Shrimp scampi combines succulent seafood and tomatoes in a tangy lemon garlic sauce. To create a luscious texture, cold pieces of butter are gently whisked into the sauce. Serve the shrimp with angel hair pasta or crusty bread for a simple yet impressive dinner.
An elegant meal can be prepared in a snap when crustaceans are on the menu. Shrimp scampi is a simple Italian dish that uses wine, garlic, butter, and lemon to create a zippy yet luscious coating to the seafood. By gently sautéing the shrimp, each piece stays succulent and sweet. It only takes a few minutes to cook, making it an attractive recipe that tastes good and saves you time.
The mild shrimp effortlessly infuses any flavor added to the sauce. To make the dish a little more interesting, a sprinkle of chili flakes adds a pleasing yet mild spiciness. Ripe chopped tomatoes are tossed with the shrimp to complement the slight sweetness of the seafood, and acidity from the lemons. Serve as a light appetizer or nestled on top of a bed of pasta, and watch it disappear.
How to make shrimp scampi
- Season shrimp with salt and pepper.
- Saute shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes in olive oil and butter.
- Add shrimp to a pan and cook until opaque and pink in color.
- Transfer shrimp to a clean bowl to prevent overcooking.
- Add lemon juice, zest, and wine to the pan, reduce to half the volume.
- Whisk in butter over low heat until thickened into a sauce.
- Toss shrimp, tomatoes, and parsley in the lemon garlic butter.
What is shrimp scampi made of?
Select fresh or frozen (defrosted) shrimp, that are large in size, about 16/20 count per pound. Prawns or langoustine can also be used. The sauce is traditionally made with a lemon and white wine reduction.
For this recipe, I added some red chili flakes for a hint of heat. It’s thickened with cold butter pieces and garnished with herbs like parsley or chopped basil. You can add other vegetables to the dish for color and texture. I added diced Roma tomatoes, however, zucchini, bell peppers, or sauteed spinach are nice additions.
How do you thicken the sauce?
Chilled butter is the best way to thicken the sauce by creating an emulsion. It’s best to turn the heat down to low so the fat in the butter does not rapidly melt once it hits the pan. This would cause a broken, greasy sauce. But by gradually whisking the butter into the white wine reduction, it can properly emulsify into a creamy solution that lightly coats the shrimp.
What should I serve with this?
The noodle lovers at my house love angel hair pasta. It keeps the dish light but turns it into a satisfying entree. Fettucini, penne, or bucatini are also good options. If you’re serving the shrimp as a shared appetizer, tearing apart pieces of warm crusty Italian bread to soak up the sauce would be divine. Since there are many benefits of wine, I recommend a buttery Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, or sparkling rosé to pair with this dish.
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Substitute for white wine
Vegetable stock or broth, or even grape juice make good replacements for white wine in this dish. The grape juice will add a slight sweetness, while the stock adds a savory depth. Although, just note that it may take a little longer to reduce the sauce since alcohol has more volatile compounds that evaporate faster than water.
- 1 pound (454 g) shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ½ teaspoon (2 g) kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
- 4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter, divided
- ½ cup (67 g) shallots, ⅛-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon (10 g) minced garlic
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ⅓ cup (79 ml) lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ cup (120 ml) dry white wine, chardonnay recommended
- ½ cup (70 g) diced roma tomato, ¼-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon (2 g) minced parsley, plus more for garnish
- Combine shrimp with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter.
- Once the butter is melted add shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook until shallots are tender and garlic is fragrant but not browned, 2 minutes.
- Add shrimp to the pan in one layer, turn heat up to medium. Cook for 2 minutes, not moving the shrimp.
- Flip the shrimp over and cook until just cooked through 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl.
- Turn heat up to medium-high, add in lemon juice, zest, and wine. Bring to a boil and allow sauce to reduce by half, about 4 to 6 minutes.
- Turn heat down to low and whisk in 3 tablespoons of butter to create a light thickened and emulsified sauce.
- Add cooked shrimp, tomatoes, and parsley. Stir and cook until warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Garnish with pepper and parsley. Serve with lemon wedges, crusty bread or pasta.