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Don’t let the simplicity fool you; Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta is a true crowd-pleaser that will impress everyone at the table. A delectable combination of juicy shrimp, perfectly cooked pasta, and a heavenly garlic butter sauce, it’s the kind of recipe that makes dinner feel like a gourmet treat without any of the hassle.

Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta served in a white bowl and photographed from overhead.

Whether you’re cooking for your loved ones on a busy weeknight or entertaining guests, this is a pasta dish for shrimp lovers that will steal the show every time. The best part? It comes together in just 20 minutes, ideal for any time you want an extraordinary meal with minimal effort.

Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta Ingredient List

Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta Ingredients on a white marble board.
  • Spaghetti: Or any other long, thin pasta variety that you prefer, like: linguine or angel hair pasta (capellini).
  • Butter: Salted or unsalted butter work here as you’ll season with salt to taste. If possible, use high-fat, European-style butter to add a rich and creamy flavor to the sauce. (Its lower water content also makes it less likely to splatter.)
  • Olive Oil: Use good quality extra-virgin olive oil for a fruity and robust taste that complements the garlic and shrimp.
  • Garlic: Use fresh garlic cloves for this dish – it’s one of the star ingredients! Pick firm, plump cloves with no signs of sprouting or soft spots.
  • Crushed Red Pepper: Look for crushed red pepper flakes with vibrant color and a strong, spicy aroma to add a touch of spicy kick to the dish.
  • Shrimp: Choose medium, raw shrimp (fresh or frozen and thawed), with the shells and tails removed for convenience. Or peel and devein them yourself (see how with step-by-step photos in my Shrimp Tacos post.)
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: Use freshly squeezed lemon juice for its bright, zesty flavors. You can finish the dish with lemon zest as well for extra lemon flavor.
  • Fresh Parsley: Opt for fresh, flat-leaf parsley (also called Italian parsley) with vibrant green leaves and no wilting.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Use good quality, freshly grated Parmesan cheese for a nutty, savory finish to the pasta. (Ideally Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano.)
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t Overcook the Shrimp: To ensure tender and juicy shrimp, be careful not to overcook them. Shrimp cook quickly, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the heat as soon as they turn pink and opaque.
  • Season the Pasta Water: Before adding the pasta to boiling water, season it generously with salt. This step enhances the pasta’s flavor and ensures it’s perfectly seasoned throughout.
  • Save Pasta Water: Before draining the cooked pasta, be sure to reserve a cup (or more) of pasta water. The starchy water is added to the sauce to create a creamier consistency and help the sauce adhere to the pasta.
  • Serve Immediately: This pasta is best enjoyed immediately. The flavors and textures are at their peak when served fresh from the stove.
Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta served in a white bowl.

Recipe Options

  • If you prefer a milder dish, reduce the amount of crushed red pepper (or leave it out altogether). Or add a bit more for extra spicy kick.
  • Add a splash of white wine for added flavor depth (just before adding the shrimp in step 2 of the recipe).
  • For an extra burst of freshness, zest the lemon before juicing and sprinkle the zest over the finished dish.
  • Make it a complete meal by adding sautéed spinach and/or mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, or roasted vegetables to the dish.

How to Store and Reheat

Refrigerate any leftovers with a splash of the reserved pasta water in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until warmed through.

Please note that Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta does not freeze well, so it’s best to enjoy it fresh or refrigerate leftovers to reheat within a few days.

Serve With

More Must Try Garlic Butter Recipes!

How to Make Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta

Cook pasta according to package instructions in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain, saving 1 cup of water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant. Add shrimp and stir until just cooked through. Remove from heat.

Cooking shrimp in a skillet in butter olive-oil garlic and red pepper flakes.

When pasta is ready, set skillet with shrimp over medium heat. Add drained pasta and ¼ cup of reserved water and toss to coat. Cook until heated through, adding more water if needed. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving dish, top with grated parmesan if desired, and serve.

Stirring garlic butter shrimp pasta together in a skillet.

Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Calories: 585
Servings: 4 people
Juicy shrimp, al dente pasta, and a heavenly garlic butter sauce make this dish a mouthwatering favorite. Quick and easy to make!


  • 12 ounces dried spaghetti or other long, thin pasta
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 large garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or more
  • 1 pound medium shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 ounce parmesan cheese freshly grated, optional


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente (firm to the bite), about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking water.
  • While the pasta cooks, heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until sizzling. Add garlic and red pepper flakes; cook and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add shrimp; cook and stir until shrimp is just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • After you've drained the pasta, set skillet with shrimp mixture over medium heat and add drained, cooked pasta and 1/4 cup of reserved cooking water; toss to coat. Cook and stir until combined and heated through, adding more cooking water as needed if pasta seems too dry.
  • Remove skillet from heat and stir in fresh lemon juice and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to platter or serving bowl and top with grated parmesan cheese (if using); serve.


  • Use any long, slender pasta you like for this recipe.


Calories: 585kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 210mg | Sodium: 326mg | Potassium: 540mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 671IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 190mg | Iron: 2mg

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

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Recipe Rating


  1. Aria says:

    First time cooking shrimp as a novice home cook and I was so nervous for no reason! Followed this recipe to a t and it came out wonderful. Shrimp were moist enough to stand up to microwave reheating the leftovers and still coming out delicious. Now use this recipe as a base and add on whatever vegetable tickles my fancy (tonight is zucchini, though the suggested spinach is also great).

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      I love this, Aria! I’m so happy you’re enjoying this and adding your own twists.

  2. Valentina says:

    I don’t think it can get much more delicious than garlic butter with shrimp. Oh wait, add pasta! 😉 Seriously, this is a favorite combination. ~Valentina

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      haha…in our house too! Thank you, Valentina.

  3. David @ Spiced says:

    5 stars
    I love weeknight meals that are also packed with flavor! This one is a classic, and I’m pretty sure I could eat this for several nights in a row and not get tired of it! 🙂

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thanks so much, David! I hope you’ll love it.

  4. Mimi Rippee says:

    Fabulous! I love that you include crushed red pepper. So perfect.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thank you, Mimi! I do love a touch of spice.