Ultimate Shrimp Scampi – Seafood lovers will rave about this simple, classic Italian recipe. It’s packed full the flavors of garlic, butter, lemon, and white wine – what could be better?
My Best Shrimp Scampi Recipe
Shrimp Scampi is one of my all-time favorite dishes. It took me quite a few attempts to perfect this recipe, but once I did I never looked back! I just love being able to make a restaurant-quality meal in minutes.
I promise you that if you’ve never attempted to make your own shrimp scampi, now is the time. It’s super simple and absolutely fabulous.
Why This Recipe Works
- Cooking the shrimp quickly and removing them from the pan to make the sauce keeps them from getting overcooked.
- Adding the lemon juice at the last possible minute keeps it from getting bitter and keeps its bright fresh taste.
- Adding Butter at the end gives it a silky smooth consistency to the sauce.
Shrimp Buying Guide
There are a lot of choices when buying shrimp. Here’s some guidance for making the best purchase.
- Fresh isn’t as fresh as you think. Just because shrimp is displayed raw doesn’t mean it’s freshly caught. Only a small percentage (about 10%) sold in the US comes from the US. The rest is imported so chances are it’s has been previously frozen. Be sure to ask at the counter and don’t buy defrosted.
- When buying frozen, choose individually quick-frozen shrimp, as you can thaw exactly what you need.
- Buy untreated shrimp. Some manufacturers chemically treat frozen shrimp so check the ingredients on the bag and make sure “Shrimp” is the only ingredient listed.
What Is Scampi Sauce Made Of?
Scampi sauce is made with butter, garlic lemon and wine.
How To Achieve Crunchy Shrimp
Do you ever wonder how chefs make perfectly cooked crunchy shrimp? Here’s how to do it at home:
- Place frozen or raw shrimp in a large bowl covered with cold water and 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Cover with plastic wrap and soak overnight.
- One hour before cooking, remove the shrimp from the baking soda solution and brine in a solution of 1 quart (4 cups) of water, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1 tablespoon salt. Brine for 15 minutes to an hour. Dry well before using.
Best Wine For Scampi Sauce
Dry white wine is best. Unless you’re a big fan, try to avoid sweet wines as it changes the flavor profile of the dish. Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay are always good choices.
How To Make Shrimp Scampi
- Saute the garlic and shrimp in a pan then remove the shrimp.
- Add white wine and lemon zest and allow the wine to reduce.
- add the lemon juice and butter and mix until melted.
- Add the pasta before serving.
Step By Step Instructions
Start with melting the butter with the olive oil over medium high heat.
Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, add them to the pan and cook for one minute on each side.
Add the garlic then cook another minute.
Remove the shrimp from the pan leaving as much garlic behind as possible. Set aside.
Add the wine to the pan.
Scrape any crispy bits off the bottom of the pan and mix it into the wine. This adds a lot of flavor!
Bring to a boil and reduce the sauce by half. Lower the heat to a simmer, add the lemon zest, parsley, and remaining butter, stir until melted.
To avoid a greasy sauce, stir well to mix the butter completely into the sauce and emulsify the mixture.
Add the shrimp back into the pan. Then add the lemon juice.
Be sure to taste before serving. If more salt or lemon is needed add it and taste again until it’s perfect!
Serve immediately to avoid over cooking the pasta and shrimp.
This dish can also be served without the pasta. I’ve often served it on a bed of rice pilaf. It can also be served on its own as an appetizer.
Erren’s Top Tips
- If you often overcook shrimp or like them super crunchy, brine them before cooking (see the instructions under how to achieve crunchy shrimp).
- When choosing wine for cooking, always choose a wine that’s good enough to drink. If you wouldn’t drink it, it isn’t very likely to taste good in your food!
- Need an alcohol free substitution for wine? Use a good quality chicken or fish stock instead.
- To avoid a greasy sauce, at the end, mix the butter thoroughly into the sauce to emulsify the mixture.
- This dish can also be served without the pasta. I’ve often served it on a bed of rice pilaf or alone as an appetizer.
Other Italian Dishes You’ll Love
The sauce thickens by reducing as it cooks, which also intensifies the flavors.
The easy answer is you can prep the ingredients, but other than that, it’s such a quick and easy dish that I really don’t think it’s necessary to make it ahead and reheating shrimp is never a good idea. You’ll just end up with overcooked, rubbery shrimp that will ruin the dish.
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Ultimate Shrimp Scampi
- 1 pound of linguine or spaghetti optional
- 4 tablespoons butter sliced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic finely sliced or minced
- 1 lb shrimp peeled, cleaned, and dried well
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest the zest of one lemon
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice approx 1 lemon
- If serving on pasta, boil a large pot of salted water and cook pasta until the pasta is not quite done (it should still have a bite). Reserve one cup of the pasta water, before draining.
- Meanwhile, in a large shallow pan melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, add them to the pan, and cook for 1 minute on each side.
- Add the garlic then cook another minute. Remove the shrimp from the pan leaving as much garlic behind as possible. Set aside.
- Add the wine, lemon zest, and parsley. Scrape any crispy bits off the bottom of the pan and mix it into the sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce the sauce by half. lower the heat to a simmer, add the remaining butter, stir until melted.
- Taste for seasoning and add more salt as needed.
- Add the pasta and return the shrimp to the pan. Coat with the sauce and cook the pasta in the sauce until the pasta is fully cooked. Stire in the lemon juice and if necessary, you can add some of the pasta water to loosen the sauce. Once the pasta is cooked, serve hot.
Update Notes: This recipe was originally published in 2014, but was re-posted to include new photos, recipe updates, and tips in 2020.