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.
This easy shrimp recipe is ready super 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 excellent 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 langoustines, which was shrimp, but they kept both names.
This resulted in the somewhat weird name "shrimp scampi," which would literally translate to "shrimp lobster."
What's in the 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 shrimp scampi recipe. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below:
Butter: I like to use creamy European butter, but any butter will be great.
Minced garlic: Mince it yourself or use the stuff that comes in a jar. Both work.
Red pepper flakes: They don't make the dish spicy - they merely add a layer of flavor.
Large shrimp: Peeled and deveined. I like to use tail-on shrimp simply for aesthetic reasons. If possible, try to use sustainable shrimp. 🦐
White wine: You can make the dish with or without it. I do feel it enhances the flavor of the sauce.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty.
Fresh lemon juice: Do use freshly-squeezed juice. It makes a difference.
Chopped parsley: Adds not just a splash of color but also another layer of fresh flavor.
Can you make this recipe 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, 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 detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
1. Briefly sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes in butter.
2. Add the shrimps, the wine and the kosher salt. Cook until the shrimps are fully cooked - this only takes about 5 minutes.
3. 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 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.
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.
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- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 lb. large shrimp, 16-20 per lb., shelled and de-veined
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- ½ 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.