Recipe: Spaghetti with Shrimp and Garlic (video)

This quick and easy recipe for spaghetti with shrimp and garlic is one of my go-to favorites for a fast, delicious school night dinner or light summer supper. The simple ingredients are spaghetti, (frozen) shrimp, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, butter, lemon juice and zest and fresh parsley. The key to this recipe is to use fresh herbs, real lemon and not to cook the just want to warm the shrimp and blend the flavors. I keep several bags of frozen cooked and peeled shrimp in my freezer just for this dish. They cost a bit more than uncooked but they save a lot of prep time. (see video below for using fresh shrimp!)

Pasta101 Cookbook photo

This recipe is featured in the cookbook: "Pasta 101 - 12 Easy Pasta
Recipes You Can Make in Under 30 Minutes."


Bowl of spaghetti with shrimp and garlic
Spaghetti with shrimp and garlic is one of the simplest and most delicious seafood recipes you can make. It's quick and easy yet elegant and festive at the same time. An easy seafood pasta recipe, this one works well with any long, thin pasta such as spaghetti (shown here), linguini, tagliatelle or angel hair.

This version takes advantage of the pre-cooked and peeled shrimp that you can find in the frozen seafood section of your local grocery store. A quick note: you'll find that the shells on the ends of the shrimp are still on as many people use this size shrimp for shrimp cocktail. I remove the tail shell myself as I find it much easier to eat the dish that way. It adds a bit of prep time but not much. You can leave them on if you prefer. Kids love being able to pick up the shrimp with their fingers. You can also use smaller shrimp.

Plan to make only as much as you need for the meal. If you won't be making the full recipe, take out just the shrimp you need and keep the remainder frozen for another time. This recipe doesn't reheat very well and the shrimp should not be refrozen. With that said, it's a rare thing in my household to ever have any leftover of this popular pasta recipe!

If you want to use fresh, raw shrimp, here is a great video for preparing it. Chef Gino serves his over toast but it would be wonderful over hot pasta. Try the recipe with mint, basil or scallops for a bit of variety. Find what works for you!

Recipe: Spaghetti with Shrimp and Garlic (frozen shrimp)

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

Recipe: Spaghetti with Shrimp and Garlic (frozen shrimp)

A fast, fresh and light seafood dinner that even the kids will like! Adjust the garlic to your taste and be sure to use fresh, flat-leaf Italian parsley (or cilantro) and real lemon. Can be made with any kind of long, thin pasta such as spaghetti (show here), fettucini, tagliatelle, or linguini. A crisp, dry white wine, fresh bread and garden salad make it a meal.


  • 1 lb. (16 oz.) pkg. dried spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1 (24 oz.) package frozen, cooked and peeled large shrimp (35-45 pieces)
  • 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 stick salted butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (more to taste)
  • Large handful FRESH flat-leaf Italian parsley, rinsed, dried and rough chopped
  • 1-2 tbs. FRESH lemon juice (1/2 a lemon)
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
  • 1 tbs. table salt for pasta water
  • Kosher salt or sea salt to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste


  1. Place the frozen shrimp in a colander in the sink and run lukewarm water over them until thawed, about 10-15 minutes. (Don't leave them in a bowl of water, the water should be moving).
  2. Once the shrimp are thawed, remove the tails (optional). Do this under running water to make it easier. Place the clean shrimp on paper towels to dry.
  3. Put the pasta water on to boil. Use 4 quarts/liters of water in a deep pot for a pound of pasta. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add a heaping tablespoon of table salt and then add the pasta. Bring the water back up to a boil and stir the pasta occasionally to prevent sticking. Follow the cooking time on the package but test for doneness about a minute before the time is up. The pasta should be just al dente (firm to the bite). It will continue to cook a bit once combined with the shrimp so be careful not to overcook it! Reserve a half cup of the starchy pasta water for later.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot (but not smoking) add the minced garlic and stir until fragrant, about a minute. Don't allow the garlic to burn or it will turn bitter. Add the butter, most of the fresh parsley, the lemon juice, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Be careful with the salt as the shrimp can be salty and the recipe uses salted butter. Stir until the butter is melted and the sauce is warm, about a minute. Add the shrimp and toss gently until they are evenly coated, about 10 seconds. Immediately reduce the heat to low. You just want the flavors to blend and the shrimp to warm. You do NOT want to cook the shrimp. If your pasta will take a while, just take the shrimp pan off the heat and let it sit. The flavors will continue to blend.
  5. Drain the pasta and add the hot pasta directly to the shrimp pan. Toss gently. Add a splash of the pasta water to smooth out the dish as necessary. Add the remainder of the fresh parsley and serve immediately.


This is a quick and easy pasta recipe that you can throw together on a school night or for a lazy Sunday meal. Reheat leftovers in a medium pan over low heat. Stir gently until warm. Do not overcook. Do not refreeze the shrimp.

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