This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more.

Here’s how to make really good shrimp scampi to serve with crusty bread, tossed with spaghetti or linguine, or spooned over basmati rice pilaf or orzo. It’s super-flavorful, super-quick, and super-easy.

shrimp scampi (spicy or mild) in a pan
Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email below and I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus get great new recipes every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

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, nuanced creaminess from cultured, salted butter, and as much or as little heat as you like.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • 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, I like to leave the tails on, both for optics and because they contribute a lot of flavor while sautéing. That said, if all you’ve got is a bag of frozen shrimp with the tails off, use those. All good.
  • Lots of minced shallot and garlic combine to create a well-rounded and nuanced allium vibe.
  • Red pepper flakes create as little or as much spiciness as you like. As noted in the recipe card below, you can leave them out entirely, use 1/4 teaspoon for a pleasant backbone of heat, or add up to about 3/4 teaspoon for a stronger heat. Sautéing them in the oil before adding the shrimp helps bloom their flavor and infuse it throughout the dish.
  • 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 cooks down just slightly, along with the wine, to create the sauce’s acidic element.
  • Use a really good-quality butter if you can. Here and virtually everywhere, I start with a cultured, salted butter from grass-fed cows. This sounds fancy but doesn’t have to be. Kerrygold, for example, is sold in most supermarkets at a reasonable price.
  • Not pictured: plenty of fresh flat-leaf parsley to add just the right amount of herbaceous freshness and a pop of color.

How to make it

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.

step by step
  1. First you’ll cook the shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes in the olive oil.
  2. Add the shrimp and keep them 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.
  3. Pour in the wine and lemon juice. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by about a third — just a minute or two. Then lower the heat and swirl in the butter until it’s melted and emulsified into a silky sauce.
  4. Return the shrimp to the pan and heat it, stirring to coat with sauce, just until cooked through. Off the heat, sprinkle with parsley and freshly ground black pepper. That’s it!

How to serve it

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, anyway?

“Scampi” can refer to a type of crustacean or a preparation.

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 preparation & its history

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.

Expert tips and FAQs

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

Shrimp scampi is quick and easy to make, and it’s at its best shortly after cooking, so I don’t recommend going out of your way to make it in advance. You can prep the shrimp (if necessary) up to 24 hours in advance and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in a nice cold fridge for a week. Rewarm over very low heat.

More favorite shrimp recipes

shrimp scampi (spicy or mild) in a pan

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

closeup of shrimp scampi
4.60 from 20 votes

Shrimp Scampi (Spicy or Mild)

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
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: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 6
Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email and I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus get great new recipes every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds (907 grams) shrimp
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, see note
  • ½ cup (120 ml) dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons (56 grams) butter
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions 

  • Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving tails on. (See note 1.)
  • Set a large frying pan over medium-high heat and warm the olive oil.
  • Add shallot, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for a minute or so until shallots turn slightly translucent.
  • 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.
  • After removing the shrimp, pour in the wine and lemon juice. Simmer briskly until liquid is reduced by about a third.
  • Turn heat to low and swirl in butter until it's melted 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 shrimp to pan and cook, stirring to coat with sauce, just until cooked through.
  • Off the heat, sprinkle with the freshly ground black pepper and parsley.
  • 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.

Step-by-step video

Notes

  1. 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. I like to leave the tails on regardless of serving style because they add lots of flavor to the dish while sautéing. But if you're starting with smaller, pre-prepped, tail-off shrimp, that's okay too.
  2. Red pepper flakes create as little or as much spiciness as you like. You can leave them out entirely, use 1/4 teaspoon for a pleasant backbone of heat, or add up to about 3/4 teaspoon for a stronger heat. Sautéing them in the oil before adding the shrimp helps bloom their flavor and infuse it throughout the dish.
  3. 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.
  4. Shrimp scampi is quick and easy to make, and it's at its best shortly after cooking, so I don't recommend going out of your way to make it in advance. You can prep the shrimp (if necessary) up to 24 hours in advance and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in a nice cold fridge for a week. Rewarm over very low heat.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 338kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 35g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 339mg, Sodium: 1675mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Fish + Shellfish
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

Hungry for More?
Subscribe to Umami Girl's email updates, and follow along on Instagram.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

More Recipes

Carolyn Gratzer Cope Bio Photo

About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.60 from 20 votes (20 ratings without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating