The best shrimp scampi ever! Tender shrimp are sauteed in a delicious butter full of garlicky, lemony goodness, with red pepper flakes for a kick, served up with your favorite pasta that’s tossed in that lemon garlic butter in less than 15 minutes. Talk about a winner for dinner!
For some reason, I just love shrimp scampi for the summer. Maybe it’s all that bright, juicy lemon in the sauce. Maybe it’s because it’s too dang hot to stand in front of a stove or have the oven on all day.
Yeah, that’s it.
I mean, it is also because the lemon in the sauce really just screams summer…but also because this recipe is super fast. I mean really, really fast. This recipe can be done in 10 minutes if you use angel hair pasta like I did, since it cooks so fast.
You can even make this low-carb and serve it with zoodles, if you want.
Or bust out the loaf of crusty bread to sop up all the good sauce, like I do.
There’s also wine…it’s optional. Especially if you got a preschooler who loves his shrimp and noodles like I do. But hey, more wine for me! Just substitute chicken or homemade shrimp or fish broth for the wine.
I used a bunch of garlic in here, we are big garlic lovers in this house, but if you’re not you can absolutely turn down the garlic volume by using only two or three garlic cloves in your pan.
You’ll notice that in the recipe I say to add the garlic in while the butter and oil are heating up. Don’t try this if you aren’t what I call a ‘comfortable cook’. If you’re new to cooking, just add the garlic in when you are cooking the shrimp.
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Adding the garlic to the butter while it melts infuses it with garlicky goodness as it warms up, but garlic burns so fast you need to keep a good eye on it. And once garlic burns, that’s it, it’s over, throw the whole pot away. Okay, maybe not throw it out…just wash it and try again. I love infusing the butter with garlic, so I really suggest you try it, too!
You can use whatever type of shrimp you like, I actually prefer grabbing the fresh red royals or pink gold that are abundant at my fish market since they are both local types, and red royals are large with a more delicate texture and more like the langoustines that shrimp scampi was originally made with in Italy.
But they also kinda made the sauce pink and it did not photograph like a shrimp scampi, so I got a pound of like 15-20 count from the monger for the photos.
Tips on Shrimp
If you can’t buy local fresh, buy frozen.
Seriously, the Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) shrimp are your best bet since they are less likely to have time to rot. Look for ones that have shells still on them, that protects the flesh while they thaw.
If you’re buying fresh, make sure they smell ‘fresh’.
Like ‘you don’t mind taking some deep whiffs of the shrimp, because it smells pleasant’ kind of fresh. It should smell a little salty like the ocean, that’s it. If there’s anything about the shrimp’s smell that makes you question it a bit, it’s bad, don’t do it!
Also, check the shells.
The shells should be firm, not slimy, not specked with black, not yellowed (that means someone tried to bleach away black spots), and the flesh should be firm, not mushy and not detached from the shell or falling apart.
Shrimp decay pretty quickly, so if you don’t know when your market gets their fish shipment in, just go with frozen.
When buying shrimp for scampi, get a larger size.
The smaller the number per pound (20-count, for example, used in this recipe) the larger the shrimp are. Smaller shrimp (like a 40 count, meaning 40 shrimp per pound) are good for things like stir fry or fried rice, larger shrimp are good for when the shrimp are the stars, like in shrimp and grits or shrimp scampi.
To Devein or not devein?
In it’s little back…is the shrimp’s poop.
Some people don’t take the poop vein out, it’s perfectly okay if you keep it in, it’s not harmful to humans. It may cause a muddy or gritty texture when you eat them, but other than that, it’s fine.
I, however, devein my shrimp because…it’s just what we do here. You slice open the back of your shrimp after peeling the shell with a small paring knife and pull out that black lumpy poop chute. Then you move on with life.
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- 4 servings pasta of your choice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4-5 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 lbs 20 count shrimp, peeled and deveined. tails optional
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 1/2 lemon, sliced thinly
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley, optional
- Bring a large pot of water to boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.
- While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil and butter in a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring frequently for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Add the shrimp, season them with about 1 tsp black pepper and salt to taste, and let sear for 2 minutes on one side, until it's just turning pink, then flip onto their other sides.
- Pour in wine or broth, add red pepper flakes, and bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring often; the wine will be reduced and the shrimp cooked through by 3 minutes, don't overcook the shrimp.
- Take off heat and stir in the lemon slices, lemon zest, lemon juice and parsley. Toss the drained pasta with shrimp and sauce, then serve immediately.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 288
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.