How to Make Shrimp Scampi: Our Favorite Scampi Recipe

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Here’s how to make shrimp scampi to serve with crusty bread, tossed with spaghetti or linguine, or spooned over basmati rice pilaf or orzo. Our shrimp scampi recipe is super-flavorful, super-quick, and super-easy. Grab all our favorite shrimp recipes here.

overhead shot of shrimp scampi

Why we love this recipe

Shrimp scampi tossed with linguine was a favorite childhood order at Italian-American restaurants when I was allowed to choose from the grownups’ menu. I always broke the official rules and sprinkled it with plenty of Parmigiano cheese, a vice I happily embrace to this day.

Our version of shrimp scampi fits right in with our usual take on classics. It’s got lots and lots of balanced flavor — extra savoriness from shallot and and a generous amount of garlic, the tang and brightness of plenty of lemon juice, and nuanced creaminess from cultured, salted butter.

sauteeing garlic, shallots, and shrimp

Shrimp scampi ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make our shrimp scampi recipe:

  • Shrimp. (But you knew that.) You can use any size shrimp for this recipe. If you plan to serve it tapas-style with crusty bread, it’s nice to use larger shrimp so they’re easy and satisfying for people to pick up. The shrimp in the photos here are 26-30 per pound, so kind of nice medium-sized. Either way, we like to leave the tails on, both for optics and because they contribute a lot of flavor while sautéeing. That said, if all you’ve got is a bag of frozen shrimp with the tails off, use those. All good.
  • Olive oil
  • Shallot
  • Garlic
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • White wine. Choose a nice dry white wine that you like to drink, and serve the rest of the bottle with the meal. The flavors of wine get concentrated when you simmer off some of the liquid in this recipe (and really all recipes with wine in them), so make sure you like the taste.
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Butter (we love to use a good cultured, salted butter like Kerrygold)
  • Fresh parsley
adding white wine, lemon juice, and butter to pan to make a sauce

How to make shrimp scampi

I’m always surprised how quick and easy scampi is to make. It feels really special, but it’s no big deal to get done. Here’s what you’ll do. You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post.

  • If it’s not already done for you, peel and devein the shrimp, leaving tails on.
  • Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add shallot, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for a minute or so until shallots turn slightly translucent.
  • Add the shrimp to the pan. The two pounds of shrimp in this recipe will not fit in a single layer in almost any frying pan, but in this recipe we don’t need to brown the shrimp, so it’s totally fine.
  • Keep the shrimp moving around the pan so they cook evenly. Remove shrimp individually to a plate as each one starts to turn pink. You’ll finish cooking them later.
  • After removing the shrimp from the pan, pour in the wine and lemon juice. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by about a third — just a minute or two.
  • Lower the heat and swirl in the butter until it’s melted and emulsified into a silky sauce. (Leaving the heat too high can make the sauce separate rather than emulsifying. It’ll still taste good, but will feel a little greasy. That’s not what we’re after here, so do remember to lower the heat.)
  • Return the shrimp to the pan and heat it, stirring to coat with sauce, just until cooked through.
  • Off the heat, sprinkle everything with the parsley and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. You’re all set. See below for serving suggestions!
returning shrimp to pan and adding pepper and parsley

How to serve shrimp scampi

There are lots of ways to serve shrimp scampi. Here are our favorites:

  • Place the whole pan on the table along with a couple of torn baguettes and let everyone have at it.
  • Toss with a pound of cooked spaghetti or linguine.
  • Spoon it over basmati rice pilaf.
  • Spoon it over our favorite easy orzo.

What is scampi?

Curious why this dish is called shrimp scampi? It’s complicated.

What is the meaning of scampi (the crustacean)?

Scampi isn’t shrimp, but a different crustacean entirely. It’s the tail meat from Nephrops norvegicus, also called langoustine, Dublin Bay Prawn, or Norway Lobster. These little guys are related to lobsters but much smaller. They live in cold saltwater environments, especially the northern Atlantic and the North Sea. (Learn more here.)

The history of scampi (the preparation)

These days, Italian-American cuisine uses “scampi” to refer to a variety of related preparations for shrimp. These variations all draw from an Italian tradition of sautéeing scampi (the crustacean) in olive oil, garlic, and wine.

When Italian families immigrated to the United States, they prepared shrimp in a similar way — or rather, lots of different, similar ways. Some recipes called “shrimp scampi” include breadrcrumbs, for example, or diced tomatoes. Some are served with bread, some tossed with linguine. (Learn more here.)

The long and the short of it is this: There’s lots to be confused about, but it’s a delicious, delicious confusion that we’re happy to embrace.

Hope you love our favorite version as much as we do.

closeup of shrimp scampi

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How to Make Shrimp Scampi

Here's how to make shrimp scampi to serve with crusty bread, tossed with pasta, or spooned over rice pilaf. Our shrimp scampi recipe is super-flavorful, super-quick, and super-easy.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds shrimp*
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving tails on. (See note below.)
  2. Set a large frying pan over medium-high heat and warm the olive oil.
  3. Add shallot, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for a minute or so until shallots turn slightly translucent.
  4. Add shrimp to pan. The two pounds of shrimp in this recipe will not fit in a single layer in almost any frying pan, but here we're not looking for browning, so it's totally fine. Use tongs or a spatula to keep the shrimp moving so they cook evenly. Take them out individually and put on a plate just as they start to turn pink. You'll finish cooking them later.
  5. After removing the shrimp, pour in the wine and lemon juice. Simmer briskly until liquid is reduced by about a third.
  6. Turn heat to low and swirl in butter until it's melted into a silky sauce.
  7. Return shrimp to pan and cook, stirring to coat with sauce, just until cooked through.
  8. Off the heat, sprinkle with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and the parsley.
  9. There are lots of ways to serve shrimp scampi. You can place the whole pan on the table along with a couple of torn baguettes and let everyone have at it. You can toss with a pound of cooked spaghetti or linguine. Or you can spoon it atop basmati rice pilaf or orzo. All pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Notes

*You can use whatever size shrimp you like for this recipe. If you plan to serve the scampi family- or tapas-style with crusty bread, it's especially nice to use larger shrimp that are easy to pick up. In that case definitely leave the tails on. We like to leave the tails on regardless of serving style because they add lots of flavor to the dish while sautéeing. But if you're starting with smaller, pre-prepped, tail-off shrimp, that's okay too.

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Nutrition Information

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 338 Total Fat:: 17g Saturated Fat:: 7g Trans Fat:: 0g Unsaturated Fat:: 9g Cholesterol:: 339mg Sodium:: 1675mg Carbohydrates:: 6g Net Carbohydrates:: 0g Fiber:: 1g Sugar:: 1g Sugar Alcohols:: 0g Protein:: 35g

Did you make this recipe?

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