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A contrast of rich and bright flavors, this succulent Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta will be on your table in just 20 minutes.

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta served in a white bowl

When you need a meal in a hurry, you can’t go wrong with shrimp. It’s sweet, tender, juicy, and cooks quickly. Whether you’re grilling it, cooking it on the stovetop, or roasting it in the oven, it takes very little time and effort to transform shrimp into a dinner that everyone will love.

This Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta recipe is a great alternative when the temptation strikes to call for takeout. You’ll have the best of both worlds: a restaurant-quality meal that you can get on the table fast, perfect for busy weeknights. It’s one of those easy recipes using simple pantry staples and freezer ingredients that you may already have on hand.

Ingredients You Need to Make Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta

ingredients for Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta on a white marble surface
  • Pasta: any long and thin pasta you have in your pantry will work for this. Whether it’s spaghetti, linguine, fettuccini, or angel hair, simply follow the package directions to cook until firm to the bite (al dente).
  • Shrimp: Medium or large shrimp work well here.
  • Butter: Your choice of salted or unsalted butter.
  • Olive Oil: Use whatever variety you have on hand.
  • Parsley: Fresh, flat leaf Italian parsley.
  • Lemon: You’ll need the juice and zest.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Grated for finishing the dish – optional.
  • Garlic: 5 large garlic cloves
  • Crushed Red Pepper: Just enough for a hint of heat.
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper and Kosher Salt: To taste.

You’ll notice that there is no heavy cream. Instead, the shrimp cook in a creamy Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce of butter, olive oil, and plenty of garlic. Fresh lemon juice and zest give this dish its distinctive zing, similar to the Italian classic, Pasta al Limone. And fresh parsley adds earthy, bright flavor, while crushed red pepper flakes add gentle heat and a pop of color.

Though this pasta dish is simple to prepare, it’s elegant enough for company or a date night. It plates up beautifully and tastes like it took hours to make, though it takes just 20 minutes from start to finish.

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta served in a white bowl

Mistakes to Avoid

A common mistake when preparing shrimp is to overcook it. Take care to sauté it just until pink and cooked through, so your shrimp will be juicy and tender, not tough and rubbery. The same goes for overcooking pasta. It should cooked until tender, but retain some bite (al dente).

Recipe Options

This recipe is delicious both with and without parmesan cheese. Without it, the pasta has a fresh simplicity that allows the fresh lemon flavor to shine. With parmesan, you add another layer of flavor that mellows the lemon and adds complexity. A splash of white wine along with the lemon is also an option. And to make this dish a meal on its own, toss in a few handfuls of baby spinach at the end. No shrimp? Make this Lemon Garlic Pasta, Lemon Garlic Chicken Pasta or this Tuna Pasta with a no-cook sauce instead.

What to Serve Alongside

  • Arugula Salad (This simple salad is easy to prepare and a perfect match for pasta.)
  • Wedge Salad (The classic steakhouse side dish is always a good idea.)
  • Creamy Cucumber Salad (So creamy and delicious, but just shy of 100 calories per generous serving!)

How to Make Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta

Step 1: Cook pasta according to package directions until firm to the bite. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.

Cooking pasta

Step 2: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook olive oil and butter until sizzling. Add garlic and red pepper flakes; cook and stir 30 seconds. Add shrimp; cook and stir until pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

cooking shrimp in butter olive oil garlic and red pepper flakes

Step 3: Once pasta is cooked and drained, return shrimp mixture in skillet to medium heat. Add pasta and 1/4 cup of cooking liquid; stir until heated through, adding more cooking liquid if pasta is too dry.

tossing cooked pasta with shrimp and butter olive oil sauce

Step 4: Remove skillet from heat and stir in parsley and lemon juice and zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving platter or bowl and sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired. Serve.

stirring lemon garlic shrimp pasta together

Recipe Video

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta

5 from 55 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Calories: 643
Servings: 4 people
Quick and delicious pasta with bright flavors and succulent shrimp!

Ingredients  

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

Instructions 

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

Notes

  1. Use any long, slender pasta you like for this recipe.
  2. I switch back and forth on finishing this dish with parmesan cheese. Sometimes I want just the clean bright flavors of lemon and parsley with the sweet juicy shrimp. Up to you!

Nutrition

Calories: 643kcal | Carbohydrates: 68g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 310mg | Sodium: 1170mg | Potassium: 373mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 744IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 371mg | Iron: 4mg

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

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141 Comments

  1. Marcia M says:

    5 stars
    I tried this because dairy is harder and harder for me to digest and my usual recipe needs cream. I really like this recipe better! Thank you and I’m adding this to my rotation.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying this, Marcia! Thank you for coming back to let me know.

  2. Jayne says:

    5 stars
    So glad I tried this recipe. The mistakes to avoid and other tops were extremely helpful. The recipe was easy to follow and it went together quickly. The flavors were incredible. We have an amazing, authentic Italian restaurant near us and my family declared it as delicious as anything they have ever eaten there. To get my family of five to all agree on something for dinner is no small feat so this will definitely be added to our dinner rotation.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Wow, Jayne! This made my day – so happy that you and your family are enjoying this.

  3. Brian says:

    5 stars
    So easy, although it took me maybe 30-35 minutes total. Very flavorful and my wife and I loved it. A definite repeat dinner option!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      I’m so glad to hear this, Brian! Thank you for coming back to let me know.

  4. William Logan says:

    5 stars
    First time I made this, loved it. Only one mistake I made, this is not a recipe for Scotland in December, I will make it in spring and summer in the garden with chilled white wine, awesome recipe though

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Hi William! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the recipe.

  5. Amy says:

    I’d like to quadruple the recipe amount for a party. Should I add 4x the lemon and garlic?

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Hi Amy! This is such a great question. On the garlic, you’ll be mellowing it, so you could go with a full 4x, but I’d probably go with 3x, more like 12 to 15 cloves. (Unless you know that all of your guests are big garlic lovers, than even 20 could work.) For the lemon, I’d go with 3x and serve with fresh lemon wedges for squeezing – that should keep everyone happy. Cheers to a great party!