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This shrimp pasta recipe is easy to make with the best big flavors: garlic, lemon, and Parmesan. It’s a home run dinner idea that’s always a hit!

Shrimp pasta
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With one bite, you’ll add this to your weekly dinner rotation. You’ll want to bookmark this recipe: Creamy Shrimp Pasta recipe! It’s ultra classic: juicy, savory shrimp and al dente pasta swimming in a creamy sauce. Because we love options, we’ve got two sauce ideas for you: a white wine sauce, bursting with tangy flavor. Or try our easy cream sauce, a creamy Parmesan sauce that’s actually made with no cream at all. Mix the components together and wow! The flavor is restaurant style good, but you can make it in about 30 minutes. Dinner time win.

How to make shrimp pasta (basic method)

This shrimp pasta recipe is one of those basic recipes like avocado toast or Caesar salad that are popular because they are just that good. The flavors are like perfect dance partners: savory shrimp, creamy Parmesan, tangy lemon (or white wine), and of course…garlic. This recipe is easy to make, but you’ll have to balance making three components at once: shrimp, noodles, and sauce. Here’s what you need to do at the same time:

  • Make perfectly al dente pasta: Start the pasta pot to boil before making the other two components. Bucatini is our favorite noodle here; it’s like a hollow spaghetti. See below for more!
  • Saute the shrimp: This takes just 3 to 4 minutes in a hot skillet. You’ll just need to make sure your shrimp is thawed, if you’re using frozen (see below).
  • Make the sauce: Once the shrimp is done, make that sauce and you’re good to go! Pick from one of the two sauces below. While you’re making it, finish and drain those noodles. Then mix it all together! Done and done.
Shrimp pasta

Option 1: White wine sauce

This shrimp pasta recipe is excellent with our simple white wine sauce! It’s one of our favorite ways to serve it. Here’s what to know about this option:

  • This sauce is lightly creamy with a tangy, wine-forward flavor. The flavor is bright and fairly wine forward. But our 3 year old Larson loves it so it’s kid friendly too.
  • It uses heavy cream, but you can sub milk if desired. If you prefer not using heavy cream (it’s not a standard in our pantry!), you can use milk.
  • It does have trace amounts of alcohol (0.8 ounces per serving). We felt comfortable serving this pasta to our 3 year old. But you should do only what you’re comfortable with! If you prefer, keep reading and make the Cream Sauce…
Parmesan cream sauce

Option 2: Parmesan cream sauce

The other option is our easy Parmesan cream sauce! Here’s what to know about this sauce option:

  • This sauce is very creamy, with a thicker texture than the wine sauce. It’s a little closer to an alfredo sauce.
  • It requires a little more attention when making it. For this sauce, you’ll make a roux where you’ll cook flour and butter as a thickener. It’s a little touchier than the white wine sauce. Make sure to read the directions carefully before you start.
  • You’ll need to add a splash of milk when you add it to the noodles. It’s stickier and creamier than the wine sauce. Add a splash or two of milk when you add it to the noodles and stir until you get the right creamy consistency.

Which do we like better? We love them both! When we’re feeling fancy we like the white wine sauce. When we’re feeling like a creamy, cozy pasta we go for the cream sauce. Let us know which you prefer!

Best shrimp for shrimp pasta

What’s the best type of shrimp to buy for shrimp pasta? There are so many options when you get to the store. (In fact, we often accidentally grab the wrong variety!) Here’s what we recommend for this recipe:

  • Large or medium shrimp. We like the look with large, but you can get away with medium, too!
  • Tail on or off. Tail on shrimp looks beautiful, but it does make for messy fingers when you’re eating it. Tail off can be more practical.
  • Fresh or frozen. Either works! Frozen can taste just as fresh if it’s flash frozen right after cooking. Make sure to thaw it the night before, or use this defrosting method for thawing day of.
  • Wild caught preferred. Fish that is wild caught in your country is usually a sustainable choice. There are also quality options in well-regulated farms; see Seafood Watch Consumer Guide.
Shrimp pasta

Tips for how to cook pasta to al dente

The shrimp and sauce are important in this recipe…but the noodles are extremely important too! You absolutely must cook the noodles to al dente for this shrimp pasta recipe to be the best it can be. Al dente means “to the bite” in Italian. The ideal al dente texture is a tender exterior balanced by a firm bite with a fleck of white at its core. Here are our tips on how to cook pasta to al dente:

  • Taste often. Do not trust the package instructions! While cooking, check pasta continually for doneness.
  • Look for a small white fleck. As soon as the pasta has a tender exterior but a fleck of white at its core, drain it! Even a few seconds can be the difference between al dente and limp noodles.
Shrimp pasta

What to serve with shrimp pasta

There’s not much you need to add to this shrimp pasta recipe to make it a healthy dinner! Toss together a simple salad and you’re good to go. But if you’re entertaining, you can get a little fancier too. Here are a variety of options we’d pair to make it a complete meal:

More shrimp pasta recipes

Love shrimp? It’s always a hit in our house, even (and especially) with kids. Here are some other great shrimp dinner ideas and healthy shrimp recipes:

This shrimp pasta recipe is…


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Shrimp pasta

Creamy Shrimp Pasta

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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


This shrimp pasta recipe is easy to make with the best big flavors: garlic, lemon, and Parmesan. It’s a home run dinner idea that’s always a hit!


  • 1 pound large shrimp, deveined (tail on or off, wild caught preferred)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon each smoked paprika, garlic powder and onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 recipe White Wine Sauce or Parmesan Cream Sauce
  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • Finely chopped Italian parsley, to garnish
  • Lemon wedges, to garnish


  1. If frozen, thaw the shrimp.
  2. Cook the pasta: Start a pot of well salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is just 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; usually around 7 to 8 minutes. Drain the pasta. (If it finishes before the sauce, add it back to the pot with a drizzle of olive oil so it doesn’t stick.)
  3. Cook the shrimp: Pat the shrimp dry. In a medium bowl, mix the shrimp with the spices. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Cook the shrimp for 1 to 2 minutes per side until opaque and cooked through, turning them with tongs. Set them aside.
  4. Make the sauce: Wipe out the skillet. In the same skillet make the White Wine Sauce or Parmesan Cream Sauce (takes about 10 minutes).
  5. Serve: When the sauce is done, add the noodles to the skillet with the sauce. (For the Cream Sauce only, add a splash or two of milk to loosen the sauce and come to just the right creamy consistency.) Then add the shrimp and toss until it’s warmed through. Taste and a few more pinches of salt, if necessary. Remove from the heat. Garnish with finely chopped parsley and lemon wedges. Serve immediately.
  • 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. EJ says:

    It’s interesting that you do not list the sodium content in your recipes nutritional data section. Is there a reason for this omission?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      We know many people watch their sodium intake closely, so to be extra careful, we don’t include sodium in our recipe information. This is because ingredients like canned tomatoes and cheese can vary in their sodium content, and we wouldn’t want to give you inaccurate info!

      If you want, you can still get an estimated sodium breakdown! Just pop the recipe into this handy website:

      This way you can check with your own ingredients. Thank you for reading!

  2. Donna Diehl says:

    Made the recipe with the wine sauce. It was easy and delicious. My husband said, “this recipe is a keeper.”

  3. subish says:

    nice presentation with amazing photos. it is good that you made simple clear and precise

  4. Chris David says:

    I loved this recipe so much . It’s really awesome