Inspired by my honeymoon in Greece, this Award-Winning Shrimp Saganaki is healthy, delicious, and comes together in one skillet in just about 30 minutes. It's perfect for a quick weeknight meal and the whole family will love it. Just be sure to serve it with plenty of crusty bread or pasta on the side to soak up the yummy sauce!
Tender, juicy shrimp nestled in a garlic-infused tomato sauce, and topped with creamy, melted feta cheese. What's not to love? My Award-Winning Shrimp Saganaki is a simple and delicious dish inspired by my honeymoon in Greece many years ago.
During our time there, my husband and I fell in love with Greek cuisine, which focuses on fresh ingredients (especially seafood) and clean, simple flavors. Some of my other favorite Mediterranean-inspired dishes include my Greek Zucchini Fritters, Pesto Rosso (Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto), and Spanish Garlic Shrimp.
Why is this Shrimp Saganaki award-winning? Because this recipe won a contest and was selected to be published in the popular Taste of Home magazine! It was also featured on the TV show Home & Family on the Hallmark channel where I joined the hosts virtually to cook my dish on air.
What does saganaki mean?
In Greek cuisine, saganaki refers to a variety of dishes that are cooked in a small two-handled frying pan. Interesting fact- the word saganaki actually comes from the word sagani, which is a type of frying pan with two handles.
The most well-known Greek saganaki dish is one made with fried cheese. The cheese, typically something like feta, graviera or halloumi, is cooked in a small frying pan until it is melted and bubbly.
The dish is finished with fresh lemon juice and served with bread on the side for dipping. Sometimes it's flambéed at the end and served while it's still sizzling.
Shrimp saganaki and mussels saganaki are two other common variations of the dish.
What is shrimp saganaki or prawn saganaki?
Shrimp Saganaki, also known as Garídes Sagináki, is a classic, well-loved Greek appetizer or meze that is a staple on tavern menus in Greece. It's prepared by cooking large shrimp or prawns in a small frying pan in a spicy tomato sauce.
Ouzo, a Greek anise-flavored liquor, is typically added to the dish for flavor. Then the dish is finished off with a sprinkling of salty feta cheese and fresh herbs. It's so delicious!
As a doctor and a mom, I also love this dish because it's healthy and super easy to make! The whole thing comes together in just about 30 minutes. And with only one skillet, there's minimal clean up involved. It's perfect for a quick weeknight meal and is a great way to introduce your kids to seafood.
What is ouzo?
Ouzo is a classic Greek liquor produced from grapes. It has a strong anise (black licorice) flavor and is often served in Greece alongside meze, or appetizers. It can also be added to dishes like shrimp saganaki.
Because it has such a strong flavor, people sometimes dilute ouzo before drinking it. If the flavor is not to your liking, you can substitute dry white wine in this recipe (or leave it out completely).
The Mediterranean Diet
This is a lovely Greek shrimp appetizer or entree that fits in well with the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is a healthy-eating plan that incorporates the traditional flavors and ingredients of the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.
- It emphasizes plant-based foods such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices. Olive oil, which is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, is the main source of fat. Read my post about the health benefits of olive oil.
- Lean protein from fish, seafood and poultry is consumed in moderation. Seafood is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and should be eaten 2-3 times a week. Red meat and sweets are eaten only sparingly. Read my post about the health benefits of seafood.
- The Mediterranean lifestyle also involves regular physical activity, sharing meals with others and enjoying life!
Why is the Mediterranean diet so popular?
- It's not a restrictive diet. Rather, it's a way of eating that's easy to follow and allows you to enjoy plenty of delicious, nutritious food.
- It's excellent for your health! Numerous studies have shown that a Mediterranean-style diet can help reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, certain types of cancer, depression, and cognitive decline.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Olive oil- use extra virgin olive oil for maximum flavor and health benefits
- Shallots and garlic- infuse the sauce with flavor
- Oregano- I use dried since it's readily available but you can use fresh oregano if you have it
- Red pepper flakes- adjust to taste depending on how spicy you want the dish
- Tomatoes- I use canned tomatoes in this recipe for convenience because they're available all year round. But by all means, if fresh tomatoes are in season, go ahead and use them. They will add even more delicious flavor to this dish!
- White wine- shrimp saganaki is typically made with ouzo. You can find ouzo at liquor stores or buy it online. However, it has a strong flavor so I prefer to use white wine in this dish.
- Shrimp- use large or extra large shrimp in this recipe. Buy peeled and deveined shrimp to save time or clean them yourself. You can also use prawns.
- Feta cheese- use a block of good-quality Greek feta for this dish, not the pre-crumbled feta. Feta adds rich, tangy flavor and creamy texture to the dish.
- Fresh parsley- for color and bright flavor
How to make shrimp (garides) saganaki
The great thing about this recipe is that you can make the entire dish in one skillet. Easy to make, easy to clean up! I don't have an authentic saganaki pan so I use an oven-safe enameled cast-iron covered braiser.
Here's how to make it:
- Sauté shallots, garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes in a skillet with olive oil
- Add the tomatoes and white wine. Simmer until the tomatoes start to break down and the sauce thickens.
- Add the shrimp. Cook for a few minutes until they turn pink.
- Crumble feta cheese on top.
- Place skillet under the broiler until feta melts and is golden brown in spots. Alternatively, cover the skillet with a lid and let the cheese melt.
- Garnish the dish with fresh parsley and serve right out of the skillet!
What to serve with Greek shrimp saganaki
This dish is so versatile, you can serve it as an appetizer or entrée. If serving it as an appetizer, all you need is a nice loaf of crusty bread to sop up the amazing sauce. You can also try my simple Pan con Tomate (Spanish Garlic Bread) recipe.
To stick with the Greek theme, you can serve my Greek Zucchini fritters with Tzatziki alongside the shrimp.
To make this saganaki shrimp a main dish, you can serve it on a bed of pasta like orzo or angel hair. You can also serve it on a bed of rice. If you're watching your carbs, enjoy it on a bed of spaghetti squash.
And don't forget to enjoy this dish with a glass of ouzo or white wine!
- Don't overcook the shrimp. Shrimp cook in a matter of minutes- that's one of the reasons why I love using them in quick weeknight meals. As soon as they turn opaque and pink, they're done! If you cook them for too long, they'll get tough and rubbery.
- Buy a block of feta cheese instead of the kind that comes crumbled. This dish is soooo good with big, soft chunks of feta cheese melting into the shrimp. The feta cheese you buy from the store that's already crumbled just doesn't melt as well.
- For the perfect finishing touch, place the skillet under the broiler at the end for a minute or two- just long enough to melt the feta and brown it in spots. Trust me- it's worth it! Just be sure to use an oven safe skillet. Alternatively, you can cover the skillet with a lid and let the cheese melt on the stove.
You can use either one- it's a matter of personal preference. Sometimes I like the tail-on shrimp so that my guests can pick the shrimp up with their hands. The tails are like built-in handles!
The dish is classically made with ouzo, a Greek liquor with a strong anise (black licorice) flavor. It's pretty strong, so if it's not for you, you can substitute white wine, which will give the dish a milder flavor. You can also leave out the alcohol completely and this dish will still be delicious!
This is definitely the time you want to buy the block of authentic Greek feta! Greek feta is made from sheep's milk and has a rich, tangy flavor and creamy texture when it melts. While I occasionally buy pre-crumbled feta for dishes like salads, I wouldn't use pre-crumbled cheese in this dish. It's just not as flavorful and doesn't melt as well.
You can make the saganaki sauce ahead of time and store it in the fridge for a few days. I wouldn't recommend cooking the shrimp ahead of time as they tend to get rubbery when reheated. Instead, just make the sauce ahead of time. Then when you're ready to eat, reheat the sauce in a skillet on the stove and add the shrimp and the rest of the ingredients.
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Award-Winning Shrimp Saganaki (Greek Shrimp with Feta)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots (or 1 small onion), finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ⅛-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup dry white wine or ouzo*
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound large or extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about ¾ cup)*
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- Turn the broiler on high.
- In a large oven-safe skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add shallots and cook 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute longer until fragrant.
- Stir in the tomatoes (along with the liquid from the can), wine, salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered, 8-10 minutes or until sauce is thickened. Add the shrimp to the skillet.
- Cook 5-6 minutes until shrimp turn pink, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese.
- Place the skillet under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until feta melts and is golden brown in spots. Alternatively, you can cover the skillet with a lid and let the cheese melt.
- Sprinkle parsley over the dish. Serve with crusty bread on the side for dipping.
- Ouzo, a Greek liquor with a strong anise flavor is classically used in Shrimp Saganaki. However, the flavor is quite strong so I use dry white wine. You can use either one or leave out the alcohol completely.
- This is definitely the time you want to buy the block of authentic Greek feta! Greek feta is made from sheep's milk and has a rich, tangy flavor and creamy texture when it melts. While I occasionally buy pre-crumbled feta, I wouldn't use pre-crumbled cheese in this dish. It's just not as flavorful and doesn't melt as well.