This dish is so light and fresh with bold, punchy flavors. This Shrimp saganaki recipe with fried halloumi is quick but impressive, and the entire dish can be made right on the stove top! 

Overhead shot of colourful fresh cook shrimp saganaki with fried cheese on a cast iron serving platter.

What is Saganaki?

Traditional shrimp saganaki, prawn saganaki is a Greek recipe, typically served with salty feta cheese in a spicy tomato sauce. However, after a recent trip to Naples and enjoying this appetizer alfresco, we were inspired to make a seafood recipe with fried halloumi. We chose halloumi because it retains its texture when fried. It added a crispy and cheesy bite to this dish with the mild cheese that is an unexpected twist. It makes for a stunning appetizer or main course with plenty of crusty bread. 

The best part of this Greek shrimp recipe is the exciting presentation. Usually, it would be served on a heat-resistant serving dish where it’s lit aflame to sear everything quickly. And we love presenting this as traditional Greek flaming cheese by adding a shot of traditional Greek Ouzo as the dish is served for that extra flare. 

How to choose shrimp when cooking?

Picking good quality fresh shrimp is a key component when cooking any dish where it’s the main protein. For this Greek Saganaki, buy large shrimp, 16/20 on the label, peeled, and deveined. Optionally, save some money, buy frozen shrimp that aren’t peeled, and peel them yourself once they are thawed.

Ingredients for Greek shrimp.

Ingredients

  • High-quality extra virgin Olive oil or your other favorite neutral cooking oil
  • White Onion
  • Fresh Garlic 
  • Girl carnivore Over Easy Spice Blend or your favorite Italian seasoning spice blend
  • Oregano
  • Ouzo – this is a traditional Greek spirit. We used Plomari Ouzo brand that we sourced from a local liquor store. 
  • Canned diced Tomatoes, drained. 
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper  
  • 16–20 Large Plump Shrimp – peeled and deveined

For the fried halloumi 

  • Oil  
  • Halloumi cheese 

To serve

  •  Toasted bread
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Parsley 
  • Ouzo

How to make shrimp saganaki 

To make the saganaki shrimp 

  • Make sure the deveined shrimp are completely thawed, and pat them dry with a paper towel. 
  • Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. 
  • Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the diced onion and saute for 3 to 4 minutes until translucent. Then add the minced garlic and Over Easy Spice blend, and oregano. Cook for 30 seconds while stirring to combine. 
  • Deglaze the pan by pouring in the Ouzo and using a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up any browned bits. 
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the tomatoes and parsley—season with a pinch of salt and pepper. 
  • Let the tomatoes simmer over gentle heat for 10 minutes until the liquid thickens. 
  • Finally, add the shrimp and let them cook in the rich tomato sauce for 5 to 7 minutes until cooked through. 
Shrimp simmering in tomato sauce.
Simmer shrimp until cooked through.

Fry the Halloumi

  • While the quick tomato sauce simmers, fry the halloumi. 
  • Preheat a small frying pan and swirl a little oil to coat the pan. 
  • Slice the cheese into 1/4-inch thick slices. 
  • When the oil is hot, carefully lay the halloumi in the pan. 
  • Fry for 2 to 3 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy. 
  • Arrange on a paper towel-lined plate to cool. 

To serve 

  • When the shrimp have cooked and the halloumi is fried, slice the halloumi on a bais (if you’re feeling snazzy), and spoon the saganaki shrimp in the tomatoes onto a cast iron serving dish or heat-resistant platter. 
  • Tuck the sliced fried cheese in with the juicy shrimp. 
  • Sprinkle chili flakes and finely chopped parsley on top as a garnish. Serve the shrimp dish with crusty bread nearby for dipping. 
  • When the dish is on the table, ensuring nothing flammable is nearby, add the final splash of Ouzo around the saganaki dish and, with a long lighter, light the alcohol. It will flame up quickly with a blue flame and burn off fast. This step is optional, and we only suggest it with the utmost safety precautions in mind for a final WOW moment before enjoying this meal. 
Hand pouring ouzo over saganaki.

Girl Carnivore Expert Tips 

  • If you are at all concerned or nervous about the final step for flambeing the garides saganaki, do not do it. When working with any fire, safety is always the top priority. 
  • This dish can also be made with fresh mussels to help fill it out. 
  • Skip the bread; this dish is a fantastic low-carb/keto option for any meal plan! 

What to serve with saganaki shrimp 

This dish has an incredibly vibrant flavor with fresh herbs and savory tomato sauce. Some great side dishes to serve with it are a light salad with oil and vinegar, a small plate of briny olives, and a toasted baguette or fresh pita bread. Stuffed artichokes and a bowl of avgolemono soup and keftedes are also great choices. 

Pair this with a crispy dry white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling. 

Leftovers and Reheating

Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days. We suggest storing any leftover fried halloumi separately in a paper towel-lined container or plate wrapped in plastic wrap. 

To reheat leftovers, microwave the Greek shrimp saganaki in 20-second bursts until heated through, stirring in between.

To reheat the halloumi, toss it back into a preheated skillet for a few minutes to crisp it back up as it warms through.  

Wooden table with platter of fresh bright saganaki garnished with minced herbs.

Recipe FAQs 

What alcohol is used for saganaki? 

For this beloved traditional greek appetizer, find traditional Greek Ouzo for the most authentic flavor. If you can’t find it, sambuca works as a substitute. If sambuca is also not an option, deglaze the pan with a dry white wine, and omit the flame step at the end.

What is Ouzo?

Ouzo is a traditional Greek spirit with an anise flavor that dates back to monks from the 14th century. It’s served with mezas, small plate appetizers, as an aperitif.

How to tell when shrimp are cooked? 

Per USDA guidelines, shrimp should be cooked to a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Because they are small, it can be hard to get a temperature with an instant-read thermometer accurately. An easy visual check for shrimp doneness is that the shrimp has become opaque and bright pink.
Overcooking shrimp can cause them to become tough and rubbery. 

How to peel shrimp?

To easily peel a shrimp, make sure it’s completely thawed. Start by holding the tail in one hand and pinching the legs together, and gently pulling while rotating the shrimp with the other. As you turn the body, the hard shell will peel off. Discard the shells. Leave the tails on, if desired, for the best presentation when serving. 

Fresh prawns and crispy fried cheese on a platter with fresh tomatoes and minced herbs.

More delicious shrimp recipes to try: 

Have you tasted this greek recipe before? After our first bite on travel, shrimp saganaki has become a favorite easy recipe in our rotation. If you have any tips on where to get a traditional saganaki pan for serving, let us know! Please be sure to rate the recipe and leave a comment for the next person. This helps keep our website running and provides the best tried and tested recipes from the GirlCarnivore Meat Labs. 

Shrimp Saganaki

5 from 15 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 5 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 4
Go on a culinary adventure with simple ingredients and crispy fried cheese. This shrimp saganaki recipe is perfect when you want something light and bursting with bold Greek flavor.

Ingredients  

For the shrimp saganaki

  • 2 tbsp Olive oil divided
  • 1/2 Onion minced
  • 3 Garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp Girl carnivore Over Easy Spice Blend
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tbsp Ouzo
  • 14 oz canned Diced tomatoes Tomatoes drained
  • 2 tbsp Parsley minced
  • 1 tsp Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb Large Shrimp thawed, peeled and deveined

For the fried halloumi

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 8 oz halloumi cheese

To serve

  • Toasted bread sliced
  • Chile flakes if desired
  • Fresh minced parsley
  • 1 tbsp ouzo

Instructions 

Cook the saganaki sauce

  • Make sure the deveined shrimp are completely thawed, and pat them dry with a paper towel.
  • Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan.
  • Add the diced onion and sauce for 3 to 4 minutes until translucent.
  • Then add the minced garlic and Over Easy Spice blend, and oregano. Cook for 30 seconds while stirring to combine.
  • Deglaze the pan by pouring in the Ouzo and using a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up any browned bits.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the tomatoes and parsley—season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Let the tomatoes simmer over gentle heat for 10 minutes until the liquid thickens.

Add the Shrimp

  • Add the shrimp and let them cook in the rich tomato sauce for 5 to 7 minutes until cooked through.

Fry the Cheese

  • While the quick tomato sauce simmers, fry the halloumi.
  • Preheat a small frying pan and swirl a little oil to coat the pan.
  • Slice the cheese into 1/4 inch thick slices.
  • When the oil is hot, carefully lay the halloumi in the pan.
  • Fry for 2 to 3 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.
  • Arrange on a paper towel-lined plate to cool.

Serve

  • When the shrimp have cooked, and the halloumi is fried, slice the halloumi on a bais, and spoon the saganaki shrimp in the tomatoes onto a cast iron serving dish or heat-resistant platter.
  • Tuck the sliced halloumi in with the juicy shrimp.
  • Sprinkle chili flakes, if desired, and freshly minced parsley on top as a garnish. Serve the shrimp dish with crusty bread nearby for dipping.

To flambe

  • Place the finished heat-resistant dish in an area with nothing overhead or anythng flammable nearby.
  • Add the final splash of Ouzo round the sides of the saganaki and with a long lighter, carefully ignight the alcohol. It will flame up quickly with a blue flame and burn off fast.
  • Once the flame subsides, spoon into small portions to enjoy.

Notes

Per USDA recommended guidelines, shrimp should cook to a safe internal temperate of 145 degrees F for serving. Use a digital thermometer to check for doneness when the shrimp are bright pink and opaque.
We use canned tomatoes for the rich tomato sauce, but you could use fresh tomatoes. Simply dice the tomatoes to add them to the dish. As they simmer, mash them a bit with a spatula.
If you are at all concerned or nervous about the final step for flambeing the prawns, simply to not do it. When working with any fire, safety is always the top priority.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 390kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 1907mg | Potassium: 222mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 444IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 706mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Greek
Author: Kita Roberts

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Sources

“Ouzo” via Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouzo

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Well, Hey, Y’all.

Kita is a multi-talented individual, boasting numerous accomplishments such as being an award-winning recipe developer, world-traveled professional photographer, and journalist. As the lead creative force behind Girl Carnivore®, she is widely recognized as an authority on all things meat.

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5 from 15 votes (14 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. Made this for a dinner party for 6 people last night and it was fantastic! Flavors were layered, interesting and frankly dazzled all!

  2. 5 stars
    This looks Freaken KILLER! I LOVE your shrimp recipes and this is definitely a must try!!

    Thanks, Chef!!!