Shrimp Scampi (Served with Pasta)

Updated: Apr 19th, 2024 · By Bethany Kramer
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This shrimp scampi is inspired by my mom’s version, which is one of the most flavorful scampi recipes I’ve had! It uses a quick shrimp stock made from shrimp shells and white wine to develop an even deeper-tasting sauce. Each bite has a bright, lemony flavor and a kick of heat from red pepper flakes. It’s beautifully balanced and pairs perfectly with pasta!

A cast iron skillet pan with shrimp scampi in it. The pan is displayed on a tan-textured background with fresh parsley, a glass of white wine, and lemon slices arranged around it.

Shrimp scampi is a dish my mom has made many times over the years, and it was the first dish that actually made me love shrimp!

Scampi is a popular Italian-American dish made with jumbo shrimp that is served with a bright, lemony sauce filled with garlic, white wine, and a little heat from red pepper flakes. Rather than searing the shrimp in a pan, this recipe poaches it in the sauce to lock in delicious flavor.

Even though this dish is typically served as an appetizer with crusty bread, many people also serve it as a pasta dish. And that’s just how my family likes it! My mom serves it with spaghetti, but my favorite pasta shape to have it with is tagliatelle. Either way you serve it, the results will be delicious!

Ingredients

Ingredients for shrimp scampi arranged on a tan-textured background. Some of the ingredients are left whole and others are displayed in different colored bowls that range in different sizes.

See the recipe card below for the complete ingredient list and measurements.

Shrimp – I like to use frozen Jumbo shrimp unless I have quality fresh shrimp available. This recipe utilizes the shells to make a stock, so I recommend shrimp that hasn’t already been de-shelled.

Lemon – an essential flavor in any scampi recipe. Freshly squeezed juice is best!

White wine – the wine makes up most of the liquid in the sauce. We like to use Pinot Grigio or any quality white wine.

Garlic and shallots – both add lots of flavor to the sauce!

Butter and olive oil – a combination of these is perfect for cooking the aromatics and adding richness to the sauce.

Fresh Parsley – for fresh, bright flavor added at the end!

Seasonings – to add heat to the recipe, you’ll need red pepper flakes and black pepper for a subtle kick of heat. Sugar and salt are also used to brine the shrimp!

Pasta and cheese – to serve this with pasta, you’ll need a pasta shape of your choice and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

How to Make it

A collage of photos showing steps for how to make shrimp scampi. The first photo, step one, is a hands showing how to remove the shell from the shrimp. The second photo, step two, is a hand holding a piece of shrimp on a white cutting board and a knife slicing down the back of the shrimp to devein it. The third image is step three, with a clear glass bowl showing raw shrimp being brined in salt and sugar.
  1. 1

    Remove the shrimp shells (save them for the stock). Use your hands to remove the shrimp shells and tails from the shrimp, then place the shells in a large saucepan to cook later for the stock.

  2. 2

    Devein the shrimp. If the shrimp is not already deveined, slice is down the center and use your knife to devein the shrimp down the back.

  3. 3

    Brine the shrimp. While you’re slicing and cleaning the shrimp, add the shrimp to a bowl of ice cold water with 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 Tablespoon of sugar. Once finished, you can place the shrimp in the fridge to stay cold while you prepare the sauce. This step can be skipped, but it adds lots of flavor to the shrimp. If you do skip it, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the sauce for flavor.

A collage of photos showing how to make shrimp scampi. The first photo, step four, is shrimp shells and white wine being cooked to make a stock in a skillet pan. The second image, step five, is garlic and red pepper flakes being sautéed in a skillet pan with a wooden spoon. The third photo, is steph six, showing a wooden spoon stirring butter and white wine into the garlic to make the sauce.
  1. 4

    Make the shrimp stock. Use your leftover shrimp shells to make a stock. First, heat the shrimp shells in a pan with oil and saute for about 1-2 minutes. Then remove the pan from the heat, slowly add the wine and stir, then add it back to the heat and cover. Let the shells and wine cook for about 4-5 minutes. Then strain the shells and reserve the sauce for later.

  2. 5

    Sauté the garlic and shallots. In the same pan you cooked the stock, carefully wipe out any grit from the shells on the bottom, then heat the pan with olive oil. Wait for it to heat up, then add the shallots and garlic, and cook for about 1 minute, then add the red pepper flakes.

  3. 6

    Make the sauce. Add the shrimp stock you made, butter, lemon juice, and black pepper.

A collage of photos showing how to make shrimp scampi. The first photo, step seven, is showing raw shrimp being cooked in a white wine and lemon sauce. The second photo, step eight, is the shrimp after it's been cooked in the sauce topped with chopped parsley. The third photo, step nine, is the shrimp and sauce being served with tagliatelle pasta.
  1. 7

    Cook the shrimp in the sauce. Using tongs, remove the shrimp from the brine and transfer them to the sauce. Cover and let them cook for 4-5 minutes if they’re jumbo shrimp, or 2-3 minutes for smaller shrimp.

  2. 8

    Season with parsley. Once the shrimp is done it will be opaque in color. Top it with the minced fresh parsley.

  3. 9

    Serve with pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package, drain the water, and add it to the pan with the shrimp and sauce. Toss until the sauce has coated the pasta noodles, then serve with lots of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Enjoy!

Recipe Variations

Add vegetables – in making this dish, I’ve added several vegetables in with the shrimp such as slices of zucchini, asparagus (cut into smaller pieces), and spinach or arugula. Add these once the shrimp is cooked and let them cook in the sauce until the vegetables are wilted or soft when tested with a fork.

Thicken the sauce – if you like a thicker sauce, you can add 1 teaspoon of corn starch. This is a great option if you don’t want to use parmesan cheese, which a naturally thickens the sauce when combined with starchy pasta.

A close up of shrimp scampi in sauce with lemon slices arranged in with the shrimp.

Tips for a Succesful Scampi

Devein the shrimp or buy it deveined – The vein in the back of the shrimp is entirely edible. But to cook shrimp properly, it’s best to remove the vein as it can cause grittiness in recipes. I prefer to remove it if the shrimp I’m using isn’t deveined, or you can buy shrimp already deveined to save time.

Keep the shrimp cold while prepping – once you peel the shrimp and make the stock, be sure the shrimp in the salt and sugar brine are either in ice water or refrigerated.

Use quality shrimp – we recommend using shrimp from the Gulf or Key West for the best quality. These are widely available in many markets and typically are frozen.

How to know the shrimp is cooked – once it turns an opaque or light pink color, you’ll know it’s fully cooked. This recipe calls for poaching the shrimp, typically taking 4-5 minutes for the jumbo shrimp we used to cook thoroughly. If you’re using small shrimp, these will only take 2-3 minutes.

Use quality white wine, not cooking wine – since most of the sauce is made from white wine; it’s essential to use quality white wine. This doesn’t mean using your most expensive wine, but one you would drink! We recommend dry whites like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. Please do not use non-alcoholic cooking wine or sweet wines!

A tan bowl with shrimp scampi and tagliatelle pasta noodles in it. The dish is decorated with fresh herbs, chopped and left whole, and there is a fork in the bowl twirling the pasta. Around the bowl is a gray napkin and a glass of white wine.
What to Serve it With

Shrimp scampi can be served as an appetizer with crusty Italian bread, or as a main course with pasta such as tagliatelle, linguine, spaghetti, or even pappardelle. Even though seafood and cheese rarely go together, shrimp scampi is the one exception. We love to serve this with pasta and lots of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano! Trust us on this one.

Shrimp Scampi

This shrimp scampi is one of the most flavorful and inspired by my mom's recipe! It uses a quick shrimp stock made from shrimp shells and white wine to develop an even deeper-tasting sauce. Each bite has a bright, lemony flavor and a kick of heat from red pepper flakes. It's beautifully balanced and pairs perfectly with pasta!
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 16-18 jumbo shrimp

For the sauce

  • 1 cup dry white wine, we used Pinot Grigio
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 7-8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons salted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
  • Parmigiano Reggiano

For the brine

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar

Instructions

  • Remove the shrimp shells (save them for the stock). Remove the shrimp shells and tails from the shrimp, then place the shells in a large saucepan to cook later for the stock.
  • Devein the shrimp. If the shrimp is not already deveined, slice it down the center and use your knife to remove the vein down the back. Repeat for all the shrimp.
  • Brine the shrimp. While you're slicing and cleaning the shrimp, add the shrimp to a bowl of ice-cold water mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1 Tablespoon of sugar. Once finished, you can place the shrimp in the fridge to stay cold while you prepare the sauce. This step can be skipped, but it adds flavor to the shrimp. If you skip it, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the sauce for flavor.
  • Make the shrimp stock. First, heat the shrimp shells in a large saucepan with a drizzle of olive oil and saute for about 1-2 minutes. Then remove the pan from the heat, slowly add the wine, and stir, then add it back to the heat and cover. Let the shells and wine cook for about 4-5 minutes on a gentle simmer. Then, strain the shells and reserve the sauce for later. (It should amount to about 2/3 cup)
  • Sauté the garlic and shallots. In the same pan you cooked the stock, carefully wipe out any grit from the shells on the bottom, then heat the pan on low with olive oil. Wait for it to heat up, then add the shallots and garlic, and cook for about 1 minute, then add the red pepper flakes.
  • Make the sauce. Next, add the shrimp stock, butter, lemon juice, and black pepper.
  • Cook the shrimp in the sauce. Using tongs, remove the shrimp from the brine (no need to pat them dry) just shake off any excess water and transfer them to the sauce. Cover and let them cook for 4-5 minutes if they're jumbo shrimp or 2-3 minutes for smaller shrimp. Then, add the fresh parsley at the end. Tip: you'll know the shrimp is cooked once it turns an opaque color.
  • Serve with pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package in a pot of well-salted water and drain it (but the pasta doesn't need to be completely dry, extra pasta water always helps!). Add the pasta to the pan with the shrimp and sauce. Toss until the sauce has coated the pasta noodles, then serve with lots of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Enjoy!

Notes

Leftover shrimp scampi can be refrigerated for 1-2 days. I don’t recommend reheating shrimp, so this recipe is best served the day you make it!
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword shrimp scampi, shrimp scampi with wine
Freezer Friendly No

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2 Comments

  • Kristine says:

    I haven’t made this yet but it sounds delicious; however, many if us don’t drink or use alcohol at all, even in cooking, as the alcohol never completely evaporates or cooks out. What do you recommend in place of the wine. I know many recipes say use chicken broth, but that will hardly give the depth of flavor I’m sure the wine imparts.

    I look forward to your answer as I have some extra jumbo shrimp just begging to be cooked.

    By the way, do you pat dry the shrimp when taking them out of the cold brine or just shake them off and into the sauce?

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      Hi Kristine, I totally understand. For awhile, I avoided cooking with wine because I don’t drink. Only recently did I start cooking with it in recipes that classically call for the wine. However, I’ve always swapped wine for broth in a lot of recipes (including my lemon rosemary chicken and potatoes, and my chicken piccata). I think you could do a good chicken stock in this recipe, or maybe with a little bit of non alcoholic white wine. If you try one of these let me know! I think it will taste delicious with either, because a lot of the flavor comes from the garlic, red pepper flakes, and lemon. Hope this helps!!