When it comes to pasta dinners, it’s pretty hard to beat tender noodles smothered in slow-simmered Bolognese sauce. It’s also pretty hard to find those days when you can lovingly tend to a sauce for hours on end.

Enter this quick and easy weeknight winner. Like our classic pasta with butter and Parmesan, it’s simple to make, reasonably inexpensive, and relies on just a handful of ingredients. It also happens to be incredibly delicious. Because, really, how could garlicky, buttery, lemony shrimp all tangled up in pasta not be??

david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

The testers were delighted that this easy weeknight pasta relies on pantry staples and was “easy to prep and came together quickly.” Mardi Michels says it’s “perfect for a hot summer’s night or a cold winter evening, and if you’ve got shrimp or prawns in your freezer and pasta in your pantry, you’re all set!”

What You’ll Need to Make This

Ingredients for garlic butter shrimp pasta--pasta, shrimp, basil, lemon, butter, pepper flakes, garlic, and olive oil.
  • Pasta–Any type of long pasta works well here. Linguine, spaghetti, or bucatini would all be great choices.
  • Shrimp–Use raw shrimp for this dish, as precooked shrimp will overcook. If you’re using frozen shrimp, make sure they are thawed and patted dry. If you can find prawns, they make an excellent (and a bit fancier) substitution for the shrimp.
  • Fresh basil–I love the flavor of basil in this pasta, but if you prefer, you can substitute flat-leaf parsley.

How to Make This Recipe

Pasta cooking in a large pot and garlic and pepper flakes being sautéed in a skillet.
  1. Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  2. Sauté the garlic and pepper flakes in olive oil.
Shrimp sautéed in a skillet then butter cubes melting into the shrimp in the skillet.
  1. Stir in the shrimp and cook until pink and opaque.
  2. Add the butter and let it melt into the sauce.
Pasta being tossed with shrimp and a person sprinkling basil over the tossed pasta.
  1. Dump in the pasta and lemon juice and toss to coat it in the sauce.
  2. Fold in the basil and serve immediately.
A plate of shrimp linguine with a fork on the side and a skillet of the pasta in the background.

Common Questions

What should I serve with this?

A simple salad or arugula dressed in lemon vinaigrette would be a perfect accompaniment to the meal. My testers also enjoyed serving crusty bread or warm, drippy garlic bread along with the pasta.

What’s the easiest way to peel and devein shrimp?

Peeled and deveined shrimp are readily available in supermarkets. Still, if all you have are plain ole whole shrimp, they’re easy to peel and devein.

To peel, use your thumb to break open the shell on the underside of each shrimp (this is where the shell is the softest), then pull it off easily. If you want to use kitchen shears, cut through the shell at the top, then peel it off.

To devein, hold the shrimp in one hand and a small sharp knife in the other. Make a slit along the back of the shrimp where the vein runs, then use the tip of the knife to gently pull out the vein.

How can I quickly defrost frozen shrimp?

If you’re thawing the entire bag of shrimp, place the sealed bag of shrimp in a large bowl of cold water and place a plate or other heavy object on top of it to submerge the bag. The shrimp will be fully defrosted in 20 to 30 minutes. If you’re thawing only part of a bag, transfer the amount of shrimp you want into a zip-top bag and continue as above.

If you really need to speed things along, you can plop those shrimp right into the bowl of cold water and give them a swish every few minutes until they bend easily. However, don’t thaw shrimp in warm water as it can change the texture.

Helpful Tips

  • Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before cooking, as the dish comes together very quickly.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • To reheat leftover pasta, place it in a saucepan set over low heat. Add a splash of water and stir gently while reheating.
A tangle of pasta and shrimp topped with fresh basil in a red skillet.

More Amazing Shrimp Pasta Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

A plate of shrimp linguine with a fork on the side and a skillet of the pasta in the background.

Garlic-Butter Shrimp Pasta

5 / 4 votes
For this easy weeknight meal, your favorite long pasta and sautéed shrimp are quickly tossed in a garlicky-lemon butter sauce. Best of all, it's on the table in just 30 minutes. Boo-yah!
David Leite
CourseEntree
CuisineItalian
Servings4 servings
Calories579 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes

Ingredients 

  • Table salt
  • 12 ounces long pasta, such as linguine, fettuccine, or spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces shrimp, shelled, deveined, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 2 lemons
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Instructions 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook, according to the package, until al dente.
  • Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta in a colander.
  • While the pasta is cooking, warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook just until the garlic starts to turn golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high and stir in the shrimp. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are just cooked through, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the butter and cook until it melts and begins to foam, about 1 minute.
  • Dump in the drained pasta along with the lemon juice and toss until the pasta is coated in sauce. Add some reserved pasta water, if needed to loosen the sauce.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and fold in the chopped basil. Serve immediately.

Notes

  1. Get prepped–Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before cooking, as the dish comes together very quickly.
  2. Storage–Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  3. Reheating–To reheat leftover pasta, place it in a saucepan set over low heat. Add a splash of water and stir gently while reheating.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 portionCalories: 579 kcalCarbohydrates: 67 gProtein: 23 gFat: 24 gSaturated Fat: 9 gMonounsaturated Fat: 11 gTrans Fat: 0.5 gCholesterol: 137 mgSodium: 495 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 3 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2023 David Leite. Photos © 2023 Angie Zoobkoff. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

My husband and I enjoyed this flavorful shrimp linguine recipe, particularly the light herbaceous lemony-garlic butter sauce. The pasta dish itself is light yet filling, and it comes together quickly in the time it takes the pasta to cook. We recommend accompanying this dish with your favorite crisp white wine.

☞ TESTER TIP: The next time I make this pasta, I may save some of the shrimp shells and add them to the pan with the lemon-parsley mixture to create a deeper-flavored sauce, removing them just before tossing the pasta in.


This garlic shrimp pasta recipe was delicious, and I’ll make it again for sure! It was easy to prep and came together rather quickly. Next time, I’d add more chile flakes, as the flavor was hardly noticeable, but we like spicy food. I served the pasta with garlic knots.

Wow!! This garlic butter shrimp pasta might not look like much when you look at the ingredients list, but it’s really tasty–and SO easy! Perfect for a hot summer night or a cold winter evening, this is a great year-round dish.

If you’ve got shrimp or prawns in your freezer and pasta in your pantry, you’re all set!

This garlic butter shrimp pasta was so simple and simply delicious. The process itself couldn’t have been any more straightforward, especially when all your ingredients are prepped before you start. It goes that fast!

The final dish was indeed the sum of its beautiful parts. Each mouthful contained a perfect amount of tender, sweet pieces of shrimp enveloped in that lemony, buttery, garlicky sauce.

I served it with freshly grated parmesan cheese and crusty bread for a main meal. A real keeper for weekdays and those special occasions!




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this recipe on weds evening, and it was easy and good! But I have to tell you that when I ate the leftovers 2 days later- it was SO delicious that I even licked the bowl! Yummy! Thanks for an easy and delicious recipe!

    1. You’re welcome, Carol. I’m so pleased it was a hit! Thanks for taking the time to comment.