This Classic Shrimp Scampi Recipe is so easy to make in only 15 minutes! It’s perfect served with crusty bread or pasta to soak up all the luscious garlic butter sauce for an easy weeknight meal.
Shrimp scampi may sound fancy, but it’s such a ridiculously easy dinner to make on any weeknight! The thick sauce has four cloves of garlic and lots of butter, making it rich and luxurious.
I like shrimp scampi served with pasta (my favorite is linguine) or with crusty bread. You must have something with which to mop up all the amazing sauce- it would be a sin to let it go to waste!
But it’s also easy to keep this shrimp scampi recipe low carb by serving it with zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice, and keep it gluten-free by serving it with cooked rice. Or just dive right into the skillet with a spoon. No judgement here!
In this post, I’ll explain how to make shrimp scampi, how to defrost frozen shrimp, how to make sure the scampi sauce is super thick, and give you some more tips and tricks for the BEST and easiest shrimp scampi possible!
How to make classic shrimp scampi
Before you start cooking this, make sure you have all your ingredients prepped beforehand. It moves quickly, so you want to be prepared! Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and mince the garlic, zest and juice a lemon, and chop up some fresh parsley.
Now it’s time to get cooking.
- Heat up some olive oil and butter in a skillet.
- Add minced garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over medium heat. Don’t brown it!
- Add the shrimp in a single layer and cook for three minutes.
- Flip the shrimp and cook for one more minute.
- Remove the shrimp and add lemon juice, white wine, and lemon zest to the skillet. Heat on higher heat until it reduces by half.
- Then, reduce the heat to low and melt more butter into the sauce.
- Add the shrimp back into the skillet along with the fresh parsley and stir to coat. All done!
What kind of skillet to use
I recommend, hands down, a non-stick skillet for this. You can use other kinds, but since you need to cook this gently so the garlic doesn’t brown and the shrimp doesn’t overcook, I find a non-stick just makes things easier. Not to mention, the clean up is a breeze.
I used a 12-inch Calphalon Nonstick Skillet. I have a whole set and LOVE them. They’re durable and oven-safe!
What kind of shrimp to buy
I recommend buying frozen shrimp. It’s cheaper than the “fresh” shrimp at the fish counter in your grocery store. BUT, did you know… the shrimp they sell at the counter is almost always frozen and thawed? So you might as well buy it frozen and defrost it yourself to save some money!
I also recommend buying large, or jumbo, shrimp. They’re harder to overcook and the texture is much better, in my opinion. But to save some more money, you can use smaller size shrimp if you prefer. Just cook it for less time.
Finally, I recommend buying shrimp that’s already peeled and deveined. Tail on or off- whatever you prefer is fine! But peeling and deveining is such a pain, and it’s not much more expensive to get it all done for you.
How to thaw frozen shrimp
There are three ways to defrost frozen shrimp.
- Let it sit in your refrigerator for 24-48 hours.
- Run cold water over the frozen shrimp in a colander for 2-3 minutes or so.
- My favorite way: soak the frozen shrimp in lightly salted ice water. This should only take about 5 minutes.
Making the shrimp scampi sauce thick
You don’t need any cornstarch or flour to thicken scampi sauce, despite what some sources may tell you! There are two tricks to thickening it.
- Make sure you simmer it once you add the wine and lemon juice so the liquid reduces. This will cause the water to evaporate and you’ll be left with a thicker, more concentrated flavor base.
- Melt chilled butter into the sauce over low heat. This will ensure the melted butter acts as an emulsifier for the sauce, rather than separating out into its dairy and fat particles and resulting in a greasy, thin sauce.
Other easy shrimp recipes:
- Easy Classic Shrimp and Grits
- Shrimp and Zucchini Fritters with Yogurt Sauce
- Shrimp and Couscous with Peas and Mint
- Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls
- Blackened Shrimp Tacos
- Avocado Shrimp Salsa (from Smitten Kitchen)
- Garides Saganaki (Greek Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta)
- Sautéed Shrimp with Garlic and Lemon
And be sure to check out all my other Seafood Recipes!
Did you make this Easy Classic Shrimp Scampi recipe? Please comment below and Rate this Recipe
Easy Classic Shrimp Scampi
- 1.5 lbs. large shrimp peeled and deveined (tails on or off)
- 5 tablespoons butter divided
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced (a heaping tablespoon)
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine pinot grigio, chardonnay, or sauvignon blanc (chicken broth/stock can also be used)
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley minced
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- Pat the shrimp dry and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil (2 tablespoons) and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat.
- Add the 4 cloves of minced garlic (or a heaping tablespoon) and crushed red pepper (1/4 teaspoon) and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute, being careful not to brown it.
- Add the shrimp to the skillet and allow to cook for 3 minutes. Flip and allow to cook for 1 more minute, or until cooked through and no longer translucent.
- Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp to a plate.
- Turn the heat up to medium high and add the the lemon juice (2 tablespoons) and white wine/broth (1/2 cup), along with the 1 teaspoon of lemon zest. Simmer for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid has reduced by half.
- Turn the heat down to low and add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Stir until melted and sauce is thickened.
- Add the cooked shrimp and any juices from the bottom of the plate back into the skillet, along with the fresh parsley, and stir to coat.
- Shrimp scampi is best served immediately, with pasta, rice, or crusty bread to mop up the sauce, or zucchini noodles for a low carb option.
- You can use salted or unsalted butter for this. I used salted, as I usually do for most recipes. Season the shrimp with more or less salt depending on whether your butter is salted.
- Time saving tip: buy shrimp that's already been peeled and deveined.
- Money saving tip: frozen shrimp is cheaper than thawed, and there's usually no difference taste-wise between the two! To save a little more money, you can peel/devein the shrimp yourself, and/or use smaller sized shrimp, which are usually cheaper.
- To thaw frozen shrimp: leave in your refrigerator for 24 hours. Or, if you're in a hurry, soak the shrimp in ice water 5 minutes or so, until they're defrosted (optional: add a tiny pinch of salt to the water to help speed up defrosting and add a little flavor).
- Make it lower in fat: use three tablespoons butter instead of 5- melt 1 with the olive oil in the beginning, and melt two more into the sauce at the end.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.