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 will be perfect for a special date night and for a big family dinner.
If you haven’t tried my Shrimp Scampi Meatballs, I highly recommend that you try it right away.
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.
This shrimp dish is everything promised, it’s delicious, comforting, and easy. It’s an Italian-American dish with roots in a classic Italian scampi dish where whole scampi was prepared with white wine, garlic, and olive oil.
Scampi is actually another crustacean that almost looks like a cross between a lobster and a shrimp. It’s larger than shrimp, looks a little like a lobster, but has pale pink shell. 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 recipe was very easy to fall in love with. It is a very easy recipe with a few simple ingredients that you will master in no time at all. You will also be in love with the flavor combination of juicy shrimp, butter, garlic, white wine sauce, and all of it tossed with pasta. The flavor is exquisite enough to serve for a special occasion like Valentine’s Day or anniversary. Yet, it’s simple enough for a Monday night family dinner.
WHY DID MY GARLIC TURN BLUE?
First time that my garlic turned that horrible bluish-greenish tint while I was cooking, it freaked me out! It was before we had our smart phones in hand and could look up absolutely anything in seconds. I was mortified and washed out my pan immediately, not knowing what happened or what I did wrong.
It happened to me a couple more times before I started researching into what I could have done wrong all those times. See, it didn’t happen every time, only once in a while when I was cooking either Shrimp Scampi or Chicken Piccata. It was strange and I needed answers.
After some time searching and reading about this (common) issue, I feel like I have a handle on it.
First of all, I won’t bore you with the chemical process that happens to garlic and just give you the straight and simple answer. Garlic is fine and safe to eat. (Now that we know that, I’m sure we all feel better.) So what happens is a chemical reaction when older garlic is introduced to acid is lemon, wine, or vinegar. In the case of both Shrimp Scampi and Chicken Piccata, there is quite a lot of acid from both lemon and wine.
So two things are responsible to this reaction: the age of the garlic and introduction of acid. Don’t worry, there are remedies and it’s not to eliminate the acid.
First of all, try to make sure that garlic is fresh.
Second of all, saute garlic for a few minutes, until it starts to brown, before adding the acids. I also add acid one at a time starting with wine. Add wine and let it simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the lemon juice. Every time I let my garlic saute for a few minutes first, before I add the acids, I don’t have the color changing problem.
INGREDIENTS IN SHRIMP SCAMPI
Shrimp – for the best results, choose large, fresh shrimp. You can get shrimp still in shells to clean and de-vein yourself, or you can get cleaned out shrimp in the seafood section of the grocery store.
Butter – don’t be stringy with butter here, it’s a rich, smooth, and comforting dish. The taste depends on having a good amount of butter. (NOTE: you can use butter substitute like “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” in this recipe. I use it when I need to avoid lactose.)
Garlic – try to get fresh garlic for best flavor and avoid the chance if it turning blue.
White wine – use dry white wine and get the wine that you would love to drink. I always say that if you wouldn’t drink the wine, don’t cook with it. Flavor of wine does translate into the sauce.
Lemon – get ripe lemon to get the most juice out of it. If lemon is hard to the touch, it’s not ripe and won’t give you a lot of juice.
Parsley – use fresh parsley when possible. If you’re worried about buying a whole bunch of parsley to use a couple of tablespoons, remember that you can always mince remaining parsley and freeze it in a zip-lock bag. You can also keep a bunch of parsley in a glass of water for almost a week and use for other recipes.
Pasta – personally, I love to use thin pasta like angel hair or linguine, but you can choose any pasta you like.
Optional: red pepper flakes and shallots. Red pepper flakes give the dish a nice layer of heat but it’s not overpowering. When available, shallots sauteed at the same time as the garlic will add a lot of flavor to the dish.
HOW TO MAKE IT
First of all, if you got shrimp still in shells, you need to clean and de-vein them. Give yourself about 10 minutes to clean a pound of shrimp.
Prepare your ingredients before starting to cook because this is a fast recipe. Season shrimp with some salt and toss so the seasoning is spread evenly.
Cook pasta while cleaning the shrimp and starting to cook. Cook pasta until it is al dente, drain off the water, and set aside.
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 and return shrimp to the skillet. Cook for just about a minute, stir in parsley, and add cooked pasta. Toss everything together and serve.
WHAT ELSE CAN I SERVE WITH IT
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 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.
SOME MORE SHRIMP RECIPES TO TRY
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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.
Originally published on Will Cook For Smiles on April 16, 2011. Updated on February 3, 2020.