This healthy, quick, and easy Garlic Shrimp Pasta tastes like the special date-night dinner I crave on a Friday but requires the level of effort I’m willing to put in on a Monday. Read: VERY LITTLE EFFORT.
Shrimp have a reputation for being fancy and often get reserved for special occasions.
This homemade garlic shrimp pasta certainly makes me feel like a fancy restaurant chef, but its quick and simple preparation makes it a deliciously doable recipe that even beginner cooks can serve with confidence and success.
It’s the perfect balance between healthy and indulgent, easy and impressive, and ultimately, down-right delicious.
5 Star Review
“Made this for dinner tonight and… WOW. For such a simple recipe, the flavors came together sooo nicely!”— Codi —
How to Make the Best-Ever Garlic Shrimp Pasta
Although this healthy garlic shrimp pasta does take advantage of freezer shortcuts, it still tastes fresh and lively thanks to an infusion of boldly flavored ingredients.
Flavor-wise, this recipe is similar to a Baked Shrimp Scampi pasta but is much lighter.
I opted to make this garlic shrimp pasta without cream and no butter.
I found that with the vibrancy of the garlic, the freshness of the lemon zest, and the perk of the Parmesan cheese, the shrimp pasta simply didn’t need it.
- Linguine. Whole wheat pasta or similar thin pasta noodles are the best for this dish. The whole wheat noodles help make this recipe healthier, as they contain more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than white pasta.
- Shrimp. Rich in selenium, choline, and vitamin B12, shrimp are a nutritious protein source that can be ready to eat in less than four minutes. FOUR. It’s why they’re included in so many of my best 30-minute meal recipes.
Frozen vs. Fresh Shrimp
Go frozen! I can hear the seafood purists on my tail now. Speaking of tails, you can buy frozen raw shrimp with the tails (and veins and shells) already removed and save yourself some much-deserved additional time.
Truth be told, unless you live near the ocean, the shrimp you buy “fresh” at the grocery usually arrive frozen, then are thawed before being sold.
If you truly want to spring for fresh shrimp, it’s worth asking to ensure you receive a better quality product.
- Vegetables. I used a mixture of shallots and mixed vegetables. To save time chopping, feel free to use frozen vegetables. They’re frozen shortly after being picked, so they maintain their nutritional value. Best of all: you don’t have to chop them.
- Garlic. The star of this dish. The garlic perfectly complements the lemon and white wine sauce. (If you’re a fan of this shrimp + garlic combo, you’ll love this Garlic Shrimp with Quinoa.)
- Red Pepper Flakes. To keep everyone awake. I add a healthy pinch; feel free to add more or less to taste.
- White Wine. For flavor and for drinking while you cook (I call that a win!). I recommend using a dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc.
- Lemon Juice + Zest. Adds freshness, brightness, and vibrance to this delish lemon garlic shrimp pasta.
- Toppings. Freshly grated Parmesan and fresh parsley are my favorites. They give this recipe a scampi-esque flair, similar to my low carb Healthy Shrimp Scampi.
- Cook and drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water.
- Cook the shallot in a large skillet until fragrant.
- Add the garlic and then the shrimp, topping with the spices. When shrimp is cooked through, remove it to a plate. How long should you cook shrimp? It will likely take about 3 to 4 minutes to cook.
- Cook the vegetables and remaining spices in the skillet until hot.
- Add the white wine and shrimp to the skillet. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss. Serve warm with Parmesan and parsley. ENJOY!
A dry white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, would pair nicely with this dish.
- Butter Garlic Shrimp Pasta. If you’d like this to be more indulgent, you could sauté the shrimp in unsalted butter instead of olive oil. This recipe for Garlic Butter Shrimp is a great recipe to follow.
- Creamy Garlic Shrimp Pasta. If you’re up for experimenting, you could also try adding a splash of heavy cream to this recipe. Otherwise, for more creamy options, check out my Spinach Ravioli with Shrimp. This Lemon Shrimp Pasta with Orzo is another favorite.
- Not a Garlic Fan? As its name suggests, this easy garlic shrimp pasta is not shy in the garlic arena. If you’re not a garlic fan, you may want to scale it back.
- Not a Fan of Spice? The amount of red pepper flakes in this easy shrimp pasta recipe is variable. Our house likes a good kick, so I used a full teaspoon, but if any members of your household are sensitive to spice, I recommend scaling back by at least half. (This Mediterranean Shrimp is a more mild recipe you could try too that can be served with pasta.)
- Garlic Shrimp Pasta Penne. I love the elegance linguine (or angel hair pasta) gives this dish. If you prefer short-cut pasta (more kid-friendly), you could swap for penne, rotini, or bowtie pasta.
- To Store. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Reheat very gently with a splash of water or chicken broth to keep the pasta from drying out.
- To Freeze. Can you freeze shrimp pasta? Technically, yes, it can be frozen, but I find it does not retain its texture as well, so I recommend avoiding the freezer if possible.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Pasta Pot. This one has a removable strainer insert, which saves me from dumping the pasta water by mistake (you want to reserve some for this recipe!).
- Non-slip Cutting Board. A safer and easier place to chop.
- Garlic Press. My favorite way to save time during prep.
What? You’re making homemade garlic shrimp pasta for dinner?
Add a chair (and an extra glass of wine) to the table. I’ll be there in 30!
Frequently Asked Questions
Sure! If you would like to swap the raw shrimp for precooked shrimp, you will want to add them to the garlic and shallots long enough to simply coat them in the mixture. Any longer and you’ll risk overcooking the shrimp.
Shrimp are quick to cook, making them VERY easy to overcook. Tough or chewy shrimp are often the result of overcooking. Make sure to cook the shrimp just until they turn pink and are no longer translucent. Any longer, and you risk them becoming tough.
No. While often used interchangeably in many recipes due to their similar taste, appearance, and cooking time, prawns and shrimp are actually two different crustaceans. With that said, you can certainly make this a garlic prawns and pasta recipe if prawns are more accessible to you.
Garlic Shrimp Pasta
- 8 ounces whole-wheat linguine or similar thin pasta noodles
- 1 pound fresh or frozen raw shrimp peeled, tails removed (if frozen, thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 1 shallot peeled and diced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes divided (use less if sensitive to spice; 1 teaspoon will have a good kick)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
- 1 teaspoon black pepper divided
- 24 ounces mixed vegetables of your choice, fresh or frozen. If frozen, thaw and drain
- 1/4 cup dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc (or substitute low-sodium chicken broth)
- Zest and juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional as desired
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley plus additional as desired
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water, drain the remaining water, and then toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, rinse the shrimp and pat dry. (Peel, devein, and remove the tails if necessary)
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 additional minute.
- Add the shrimp, and then sprinkle with half the amount of red pepper (1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon depending upon your desired spice level), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Sauté, stirring to coat with garlic, just until cooked through (both sides will be pink and opaque), about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and the remaining 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cook until the vegetables are hot and lightly sautéed, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the white wine and return the shrimp to the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, allowing the wine to reduce. Stir in the lemon zest and juice and remove from heat.
- Add the pasta to the skillet and toss. If the pasta is too dry, add a bit of the reserved pasta water. Serve warm, topped with Parmesan and parsley.
- TO STORE: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Reheat very gently with a splash of water or chicken broth to keep the pasta from drying out.
- TO FREEZE: This garlic shrimp pasta in olive oil recipe can be frozen, but I find it does not retain its texture as well. Hence, I recommend avoiding the freezer if possible.
- GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: Use gluten-free pasta noodles and rinse them before adding them to the pan with the other ingredients in Step 4.
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