Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta
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An easy, elegant, 20-minute garlic shrimp pasta recipe that will become a classic in your kitchen! Juicy quick-sauteed shrimp in a rich, tasty garlic butter sauce.
Shrimp and pasta. My old-school Italian-American family always refers to a plate of properly cooked pasta smothered with sautéed shrimp and garlic butter sauce as “shrimp scampi.”
It’s a classic dish of plump, shrimp swimming in a zesty, buttery garlic sauce, and so easy to fall in love with.
Are you with me on this? Garlic shrimp spaghetti in butter sauce is one of my absolute favorite pasta dinners of all time, right next to decadent fettuccine Alfredo.
- How to make garlic butter sauce for seafood and pasta
- How to clean and devein shrimp
- How to quickly defrost frozen shrimp
- Ingredients for garlic butter shrimp pasta sauce
When I went to Italian restaurants back in the day (and not much of a cook yet) I’d always order the shrimp scampi, which usually came served over a giant pile of spaghetti.
I’d practically cry with happiness. The ideal garlic-butter shrimp sauce is rich and so savory-tasting you don’t want to miss a single drop of it.
That’s the reason I think the best way to serve garlic butter shrimp sauce is over hot pasta — because the sauce!
Preferably the pasta is something long like linguine or spaghetti, ensuring the ultimate slurp factor.
With this recipe in hand, you can make this absolutely delicious, easy gourmet pasta in minutes in your own kitchen.
Ingredients for garlic butter shrimp pasta
This recipe is basically a shrimp scampi without wine, a quick recipe comes together so fast it’s worth getting all your ingredients lined up before you get started. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Butter and extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound peeled jumbo-sized shrimp (16 – 20 pieces), deveined
- Garlic, crushed red chili and cherry tomatoes
- 1 pound long pasta noodles like linguine, spaghetti, angel hair, bucatini or fettuccine
- Chopped herbs (parsley or basil or a little of both) and grated Parmesan cheese
- Wine: If you want to add wine, pour in 1/4 cup of dry white wine (such as pinot grigio) in step 4 after the shrimp are cooked, before adding the butter and tomatoes.
I always keep a bag of shrimp in my freezer — it’s one of the pantry staples on my essential list.
How to quickly defrost shrimp
- Put the shrimp in a large bowl or pot and place in the sink.
- Break apart any clumps of ice with your fingers.
- Cover with water and swish around with your hands periodically until the shrimp is thawed, about 20 minutes.
How to clean and devein shrimp
You can usually buy shrimp already peeled, deveined and ready to go. Or, if you have a very friendly fishmonger you can ask them to do it for you 🙂
Otherwise, it’s pretty simple to do yourself.
- Hold the peeled shrimp in one hand and a small, sharp knife in the other.
- Make a shallow slit along the center of the shrimp along the back.
- Lift out the black stringy-looking part with your knife, then wipe the knife on a towel. If there’s no vein visible, move on to the next shrimp.
- Repeat until all your shrimp are clean.
- Choose raw jumbo or extra-large shrimp, usually 16 – 20 per pound.
- If they’re shell-on, peel the shrimp. Dry them well with a paper towel.
- Season lightly with salt on both sides.
- Use fresh garlic rather than pre-minced garlic out of a jar, if you can. This dish is a simple one with a few ingredients, and you want them to shine. If you have a rasp grater (my favorite is this Microplane), you can grate the garlic into a fine paste in seconds.
- Start cooking the shrimp in olive oil first – yes, this is a garlic butter sauce, but unless you typically use clarified butter for cooking, if you sauté the shrimp in butter alone the milk solids will quickly burn.
- Swirl the butter into the hot pan after the shrimp is cooked and let it melt into a foamy, creamy sauce with some of the pasta cooking water. That way you don’t need to dilute the flavor with chicken stock, wine or any other liquid.
- Pour your saucy shrimp over hot pasta. Pure and simple!
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Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta
- 1 pound (450 g) linguine, spaghetti or your favorite long pasta shape
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound (450) jumbo or extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pint (475 g) cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters
- 1 tablespoon garlic grated on a Microplane or very finely chopped garlic , about 2-3 plump cloves
- 6 tablespoons (90 g) butter, salted or unsalted
- 1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 cup (30 g) finely chopped fresh parsley, or 1/4 cup each chopped parsley and basil
- 1/2 cup (50 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Bring a large (5 or 6 quarts) pot of water to a boil and season with 3 tablespoons kosher salt.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente (usually about 11 minutes). Scoop 1/2 cup of the pasta water out of the pot and set aside, then drain the pasta and transfer to a bowl.
- While the pasta is cooking, pat the shimp with a paper towel to dry them. Sprinkle lightly with salt on both sides.
- Put a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in the oil. When it starts to shimmer, add the shrimp in one layer. Cook 2 minutes, then turn them over and continue cooking until they turn pink and opaque, about 1 more minute.
- Add the tomatoes, garlic, butter and chili to the pan and stir. When the butter is melted, add 2 or 3 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water and swirl around until saucy (add more if needed, a tablespoon at a time).
- Pour the shrimp and sauce over the pasta. Top with the parsley and Parmesan cheese to taste. Toss gently and serve. Enjoy!
Karen’s Notes and Tips
Hey, I’m Karen
Creator of Familystyle Food
I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.
So simple, sooo delicious. Amazing recipe and article!
Omg, awesome. Adding this recipe to my family list
Do you think this recipe would work with chicken instead of shrimp? Shellfish allergy here 😢
Hi Kirsten – Yes, you con use 1/2-3/4 pound of chicken instead of the shrimp. Slice boneless, skinless chicken breast into 1/2-inch strips or cubes. It may need a few more minutes to cook through.
Can you do this with zucchini noodles instead and if so would you substitute the pasta water with white wine?
I think you could definitely use zucchini noodles instead of pasta. You could either use white wine or plain water for the sauce.
So, just checking, does your calorie count not include the pasta? When I put the ingredients into My Fitness Pal it came out as 730 calories per serving.
Hi Jennifer – Great question. Yes, my calorie count includes the pasta. I use Spoonacular to calculate nutrition facts. I always advise my readers to use the calculator they are most comfortable with, as they are all notoriously different.
Why is there no white Chardonnay wine in the recipe. Can it be added and what amount
Hi Joan – I didn’t make this with white wine, but you sure can if you like! Choose a dry chardonnay or pinot grigio and add 1/4 cup in step 4 after the shrimp turn opaque. Let it simmer for about a minute, then add the tomatoes and other ingredients in step 5.
Love this recipe! Have made it multiple times now and shared it with my sister, who loves it too! Made it tonight with some dried tomatoes and that was delicious! Thanks so much for this recipe!
OMG! I love shrimp scampi, but this recipe was my hands down favorite of all time! That sauce is spectacular, shrimp were downright tender and perfectly cooked. I added spinach and it just blended so well with the rest of the ingredients. I only put in half the amount of pepper flakes but next time I’m going to use it all. I tossed my pasta with the shrimp in the pan. I may try this over some polenta one time. Thank you for such a yummy version of scampi!
Thinking of making this tonight…not gonna lie , using as a guide line simply because I’m not in my kitchen at home but in a kitchenette in a hotel as I am recovering from surgery. So I’m gonna do the best with what is kitchenette provides me with.
Kellie – I hope this dish brings you comfort and so much pleasure. Get well soon!
Great, easy recipe to follow. I substituted red bell pepper with the tomatoes as an acid, and added thyme to my olive oil searing of the shrimp. Wonderful! Thank you.
Red bell pepper is perfect! So glad you enjoyed the dish 🙂
Omg so yummy! Made this for my boyfriend and I for dinner. Excellent dinner from the boyfriend! Thank you for this recipe 🙂
Very good! I’m always looking for new recipes with shrimp and pasta. I followed the recipe except for the red chili (I’m sensitive to the flakes on my taste buds). This recipe is a keeper!
Thanks for sharing. My family greatly enjoyed it!
Not bad 🙂