Creamy Shrimp Pasta

Creamy Shrimp Pasta

This shrimp pasta 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

With one bite, you’ll add this to your weekly dinner rotation. You’ll want to bookmark this recipe: Creamy Shrimp Pasta! It’s ultra classic: juicy, savory shrimp and al dente pasta swimming in a creamy sauce. Because we love options, we’ve provide two sauce ideas: 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 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 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!

The type of 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. Wild caught is the most sustainable option! If you live in the US, try to find US-raised: it’s also typically more sustainable. (Read more here.)
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 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 onn 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 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:

This shrimp pasta recipe is…


Shrimp pasta

Creamy Shrimp Pasta

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

5 from 5 reviews

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


This shrimp pasta 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
  • 1/2 teaspoon each smoked paprika, garlic powder and onion powder
  • 1/2 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

Keywords: Shrimp pasta, Easy shrimp pasta, How to make shrimp pasta, Cream sauce, White wine sauce

More easy shrimp 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:

  • Shrimp Pesto Pasta An impressively fast and easy dinner recipe! Cover the noodles in glistening green basil pesto for a meal that pleases everyone.
  • Easy Pesto Shrimp Or go without the noodles! Serve with pasta or rice for an easy dinner idea.
  • Grilled Shrimp Skewers The shrimp seasoning brings in just the right touch of savory and smoky.
  • Shrimp Fried Rice Here’s how to make the best shrimp fried rice that tastes just like takeout!
  • Shrimp Curry Tastes better than a restaurant in under 30 minutes! It’s a Thai red curry flavored with coconut milk and curry paste.

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

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