on the cob transforms into Mexican street food elote with just a few extra toppings. Slather grilled ears of corn with a rich, creamy mixture of mayonnaise, Cotija cheese, cayenne pepper, cilantro and lime. The cool, indulgent sauce soaks into the smoky kernels bringing salt, acidity, herbaceousness and subtle heat. Elote’s fun flavors and textures pair famously with heavily spiced Mexican shrimp tacos or tostadas.
11. Coconut Rice
For an easy upgrade to plain white rice, stir in a can of coconut milk while cooking. Its richness infuses each grain with sweet tropical essence. Soaking up the coconut flavor also yields fluffier, more cohesive texture. Stud the rice with sweet fruits like mango or pineapple along with crunchy pistachios or almonds. Coconut rice’s mildness spotlights bolder, spicier shrimp seasonings like lemon-garlic or Cajun spices. Its luscious creaminess also balances saltier soy-ginger preparations beautifully.
12. Caesar Salad
When in doubt, Caesar salad always delivers. This iconic salad features cool, crisp romaine lettuce leaves bathed in garlicky, Parm-spiked dressing then showered with crispy croutons. Its fresh flavors and varied textures complement – not compete with – sweet, briny shrimp. While seemingly simple, quality ingredients like anchovy paste and genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano make all the difference for rich depth. The salad’s neutral flavor profile works with any shrimp dish from fiery Jamaican jerk to classic scampi.
13. Mexican Coleslaw
Give tired coleslaw zing with Mexican flavors like lime, cilantro and jicama. Thinly sliced cabbage and carrots establish crunchy texture and neutral flavor. Radish, red onion and bell pepper bring color, bite and subtle sweetness to the mix. The acidic lime dressing provides brightness while earthy cilantro and crisp jicama introduce herbaceous and subtle sweet notes. This vibrant slaw shines next to complexly spiced shrimp fajitas, enchiladas, tacos and more.
14. Au Gratin Potatoes
Some occasions call for indulgence and comfort – that’s where au gratin potatoes shine. Thinly sliced Yukon gold or russet potatoes meld into creamy oblivion beneath blankets of molten cheddar, Gruyère and/or Parm. Heavy cream, butter and/or cheese infuse the spuds with irresistible richness. Their weight and heartiness effortlessly match fried coconut shrimp or Scampi dripping in garlic butter sauce. A sprinkling of paprika or fresh herbs contributes flavor without detracting from the decadence.
With endless flavor combinations and textures to consider, determining what to serve with shrimp needn’t overwhelm. Lighter, cooler sides like crisp salads balance rich or spicy shrimp beautifully without overshadowing it. For heartier appetites, look to comforting options