Jump right on in for the perfect date-night dinner that requires little effort. Whether it’s a date night for your special someone, a best friend, or a night of self-care, shrimp scampi pasta is the answer.
The answer to all your needs:
- 20-minute recipe? Check.
- Buttery goodness? Check.
- Bright lemon bursts? Check.
- Succulent shrimp? Check.
- Ribbons of perfectly al dente pasta? Check.
- Pairs well with wine? Check.
You better believe this is going to be your easy go-to pasta dinner whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not. I’m talking winter comfort dinner, springtime dinner with a side of asparagus, or a summertime patio sunset dinner.
No matter the time or season or day, this recipe has got your back.
I first posted this shrimp scampi pasta recipe back in 2016 when I was living in North Carolina. On the coast. Next to a local seafood market. Talk about deliciously fresh seafood! Now I’m back deep in the mainland (ahem, Minnesota with feet of snow around me). But I’m happy to report that this recipe holds up regardless of whether or not you have shrimp straight from your backyard.
It is, however, best when you find high-quality shrimp (but what recipe isn’t?). I recommend finding shrimp that’s wild and as sustainable as possible. Let’s get to cooking then, shall we? I’ll be sharing all my tips and tricks for this easy recipe as we go along.
What You’ll Need to Make Shrimp Scampi
We’ve covered the basics, especially the sustainable shrimp. Let’s dive deep in the simple, basic, fresh ingredients that come together to create this mouth-watering garlic butter shrimp and pasta dish.
- Fettuccini pasta: you can also substitute another long pasta shape like linguine or spaghetti. Heck, you really could use rotini or penne too if you’re in a pinch. You want a pasta shape that will soak in all the luscious garlic butter sauce.
- Butter: a must for shrimp scampi, which is made in an indulgent garlic butter sauce. I recommend using high-quality butter like Irish or European butter. Classic American butter works fine, too. I recommend using unsalted so you can add your own amount of salt to the recipe.
- Shallot: I love using shallots for their slightly more mild onion flavor. It rounds out well with the garlic and butter.
- Garlic: An absolute must for shrimp scampi! I finely chop the garlic for this recipe because I like the chunks of garlic throughout. You can also use a garlic press for a finer mince.
- Red Pepper Flakes: optional, but they pack a subtle punch to the sauce.
- White Wine – I’m pretty sure it isn’t scampi without wine. I recommend using wine you like to drink so you enjoy the flavor. I like a bright, crisp white wine to pair with the citrus of the sauce, although a buttery white wine will work as well.
- Lemon: fresh lemon juice is a must. It adds such a brightness to the scampi, pairing perfectly with the shrimp.
- Fresh Parsley: Parsley is bright and fresh, so it is the perfect garnish for this recipe. The pop of bright green color makes it extra appealing as a garnish, too!
How to Make Shrimp Scampi For Two
Happy to say again, that it is E.A.S.Y. to make shrimp scampi at home! Whether it’s made for two or four (just double it!), this recipe is one that’s quick enough to make for an elegant weeknight dinner, yet special enough for date night.
The sauce comes together lickety-split, cooking the shrimp, and once you’ve tossed it with the pasta, you’ll be ready to dig-in in no time!
First, prepare the pasta water. Salt a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Cook the fettuccine noodles just under al dente, because they will finish cooking in the sauce. Removing them a couple minutes early guarantees you have control on how long they cook in the sauce, ensuring they don’t become soggy and instead you’ll have perfectly al dente noodles!
It’s worth mentioning early: you will need to reserve pasta water! Don’t throw out the golden liquid!
As the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Start by sautéing the garlic and shallot in olive oil and butter. The two create a n indulgent base for the sauce and the addition of olive oil helps to keep the butter from browning too quickly.
Add in a pinch of salt and the red pepper flakes here, too, to begin layering in the flavor.
Once the aromatics are tender, add the shrimp to the sauce. Cook the shrimp on one side. We’re giving them a head start cooking in the sauce, so they soak up the flavors and only cooking them on one side means they won’t overcook once the pasta comes together.
The shrimp and the pasta will both finish cooking together, and be perfectly done by the time it all comes together!
Remove the half-cooked shrimp and place them on a plate until we’re ready for them again. Then, deglaze the pan of sauce with white wine and add in lemon juice. Once it reduces down a little (more flavor!), add the shrimp back into the sauce to finish cooking. At this time, also transfer over the pasta then in goes the pasta for its final swim in the sauce.
Use tongs or a spaghetti server to transfer the noodles into the skillet with sauce so that you can reserve the pasta water. Otherwise, I would recommend reserving at least 1 cup in a measuring cup before draining. You won’t add it all, but it’s better to have more and not need it than be lacking.
Add pasta water until the desired sauce consistency is reached. Adding pasta water also helps the sauce stick to the pasta and makes it extra luxurious!
Tips and Tricks for Making Garlic Butter Shrimp
- Cook the shrimp on one side. This helps to prevent the shrimp from overlooking. They’ll go back in with the pasta and sauce at the end, and cook the rest of the way.
- Boil the pasta just under al dente. Similar to the shrimp, the pasta will cook a little more in the sauce, and you want to ensure it doesn’t overcook when doing so. Better to cook longer in the sauce (more flavor!) than overcook and end up with soggy pasta. That’s my motto.
- Use that white wine if you can. It creates depth in the sauce and brings in more flavor. No wine? I recommend using vegetable broth or stock for a flavor boost.
- Taste test! Remember to taste the sauce for the salt levels before serving.
There you have it… the best shrimp scampi pasta around that’s easy as 1, 2, 3.
The lemon! The butter! The wine! They’re basically matches made in heaven, soul mates, partners in crime.
Now twirl the pasta up in your fork and get a big piece of tender, juicy shrimp mixed within, and you’ll land yourself right there in pasta heaven.
What Should You Serve with Shrimp Scampi?
If you’ve been around here a while, then you know that I don’t think there has to be anything served with pasta.
That being said, there are a few sides that would pair very nicely with shrimp scampi.
- Roasted Broccolini
- A lemony caesar salad
- Crunchy baguette slices to sop up the extra sauce
Obviously I would highly recommend serving with a large glass of white wine, but to each their own.
No matter how you serve it up, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, I recommend substituting with vegetable, chicken, or seafood stock in its place.
To make this into a creamy shrimp scampi, stir in lukewarm half-and-half or heavy cream to the sauce just before you add the shrimp and pasta back in.
I like using sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, or chardonnay for this recipe. I recommend using a wine you like to drink!
Yes, just thaw it according to the package instructions before using in this recipe.
More Shrimp Recipes to Love
- Firecracker Shrimp
- West African Inspired Spicy Peanut Shrimp
- Curried Shrimp Fried Rice
- Spicy Chipotle Shrimp Salad
- Shrimp Taco Bites
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe Shrimp Scampi for Two
- 6-8 ounces dried fettuccine pasta
- ½ pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (approximately 5 shrimp per serving)
- 2 ½ Tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil + more for shrimp
- 2 ½ – 3 Tablespoons shallot, roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped or pressed
- Dash red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup white wine
- ½ lemon, juiced
- ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
- Fresh parsley, for garnish
- Generously coat peeled and deveined shrimp with salt, pepper, and olive oil.
- In a large stock pot, bring salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add fettuccine and cook just under al dente, about two minutes less than the package directions. Reserve approximately ½ cup pasta water before draining.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons butter and 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil until hot. Add shallot, garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the seasoned shrimp to the skillet, and spread evenly across the pan on their side. Cook on one side for 1-2 minutes until beginning to turn pink. Once cooked on one side, remove the shrimp from the skillet and set aside.
- Add wine to the shallot mixture to slowly deglaze the pan. Add additional salt (~ ¼ teaspoon) and lemon juice. Bring sauce to a simmer for approximately 2-3 minutes to reduce the wine down. Add an additional ½ tablespoon of butter.
- Place the shrimp back in the skillet and cook on the second side. Add cooked pasta and stir to coat, adding any pasta water as needed for the sauce to reach desired consistency (I like to add a couple of tablespoons). Cook pasta in the sauce for 1-2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately with additional lemon wedges and parsley on top to garnish.
This post was originally published in May 2016. It was updated in February 2020 for text and recipe clarity; the photos were also updated.
This recipe is part of our Date Night Recipes to Love roundup. Check it out!