Looking for a great recipe for an easy weeknight meal? Garlicky, butter shrimp scampi might seem like a restaurant quality dish, but it is actually comes together in just 20 minutes!
Shrimp Scampi is a traditional Italian dish made with a garlic butter sauce and shrimp with al dente pasta and fresh lemon juice. This Shrimp Scampi recipe is the best!
Did you know that “scampi” in Italian is actually a small crustacean called a langoustine? In the states you might be able to find them in the frozen seafood section, but we have mostly swapped out langoustines for shrimp.
They are basically the size of shrimp, but look like lobsters with a red back. I use them in my Italian Seafood Stew, you should check them out!
Don’t forget to PIN Shrimp Scampi!
You’ll also find that scampi is referred to a method of perpetration or garlic butter sauce instead of in reference to the protein. You’ll see Chicken Scampi, Asparagus Scampi even Lobster Scampi on menus at Americanized Italian joints.
Like many traditional Italian dishes, Shrimp Scampi is easy to prepare and only uses a handful of ingredients. The difference between good and bad scampi lies in the quality of ingredients.
There are many variations for Shrimp Scampi, but the basic version has a butter base with shrimp, pasta and garlic. I like to add garlic (or shallots,) white wine and lemon juice to brighten up my sauce.
Any of these can be easily omitted if they don’t fit your taste.
Butter and garlic are going to be key in this sauce. Choose a quality, grass-fed butter since it is the base. Cheaper butters hold a lot of water and don’t have as much flavor. Many chefs also like to clarify their butter.
PRO TIP: If you do choose to make clarified butter, add an additional 3 tablespoons of butter to compensate for the volume you’ll be losing by skimming.
Clarified butter is when you remove the milks solids, also known as the frothy white foam that floats when butter is melted. This is a matter of personal preference. For Shrimp Scampi, I don’t feel that it is necessary to clarify the butter first. You can also use ghee.
To many, garlic would seem simple, but I implore you to use freshly minced garlic instead of the jarred nonsense. They have distinctly different flavors. Garlic is what makes a scampi sauce, so saving time here won’t do you any favors.
PRO TIP: Garlic that is thinly sliced with have less garlic punch than garlic that has been pressed, the ultimate of garlic flavor.
Did you also know that what makes some garlic so pungent and flavorful and others more tame has to do with how you cut it? The amount of cells severed directly impacts the garlicky flavor.
Also important is the pasta. While I prefer fresh pasta whenever possible, it just isn’t always possible. I also like using a thick lingue for Shrimp Scampi when technically speaking the traditional pasta is spaghetti or even angel hair.
I also like to toss my pasta in the garlic butter sauce while still in the skillet. It allows it to absorb the delicious sauce instead it just dripping off and pooling at the bottom of your dish.
You can also serve your garlic butter Shrimp Scampi sauce over crusty bread instead of pasta. If you have a vegetarian dining at your table, simply set aside a small amount of sauce and lightly saute asparagus cut into 2-inch pieces instead of shrimp. Serve with Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks and a nice green salad.
So to make the best shrimp scampi ever, you will need to cook your pasta in a large pot to al dente. While the pasta is cooking, heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add shallots, cook for two minutes, then add in the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Cook the shrimp (make sure it’s deveined shrimp!) in the butter and garlic mixture for about 3-4 minutes.
Next you will add wine and let that cook for one more minute. Remove the shrimp from skillet and serve over the freshly cooked pasta.
To finish off this dish, you can top with cracked black pepper, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and serve with garlic bread!
If you liked this easy scampi, check out these other delicious shrimp recipes:
And these Classic Italian Recipes:
- Italian Beef Braciole
- Chicken Parmesan
- Authentic Carbonara
- Tomato Bruschetta
- Truffle Butter Recipe
- Italian Bread Dip
- Squid Ink Pasta Recipe
- Beurre Blanc Pasta
- Creamy Lemon Pasta
Tools for making Shrimp Scampi:
Wood cutting board – wood won’t dull your knives like plastic and if treated properly, has natural antimicrobial properties.
Good knife – Global is my favorite! They are worth the price, I promise. I am kind of obsessed with them and store them tucked away so no one else can use them. Including hubby. Hands off my good stuff!
Heavy Bottom Frying Pan– this will be one of your most used kitchen tools. Having something that is heavy bottom will distribute heat better and prevent burning whether you are using an electric or gas range.
Questions you might have about how to make shrimp scampi:
Do I have to use linguine? No you do not. You can use whatever pasta you prefer, however I do suggest this sauce pairs best with a long, thin pasta and not tubed or thick pastas.
Thinner sauces do best with spaghetti, bucatini, lingues or even fettatinic or angle hair (cappellini).
Can I make the sauce ahead of time? Shrimp always taste best freshly cooked. When they are reheated, they tend to get gummy and rubbery. Since the sauce it so simple, I would suggest prepping all the ingredients ahead of time, but waiting until right before serving to actually make the sauce.
Is shrimp scampi spicy? Traditional scampis is not spicy, but it is garlicky. You can add crushed red pepper flakes if you want some heat.
Does shrimp scampi have vegetables? Traditionally, no. Well, I guess garlic is a vegetable. But… you can add cooked broccoli, saulicler, carrots, sun dried tomatoes, fresh diced tomatoes… really any veggie you want.
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- Cook pasta al dente according to pasta directions. Drain and set aside.
- While pasta cooks, melt butter in a large skillet.
- Add shallots, cooking 2 minutes and stirring.
- Add garlic, cooking an additional 1 minute.
- Add shrimp, cooking 3-4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink and curl.
- Pour in white wine, cooking 1 more minute.
- Serve shrimp scampi sauce over freshly cooked pasta, seasoning with sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and a spritz of fresh lemon.