Shrimp Scampi

4.88 from 96 votes
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Shrimp scampi with lemon garlic sauce is an easy gourmet meal made in just 30 minutes! Serve with angel hair pasta, linguine, or crusty bread for a simple yet impressive dinner.

For more flavorful variations, try my shrimp alfredo, cajun shrimp, and garlic butter shrimp.

Plate of shrimp scampi served with angel hair pasta.

If you want to break your boring weeknight dinner rut, try this easy shrimp scampi recipe. You’ll serve a classic Italian dish with restaurant-quality results in just minutes. Serve as a light appetizer or nestled on top of a bed of pasta, and watch it disappear! For maximum flavor, gently sautéing the crustaceans keeps the pieces succulent and sweet.

An incredible amount of flavor remains in the pan after cooking the shrimp. Don’t let it go to waste! Instead, make a white wine and lemon juice reduction, then thicken it with cold butter. This mixture yields a zippy garlic butter sauce that clings nicely to the seafood. Toss in some ripe chopped tomatoes to complement the seafood and the acidity from the lemons.

“I recently made your shrimp scampi for a family dinner, and everyone loved it. It was such a fresh tasting recipe with the lemon and Roma tomatoes. Also, for as long as I have been cooking, I never knew that you could thicken the sauce with cold butter. It really worked.”—Wendy V.

Recipe ingredients

Shrimp scampi recipe ingredients spread out on a table.
  • Shrimp: Use large fresh or frozen shrimp, at least 16/20 count per pound, which are extra jumbo shrimp. I use pieces that are already peeled and deveined.
  • Seasoning: Salt and pepper enhances the sweet and briny flavor of the shrimp. Red chili flakes add a lingering spiciness to the dish.
  • Fat: Olive oil and butter add richness and flavor when cooking the aromatics and seafood.
  • Alliums: Diced shallots and minced garlic add earthiness and savory aroma.
  • Citrus: Fresh lemon juice and zest add a bright and tart flavor to the sauce.
  • Wine: I use a dry white wine like chardonnay to add an oaky flavor and dimension to the sauce.
  • Tomatoes: Sweet, juicy, and lightly acidic tomatoes add flavor to the dish.
  • Herbs: Freshly chopped parsley adds a delicate herbaceous garnish and pop of green color.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Defrost the shrimp 

Step 1: Run the pieces under cold water for a few minutes until no longer icy, or submerge in a bowl of room temperature water until defrosted. Once the large shrimp are defrosted, add a simple seasoning. Toss with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Pro Tip: I prefer to defrost the shrimp myself before cooking instead of purchasing thawed pieces because if the store leaves them out too long, they can become mushy and develop a strong odor. Check out my guide if the shrimp are not already peeled and deveined.

Cook the aromatics

Metal spoon moving minced garlic, and chopped onions sautéing in a frying pan.

Step 2: Make sure to have all your sauce ingredients measured and prepared. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Gently cook the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes. This process draws out the fat-soluble flavors from the aromatic alliums and more capsaicin from the chili. 

Cook the shrimp 

Shrimp cooking in a saute pan and being flipped with metal tongs.

Step 3: Shrimp cooks very quickly, in a matter of minutes. Add the shrimp in a single layer to the large skillet over medium heat. Cook both sides until it starts curl into a loose “C” shape and turns pink and opaque, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat to prevent overcooking, and create some space to make the lemon butter garlic sauce.

Make a pan sauce

Pouring white wine into a pan with diced onions and minced garlic.

Add a dry white wine.

Wine bubbling in a hot pan.

Reduce the mixture.

Step 4: Once you remove the shrimp from the pan, there will be a ton of leftover salty flavor to make a delicious sauce. Add the zest and juice from a fresh lemon. Together, they contribute citrus oils for a more robust, lemony flavor and tartness from the citric acid.

Add a wine, like chardonnay which adds a buttery, oaky taste. Simmer over medium heat until it reduces by half, the flavors become incredibly concentrated, and the acids less harsh on the palate. The reduction will be thin, so you must whisk in butter.

Thicken the sauce

Cold slices of butter being incorporated into a pan sauce.

Step 5: Chilled butter is the best way to thicken the sauce by creating an emulsion. Turn the heat down to low so the fat in the butter does not rapidly melt once it hits the pan. Otherwise, this will cause a broken, greasy sauce.

Gradually whisking the cold butter into the lemon white wine reduction can adequately emulsify it into a creamy solution that lightly coats the shrimp.

Combine the ingredients 

Step 6: Chop up ripe Roma tomatoes and toss them in with the shrimp to complement the slight sweetness of the seafood and the acidity of the lemons. Stir it all together until the ingredients are warmed, just a few minutes. You don’t want the shrimp to overcook!

Serve the scampi

Spoon mixing sauce ingredients with pieces of shrimp.

Step 7: Garnish with black pepper and plenty of freshly chopped parsley before serving. I like to add lemon wedges, a squeeze of the juice adds an extra flavor. Serve shrimp scampi with your favorite cooked pasta, grains, or a crisp salad.

Flavor variations

This quick and easy recipe for shrimp scampi is easy to customize! Try these delicious options:

  • Shrimp: Prawns or langoustine are suitable substitutes. Keep an eye on the cooking time, which can vary depending on size.
  • Vegetables: For color and texture, add other vegetables to the dish, like zucchini, bell peppers, or sauteed spinach. Sun-dried tomatoes add a sweet and punchy taste.
  • Wine: Pinot grigio, Sauvignon blanc, or even a rose works well for the light citrus sauce. If you don’t want to add alcohol, use seafood stock with a splash of white wine vinegar or white grape juice.
  • Herbs: Other herbs like sliced basil, chives, dill, and oregano work well too.

Serve this with

  • Pasta: Angel hair pasta keeps the dish light but turns it into a satisfying entree. Other types of pasta like penne, fettuccine, rotini, or spaghetti are also good options.
  • Bread: If you’re making shrimp scampi as a shared appetizer, serve it with some bread for dipping into the sauce. Tearing apart pieces of warm crusty Italian bread or slices of focaccia would be divine. 
  • Gluten-free options: Make a big pot of risotto, spaghetti squash, or zucchini noodles
  • Wine: I recommend a buttery Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, or sparkling rosé to pair with this dish.

Frequently asked questions

What is the scampi part of shrimp scampi?

Although the term scampi has been associated with large pieces of shrimp, it’s an edible lobster called Dublin Bay Prawn or Norway Lobster. It can be widely found in the Mediterranean, like Italy, or other parts of Europe, such as France, Denmark, and Great Britain.

What is shrimp scampi sauce made of?

Traditionally, a lemon and white wine reduction. Shallots and garlic are the base of the sauce and provide an earthy taste with intense aromatics. I like to add a small amount of red chili flakes for a subtle lingering heat. Cold butter is whisked in to thicken the sauce.

What can I use as a substitute for white wine in shrimp scampi?

Grape juice, but it will add a slight sweetness. Alternatively, vegetable stock or broth adds a more pungent, savory taste. In addition, you can add a small amount of white wine vinegar for spice and fermented notes similar to wine. Use about one teaspoon.

Shrimp scampi garnished with lemon wedges.

Substitutes for white wine

Vegetable stock, broth, or even grape juice, make suitable replacements for white wine in this dish. The grape juice will add a slight sweetness, while the stock adds a savory depth. Although, note that it may take a little longer to reduce the sauce since alcohol has more volatile compounds that evaporate faster than water.

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp scampi is succulent seafood and tomatoes mixed in a tangy lemon garlic sauce which pairs nicely with angel hair pasta.
4.88 from 96 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Italian

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, 16/20 count
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, divided
  • ½ cup shallots, ⅛" dice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup dry white wine, chardonnay recommended
  • ½ cup diced roma tomato, ¼" dice
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley, plus more for garnish

Instructions 

  • Defrost Shrimp – If using frozen shrimp, place them in a colander and run under cold water until no longer icy, about 3 minutes. Alternatively, set them in a bowl and submerge them in room temperature water until defrosted. Shake to remove excess moisture. In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp with salt and pepper.
  • Cook Aromatics – Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Once the butter melts, add shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if using). Stir and cook until shallots are tender and garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes.
  • Cook Shrimp – Add the shrimp to the pan in a single layer, and turn the heat up to medium. Saute for 2 minutes, not moving. Flip the pieces using tongs and finish cooking, about 1 minute. Transfer to a clean bowl.
  • Reduce Sauce – Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add in lemon zest, lemon juice, and wine. Bring to a boil and allow the sauce to reduce by half, about 4 to 6 minutes.
  • Thicken Sauce – Turn the heat down to low and whisk in 3 tablespoons of cold butter. This process creates a slightly thickened and emulsified consistency.
  • Combine Ingredients – Add cooked shrimp, tomatoes, and parsley. Stir and cook until warmed through, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • To Serve – Garnish with black pepper and fresh parsley. Serve with lemon wedges, crusty bread, or pasta.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Storing: Cool leftovers completely and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Wine Substitute: Use grape juice, vegetable stock, or broth. If desired, also add 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar for pungency.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 194kcal (10%)Carbohydrates 2g (1%)Fat 18g (28%)Saturated Fat 8g (40%)Cholesterol 30mg (10%)Sodium 296mg (12%)Potassium 60mg (2%)Sugar 1g (1%)Vitamin A 450IU (9%)Vitamin C 9.6mg (12%)Calcium 6mg (1%)Iron 0.1mg (1%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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  1. Maria T. says

    Made this for dinner last night. It was quick and delicious. Had the right amount of heat, butter, olive oil, garlic, lemon, tomatoes, parsley and wine. I might add some other stuff next time like mushrooms and spinach. I used thin spaghetti because I had it on hand, it was a good ratio of pasta to scampi. I just finished the leftovers for lunch and amazingly it tasted even better. Going forward I’ll be tossing the other recipes I’ve accumulated and just making this one. I love a quick and delicious recipe.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Whoo-hoo! I love the idea of adding more vegetables like spinach and mushroom. Let me know if you give it a try!

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