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No one will believe this flavorful shrimp marinara takes under 30 minutes to make! It’s an easy dinner recipe that works for entertaining too.

Shrimp marinara
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Looking for easy and healthy dinner recipes? (Who isn’t, really?) Well, we have the answer for you: shrimp marinara! It combines the most flavorful, simple marinara sauce with tasty sauteed shrimp. Serve it over pasta and it’s a classic Italian recipe that has all the carefree vibe of the Mediterranean without the fuss. Alex and I only recently discovered shrimp marinara, and it’s become part of our weeknight repertoire. (If you’re wondering, yes 2 year old Larson loves it!) But it’s showy enough for entertaining, too. With a big salad, it’s great for an easy dinner party. Ready to get cooking?

Shrimp marinara

The keys to shrimp marinara

As of a few months ago, we didn’t realize shrimp marinara existed. After finding the perfect romantic date night recipe, mussels marinara, we figured shrimp marinara had to be a thing. It’s unclear whether it’s traditional classic Italian or an Italian American invention (feel free to weigh in below). Whatever the case, it’s gosh darn delicious. Shrimp is mixed with a zesty marinara sauce and served over pasta. It’s a tasty Mediterranean diet recipe that’s healthy too. How can you go wrong with that?

There isn’t a lot of technique involved in making this one. But here are the keys to the best shrimp marinara:

  • Pat the shrimp dry. After you thaw the shrimp (see the section below), make sure to pat it dry: otherwise you have too much standing water.
  • Cook the shrimp until almost cooked through. The main part of the recipe where you’ll want to pay attention is cooking the shrimp. You’ll want to cook them until they’re almost cooked, then remove them to a bowl and simmer the marinara. Once you add them back to the hot marinara, they’ll cook the rest of the way in the warm sauce.
  • Make our best marinara sauce. OK, you could definitely substitute a store bought pasta sauce here. But why not make your own? Here our recipe is seriously simple and takes just 15 minutes to simmer.
Shrimp marinara

How to thaw frozen shrimp for shrimp marinara

A myth about fish is that “fresh is best.” But if you’re wondering about fresh vs. frozen shrimp, frozen is okay too! As soon as an animal dies it begins to decompose; freezing suspends this process. If a fish is frozen when it was caught and stays frozen until it gets to your kitchen, it will be higher quality than a raw fish that has taken a week to get to your plate. Bottom line: either works!

How to thaw frozen shrimp? There are a few different options, depending on how much you’ve thought ahead.

  1. Place the frozen shrimp in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. If you’re using them the day of, place the frozen shrimp into a large bowl with very cold water. Stir the bowl every 5 minutes to break up clumps of shrimp that freeze together. The shrimp should be defrosted in about 15 minutes.
Shrimp in pan

Buying sustainable shrimp: what to look for

Are you looking at buying sustainable fish for this shrimp marinara? (If so, kudos!) Here are a few pointers for buying sustainable seafood:

  • Look for wild-caught fish if possible. If you live in the US, look for US caught. 90% of the seafood we eat in the US is imported. Imported seafood runs the risk of being overfished, caught under unfair labor practices, or farmed in environmentally harmful ways.
  • How your fish is caught matters. Look for hook and line as one example of a sustainable gear type. Bottom trawling is considered the most destructive and least sustainable method.
Shrimp marinara

What to serve with shrimp marinara

Shrimp marinara is perfect for a cozy Italian dinner party or an weeknight dinner. The freshness of a crisp green salad is the perfect pairing. Here are a few sides we’d serve with shrimp marinara to make it a meal:

Looking for more easy Italian recipes?

Easy Italian recipes is our forte here at A Couple Cooks! Here are a few more we’d recommend, if you like this mussels marinara:

  • Tuscan Lentil Stew This easy and hearty stew features kale, tomatoes and artichokes. It’s a healthy and easy soup recipe that’s full of Italian flavors.
  • Skillet Eggplant Marinara: Here’s an easy take on eggplant marinara, in a skillet! No breading or frying eggplant required.
  • Easy Creamy Gnocchi: Basically a fancy Italian mac and cheese, this comes together in 15 minutes with Pecorino cheese and pepper.

Want a meal plan?

This recipe is included in our Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan! Check it out for recipes for 1 month, including a meal planning spreadsheet download.

This shrimp marinara recipe is…

Pescatarian. For dairy free, use olive oil.

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Shrimp marinara

Easy Shrimp Marinara

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 4 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


No one will believe this flavorful shrimp marinara takes under 30 minutes to make! It’s an easy dinner recipe that works for entertaining too.



For the shrimp and pasta

  • 8 ounces spaghetti noodles
  • 1 pound large shrimp, deveined (peeled or unpeeled)
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)
  • Parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)

For the marinara sauce 

  • 28 ounce can crushed fire roasted tomatoes (or best quality crushed tomatoes)*
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, plus more for the garnish


  1. Thaw the shrimp (according to the package instructions, or see the section above). When thawed, pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel or clean rag.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is al dente (start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside). Then drain.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the butter on medium high heat. Add the shrimp, basil and kosher salt. Cook the shrimp for 1 to 2 minutes per side until almost cooked through, turning them with tongs (they will cook additionally when you add the marinara at the end). Remove the shrimp from the pan into a bowl, leaving the juices inside the skillet.
  4. In same skillet, add the marinara sauce ingredients, scraping any bits off of the bottom of skillet as you stir it together. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Add shrimp to the skillet and remove the heat. Serve over pasta and topped with Parmesan cheese (optional) and chopped basil.


*If you can’t find fire roasted tomatoes, use the best quality tomatoes you can find. Taste the tomatoes before you start. If they taste bitter, you may need to simmer the sauce a little longer than the stated timing. Fire roasted tomatoes taste sweet right out of the can so they can simmer less time, whereas other brands taste bitter and need longer to simmer.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Gretchen A says:

    Simple and delicious! Added some red pepper flakes and used minced garlic (no basil- didn’t have any). Our plates were very clean at the end of dinner.

  2. Ana C says:

    I made step 1 using fresh shrimp. I didn’t have dried basil and used a generous amount of Italian seasoning. Instead of making Marinara sauce I used half a large bottle of Rao’s marinara sauce. I added garlic and crushed red pepper to it. I added back the Shrimp. It was so good. So easy. Will definitely be making this again modified.

  3. Karen Perlman says:

    Tried your shrimp marinara recipe and it came out fabulous! I loved it and will definitely make it again. This was my first exposure to your sight and I look forward to many more of your yummy recipes. I have to admit that I cheated a little today and used a jar of sweet Basil marinara because I just did not feel like fussing. Still delicious and of course, I doctored it up. Thank you for sharing. Karen

  4. Diane D says:

    When do you add the dried basil and kosher salt listed under for the pasta and shrimp?

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Recipe updated for this omission — thank you!

  5. Diane says:

    Can this dish be frozen? Loved it the first time I made it and ate it immediately. Now thinking of freezing. Wondering if that will work? Thanks!

  6. Ed Stroman says:

    I tried this with rice instead of a pasta.
    Tasted great.

  7. Paola Guerrin says:

    Bravi. Davvero una bella ricetta ben realizzata. E foto stupende.

  8. Diane says:

    Can this be made ahead of time, say a day in advance?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Yes, you can refrigerate and reheat on stovetop. However, the shrimp flavor and texture is best the day of!

    2. Anthony Terry says:

      This is the meal I grew up with every Christmas Eve. My method us to peel the shrimp first and use the shells to make a shrimp stock. Just put them in a mesh bag or cheese cloth and boil them in salted water for 20 minutes. Then add this water to the tomatoes to really instill that great shrimp flavor and aroma. To me, it is the smell of Christmas.

  9. Ed H says:

    Made this last night per the recipe however I did add a couple cloves of garlic to the shrimp while cooking them. Came out great! Everyone including my 4 year old grandson cleaned their plate. If cooking for a adults, I might add a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes next time. Definitely a keeper!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Glad you enjoyed! I like the idea of red pepper flakes too :)