Easy to make and a total showstopper, this Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta is perfect for entertaining and at-home date nights. It’s also great for weeknight family dinners because it’s quick to make! Perfectly cooked al dente pasta tossed with flavorful garlic butter and a hint of lemon complements the shrimp. I added some chopped spinach for extra veggies and some parsley for fresh flavor. This dish is made with gluten-free pasta, but you can use your favorite pasta here, and there are two dairy-free options as well.
Please pass me a large bowl of shrimp pasta! This dish is so easy and elegant, I love making it for company, and everyone loves it. It’s both comfort food and light at the same time, with fresh flavors and savory garlic butter.
This pasta with shrimp is also the ultimate at-home date night recipe because you can make it quickly. Seafood tends to make a good impression on any number of occasions. However, I love seafood, but Tyler doesn’t.
So, I don’t add the shrimp to the pasta when I make this for the 2 of us. I cook the shrimp with some extra butter on the side and chicken in another pan.
Then, I serve the garlic butter pasta with the different proteins for each of us. This is a great option in case you have anyone at the table who is not crazy about seafood.
Watch how to make Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Pasta – use noodle shapes like tagliatelle, fettuccini, linguine, spaghetti, angel hair, or pappardelle. Those shapes work best in this recipe, but you can also use bowties, fusilli, or penne. I like to use Jovial tagliatelle in this recipe, but spaghetti is easy to find and shrimp spaghetti is a good way to go too.
- Shrimp – frozen, thawed & drained, or fresh and peeled- works here. Just go for whatever is the best quality and the best buy; frozen is often the best option available!
- Butter – olive oil, dairy-free/vegan butter all work here. For garlic butter, I like butter the best, of course, but olive oil is very good as well.
- Garlic – two cloves give you a nice garlic flavor without overwhelming the shrimp, but feel free to customize the amount to your taste.
- Italian Seasoning – adds a lot of flavor here in a subtle way that works well with the shrimp, again without being overwhelming and with a good amount of shrimp flavor coming through.
- Red Pepper Flakes – add a bit of warmth, but if you like heat, feel free to add more.
- Lemon – both the zest and freshly squeezed juice add a lot of fresh flavor and pair well with the seafood.
- Spinach – fresh spinach adds color and an extra veggie to the mix while keeping this a comfort food kind of meal without being too heavy. I wouldn’t use kale in this recipe because it’s too tough for the short cooking time. Arugula works well tossed in right at the end of the cooking time.
- Parsley – adds fresh flavor along with the lemon, but basil works well here too.
How to make this Shrimp Pasta recipe step by step
Step 2: Melt the butter over low heat while cooking pasta and briefly cook the garlic. You want the garlic to be fragrant, but don’t let it brown. When the pasta is almost finished, spinach, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning.
Step 3: When the pasta is al dente, reserve some cooking water and drain the pasta.
Step 4: When the pasta is almost done, add the shrimp to the garlic butter mixture and cook until almost done.
Step 5: Add the cooked pasta to the almost-done shrimp. Toss the lemon juice, sea salt, pepper, and enough cooking water to coat the pasta and finish cooking the shrimp. Serve immediately!
Ways to serve this
- Serve with extra lemon wedges for a squeeze of lemon over the top and chopped parsley for fresh flavor. Add freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired. Parmesan is the perfect partner to pasta with shrimp.
- Add a simple veggie side dish like my Perfect Roasted Asparagus, Best Roasted Broccoli, or Garlic Roasted Carrots.
- Or try a side salad instead with my Caesar Salad (made without the chicken), my Strawberry Mango Spinach Salad for spring into summer, or this Citrus Spinach Salad for the winter months.
- Try my Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp, Gluten Free Apple Crisp, or my no-bake Healthy Chocolate Tart for dessert options.
Yes, but be careful not to overcook it. However, I would avoid using pre-cooked shrimp altogether if possible because I find it too rubbery even before you heat it up.
Yes! Any noodle shape like spaghetti, linguine, tagliatelle, pappardelle, or fettuccini work great, but shapes like bowties and penne also work.
Olive oil works well here and brings a nice flavor, or you can use your favorite dairy-free/vegan butter instead of regular butter.
- To store – this pasta is best eaten right away because shrimp doesn’t keep well, but you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days.
- Reheat – add the leftovers to a pan and reheat gently with a tablespoon or 2 of water until heated. The shrimp will get a bit overcooked when you reheat this dish.
- To freeze – this dish doesn’t freeze well, both the shrimp and pasta will be mushy so I don’t recommend it.
Tips & Tricks
- Mix it up with different pasta shapes; pretty much anything works here. I prefer the noodle shapes like fettuccini, linguine, and spaghetti, but bowties, penne, and fusilli work too.
- Try using fresh or homemade pasta from the store for an extra special dish.
- Try using basil in the summer when it’s abundant; it has the perfect flavor for this dish!
- If you forget to reserve some cooking water to make a sauce for the pasta, you can use chicken broth or water instead.
Dietary Options & Substitutions
- Dairy-free – my #1 recommendation for dairy-free options in this recipe would be to use a good quality, fruity extra virgin olive oil. You can also use your favorite dairy-free butter, but I prefer olive oil’s flavor. Choose whichever sounds the best to you!
I really hope you enjoy this lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta! If you do get a chance to make this recipe, please leave a rating below, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta
- 9 ounces pasta - see notes, you can also use 1/2 pound or 8 ounces
- 6 tbsp salted butter - olive oil, or vegan butter
- 2 cloves garlic - minced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tbsp lemon zest - from 1 lemon
- 2 cups roughly chopped baby spinach
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley - or basil
- 1 pound peeled shrimp - thawed and drained if frozen
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp sea salt - more or less to taste
- 2 cups reserved pasta cooking water
- Optional: grated parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Salt the pasta water well with 1-2 tablespoons of salt and cook the pasta. It will take 8-10 minutes depending on the shape used.
- While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat. Then add the garlic and cook until just fragrant, 30-60 seconds. You want the garlic to be fragrant and not browned.
- Turn up the stove to medium high heat and add the red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, lemon zest, and spinach. Cook just until beginning to wilt, about 1 minute.
- Then add then add the shrimp only if the pasta is almost ready. You can take the spinach mixture off the heat to wait for the pasta if necessary.
- When the pasta is al dente, reserve 2 cups cooking water, then drain and add it to the pan with the spinach shrimp mixture.
- Add the parsley, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper, and toss together with just enough reserved cooking water to coat the pasta as a light sauce, and finish cooking the shrimp.
- Serve immediately.
This recipe was originally published in 2022 and updated in 2024 with new photos, more tips, & a new video.