An Italian-American staple, shrimp scampi pasta is classically made with a lemon, butter, garlic and white wine sauce that’s bright and zesty with a touch of richness from the butter. It’s a great weeknight dinner that tastes like a fine dining meal!
This shrimp scampi pasta is balanced with the perfect amount of acidity and freshness, and a hint of creaminess from the butter. Leeks are the secret ingredient in this pasta (they’re the absolute best!), adding a pop of green and complementary sweetness to the shrimp.
This pasta dish just might be your new favorite go-to option for weeknights or for entertaining alike. And if shrimp scampi doesn’t satisfy your shrimp cravings completely, this Easy Shrimp Tempura Roll recipe or my Shrimp Tacos might just do the trick!
Shrimp Scampi Pasta Ingredients
- Frozen peeled and deveined shrimp – it’s best to buy raw shrimp and cook it to add flavor to the scampi sauce and to ensure you don’t overcook the shrimp. If you use cooked shrimp, you run the risk of overcooking since you’ll need to heat it in the sauce.
- Linguine – linguine is a long pasta that is flat like fettuccine, but narrower. If you can’t find linguine, you can use fettuccine or spaghetti.
- Leeks – leeks are the secret ingredient in this shrimp scampi pasta recipe. They add a pop of green and a sweet, mellow onion flavor.
- Dry white wine – white wine is a staple ingredient in shrimp scampi. It adds brightness and a touch of acidity. I recommend using pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. If you don’t want to use wine, you can use vegetable broth and a touch more lemon juice. However it’s really difficult to beat the taste of white wine in this dish!
- Lemon – you’ll need 2-3 lemons for this recipe: 1 for zesting and 2 or 3 for juicing. Lemon adds brightness and citrusy undertones.
- Extra virgin olive oil – olive oil adds flavor and helps sauté the garlic and leeks.
- Garlic – garlic is a key ingredient in scampi! You’ll need a lot of it. I like to sliver (aka thinly slice) garlic which flavors the dish without being overpowering…and it’s also easier to chop! If you like strong garlic flavor, you can mince the garlic.
- Butter – butter adds velvety creaminess.
- Fresh Italian parsley – parsley adds a pop of freshness.
- Red pepper flakes – you can use no red pepper flakes, a little or a lot depending on how spicy you like your pasta!
- Grated parmesan cheese (optional) – if you’d like, you can garnish your pasta with parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese!
How to Make Shrimp Scampi Pasta
Full instructions in the recipe card; this is just an outline!
- Sauté veggies.
Thaw shrimp. Add olive oil, garlic, leeks, and red pepper flakes to a large skillet. Sauté over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes.
- Cook shrimp.
Add the wine and then the shrimp. Sauté the shrimp over medium-high heat for 2-5 minutes until shrimp are cooked (pink and opaque).
Turn heat to very low and add lemon zest, juice and salt.
Boil pasta while keeping the lemon wine mixture warm.
Add drained pasta, butter, and parsley to the lemon wine mixture. Toss until combined.
Serve with grated cheese if desired.
Shrimp Scampi Pasta Variations
If you’re looking to add some fun additions to your shrimp scampi pasta, here are some ideas:
- Vegetables: try adding cherry tomatoes, spinach, peas, asparagus, zucchini, or mushrooms for a complete meal.
- Fresh herbs: besides the traditional parsley, try adding chopped basil, cilantro, or chives for a burst of freshness.
- Bacon: crisp up some bacon and crumble it over the shrimp scampi pasta for a smoky, meaty touch.
- Sausage: cook and crumble some sausage, such as chorizo or Italian sausage, and mix it into the pasta.
- Bread crumbs: toasted bread crumbs can be a great addition for added texture and flavor. Toast some breadcrumbs in a skillet with a little butter until golden brown, then sprinkle them over the finished dish. Infuse the breadcrumbs with some lemon zest for a citrusy finish.
- Olives: add a Mediterranean twist by tossing in some Kalamata or green olives. They add a briny and tangy flavor that pairs well with the shrimp and garlicky lemon sauce.
- Capers: for bursts of brininess, sprinkle some capers into the shrimp scampi.
- Roasted Garlic: roast a few cloves of garlic until soft and fragrant using my Quick & Easy Roasted Garlic trick. Mash and incorporate them into the sauce.
- Extra spiciness: Add sliced or diced fresh chili peppers like jalapeños or serranos to the garlic and butter sauce. You can also add a dash or two of Cajun seasoning instead for earthy, smoky, spicy notes.
Looking for ideas on what to serve with shrimp scampi pasta? Here are some suggestions:
- Garlic Bread
- Italian Tonnato Sauce or Bagna Cauda with veggies and bread for dipping
- Italian Fennel Salad
- Classic Herb Roasted Root Vegetables
- Roasted Zucchini With Lemon & Garlic
- 10-Minute Sautéed Spinach (With Garlic)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Shrimp scampi is a popular Italian-American dish made with shrimp or prawns sautéed in a garlic and butter-based sauce, along with lemon juice, white wine, and parsley. It is often tossed into pasta like linguine.
While you can use cooked shrimp, I don’t recommend it. Cooking shrimp in the lemon, butter and wine sauce flavors the sauce and the shrimp itself. Also, heating cooked shrimp can lead to overcooked, tough shrimp.
I don’t recommend making shrimp scampi ahead, since the pasta will soak up a lot of the sauce when reheated.
Although shrimp scampi pasta is best enjoyed right away, you can reheat it low and slow in a pot with a splash more lemon juice and white wine, or in the microwave in a pinch!
Peeled, deveined shrimp are ones that have had their shells and digestive veins removed for easier cooking. I highly recommend purchasing peeled and deveined shrimp instead of doing the messy, time consuming process on your own!
More Pasta Recipes You’ll Love!
- Creamy Pasta Primavera
- Pasta alla Genovese (6-Hour Beef & Onion Sauce)
- Secret-Ingredient Mushroom Pasta
- Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta (With Chicken)
- Creamy Lemon Pasta (Pasta al Limone)
- 1 ½ pounds frozen peeled and deveined shrimp (uncooked)
- 1 pound linguine pasta
- 2 cups leeks chopped
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice plus the zest of 1 lemon
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 7 large garlic cloves slivered
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 handful fresh Italian parsley chopped
- Red pepper flakes to taste
- Salt to taste
- Grated parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to garnish (optional)
- Thaw shrimp according to the package instructions. Add olive oil, garlic, leeks, and red pepper flakes to a large skillet. Sauté over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes until the leeks soften.
- Add the wine and then the shrimp. Sauté the shrimp over medium-high heat for 2-5 minutes depending on the size of the shrimp. Shrimp are cooked when they are pink and opaque.
- Turn heat to very low and add lemon zest, juice and salt to taste.
- Boil pasta to al dente while keeping the lemon wine mixture warm.
- Add drained pasta, butter, and parsley to the lemon wine mixture. Toss until the butter melts and all ingredients are combined.
- Serve with parmesan cheese if desired.
- Prep all ingredients before starting to cook! Can’t find linguine? You can use fettuccine or spaghetti instead!
- The best dry white wines to use are pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc.
- I love slivered garlic in this pasta because it flavors the pasta without being overpowering. It’s also easier to slice than minced garlic. If you prefer extra garlicky flavor, mince your garlic instead of slicing.
- You can use whatever sized shrimp you like. I prefer larger shrimp.
- Look for frozen shrimp that says “peeled and deveined” on the package to save time and mess!