Shrimp scampi is a simple, fresh and flavorful way to prepare shrimp. When making this recipe, your top priority as a chef is to avoid overcooking the shrimp.
Shrimp scampi is ready fast, and the recipe’s flavor combination is incredibly fresh and flavorful. This is one of my favorite weeknight dinners, and also one of my favorite ways to prepare shrimp. (Another good one is baked shrimp).
What is shrimp scampi?
It’s is an Italian-American dish of shrimp tossed in a simple-yet-exquisite sauce of butter, garlic and white wine. As it turns out, it’s not a classic Italian recipe at all. The original Italian dish is simply called “Scampi.”
Scampi, or langoustines, are small crustaceans with pale pink shells. They look like tiny lobsters. A traditional way of preparing them in Italy is to sauté them with olive oil, garlic, onion, and white wine.
Immigrant Italian cooks in the United States used what was available to them instead of scampi, which was shrimp, but kept both names.
This resulted in the somewhat weird name “shrimp scampi,” which would literally translate to “shrimp lobster.”
What’s in shrimp scampi sauce?
Since this is a variation on the traditional Italian recipe, there are quite a few ways of making the sauce. All of them excellent! Honestly, I never met a shrimp recipe that I didn’t like, unless the shrimp were overcooked.
In my tasty version, the sauce is made from butter, garlic, white wine, and lemon juice. I season it with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and parsley.
This delicately flavored sauce is ideal for shrimp. It highlights their mild flavor rather than overpowering it. It’s not that spicy shrimp are bad – they are in fact excellent. But there’s something about pairing delicately flavored seafood with a delicate sauce.
The ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe
Here’s a list of the ingredients you’ll need to make this tasty dish:
- Minced garlic
- Red pepper flakes
- Large shrimp
- White wine
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Fresh lemon juice
- Chopped parsley
Can you make it without wine?
Absolutely! I do feel that the small amount of wine I use in this recipe adds great flavor, and it’s fun to drink that same wine with the meal.
But if you’re not a fan of wine or of alcohol, you can simply omit the wine and leave the rest of the recipe as is. It would still be delicious.
How to make shrimp scampi
It’s so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the full instructions. Here are the basic steps:
- Briefly sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes in butter.
- Add the shrimp, the wine and the kosher salt. Cook until shrimp are fully cooked – this only takes about 5 minutes.
- Off heat, stir in the lemon juice, parsley, and black pepper, then serve!
How to serve this dish?
This saucy dish is often served on top of pasta, or with crusty bread. But for us low carbers, it’s just as good on cauliflower rice, spaghetti squash, or served on its own with a spoon for the sauce.
Sometimes I serve this dish with its marvelous sauce on a bed of raw baby spinach leaves. The warm sauce wilts the spinach leaves just enough to have them perfectly cooked. The whole dish is sublime.
Don’t overcook the shrimp!
As with most shrimp recipes, the most important thing when making this shrimp scampi recipe is to avoid overcooking the shrimp.
Once you add them to the saucepan, cook them just until they turn pink and opaque, then remove immediately from the heat and serve. When overcooked, they become dry and rubbery.
Is this a healthy recipe?
I believe it is. Despite some issues with shrimp, if you’re not allergic to them, they are healthy in moderation. This is especially true if you buy sustainable shrimp, domestic and wild caught.
The remaining ingredients in this recipe are real, whole foods. And you can always use olive oil instead of butter and omit the wine if you’re so inclined.
What to do with leftover shrimp scampi?
You can store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Reheat them very, very gently, to avoid drying them out. If you use the microwave, reheat them covered and use the microwave on 50% power.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 lb. large shrimp, 16-20 per lb., shelled and de-veined
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the butter in a very large (14 inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, one minute.
- Add the shrimp, the wine and the kosher salt. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat, until shrimp are pink and opaque, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the shrimp from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice, parsley and black pepper. Toss to combine, and serve.