Creamy Shrimp Pasta

published May 7, 2024
Creamy Shrimp Pasta Recipe

A double hit of lemon balances out the creaminess.

Serves4 to 5

Prep10 minutes

Cook20 minutes

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
overhead shot of shrimp pasta in a pan, with some taken out of it.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Pasta with shrimp is a delicious combination, whether you go with a rich shrimp Alfredo or a simple shrimp pasta in white wine sauce. This easy iteration has plump, juicy shrimp tossed with long strands of fettuccine in a lemony cream sauce, and each bite that you twirl onto your fork is comforting and satisfying. Because it cooks in less than 15 minutes once the water comes to a boil, you can slot it in for a wonderful weeknight dinner that just needs a vegetable alongside it to make it a complete meal.

Why You’ll Love It

  • It’s a comforting pasta dish that’s great any day of the week. With sweet plump shrimp in a garlic-and-lemon cream sauce, it’s creamy but not too heavy.
  • The whole thing cooks in less than 20 minutes! The light, creamy sauce comes together quickly in a skillet while the pasta cooks. 
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Key Ingredients in Shrimp Pasta

  • Shrimp. To skip any shrimp prep, get 1 1/2 pounds of jumbo peeled and deveined shrimp. Thaw first if frozen.
  • Cream. Heavy cream is the base for the creamy sauce.
  • Pasta. Get a box of fettuccine, which is great for its long, slurpable strands.
  • Lemon. A lemon provides both fresh lemon flavor from the oils in the zest, and the juice adds a little lemon-y tang to cut through and balance out the richness of the cream and cheese in the sauce.

How to Make Shrimp Pasta

  1. Cook the pasta. Cook dried fettuccine in a pot of boiling water. As the pasta cooks, make the sauce.
  2. Cook the shrimp. Sear shrimp in olive oil in 2 batches until just cooked through. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Make the sauce. Add butter and garlic to the pan used for the shrimp, then add cream and Parmesan cheese to finish the sauce.
  4. Toss everything together. Drain the pasta and cook with the shrimp, sauce, and pasta water.
  5. Finish with lemon. Add lemon zest and lemon juice to finish.

Helpful Swaps

  • Pasta. I like long pastas with creamy sauces, so you can use linguine or spaghetti instead of the fettuccine.
  • Shrimp. Jumbo-sized shrimp tend to take about 3 minutes total to cook through. If you find smaller or larger shrimp, reduce or increase the cooking time accordingly. You want the shrimp to be firm and just cooked through.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Helpful Tips and Storage

  • Strands of fettuccine can stick together as it cooks. Stir every few minutes, and if you see any strands stuck together, do your best to take them out and separate them into individual strands as it cooks.
  • Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Rewarm in the microwave or over medium heat on the stovetop with a splash of water, milk, or cream to get a saucy consistency again.

What to Serve with Shrimp Pasta

Creamy Shrimp Pasta Recipe

A double hit of lemon balances out the creaminess.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Serves 4 to 5

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 1 1/2 ounces

    Parmesan cheese (about 2/3 firmly packed cup grated or scant 1/2 cup store-bought grated)

  • 2

    cloves garlic

  • 1 pound

    dried fettuccine pasta

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    raw peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), thawed if frozen

  • 1 3/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil, plus more as needed

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1 cup

    heavy cream

  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon (about 2 teaspoons), then juice the lemon (about 3 tablespoons). Finely grate 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 2/3 cup), or measure scant 1/2 cup store-bought grated. Finely grate or mince 2 garlic cloves. Pat 1 1/2 pounds raw peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp dry with paper towels and season all over with 3/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt.

  2. Add 1 pound dried fettuccine pasta to the boiling water. Cook, stirring every few minutes and separating any noodles that are sticking together, for 1 less minute than al dente according to the package directions, 9 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the sauce.

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of the shrimp in a single layer and cook until starting to brown on the bottom and they release easily from the pan, about 2 minutes. Flip the shrimp and cook until just cooked through, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a bowl or plate.

  4. If the pan is dry, add a little bit more olive oil. Add the remaining shrimp and repeat cooking and transferring to the bowl or plate.

  5. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter to the pan and cook until the butter is melted, about 45 seconds. Add 1 cup heavy cream and bring to a simmer, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the Parmesan and remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and stir until the cheese is melted. Remove the pan from the heat.

  6. When the pasta is ready, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta, then add the pasta to the sauce. Add the shrimp and any accumulated juices on the plate, and 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Cook over medium heat, tossing constantly, until the sauce thickens slightly and coats the pasta, about 2 minutes. Toss in more pasta water a tablespoon at a time as needed to reach the desired sauce consistency.

  7. Turn off the heat. Add the lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, and toss to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt and lemon juice as needed. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley leaves if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Rewarm in the microwave or over medium heat on the stovetop with a splash of water, milk, or cream to get a saucy consistency again.