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Shrimp Scampi

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Calories: 231
shrimp scampi in a large metal skillet topped with fresh parsley

Buttery, garlicky, shrimp-y, and pasta-y (if you want it to be). Got 15 minutes? Great. Let’s make shrimp scampi!

Butter + Garlic + Shrimp=HAPPY.

Actually, our super easy shrimp scampi recipe is more like wine+butter+olive oil+a LOT of garlic+shrimp=happy. But you get the idea—shrimp makes everyone happy, and shrimp scampi makes everyone the happiest. It’s nostalgic, classic, and delicious over pasta. Or not! Which brings us to another reason to love shrimp scampi—it’s versatile. Serve it straight up, or tossed with pasta. Or as a luxurious appetizer. There’s just no wrong way to scampi.

shrimp scampi in a garlic butter sauce on a blue plate topped with fresh parsley

Why Is It Called Shrimp Scampi?

Shrimp scampi. Buttery, garlicky, shrimp-y. You know you love it. But what, exactly, is it? Well, if you’re a little vague on the exact definition of shrimp scampi, guess what? You’re not alone and you’re not “wrong”. Shrimp scampi means different things to different people, but it always involves butter, garlic and shrimp. For some people, it’s just not shrimp scampi if it’s not served over angel hair pasta. For others, pan-fried, buttery shrimp are simply served as-is, alongside some crusty bread for dipping. Some add wine, some add tomatoes. Most people add lemon. But there’s no right or wrong. And why is that? Well—like so many of our very favorite recipes—shrimp scampi is not actually a classic Italian recipe, it’s Italian American in origin.

“Scampi” is the Italian word for langoustine, a type of crustacean that’s common in Europe (scampi are also called Norway lobsters and Dublin Bay prawns) and is much bigger than even jumbo shrimp that we’re used to eating here in the U.S. In Italy, a quick sauté in butter, olive oil and garlic (and sometimes white wine) is the traditional way to serve these sweet, pink-fleshed clawed crustaceans. Does this mean that “shrimp scampi” kind of means “shrimp shrimp”? We like to think so.

But in all seriousness, a more accurate interpretation would be to think of the name “shrimp scampi” as meaning that you cook regular shrimp (the kind that’s easy to find here in the U.S.) in the same style as scampi (langoustines) would traditionally be cooked in Italy.

raw shrimp, butter, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, parsley and white wine in small bowls to make shrimp scampi

Let’s Talk Shrimp Scampi Ingredients.

Like we said, people get crazy with their shrimp scampi recipes. Everyone is sort of just out there, sautéing shrimp, trying to recreate some sort of pristine, perfect, first shrimp scampi experience—it’s all very Proustian. And look, we’re in the same boat! We think our shrimp scampi recipe keeps it pretty darn classic, but we fully acknowledge that it might not be classic in everyone’s eyes. We can, however, promise that it’s a really gosh darn delicious way to cook shrimp. And fast, too. So try it! You’ll like it. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic (a lot of it—six cloves!)
  • Dry white wine. Think vermentino or pinot grigio—two often-dry Italian whites that would also be nice to drink with the finished dish. You can use broth, if you don’t want to use wine.
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Large or extra-large shrimp
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh lemon juice
melted buter and raw garlic in a skillet
melted butter and cooked garlic with white wine in a skillet
shrimp scampi in garlic butter in a skillet topped with parsley
shrimp scampi over pasta in a white bowl

How to Make Shrimp Scampi From Scratch

OK, we’ve nerded out enough. Let’s make shrimp scampi!

  1. Warm the oil and butter, then add garlic.
  2. Pour in the wine, and let the whole fragrant thing simmer until it's reduced by half. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (if you like your scampi with a kick).
  3. Sauté the shrimp in the buttery, garlicky sauce just until it's cooked through. Watch for a bright pink color and taste for doneness around the 3-minute mark.
  4. Serve! Or, if you want to make the scampi sauce more sauce-y—for example, if you're planning to toss the finished scampi with pasta and want enough sauce to coat the noodles—add a quarter cup of pasta cooking water to the sautéed shrimp mixture to make more of a sauce.
shrimp scampi over pasta in a white bowl topped with red pepper flakes and fresh parsley

What Compliments Shrimp Scampi?

Shrimp scampi, even without pasta, stands pretty well on its own as a deeply flavorful, briny, buttery, garlicky recipe that serves up just the right balance of nostalgia and luxury. If you’re watching carbs—whether you’re trying to follow a ketogenic diet, or generally trying to be low-carb—try serving shrimp scampi with a big salad on the side (we love this one). If you’re serving scampi to company, serve a big pile of the garlicky shrimp along with a generous loaf of crusty bread and some roasted asparagus for a simple dinner that’s just this side of indulgent.

shrimp scampi on a blue ceramic plate topped with fresh parsley

Tools You’ll Need:

4 More Shrimp Recipes to Try ASAP.

Everyone loves shrimp, but it seems to often be left off the weekly dinner rotation. Maybe it’s not an every week food, but it sure does make a great every-so-often treat. If you’re worried about working conditions and sustainability regarding the shrimp industry, first of all, good for you! Those are great things to think about. Second of all, there is such a thing as shrimp that’s totally A-OK to purchase and eat. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s excellent Seafood Watch site, there are quite a few “best choice” options for shrimp. Click here to read all about them. And here are four more shrimp recipes we love:

shrimp scampi over pasta in a white bowl topped with red pepper flakes and fresh parsley

Authentic? Classic? Possibly the Best EVER?!

We’re pretty sure you’re going to love this recipe. Let us know if you make it! You people rock and we love glimpsing into your kitchens. Snap a photo of your garlic shrimp scampi and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Shrimp Scampi

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Calories: 231

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp Butter
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 6 Garlic cloves, minced (2 tbsp)
  • 3/4 cup Dry white wine (or chicken stock)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 lbs Large or extra-large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup Fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Method

  1. In a large skillet melt butter with olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add in wine and bring to a simmer. Allow wine to reduce by half, about 6 minutes. Add in salt, red pepper flakes and plenty of black pepper.
  3. Add in shrimp and sauté until shrimp is just pink, about 2 to 4 minutes depending upon their size. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice and serve with crusty bread.
  4. If serving over pasta reserve ¼ cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Stir the reserved liquid into the butter sauce before tossing with pasta.