Shrimp Scampi

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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.

shrimp scampi served with angel hair pasta

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.

shrimp scampi ingredients spread out on a table

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.

shrimp cooking in a saute pan

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.

spoon mixing sauce ingredients with pieces of shrimp

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.

close up photo of shrimp scampi garnished with lemon wedges

More Italian recipes

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.

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Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp scampi is succulent seafood and tomatoes mixed in a tangy lemon garlic sauce which pairs nicely with angel hair pasta.
Pin Print Review
4.19 from 22 votes
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Italian

Ingredients

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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Recipe Video

Equipment

  • Skillet

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Nutrition Facts
Shrimp Scampi
Amount Per Serving
Calories 194 Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Fat 18g28%
Saturated Fat 8g40%
Cholesterol 30mg10%
Sodium 296mg12%
Potassium 60mg2%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Sugar 1g1%
Vitamin A 450IU9%
Vitamin C 9.6mg12%
Calcium 6mg1%
Iron 0.1mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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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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Reader Interactions

20 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Hannelore Mallard says

    Jessica, got your book at Amazon and loved it. although I am 74 years old it has taught me a LOT. Thank you

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much for your support Hannelore! Thrilled to hear that you are learning a lot about cooking from the book.

      • Wendy Vandenberg says

        Hi Jessica,

        I recently made you shrimp scampi recipe 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. Thanks so much for this recipe and for all of your tips.

  2. Kelly Craft says

    Jessica,
    Your recipe was delicious! My entire family enjoyed it! Loved the lemon flavor of the sauce along with the tomatoes. Will cook again!! Thank you!

  3. Vincent says

    Thank you so much for the information on various heat levels during the cooking process. This information is so useful, but lacking in other recipes. Your precision is very much appreciated. I’m trying shrimp scampi for the first time tomorrow evening, and I just KNOW it will be a success thanks to your recipe.

  4. Karen says

    Made this for a few picky people and everyone loved it. The lemon zest was great and adding the tomatoes add the end was perfect also.

  5. Sherrie says

    Made this for tonight’s dinner. What a great dish, everyone loved it. Your recipes never disappoint and come through for me every time! Thank you so much!

  6. Donald Hanle says

    Jessica,

    I made your shrimp scampi for my wife and me last night for dinner and it was quick, easy and FANTASTIC! I used a wok instead of a skillet, which worked perfectly for sauteing the garlic, shallots and the 2 cups of fresh baby spinach I added to plus up the veggies. (I also doubled the garlic — as I always do).

    I selected a chardonnay for the wine, but was wondering how a pinot grigio would do and plan to try this the next time I make it.

    Bottom line, we loved the dish and will definitely be making it again. Thank you from one of your biggest fans for such a great recipe!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great job Donald! I love that you used a wok to make the shrimp scampi. I’m always a fan of adding in more veggies! I think pinot grigio would nice, a little more acidic and not as buttery from the malolactic fermentation that chardonnay goes through. Let me know how it tastes. Happy cooking!

  7. Jennifer says

    Hello Jessica, I am very happy to have found your site. I have a question about olive oil. I have read many places that it is very heat-sensitive and becomes carcinogenic at a high heat, so I never cook with it. Is it safe to use?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      It is safe to use olive oil, however, depending on how you cook with it helps with the selection to prevent the breakdown of the fatty acids. For example, I will use a light olive oil for sauteeing or pan-frying. I use extra virgin for salad dressing, or a quick saute, but not high heat. It comes down to the smoke point of the oil and choosing one that is high based on cooking method.

  8. Bonnie says

    Made this last night with pasta. It was so good and easy to prepare.
    Used Sauvignon wine and used regular tomatoes.

  9. Michele Hyson says

    This is my family’s most favorite meal! Thank you so much for all the work you did! I also love your cook book! Congrats on it! It’s lovely!

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