Jerk Shrimp with Caribbean Quinoa


Jerk Shrimp with Caribbean Quinoa features spiced sauteed shrimp over fluffy quinoa, studded with pops of fresh, Caribbean flavor. 

Dang, it’s been a red hot minute since I last posted a quinoa recipe up in here. Whaddya say we change that with Jerk Shrimp with Caribbean Quinoa?!

Jerk Shrimp with Caribbean Quinoa is one of the dishes I was contemplating making for my KCCI Labor Day segment last Friday. It’s fresh, relatively fast, and really summery feeling. I mean just look at it!

Picking out a fab dish is one of the things I worry most about regarding my monthly segments on KCCI, btw. Well that and visibly sweating on air, but mostly choosing a great recipe that will appeal to a lot of people.

My inability to narrow a menu down generally leads to a shouty JUST PICK ONE! text or email from my family, who I relentlessly bug about a week beforehand, asking them to choose between 8 different recipes I’m contemplating.

I know.

It’s just that, the people who watch the 6am news aren’t necessarily the same people who regularly read my blog, so I feel like I have to make something that will appeal to lots of people, possibly dazzling and convincing them to come visit IGE in the process!

I know!

Anyways, Jerk Shrimp with Caribbean Quinoa was deemed not as friendly for the masses as Key West Grilled Chicken Sandwiches, the dish I ended up making on air, but I knew you, dear readers, would appreciate the sauteed, jerk-spiced shrimp nestled in a scoop of fluffy quinoa studded with the fresh and tropical flavors of pineapple, mandarin oranges, grapes, and strawberries – right?


Very well.

Start the Jerk Shrimp with Caribbean Quinoa by combining 1 cup dry quinoa that’s been rinsed VERY WELL under running water to remove a naturally occurring bitter outer coating, with 1-1/4 cups chicken broth in a pot. Bring to a boil, place a lid on top, turn heat to low, then cook until the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. When its cooked, spread the quinoa out onto a large plate to cool.

Sorry, my camera ate my quinoa pictures. I don’t blame it. ;)

Next, get the Jerk seasoning blend ready for the shrimp. You could totally use a store-bought jerk blend if you want, but I literally have 4 zillion spice bottles in my cupboard and jump at any chance I get to use some up! First combine 1 Tablespoon each sugar and paprika, with 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Then add 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes. This gives the shrimp some KICK!

Finally throw in 1/8 teaspoon allspice. One of the things Ben and I loved about the jerk chicken we had in Jamaica was the hint of warm cinnamon and clove in the spice rub, which is kind of what allspice tastes like. It’s really good!

Mix ‘er on up!

Sprinkle the seasoning blend onto some peeled & de-veined shrimp, along with a little olive oil, then toss to coat the shrimp evenly in the spices.

Cook in a hot skillet for 1-2 minutes a side, breathe in the intoxicating aroma of sizzling Caribbean spices, then pop ’em onto a plate and set aside.

Next assemble the Caribbean Quinoa, named for the copious amounts of sweet, tropical fruits in it. Combine 1/2 cup each chopped strawberries, mandarin oranges, green grapes and pineapple in a large bowl.

I used canned pineapple tidbits packed in 100% pineapple juice btw, and reserved some of the juice to use in the vinaigrette that ties the whole dish together.

Next add in 1 chopped green onion and 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro.

Finally, whip up the aforementioned vinaigrette. Just combine 3 Tablespoons each reserved pineapple juice, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil in a jar or bowl.

Shake or whisk to combine then add the cooled quinoa on top of the fruit, and the vinaigrette on top of that.

Toss everything to combine, season with a bit more salt & pepper, then you are ready to dine!

To quote my hero Ina Garten – “How bad can that be?”

Jerk Shrimp with Caribbean Quinoa

Serves 4


Jerk Shrimp with Caribbean Quinoa features spiced sauteed shrimp over fluffy quinoa, studded with pops of fresh, Caribbean flavor


  • 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed very well under cold water
  • 1-1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1-1/2lbs peeled & de-veined shrimp
  • 2-1/2 Tablespoons jerk seasoning blend
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup each chopped strawberries, mandarin oranges, green grapes, and canned pineapple tidbits packed in natural juices (drained and juices reserved)
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • For the Caribbean Vinaigrette:
    • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
    • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 Tablespoons reserved pineapple juice
    • salt & pepper


    1. Rinse quinoa very well under running water, then combine with chicken broth in a pot. Bring to a boil then place a lid on top, turn heat to low, and simmer until broth has been absorbed and quinoa is cooked, about 15 minutes. Spread quinoa out onto a big plate to cool.
    2. Meanwhile, pat shrimp dry with paper towels then place in a large bowl. Add olive oil and jerk seasoning blend, then toss to coat. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, spray with non-stick spray, then cook shrimp for 1-2 minutes a side, or until cooked all the way through. May need to work in batches. Set shrimp aside.
    3. Combine Caribbean Vinaigrette ingredients in a jar or bowl, then shake or whisk to combine. Place chopped fruit, green onions, and cilantro in a large bowl then add cooled quinoa and dressing. Stir well then taste and add more salt & pepper, if necessary. Spoon quinoa onto plates and top with cooked shrimp.


    Adapted from Cooking Light

    This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,


    Gahhh, I could eat about 5,000 of these shrimp! I was able to taste each individual spice, and especially loved the flavors of garlic, allspice and red chili pepper flakes. Can’t get over that gorgeous orange hue from the paprika, either.

    The spice level was toned down a bit by the chopped fruit studding the quinoa. There’s nothing like a bite of heat, followed by a burst of juicy sweet. So yum!

    While it may not be universally loved by the masses, hopefully a few of you out there will dig Jerk Shrimp with Caribbean Quinoa!

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    1. Edith 09.04.2012

      This looks absolutely delicious!!!
      I bet it’s super fresh but still has a kick to it.
      Also….your photos are sooo pretty!!!! :D

    2. Kristin from MN 09.04.2012

      I think this looks fabulous and am going to add it to the menu this week!

    3. Jenna @ Newlyweds 09.04.2012

      This looks amazing, I love shrimp, and quinioa!! Will try this for sure. Just pinned this recipe, if you’d like you can follow me at

    4. Kim@hungryhealthygirl 09.04.2012

      I definitely don’t see anything wrong with a little jerk shrimp!! The colors in this dish are beautiful and I’m sure the tastes are too.

    5. This looks unbelievable! Your photos make me want to have a bite! I have been experimenting with some Quinoa recipes lately…with a few fails :-/ I will have to give this a try! It looks so yummy!

    6. Em 09.04.2012

      I love new shrimp ideas! Yum! Nice work. :)

    7. Kel 09.04.2012

      Lovely recipe! Yes — I will be making this. You have a wonderful way of writing – I look forward to your posts!

    8. jennyv 09.04.2012

      As I was eating my grilled chicken and brussel sprouts, I seriously wondered what you were making and/or eating. Weird, perhaps? That said, as soon as I looked at your blog, I wish I was eating the jerk shrimp!

    9. Marie B. 09.04.2012

      Not crazy about Shrimp, but your pictures make it look so delicious I may have to try it! :)

    10. Beth Fawkes 09.04.2012

      Just wanted you to know – I read your blog EVERYDAY (love that I get your emails) AND I make sure and watch whenever they say you are going to be on. I think Katie & Steve both have crushes on you! ;) (not to mention that they have a great breakfast whenever you’re on) BONUS!!

      I’ll have you know I just bought my very first box of the quinoa. Something new for me to try.

      Keep up the great work. We love it!

      ps – the kitchen really does look nice. Good job

    11. Tricia H 09.04.2012

      This looks really good! Will put this on my list for next week.
      I LOVE your blog! Look forward to what you will post next!!!

    12. Looking at all these pictures of shrimp is making me hungry. Excellent pictures.

    13. Katrine 09.05.2012

      I’m not normally a spicy person, but there’s something about this recipe that’s calling to me. I’m going to attempt it tonight with tofu instead. Love all the quinoa recipes!

    14. Araica 09.05.2012

      We’re on the edge of fall (way up north in the Yukon) so I was planning to make a stew but I have a bag of shrimp/scallops just begging to be used and I think I will revamp my menu plan for the day. It will give me the illusion of hanging on to summer and I can pretend I didn’t see frost this morning.

    15. Try not to stress too much about what you make for your news segment… I’m pretty sure everything you could possibly come up with to make is totally fab!! This looks great!

    16. Caitlin 09.05.2012

      This sounds great! I have a large bag of shrimp that needs to be used. One question. My fiance is not a huge fan of savory mixed with sweet. Would using less of the pineapple juice or mixing it with another liquid help reduce some of the sweetness? Or is this pretty comparable sweetness-wise to your honey lime vinaigrette? We’re both fans of that.

      • Iowa Girl Eats 09.05.2012

        It’s about the same sweetness as the honey vinaigrette. That said, you could also use your favorite salad dressing with the quinoa if you didn’t want to do the pineapple vinaigrette!

    17. Sally 09.05.2012

      Looks delicious!! I love Caribbean inspired dishes – the spicy and sweet combo is always yummy. Would this recipe work with chicken instead of shrimp?

    18. I love citrus dressings with quinoa! And all those spices sound great for shrimp. This is totally my favorite kind of meal – healthy and spicy :D

    19. Laura 09.05.2012

      Yum! I just made a tropical quinoa to go with my coconut shrimp the other night. Was delicious! I love the addition of all those exotic spices :)

    20. Kathy 09.05.2012

      I just cooked this for my dinner and it was super tasty, thanks for the inspiration! I also love how I had everything in my cupboard already to make the jerk seasoning-brand new flavour out of old ingredients :)

    21. tererecetas 09.05.2012

      It looks great!!!
      Regards from Spain

    22. Katherine Fischer 09.05.2012

      LOOKS AMAZING!!! can’t wait to try! totally love your blog. what fab photos!!

    23. Stephanie Haigh 09.05.2012

      This looks awesome!!! Totally going to try it out soon! :)

    24. Julia 09.06.2012

      Beautiful photography! I clicked over from

    25. Michelle 09.06.2012

      Ina Garten…mmmm….she is my hero too :)

    26. laura 09.06.2012

      going to try this tonight with rice! hope it comes out as well as yours.

    27. What a fabulous salad! This looks awesome and I can’t wait to try it. I feel like I’ll be transported to an island after one bite – and who can complain about that, right?

    28. Lisa 09.09.2012

      I made this tonight and it was INCREDIBLE!!! What an excellent recipe! Very fresh tasting and unusual. I love that I can come to this blog and always find something that no one else has. Thanks!!

    29. Ardex Sd T 09.10.2012

      I love every aspect of this recipe!!! Can’t wait to try it!

    30. Kate Monahan 09.26.2012

      I am so excited to try this! My mom is coming into town and I have been searching for new healthy tasty meals that she hasnt tried before to make for her, and this is perfect. Thanks!

    31. Denise 10.03.2012

      Made this tonight to say “goodbye” to summer lol. Excellent. Thanks for the idea. Love your blog.

    32. Tjet Martin 12.07.2012

      Can you serve this cold? Looks wonderful!

    33. Melissa 01.28.2013

      I made this for dinner tonight and LOVED it. I can’t wait to eat the rest of it tomorrow.

    34. Jill 03.14.2013

      I am currently on Weight Watchers, I plugged this recipe in my recipe builder and it yielded 6 points. I enjoyed this dish for dinner! I can’t even go into detail how awesome this dish tasted!

    35. […] from Iowa Girl Eats Servings: […]

    36. […] JERK SHRIMP WITH CARRIBBEAN QUINOA (adapted from Iowa Girl Eats) […]

    37. Renee V 10.10.2013

      OMG OMG OMG i loved this! The hubs did too! I changed the grain and fruit based upon what i had on hand. We served it w mango jicama slaw and used swaii fish. Thank you for making our dinner together yummy!

    38. matt sour 04.02.2014

      Thanks alot! Just made this for my Mom for her birthday and she loved it! This recipe made sense for the occasion because she’s a big fan of fish tacos but they are few and far between around this parts. I paired this with a sweat potato dish although I was trying to do something with red cabbage that didn’t pan out. Also this was their first Quinoa experience, also a plus. Great dish, I see us making it more that once. Good job and party on!

    39. […] Jerk Shrimp by Iowa Girl Eats  […]

    40. Tonya D 05.27.2015

      Love love love jerk seasoning. Kudos for making your own. I found another one here, curious what your thoughts are.

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