Shrimp Scampi is a classic Italian-American dish that features large, juicy shrimp in garlic butter white wine sauce tossed with thin pasta. This beautiful dish is so easy – it comes together in less than 30 minutes and tastes incredible. It’s absolutely perfect for a special date night and for a big family dinner!
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The very first time I tried shrimp scampi was when I was 14 and just moved to the states. My mom made me this dish soon after I moved here and all I could think was, “why haven’t I been eating this my whole life?!”
This was only one of the many, many classic recipes that my mom made for me and taught me how to make. I was always grateful for having a mom who is a chef because I love to cook just as much as I love to eat delicious food.
All those classic recipes I learned early on inspired my more creative recipes like this Lemon Risotto with Lemon Pepper Shrimp later.
What Is Shrimp Scampi?
Shrimp scampi is everything promised – it’s delicious, comforting, and easy. Fun fact! “Scampi” is actually another crustacean that almost looks like a cross between a lobster and a shrimp. Scampi is also called langoustines or Norway lobster.
When adapting this dish to American ingredients, Italian cooks changed scampi to shrimp but still kept the same name, in addition to the shrimp. Thus, “shrimp scampi” was created.
This classic shrimp scampi recipe is a very simple recipe with a short list of ingredients that you will master in no time at all. It features a combination of juicy shrimp, butter, garlic, white wine sauce, lemon and all of it tossed with pasta! Most important ingredients of scampi are shrimp, butter, white wine, garlic, and lemon. Make sure those are included and you will have one special dinner!
Shrimp – For the best results, choose large, fresh shrimp. You can get shrimp still in shells to clean and de-vein them yourself, or get already cleaned shrimp from the seafood counter of your local grocery store.
Butter – Don’t be stingy with butter here! It’s a rich, smooth, and comforting dish. The taste depends on having a good amount of butter. You can use plant based butter substitute in this recipe if you need to avoid lactose.
White Wine – Use dry white wine and choose a bottle that you would like to drink. I always say that if you wouldn’t drink the wine, don’t cook with it. The flavor of wine does translate into the sauce.
Lemon – Get a ripe lemon to get the most juice out of it. If the lemon is hard to the touch, it’s not ripe and won’t give you a lot of juice.
Parsley – Use fresh parsley for this recipe! If you’re worried about buying a whole bunch of parsley only to use a couple of tablespoons, remember that you can always mince the remaining parsley and freeze it in a zip-lock bag or dry it. You can also keep a bunch of parsley in a glass of water for almost a week and use it for other recipes.
Pasta – Personally, I love to use thin pasta like angel hair, spaghetti, or linguine, but you can choose any pasta you like.
Optional Additional Ingredients – Red pepper flakes and shallots are great add-ins. Red pepper flakes give the dish a nice layer of heat but it’s not overpowering. Shallots sautéed at the same time as the garlic will add a lot of flavor to the dish.
See recipe card for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
Prepare: Before we can really get started on the shrimp, you’ll need to prepare! Clean and de-vein the shrimp if needed. Cook the pasta according to package instructions and set aside. Measure and prepare remaining ingredients.
Cook the shrimp: Season the shrimp with salt. Melt butter and olive oil in a skillet. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes to the skillet, cooking until the garlic has browned. Add shrimp to the skillet and cook until it turns opaque on one side, then flip and cook until opaque on both sides (1). Remove shrimp from the pan, leaving the garlic butter behind.
Create the sauce: Add more butter and let it melt. Mix in the white wine and let it simmer. Add the lemon juice and salt. Return the shrimp to the skillet (2), cook for 1 more minute, then toss in the pasta before serving.
Pasta is the most traditional way to serve shrimp scampi. If you don’t like pasta or want to make it a little healthier, try it with broccoli or a mix of vegetables. Broccoli is great because the buds soak up a lot of sauce and it comes out very tasty. Some other vegetables that would work well in this dish are shallots, mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, green beans, cauliflower, and other mild tasting vegetables.
In our family restaurant, I’ve had many people order shrimp scampi with mashed potatoes or roasted potatoes. This is a less conventional option but many people love it.
Look at the color and the tails. Best indication is the color of the shrimp, they turn from translucent to opaque as they cook. If shrimp turned opaque on one side, flip the and wait until they turn opaque on the other side.
Tails is another indication. Once the tails start to turn inward and the shrimp are “C” shaped, they’re likely ready to go!
In an airtight container in the fridge, any leftovers you have of this scampi will last for about 2-3 days. Reheat it in the pan over medium-low heat until just warmed all the way through. You never want to overcook seafood, especially leftovers.
Yes and no. You cannot omit butter because it is a vital ingredient in shrimp but you can use plant based butter substitute. I often use lactose free/plant butter substitute like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Earth Balance, Avocado Oil Plant Based Butter. (You can read more about making recipes lactose free in my mac and cheese and cauliflower mac and cheese recipes.)
Yes, you can use previously frozen shrimp but make sure to thaw them completely first. Drain off all the excess liquids before starting to cook and pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel.
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- 1 lb pasta like spaghetti, angel hair, or linguine
- 1 lb large shrimp
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp butter
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp butter additional
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 lemon – juice only
- 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
- If you got shrimp still in shells, it will need to be cleaned and de-veined before cooking.
- Cook pasta in boiling salted water until it is al dente, drain off the water, and set aside.
- Measure and prepare remaining ingredients before starting to cook because this recipe cooks fast.
- Season shrimp with some salt and toss so the seasoning is spread evenly.
- In a large skillet, melt butter and add olive oil.
- Smash garlic, mince it, and add it to the skillet. Add red pepper flakes too and saute garlic and pepper flakes until garlic is browned.
- Add shrimp to the skillet and cook until it turns opaque on one side.
- Flip all the shrimp and cook until it’s just turned opaque on the other side. Take shrimp out of the pan but leave butter and garlic behind.
- Add a little more butter and let it melt.
- Pour in white wine, mix, and let it simmer for a few minutes.
- Add lemon juice and season the sauce with some salt. Return shrimp to the skillet.
- Cook for just about a minute, stir in parsley, and add cooked pasta. Toss everything together and serve.
- NOTE: if you like your pasta dishes extra sauce, feel free to double the sauce.
- Important ingredients: Most important ingredients of shrimp scampi are shrimp, butter, white wine, garlic, and fresh lemon juice lemon. Those should not be substituted!
- Butter: You cannot omit butter because it is a vital ingredient in shrimp but you can use plant based butter substitute. I often use lactose free/plant butter substitute like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Earth Balance, Avocado Oil Plant Based Butter.
- Wine: make sure to use dry white wine like Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. Do not use sweet wine!
- Doubling sauce: If you like your dishes saucy, feel free to double the sauce ingredients and make extra sauce!