If the 12-minute preparation time of these pesto shrimp won't entice you to make this recipe, the fresh flavor surely will!
Pesto is made of basil, olive oil, garlic, and parmesan; these flavors pair amazingly well with seafood such as shrimp.
Like many of my recipes, this one was born out of my need to use up ingredients. It started when I bought fresh basil to make a Caprese salad. The salad was amazing but required very little basil, so I made pesto sauce.
So now I had pesto sauce in the fridge and shrimp I'd defrosted the night before. I decided to combine the two and make pesto shrimp. The flavor combination was so good it's now part of our regular dinner rotation!
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this recipe. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Olive oil: Just one tablespoon for sauteing the shrimp.
- Large shrimp: I use peeled and deveined shrimp in this recipe. I typically use large shrimp (31-40 pieces per pound); extra-large (21-25 pieces per pound) is fine too.
- Cherry tomatoes: Add color and flavor to the dish.
- Salt: Just a pinch. The pesto sauce has plenty of saltiness.
- Pesto sauce: It's OK to use store-bought pesto, but make sure it's made with olive oil. Or quickly whip up homemade pesto in your food processor.
- You can make this recipe with medium-sized shrimp (51-60 pieces per pound). If you do, adjust the cooking time. Shrimp are fully cooked when their translucent grayish color turns pink and opaque. Medium shrimp will need to be cooked for just 2-3 minutes before adding the pesto sauce.
- Sometimes, I add a handful of pitted kalamata olives with the pesto sauce.
- If you enjoy spicy food, sprinkle the finished dish with ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
Pesto Shrimp Instructions
Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps for making this recipe:
- Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the shrimp and tomatoes with a pinch of salt. (Photo 1).
- Cook, stirring often, until the shrimp are almost cooked through. (Photo 2).
- Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the pesto sauce. (Photo 3).
- Cook, stirring, until the shrimp are fully cooked and opaque, about one more minute. (Photo 4).
The tomatoes will be partially cooked when prepared according to my instructions. If you want them fully cooked, add them to the skillet first and cook them for one minute before adding the shrimp.
Yes. But try to find a sauce made with olive oil. Many jarred sauces are made with soybean oil.
Keep in mind that store-bought pesto sauces, even high-quality ones, are often mediocre in taste. They can't compare to the fresh taste of homemade pesto.
Yes. Add them with the tomatoes to a bowl, add the pesto, and mix to coat. Then bake them in a single layer in a 400°F oven until opaque.
This should take 8-10 minutes, depending on their size and how hot your oven runs.
The disadvantage of this method is that you'll be cooking the pesto over fairly high heat, and it's best not to cook pesto.
To keep the fresh flavor of this sauce, you don't want to cook it, and certainly not over high heat. This method of adding it at the very end of cooking and just warming it ensures it remains fresh-tasting.
This is especially important with homemade sauce. Store-bought ones are overcooked to begin with, which is also why they're not that good.
Yes, but you'll need to defrost them first. If you need to do so quickly, place them in a bowl filled with cool water for 5-7 minutes, replacing the water once or twice. Place them on paper towels to drain.
Pesto shrimp is a saucy dish. I like to serve it on something that would absorb the tasty sauce, such as:
- Spaghetti squash noodles
- Zucchini noodles
- Shirataki noodles
- Hearts of Palm pasta
- Mashed cauliflower
- Mashed butternut squash
- Sauteed spinach
Alternatively, you can serve it with thick slices of almond flour bread to sop up the sauce.
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge in a shallow, airtight container for up to three days. Reheat them gently in the microwave at 50% power.
You can also leave them cold and use them as a salad topping. They make an excellent topping for this arugula salad.
More Shrimp Recipes
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Pesto Shrimp Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound large shrimp peeled and deveined (31-40 pieces per pound)
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes
- Pinch salt
- ¼ cup basil pesto sauce
- In a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the shrimp and tomatoes with a pinch of salt.
- Cook, stirring often, until the shrimp are almost cooked through, about 4 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the pesto sauce and cook, stirring, until the shrimp are fully cooked and opaque, about one more minute.
- Divide the shrimp and tomatoes between two plates. Use a rubber spatula to scrape any remaining sauce from the pan and pour it on the shrimp. Serve immediately.
- It's okay to use store-bought pesto sauce, although it will be inferior to fresh homemade sauce. Try to find a high-quality sauce made with olive oil.
- The tomatoes will be partially cooked. If you want them fully cooked, add them to the skillet first and cook them for a minute before adding the shrimp.
- You can keep the leftovers in the fridge in a shallow, airtight container for up to three days. Reheat them gently in the microwave at 50% power. You can also leave them cold and use them as a salad topping. They make an excellent topping for this arugula salad.