This shrimp scampi recipe is the best way to make easy look elegant with large shrimp bathed in a garlicky, lemony butter sauce then dished up as an appetizer or served as a main with pasta, zucchini noodles, or over rice.
How to Make the Best Easy Shrimp Scampi
When it comes to cooking dinner, easy elegance is what I’m going for these days. At first glance, this dish looks downright decadent. But in reality, it’s the poster child for simplicity. It’s like I’m an illusionist in the kitchen!
The truth is, the best shrimp scampi couldn’t be simpler to make and literally takes mere mortals like you and me just minutes to prepare.
Whether you serve it as shrimp scampi pasta for a super quick weeknight meal or serve it to company for a chic nod to your faux fancy cookery, this dinner’s ingredients can always be stocked in the pantry and freezer for a sizzling bite any time.
What Shrimp Scampi Sauce Is Made Of
For what many eaters view as a fancy dish, shrimp scampi is totally easy to pull off for any level of cook and requires very few ingredients to do so.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Frozen shrimp. For the best flavor, choose wild caught shrimp when possible. I prefer the large 21/25 Key West pink shrimp for their sweet flavor. Choose a frozen shrimp with the shell and tail still on, then shell and devein yourself. You can keep the tail or remove it. Shrimp still in the shell have more flavor and are cheaper. To ensure you’re getting the freshest shrimp possible, skip the seafood counter’s ice rink of thawing shrimp (it was originally frozen too, and how long have they been sitting there??) and go for a bag of flash-frozen shrimp you can thaw yourself by soaking in a bowl of cool water for about 10 minutes.
- Garlic. Choose fresh garlic over the jarred stuff. I prefer to press mine instead of mincing.
- Red pepper flakes. Red pepper flakes deliver a balanced heat.
- Olive oil. A fruity extra virgin is my choice.
- White wine. Choose a drinkable wine that’s on the drier side such as a sauvignon blanc or even a chardonnay.
- Butter. Salted or unsalted work equally fine and thicken the sauce.
- Lemon juice. Always use fresh lemon juice in this recipe.
- Kosher salt. Kosher salt isn’t as strong as table salt.
- Parsley. Use flat leaf or regular parsley. Mince it fine for just the right bits of brightness.
How to Add More Flavor
Layering flavor makes simple dishes sing, and this shrimp dish is no different.
Steeping the shrimp in a drizzle of olive oil and pressed garlic with a pinch of heat from red pepper flakes infuses extra flavor into the shrimp before cooking.
Allow at least 20 minutes on the countertop up to overnight in the refrigerator for the shrimp to gain that extra flavor.
However, avoid adding any acid such as lemon juice or vinegars to shrimp as a marinade. These ingredients will “cook” the shrimp, similar to ceviche, and sitting in an acid based marinade for too long could make the shrimp mealy.
Shrimp Scampi with Wine—or Without
Can you make shrimp scampi without the wine? Adding white wine to this scampi’s olive oil, butter, and lemon juice sauce gives it a depth of flavor that won’t ever leave you boozy woozy. See, the wine’s alcohol cooks out and evaporates while simmering, making it perfectly okay for kids or those who abstain to eat.
But if you prefer skipping the wine, substitute half chicken broth and half water in lieu of the wine.
How to Thicken Shrimp Scampi Sauce
The sauce for this shrimp scampi thickens and concentrates in flavor when cold butter is added to the warm wine and lemon juice, then simmered to reduce.
Whisking the cold butter into the warm sauce emulsifies the sauce and thickens it as the butter melts. It’s a French technique similar to the classic beurre blanc, and creates a satiny-smooth, velvety textured sauce you’ll be licking with a spoon.
What Goes with Shrimp Scampi
- Any long pasta noodle will work for shrimp scampi pasta such as angel hair pasta, linguine, spaghetti or fettuccine
- Zucchini noodles, or a combination of pasta and zucchini noodles
- Steamed white rice
- Creamy polenta
- Gnocchi or risotto
- Turn them into appetizer bruschettas
What to Serve with Shrimp Scampi
- Easy Lemon Rice Recipe
- Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons
- Arugula Salad With Shaved Parmesan Three Ways
- Avocado and Tomato Salad
- Easy Parmesan Buttered Noodles
- Garlic toast or sourdough bread
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
How to Make the BEST Shrimp Scampi
Because this shrimp scampi comes together in just a few minutes, it's important to have all of your ingredients ready to go before you start cooking. Serve over pasta, white rice, or zucchini noodles, or serve on its own with chunks of hearty sourdough bread for dipping.
- 1 pound wild caught large shrimp with shells
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil , divided
- 4 cloves garlic , pressed or minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup white wine or chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice , or 1/2 lemon
- 1 tablespoon minced parsley
Thaw the shrimp in cool water and remove the shells then devein the shrimp. Discard the shells, rinse and drain the shrimp then transfer to a small bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, half of the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and the red pepper flakes. Toss to coat and set let sit for 20 minutes for flavors to build.
In a large skillet, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the shrimp and garlic mixture to the skillet, spacing evenly in the pan. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes then flip the shrimps over when they begin to become opaque. Cook for 1 more minute or so, watching so the shrimp turn golden but don't brown too much and the garlic doesn't burn. Transfer the shrimp to a small bowl or plate. If you have browned bits of garlic, move the skillet from the heat and remove the browned garlic as it will be bitter.
Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in the skillet over medium heat and add the remaining garlic. Cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant then stir in the white wine and lemon juice. Cook for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens and reduces by half, stirring occasionally.
Add the shrimp with any juices back to the pan and stir in the last tablespoon of butter and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste. Sprinkle with the minced parsley, stir, and cook for 1 more minute. Serve warm with sourdough bread for dipping, or over pasta or rice.
More Shrimp Recipes to Try Next
- Easy Shrimp Cocktail
- Peel ‘N Eat Beer Steamed Shrimp
- Citrus Shrimp And Avocado Salad
- Saucy Greek Baked Shrimp
- Pan-Seared Citrus Shrimp Recipe
- Shrimp In Thai Coconut Sauce
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