This lemon garlic shrimp pasta is a quick and easy weeknight meal made with sautéed shrimp and bucatini pasta, all tossed in a buttery garlic sauce. It’s on the table in just 30 minutes.
Adapted from Maria Provenzano | Everyday Celebrations From Scratch | Harper Horizon, 2022
Even though this dish sounds fancy, it’s super easy. The key is to let the pasta cook in the sauce for a bit. The lemon infuses into the pasta, and the flavors marry perfectly. I can’t get enough of the lemon flavor, so I like to finish off the dish with freshly squeezed lemon juice.–Maria Provenzano
Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta FAQs
Can I substitute zoodles for the pasta in this recipe?
You’re reading our minds. Lemon, garlic, and shrimp are fantastic with pasta, but those flavors also complement zoodles (zucchini noodles) nicely, or other spiralized veggies such as summer or butternut squash. (Would those be squoodles?)
In order to incorporate spiralized veggies into this recipe without overcooking them, you’ll need to skip step 1 completely. Then in step 5, simply add your raw, room temperature zoodles (or squoodles) into the sauce, give the dish a quick stir, for about a minute, and serve. The heat from the pan and the other ingredients will warm up your ‘pasta’ a bit.
Can I use a different shape of pasta?
You bet. Any long noodle will work here, such as spaghetti or fettuccine. Just adjust the pasta cooking time to what is recommended on the box.
How many medium size shrimp are in one pound?
Shrimp sizes are denoted in numbers, such as 21/25. When you go to the seafood market and see numbers like 26/30 or 31/35 on the signage next to the prices, that’s how many you’ll get per pound, on average. For medium shrimp, you’ll get 41/50 shrimp per pound.
What should I serve with this lemon garlic shrimp pasta?
A salad, such as this cornbread salad with arugula and herbs, or this Mediterranean vegetable and pita salad, would be great choices to round out this easy pasta meal.
Can I use pre-cooked shrimp?
We don’t recommend it, as the shrimp may become rubbery when heated. Stick to raw shrimp for this recipe.
Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta
- 1 pound bucatini pasta
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds medium-size raw shrimp peeled, deveined, and tails removed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 to 3 teaspoons (about the zest from one large lemon) fresh lemon zest preferably organic
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice plus more to taste
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated, divided
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, rinse the shrimp then pat dry with paper towel. Lightly sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and warm the oil. Add the shrimp and cook on one side for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the shrimp and cook until almost cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes more.
- Stir in the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for about 30 seconds, being careful not to let the garlic brown or it will taste bitter. Stir in the lemon zest and juice.
- Use tongs to grab the bucatini out of the pot and transfer it directly into the skillet with the shrimp. Before stirring, pour 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese over the pasta. Toss everything well and allow the pasta to cook in the sauce for a few minutes.
- Add the fresh parsley and toss to combine. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, and the remaining Parmesan cheese, to taste. Stir in a few tablespoons of pasta water while mixing everything together.
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Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This is one delightful, easy, and quick pasta; one of the best I’ve made in a while. The shrimp are tender, the lemon pops, and the Parmesan and parsley are perfectly balanced. I did use the red pepper flakes, they added just a whisper of heat.
I had 16/20 shrimp so I cut them in half for better distribution throughout the dish. I might add more garlic next time just because I always do! I love the brightness of fresh parsley added at the end. I added 3/8 cup of pasta water at the end for a lusciously silky sauce.
I did make this again with linguine fini, and it was even better with a lighter noodle! Me being me, I also added a few more cloves of garlic. Whatever pasta you have on hand will be delicious with this lemony sauce.
I love all things lemon, so I knew that I would be making this lemon garlic shrimp pasta recipe the moment I saw it.
I must say, that despite all of the lemon zest, (I used 2 teaspoons), and the 1/2 cup of lemon juice listed in the recipe, although delicious, the pasta was still not “lemony” enough for our taste. I ended up using the zest of another lemon, as well as its juice, to bring it up to something that knocked our proverbial socks off. Our feet, at that point, were indeed bare.
After boiling for 8 minutes, my pasta was al dente. Since it was going to continue to cook a bit in the in pan with the shrimp, lemon zest, and juice, I did transfer it at that time to the other skillet. I am glad that I did, because the pasta in the final dish was just what it should be, tender, but still having that al dente bite.
I added about 3 tablespoons of pasta water to the sauce, even though I questioned if that would be necessary.
Where the pasta water did come in handy, was the next day while heating up leftovers. I learned a long time ago to save some pasta water whenever I make pasta. I just dip a glass Pyrex measuring cup into the pasta pot, capturing boiling water, before taking the pasta out, or draining it. I pour that into a glass jar, and save it as long as I have the leftovers that we may be eating, and I use it as needed.
This lemon garlic shrimp pasta is a quick, simple, and flavorful recipe that can be made on a weeknight but has the luxuriousness of a weekend dish. The dish is rich in bright flavor and comes together in a cinch. Prep everything in advance because once you start cooking, dinner will be on the table quick.
I served this with a simple arugula salad. Next time I would finish it with more lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Nice on its own. Would also be a good base recipe.
This was a lovely bright dish that was easy to prepare. The flavour of the lemon really shines here and the Parmesan makes a lovely unctuous light “sauce” that coats the pasta. A beautiful, bright summer dish!
This was a good sized serving for 4 people. I resisted the urge to add crumbled feta but maybe next time!
This pasta recipe scores high on both flavor and ease of preparation. The lemon infused pasta and shrimp are delicious and could easily be served as the main course with guests even though it comes together as quickly as a weeknight dish in terms of ingredients and preparation. We just loved the fresh lemon flavor with the sautéed shrimp, pasta, and Parmesan cheese. Each ingredient contributes to a wonderful pasta dish that we will certainly be adding to our regular list of shrimp dish favorites.
The preparation is easy, the only task requiring any effort is cleaning and de-veining the shrimp. I really appreciated the detailed instructions for preparing the shrimp in terms of rinsing and drying, and removing the shell and tail section and cooking time. Everything was specified completely and easy to follow.
We enjoyed this dish with freshly made crusty sourdough bread which worked well to scoop up sauce on the bottom of the serving dish. A wonderful meal.
Lemon garlic shrimp pasta is a delicious recipe to have on hand. I love how easily you can get a satisfying, appealing, and tasty dish on the table in no time.
This dish feels rich and indulgent and was nicely balanced by a side of garlicky Swiss chard.
There are no photos of this pasta dish because there was no time. It vanished. This spectacularly easy pasta is savory and satisfying. I think it would also be a crowd pleaser, which is why it’s going on my list for summer entertaining.
I felt like the amount of lemon juice was perfectly balanced with the heat from the crushed red pepper. The choice of bucatini gives this dish an extra bit of bite. I happened to like that very much.
I may prefer the parsley to be roughly chopped vs whole leaf, but it’s true my parsley from the garden was a bit tough. Use your own judgment based on the herbs at hand.
Originally published August 3, 2022
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
This recipe promises lemony shrimp with bucatini and that’s exactly what you get. In 25 minutes. Bucatini.
Don’t get me wrong, I also love spaghetti and capellini. The choice of bucatini for this recipe is almost imperative though. You can’t slurp bucatini as quickly as the other long pasta. Each bite requires a bit of work. The bucatini captures more of the lemony flavour, makes the enjoyment last longer, and makes it a more fun experience. This is useful when you’re trying to eat mindfully and consume smaller portions.
The flavours in this dish are simple. They’re fresh, and complementary, while providing the illusion of richness to the palate. By richness, I mean the creamy texture of the pasta and sauce without the use of cream.
I did use two tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. I feel that I could have reduced this amount to one tablespoon of each fat and then just used a second tablespoon of olive oil to finish the dish. In fact, when I plated, there were a couple of extra tablespoons of fatty sauce in the bottom of the pan that got recycled to a topping.
Where the lemony flavour is concerned, I liked that the lemon juice addition was done in two parts. I served this pasta on a platter with a quarter lemon chunk for each person to drizzle as per taste. For me, the total amount was perfect but my husband enjoyed the option to not add more to his plate. There were oohs and ahhs and even some chewing with eyes closed amongst the five of us.
The shrimp-pasta-cheese ratio was perfect. Served ours with a tomato and caper salad and a mellow Chenin Blanc. This one’s a keeper!