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Shrimp Scampi – A Couple Cooks


This shrimp scampi recipe is pure bliss and made in minutes! Sauté shrimp and toss with a luxurious lemony garlic butter sauce.

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp, butter, garlic, lemon, and white wine: what could be better? Yes, it’s the Italian American shrimp scampi, a classic that’s been stealing hearts and minds for decades. There’s no right way to make a scampi: it’s a thing of elusive beauty that’s up to the chef to define. But we think this version is pretty stellar: juicy, garlicky shrimp swimming in a rich, tangy butter sauce. Sop it up with crusty bread, or pour it over pasta: either way, it’s divine.

What is shrimp scampi, anyway?

The dish shrimp scampi is an Italian American creation, a riff on a classic Italian preparation of scampi by cooking them with olive oil, onion, garlic and white wine. Scampi are also called langoustines: they’re a small, pink crustacean that looks like a large shrimp, but is actually part of the lobster family. Americans swapped in shrimp for the lobster but kept both names in the dish, creating a non-sensical name that’s more like “shrimp lobster” or “shrimp shrimp.”

As with any popular dish, there are many interpretations of what ingredients a classic shrimp scampi includes. Most dishes have shrimp, garlic, butter, lemon and white wine; others add in onions, tomatoes, or breadcrumbs. The serving also varies: it’s popularly served with pasta, but it’s not required. Shrimp scampi simply refers to the shrimp and garlic butter sauce, not the pasta.

Shrimp scampi pasta

Ingredients in this shrimp scampi recipe

The great part about shrimp scampi: it comes together in minutes! You can make the entire recipe in about 15 minutes. We like using fresh shrimp here to make it fast and easy, but you can use frozen too: just make sure to thaw the shrimp in advance. Here are the ingredients for this classic spin on shrimp scampi (or jump to the recipe below):

  • Medium shrimp: fresh or frozen, tail on or peeled
  • White onion
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • Olive oil
  • Salted butter
  • White wine or vegetable or chicken broth, as a non-alcoholic option
  • Lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper
Shrimp Scampi

How to make shrimp scampi: basic steps

Here’s a brief outline on how to make this shrimp scampi recipe! A few important tips are listed below, then once you’ve read them head to the recipe below:

  • Sauté onion and garlic, then the shrimp in olive oil. You’ll want to use your largest skillet for this and keep the shrimp in a single layer so they’re all touching the pan.
  • Just cook the shrimp, then remove them. You’ll want them just nearly cooked, because you’re going to take them out of the pan and then add them back in after you make the sauce.
  • Make the butter sauce. In the same skillet, sauté the butter, white wine, lemon zest and parsley to make a sauce.
  • Return the shrimp to the pan and toss with the butter sauce. Serve with pasta or crusty bread (see below!).

A note on serving size

This shrimp scampi recipe uses 1 pound of shrimp for 4 servings. But if you’re feeding 4 very hungry eaters, you may want to increase the amount of shrimp to 1.5 pounds. You can use all the same amounts of ingredients for the sauce: just increase the salt to ¾ teaspoon kosher salt.

You can also use 16 ounces pasta instead of 8 ounces, and add other side dishes to the meal like a green salad or sautéed vegetables.

Shrimp Scampi Pasta

Serving with angel hair pasta

Shrimp scampi is often served with angel hair pasta. After making this recipe multiple times, we found some best practices on working with this unique type of pasta:

  • Serve the pasta on the side! Trying to mix the shrimp and pasta in a pan is difficult because the pasta can clump up. Even more importantly, angel hair pasta absorbs a large amount of liquid. So it will absorb the entire butter sauce if you let it! A better practice is serving it on the side of the shrimp, and spooning the butter sauce over the shrimp and the pasta.
  • 8 ounces is enough for 4 servings. Often we’ll make 12 to 16 ounces pasta for four, but angel hair expands when cooked. It feels like you’re getting more than with 8 ounces of spaghetti or linguine.
  • Rinsing the pasta helps. Rinse the pasta in lukewarm water also helps keep it from absorbing too much liquid. Then toss it with 1 tablespoon olive oil and ¾ teaspoon kosher salt to season before serving as a side. Or use our Easy Angel Hair Pasta recipe for seasoning ideas.

More serving suggestions

Shrimp scampi is ideal for a dinner party or special romantic meal, but it also works for quick weeknight meals, too! It does not always have to be served with pasta, though it can! Here are our serving suggestions for this dish:

  • Serve with 8 ounces pasta. See the notes on angel hair pasta above! You can also use any shape of pasta and season however you’d like. We like keeping it fairly basic with olive oil and salt, then spooning a little extra butter sauce over the top.
  • Add crusty bread. Instead of pasta, crusty bread is even easier! Toast it up and add a little butter, then use it for dipping.
  • Or, serve with rice. A non-traditional pairing is serving with rice as a gluten-free option. It would be especially tasty with Spinach Rice.
  • Add a green salad. Salads that pair well: Easy Arugula Salad, Chopped Salad, Fennel Orange Salad, Pear Salad, Kale Salad or Goat Cheese Arugula Salad.

More shrimp recipes

Shrimp scampi is one in a long list of great shrimp recipes! Here are a few more ways to eat this tasty protein:

This shrimp scampi recipe is…

Gluten-free and pescatarian.


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This shrimp scampi recipe is pure bliss and made in minutes! Sauté shrimp and toss with a luxurious lemony garlic butter sauce.

  • 1 pound medium shrimp*, deveined (tail on or peeled)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt 
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup finely minced white onion
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • ½ cup dry white wine (like Pino Grigio) or broth
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • To serve: 8 ounces Angel Hair Pasta** or pasta of choice, crusty bread, or rice

  1. Thaw the shrimp, if frozen. Pat the shrimp dry. In a bowl, sprinkle it with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper and stir to combine.
  2. Chop the onion, garlic and parsley.
  3. In a very large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the minced onion and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the shrimp in a single layer (without stacking it) and cook for about 3 minutes, turning halfway through, until just cooked. (The shrimp will continue cooking after removing from the heat.) Remove the shrimp to a bowl while making the sauce.
  4. In the same skillet add the butter, wine, lemon zest and parsley. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until slightly thickened. Add the shrimp back to the skillet and rewarm it for a few seconds. Serve immediately, with pasta on the side**, rice or crusty bread (drizzle spoonfuls of the sauce over the shrimp and the pasta on the side).


*To serve very hungry eaters, you can increase to 1 ½ pounds shrimp and ¾ teaspoon salt, using the same amount of other ingredients. You may have to sauté the shrimp in batches depending on the size of your skillet.

**Cook 8 ounces angel hair pasta for 4 minutes, then rinse in lukewarm water. Mix with 1 tablespoon olive oil and ¾ teaspoon kosher salt. Optionally, you can add ½ teaspoon garlic powder and ½ tablespoon each dried oregano and dried basil. We recommend serving the angel hair pasta on the side of the shrimp. Don’t mix it together with the shrimp in the pan: it is difficult to mix and it absorbs all of the butter sauce. (See Easy Angel Hair Pasta for more.)

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Seafood

Keywords: Shrimp scampi, shrimp scampi recipe


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