Shrimp Scampi is a classic Italian dish served in many American Italian eateries. I often get asked what does scampi mean? It is an odd word.
This Creamy Shrimp Scampi Bread Bowl can be an easy appetizer or entree, dipping bread in the rich scampi sauce with succulent shrimp. This easy shrimp scampi recipe is easy enough for a busy weeknight, but fancy enough for a special occasion and will please any picky eater.
This recipe for creamy Shrimp Scampi Bread Bowl is actually a copycat recipe from one of my favorite Italian restaurants in Baltimore, Amicci’s, called the Pane Rotundo.
Silky, creamy scampi sauce is ladled into fresh bread bowl, topped with shrimp and couple sprinkles of cheese. It is their signature dish and if you ever get the pleasure of dining in the casual eatery, also get the house salad. Basically my favorite pasta dish loaded on top of homemade garlic brad.
What Does Scampi Mean?
Scampi literally translates to prawns or shrimp. So in actuality we are calling our dishes “Shrimp Shrimp“.
Most folks believe scampi refers to the scampi sauce generally served with shrimp scampi, made from butter, white wine, garlic and spices. Serve shrimp scampi recipes over pasta, rice, bread or alone.
Shrimp Scampi recipes can be served as an entree or appetizer and never disappoint. Shrimp appetizers are usually in crostini form, so similar, but not nearly as impressive of a presentation.
Is Shrimp Scampi Italian?
It is widely debated whether shrimp scampi is an authentic Italian dish created in Genoa or an Italian American dish, like alfredo, made up in the United States. Either way, it has lots of flavor, is easy to make utterly delicious. The good stuff, if you will.
While the butter sauce scampi is a dish served in Italy today, creamy, cheese based sauces like this one are Americanized. Italians would also probably have something to say about any type of seafood being served with cheese. It is a big no-no.
But I am a rule breaker!!!
What You’ll Need
The ingredient list is pretty short, but the one thing you’ll need is a large piece of bread to use as a bowl.
- Italian bread loaf- I like using a round bread best, but feel free to use something retangular as well. It just needs to be big so you can pour the shrimp into it like a serving bowl. Rye, pumpernickel and sourdough breads are also fun flavor options.
- Butter– I used both salted and unsalted for this recipe. Salted goes into the garlic butter that bastes the bread bowl, making it a big disk of garlic bread, while the salted it used in the sauce. If you only have unsalted, add 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt to the garlic butter.
- Garlic powder & Onion Powder– For seasoning the garlic butter.
- Fresh Garlic Cloves– This flavor IS the dish, so don’t skimp with the store bought stuff.
- Raw Shrimp– Peeled and deveined. I do like large or extra large shrimp for this particular recipe.
- White wine– Some recipes use fresh lemon juice for the acid, but I prefer pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc (cause then I can pour myself a glass too!) Dry white wine or sweet white wine works for this recipe. For flavor and thinning the sauce. You can do without it or use a low sodium seafood stock.
- Italian seasoning– A robust blend of mediterranean flavors. Fresh herbs can be used, but this is a quick recipe so I opted for dried.
- Heavy Cream– This is a creamy scampi sauce, so while butter and garlic give it immense flavor, it is also combined with cream for silkiness. I’ve seen reduced calorie versions use half cream and half low sodium chicken broth, but I have not tested this method.
- Parmesan cheese– No shaker cheese here! Use a fresh grated parmesan or pecorino romano for thickening and flavor. Finely shredded cheese ensures it melts evenly.
- Coarse sea salt & freshly ground black pepper– For seasoning and used based on personal preference.
- Fresh Parsley & More Cheese- For garnish, if desired.
How to Make a Scampi Bread Bowl
Making it is pretty easy! Both processes are super fast so have all your ingredients ready and waiting ahead of time. Prep the cheese first!
Make the Toasted Bread Bowl
- Prep. Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper for easy clean up.
- Cut Bread. Cut the top off your bread bowl and using your fingers, hollow out the center, leaving high rims around the edges, reserving bread pieces for serving. A serrated knife works best for any bread carving.
- Melt Butter. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, garlic powder and onion powder, adding salt if you are using unsalted butter. Generously baste the butter mixture over the instead of the bread bowl.
- Toast. Toast the bread under broiler for 3-4 minutes or until crispy, but not burnt. Crispy bread will hold its shape better after adding the sauce.
Make the Creamy Shrimp Scampi
- Saute Garlic. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat (if you have a hot burner, use medium heat). Olive oil can also be used for this step. Saute the garlic until fragrant and soft, about 1 minute. Make sure it doesn’t burn, it will taste bitter.
- Cook Shrimp. Add the plump shrimp, stirring until pink and starting to curl.
- Make Sauce. Add the white wine, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and cream. Stir until heated, approximately 1-2 minutes.
- Thicken Sauce. Add the parmesan cheese, stirring until it becomes thick and coats a spoon.
- Assemble. Ladle into the toasted bread bowl, garnish with parsley. Serve with crusty bread pieces for dipping into the sauce.
- Devour it!
Like so many things, these creamy garlic shrimp that is easily customizable. Have fun and tell us what creations you make.
- Serve it as an entree, even adding al dente pasta and making it a pasta bread bowl. Carb-on-carb sounds delicious to me! Or just use the creamy shrimp scampi portion over rice or pasta.
- In addition to the shrimp, I also add other seafood on occasion. Crab seems to be prefered since I live in the crab mecca of Baltimore. Langinstos, scallops, lobster, clams or mussels are other good choices. If adding raw, add it along with the shrimp. If adding cooked, add it right at the end before ladling just so it warms through.
- Make it spicy with a few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes.
- More citrus– Swap the wine for lemon juice and add a few grates of lemon zest to the cream sauce or on top.
- Ditch The Bread– To make a classic shrimp scampi, but creamy, make the same sauce but serve it over linguine pasta, angel hair pasta or even zucchini noodles.
- Add Veggies– Chop and add halved Brussels sprouts, zucchini, onion, shallot or even tomatoes.
One thing is for sure, this Creamy Shrimp Scampi Bread Bowl will not disappoint!
Storage, Make-Ahead & Freezing
Unfortunately, this dish doesn’t do well with making it ahead of time, storage or freezing. The good news is that it really doesn’t take long at all to prepare. Prep and measure out all of the ingredients and then when you are ready to execute, it should come together in just 10 minutes or so.
If you do have leftovers, store the shrimp and cream sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up 5 days. Reheat in a hot skillet or the microwave, being mindful that shrimp are often rubbery when reheated.
More Italian Inspired Dishes
- Bolognese Sauce
- Lemony Artichoke Pesto
- Creamy Vodka Sauce
- Squid Ink Pasta
- Chicken Cacciatore
- Fried Ravioli
- Sausage Alfredo
Creamy Shrimp Scampi Bread Bowl
Toasted Bread Bowl:
Toasted Bread Bowl:
- Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Set aside.
- Cut the top off your bread bowl and using your fingers, hollow out the center, leaving high rims around the edges, reserving bread pieces for serving.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, garlic powder and onion powder. Baste the butter mixture over the instead of the bread bowl.
- Toast bread under broiler for 3-4 minutes or until crispy.
Creamy Shrimp Scampi:
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Saute the garlic until fragrant and soft.
- Add the shrimp, stirring until pink and starting to curl.
- Add the white wine, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and cream. Stir until heated, approximately 1-2 minutes.
- Add the parmesan cheese, stirring until it becomes thick.
- Ladle into the toasted bread bowl, garnish with parsley, if desired, and serve!
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings!
- You can use whatever type of seafood you prefer, or stick with just shrimp. I like the mix of crab and shrimp. You can also buy or make additional crostini to dip and serve.