Jam-packed with sweet, plump seafood bathed in a delectable lemon and garlic butter sauce, this super simple shrimp scampi recipe is dinner at its best.
So move over, Olive Garden, because this homemade version is ten times better.
When it comes to seafood dishes, shrimp scampi is definitely one of the best.
The combination of sweet, meaty shrimp with a fragrant garlic-forward butter sauce is irresistible.
And while it’s easy enough to cook on busy weeknights, it’s also special enough to serve at dinner parties.
So whether you’re having friends over or just having a quiet dinner with the family, this shrimp scampi recipe is a must-make.
Easy Shrimp Scampi Recipe
Shrimp scampi looks and sounds like such a fancy dish, but it’s surprisingly easy to make.
In fact, this recipe comes together in just 15 minutes!
There’s even a variety of ways you can serve it, from pasta and rice to roasted veggies and buttered noodles, you can’t go wrong.
So, if you’re looking for a delicious and versatile seafood dish you can whip up on a busy weeknight, you’ve just found it.
What Is Scampi?
Scampi is another name for Dublin Bay Prawns or Norway Lobster, smaller members of the lobster/prawn families.
However, it’s also a term for specific dishes, which differ by region. In Italy, it’s grilled langoustines with butter and garlic, whereas, in the UK, it’s battered or breaded langoustine.
Shrimp scampi is an Italian-American dish of shrimp and a rich sauce of garlic, butter, and white wine.
It’s very similar to the authentic Italian version, only it most often uses shrimp instead of langoustines.
Over time, many iterations of the dish have surfaced, too. Take my version, for example, which also features Parmesan and breadcrumbs. Yum!
Shrimp Scampi Without Wine
Shrimp scampi is traditionally cooked with white wine, giving it a remarkable depth of flavor.
For this recipe, though, we’re ditching the wine and going for a more affordable dish.
All the flavors will still be there, so don’t worry!
- Shrimp – I use extra-large shrimp because I want them nice and plump. You can use larger or smaller shrimp, just be sure not to overcook it.
- Pasta – I use angel hair pasta because I think it pairs well with garlic-based sauces. But any kind or shape of pasta will work, too.
- Garlic – A key ingredient in shrimp scampi! Use fresh garlic for best results. Bring out its flavor by giving it a quick sauté in oil and butter.
- Butter and Olive Oil – For cooking the garlic and shrimp – and yes, you want both. Butter adds richness, while the oil keeps it from burning too quickly. Use high-quality olive oil and either salted or unsalted butter.
- Lemon Juice – A bit of acidity to complement the sharpness of the garlic. Use freshly-squeezed lemon juice for best results.
- Pepper and Oregano – flavorful spices.
- Parmesan – for a cheesy topping.
- Bread Crumbs – something crisp and crunchy on top.
- Parsley – for garnish.
How to Make Shrimp Scampi
1. Cook the pasta.
Cook according to the package instructions (until al dente).
Let the pasta cook while you make the sauce and shrimp. Otherwise, the pasta will overcook or stick to itself in the colander.
2. Cook the garlic.
Preheat the butter and olive oil in a large, oven-safe skillet and cook the garlic for 1-2 minutes over medium heat.
Cooking the garlic will draw out its full flavor and cut back on the harshness.
3. Cook the shrimp.
Add the shrimp, lemon juice, pepper, and oregano to the skillet. Stir constantly until the shrimp turn pink, about 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Broil the shrimp.
Top the shrimp with cheese, breadcrumbs, and parsley. Then, crank up the heat and broil for 2-3 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
5. Serve and enjoy.
Toss the cooked angel hair pasta with shrimp scampi. Serve and enjoy!
Tips for the Best Shrimp Scampi Pasta
- Have all the ingredients ready before you start cooking. Shrimp scampi comes together quickly, so there won’t be time to search for things.
- Peel and devein the shrimp before you start cooking. Or buy it ready to go.
- Try to time everything, so it finishes cooking at the same time. For example, pasta noodles will clump together while they cool, so it’s better to toss them in the sauce when freshly cooked.
- Most angel hair pasta will be ready in just 3-5 minutes, plus the time it takes for the water to boil.
- The garlic and shrimp need approximately 5-7 minutes to cook, plus a couple of minutes in the broiler.
- Here’s how I do it:
- Start by boiling the water, then get the garlic in the pan.
- Put the angel hair pasta in the boiling water when you add the shrimp to the pan.
- Leave the pasta to cook as you finish with the shrimp, and it should be cooked by the time the skillet comes out of the broiler.
- Don’t overcook the shrimp, or they’ll be tough and rubbery. You’ll know they’re done once they turn pink.
- Don’t crowd the pan. If you add too much at once, you’ll steam the shrimp instead of pan-frying it.
- If you have the time, leave the shrimp to marinate in the olive oil and garlic for 15 to 30 minutes. Don’t add the lemon juice at this point, or it’ll cook the shrimp.
- Use a mix of olive oil and butter to cook the shrimp. While butter adds richness, it browns and burns faster than oil. So you’ll need to use a combination for best results.
- If adding wine to the dish, be sure it’s good quality. The best wines are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, & Chardonnay. Don’t use sweet wines, as they’ll overpower the flavor of the shrimp.
What Kind of Shrimp to Use for Shrimp Scampi
It depends on how you’ll serve the dish.
Go for colossal shrimp if you plan to serve this dish tapas-style. That way, everyone gets a nice big mouthful.
But if you’ll serve it for lunch or dinner, extra-large, mid-range shrimp will do.
I don’t recommend smaller shrimp or prawns because they’re more likely to overcook, and you don’t get the same meaty finish.
Just bear in mind that the smaller the shrimp, the faster they’ll cook. So adjust the cooking time if necessary.
You can also use fresh shrimp or frozen and thawed shrimp. Just be sure the frozen and thawed shrimp is cleaned and patted dry.
The Best Pasta for Shrimp Scampi
Shrimp scampi is traditionally served over spaghetti, but you can use penne or rigatoni if you like.
I prefer angel hair pasta for shrimp scampi because it’s light and cooks quickly.
But again, any kind of noodles will work, whether it’s spaghetti, fettuccine, or capellini.
You can also opt for zucchini or veggie noodles or cauliflower rice if you’re on a low-carb diet.
How to Serve Shrimp Scampi
Shrimp scampi is best served with pasta and fresh, crusty bread to soak up all that buttery goodness in the bowl.
But if you’re not feeling like a heavy pasta dish, here are a few other ways to serve shrimp scampi:
- On its own: on a sizzling plate with a toasted baguette on the side.
- With steamed rice or buttered noodles: for something equally hearty as pasta.
- Zucchini noodles: if you’re going for a light or low-carb dish.
- Gnocchi or risotto: or basically any kind of pasta
- Paired with a salad: or something light and refreshing to balance out its richness.
How to Store Leftover Shrimp Scampi
Shrimp scampi is best served freshly cooked from the stove (or oven). But if you have leftovers, you can keep them around for up to 2 days.
Allow the dish to cool completely to room temperature, then transfer it into an airtight container and refrigerate.
You can also freeze the scampi, but only if you haven’t mixed it with the pasta yet. Keep it in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 2 months.
To reheat, thaw the frozen scampi in the fridge overnight. Then, preheat a skillet until extremely hot, and cook the shrimp scampi for about 3 minutes.
Note: Even though you can save it for a couple of days, I don’t recommend making extra to serve later.
Every time you re-cook shrimp, you run the risk of it becoming rubbery – and nobody likes tough shrimp!
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