How To Make the Best Easy Shrimp Scampi (with Linguine)

updated Aug 9, 2020
How To Make Shrimp Scampi (with Linguine)

This is a dish for easy, fancy shrimp at its very best — over pasta!

Serves2 to 4

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

There’s a lot to love about this shrimp scampi. A buttery, lemony garlic sauce coats linguine and shrimp, and the bright bite of red pepper and parsley balances everything.

This recipe has just a few steps, and we’ll walk you through when to thaw the shrimp, cook the pasta, and start the sauce. Plus, this recipe includes my favorite trick for giving shrimp a quick marinade. The resulting dish is the epitome of an easy-fancy dinner.

What Is Shrimp Scampi?

Scampi can refer to large shrimp or prawns, but is most ubiquitously the quick dish of shrimp sautéed in garlic, butter, and white wine. You might see shrimp scampi served over toasted bread, but for the hearty, most satisfying dinner dish, shrimp scampi with linguine (which holds the weight of the shrimp and soaks up the sauce) is the best.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Shopping for Better Shrimp Scampi

  • Dry linguine: Skip spaghetti or angel hair and pick a dry linguine. The thicker, flatter shape is ideal for the sauce.
  • Dry white wine: Grab a mid-priced bottle — you’ll only use a cup, so make sure it’s a bottle you can drink with dinner too. Sauvignon blanc is an ideal choice.
  • Frozen shrimp: Skip fresh, uncooked shrimp (a lot of it was once frozen, anyway) and stock a pound (20-25 count) of shrimp in your freezer instead. I find that shell-on tastes better, as the shells protect the shrimp during freezing and thawing, but if you buy shell-off you’ll trim about 10 minutes off the prep time. Avoid already cooked (frozen or otherwise) shrimp.
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Setting Yourself Up for Scampi Success

Here’s the plan: Start the pasta water first. In the 10 minutes it takes to come up to boiling, grate and slice the garlic, peel and juice a lemon, and peel the thawed shrimp before you start cooking the pasta.

A tale of two garlics: We’re asking you to cut the garlic two ways in this recipe. Minced garlic releases more of the garlic’s oil, which flavors the shrimp marinade. Sliced garlic is ideal for sautéing in butter because it’s less likely to burn.

Marinating the Shrimp

A quick marinade for the shrimp builds more flavor into the dish. Toss the raw shrimp with salt, grated garlic, and a little olive oil. The shrimp and marinade will go into the sauté pan to help flavor the sauce, too. The oil also protects the shrimp from overcooking or breaking the scampi sauce.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Finishing the Pasta with the Shrimp and Sauce

When you get into a good flow with shrimp scampi, you’ll be removing the sauce from the stove right about the time the pasta is ready to drain. Drain the pasta quickly and immediately add it to the pan with the shrimp and sauce.

Now, use tongs to lift and rotate the pasta until all the strands are coated. The pan will look a bit dry because the pasta will have absorbed most of the sauce. Add a sprinkle of parsley to balance the richness, and now your scampi is ready for serving! This is a dish best enjoyed when everything is hot and saucy right off the heat.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

How To Make Shrimp Scampi (with Linguine)

This is a dish for easy, fancy shrimp at its very best — over pasta!

Serves 2 to 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    raw large shrimp (20 to 25 count), thawed if frozen, peeled and deveined

  • 2 cloves

    garlic, grated

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water

  • 4 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, divided

  • 2 cloves

    garlic, thinly sliced

  • 1 (2-inch) strip

    fresh lemon peel (yellow part only, removed with a vegetable peeler)

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 cup

    dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc

  • 1 tablespoon

    freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 8 ounces

    dried linguine pasta

  • 1/2 cup

    finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Equipment

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Chef’s knife and cutting board

  • Colander

  • Large bowl

  • Medium saucepan

  • Large straight-sided skillet  

  • Tongs

Instructions

  1. Start heating the pasta water. Before you dive into preparing the shrimp and scampi sauce, fill a large saucepan with water and season with about 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat (this will take about 15 minutes — enough time to prepare the rest of the recipe).

  2. Get ready to cook. Shrimp scampi is very quick cooking, so be sure to have everything ready before you begin cooking the pasta or making the sauce. The shrimp should be thawed if frozen and peeled with the tails removed. Grate 2 cloves of garlic and thinly slice the other 2. Remove a 1-inch section of peel from the lemon and then juice it. Measure out a 1/2 cup of wine — pour a glass for yourself — then measure the olive oil. Finally, chop the parsley.

  3. Marinate the shrimp. Place the shrimp, grated garlic, olive oil, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl and toss to combine; set aside.

  4. Add the pasta to the pasta water. Add the linguine to the boiling water and reduce the heat slightly to maintain a simmer. Set a timer for 8 minutes.

  5. Fry the garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large, straight-sided skillet over medium-low heat. When the butter begins to bubble, add the sliced garlic, the strip of lemon peel, and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

  6. Add the wine and lemon juice and reduce the sauce. Carefully add the wine and lemon juice. There will be plenty of steam at first, and then the whole pan will come to a steady simmer. Scoop 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water from the saucepan into the sauce and cook until the butter sauce reduces slightly, about 2 minutes.

  7. Add the remaining butter to reduced wine sauce and whisk to emulsify. Quickly add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the reduced wine sauce. Whisk briskly until the sauce is lightened in color and thickened, about 1 minute.

  8. Add the shrimp to pan and cook. Add the shrimp to the sauce and cook, stirring regularly, until the shrimp is opaque, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat until the pasta is ready.

  9. Drain the pasta and add to the pan toss with tongs. Check the pasta when the timer goes off. When it is tender, drain. Add the pasta to the shrimp, tossing with tongs to coat the pasta with the sauce.

  10. Add the parsley and serve immediately. Remove the lemon peel from the pan. Add the parsley and toss again to coat. Serve immediately.  

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.