The key to the best shrimp scampi recipe is the parmesan garlic white wine butter sauce! Shrimp Scampi is an easy dinner to make and perfect with pasta or just by itself with some good homemade bread!
But I must say, I’ve ordered this dish at restaurants at least 100 times and MOST of the time I’ve been disappointed. So, we embarked on making one that was exactly what we wanted – but could be made at home and be absolutely satisfying.
What is in Shrimp Scampi?
I can’t even tell you how much I love shrimp, and the rest of the ingredients in this dish are all very close seconds! I’d eat this for breakfast, just saying. This is so easy as well, and if you are game to make homemade pasta – it’s 10 times better!
Check out our homemade pasta recipe if you want to level up your dinner game, otherwise, some store-bought pasta or crusty bread is all you need to make this dish a winner! This is really an easy weeknight dinner that can be made most nights, especially if you opt for store-bought pasta.
Key Ingredients – Shrimp, White Wine, Garlic, Butter, and Parmesan
The first key to this is to get shrimp with shells ON. It seems like most shrimp in supermarkets now are sold “peeled and deveined,” which is great and convenient in many ways, but steals the flavor from this dish (and many other dishes). If this is not possible, don’t despair, this is still going to work for you and will taste wonderful…just a bit less than if you got the shrimp with shells!
The second key to the lock of perfect shrimp scampi is twofold – quality white wine and quality parmesan cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano ideally). Buy wine that you like to drink – that fits your tastebuds. We prefer Italian Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc from either New Zealand or California (they are really different so you choose) since they work well with this recipe and we can drink a glass while we cook or with dinner. No bottle goes to waste around here!
Lets’s talk about the parmesan. Get real Parmigiano-Reggiano, not some triangle shaped thing in the cheese section labeled “parmesan cheese,” please, we beg you! The cost is definitely noticeable, but the taste is noticeable x10! It’s worth it, trust us on this.
Cooking Shrimp Scampi
Overcooking shrimp, under seasoning and shitty ingredients are the demises to the shrimp scampi dishes I’ve ordered at restaurants. So, it makes sense that doing this at home would mean you wouldn’t make any of these mistakes, right? You’ll be fully rewarded if you stick to this recipe and serve over some amazing homemade pasta.
To make the sauce….
Remember how we said that the shells are an important part of this, well, you still want to remove them from the shrimp before beginning the recipe. The shrimp shells will reduce with the white wine before you cook the shrimp to get all that delicious flavor, then they will be strained and discarded. So, start by removing the shells and setting them aside.
If you are a master at peeling shrimp already, you can skip the next few paragraphs.
Prepare the Shrimp
If you have never removed shells from shrimp before, it’s really quite simply. Start at the tail and gently pinch it and move it from side to side. You should feel a slight snap which is the sound of the tail loosening from the rest of the shell. Then, peel starting close to the tail and on the underside where the legs are and separate the shall from the body.
We choose to leave the tails in tact in this recipe, but you can also remove these if you want.
Next you want to devein the shrimp.
You can buy a deveining tool if you want, but we typically use a pairing knife to make a small cut along the back of the shrimp, then just grab the vein and remove it. Discard the vein, and place the shrimp aside on a plate while you prepare the rest of the shrimp.
This is probably the hardest part of this recipe, so if you can get through it, honestly, you can do anything.
Reduce the Wine with Shrimp Shells
Next you want to prepare the wine base for the sauce. We call this blog Cooking with Wine for a very good reason! Mainly because adding wine to sauces is always fantastic, so don’t skip this step and don’t replace the wine in this dish if you want something delicious!
This step will require that you add the wine and shrimp shells to a skillet over medium-high heat and reduce by about 1/3. This will concentrate the flavors of both the wine and shrimp shells.
Once the wine is reduced, strain into a bowl or glass measuring cup and set aside. You can discard the shrimp shells at this point.
Complete the Sauce
Now the magic happens! You can use the same skillet that you used to reduce the wine, but you will need one large enough so that all the shrimp can lay on their side without too much crowding. So you are looking for a fairly large skillet if you are making the 1.5 lbs of shrimp that the recipe calls for.
This next step only takes a few minutes, so stop recording your cooking stories on Insta and pay attention to your pan!
Add your butter and extra virgin olive oil to the skillet over medium heat until the bubbling just begins to subside. You are not trying to brown your butter or anything here. If your stove or range runs pretty hot, you can turn it down slightly.
Next add your minced garlic to the pan for about 30 seconds. Again, you do not want the pan to be too hot. If the garlic begins to brown after 15 seconds, your pan is too hot! Remove the pan from the heat for about 20-30 seconds then return to the heat and continue with the next step.
The rest is easy!
Add the reduced wine, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and stir it all together. Now take a moment to stop and smell the roses! For real, lean forward and smell the amazing aromas of this sauce. Isn’t it lovely??
Cook the Shrimp
The final step in this dish is to cook the shrimp!
You want to add your shrimp on their sides to the pan over medium heat. Let them lay their and bask in this beautiful pool of deliciousness for about 2-4 minutes a side. The time here depends on how big your shrimp are. Small to medium shrimp will only need about 2 minutes per side and larger shrimp may need about 4 minutes per side.
For this dish, you want to cook the shrimp slowly and evenly so they stay nice and tender. Once the shrimp curl a bit and look pink and feel somewhat firm, you are good to go!
If you are worried about undercooking the shrimp, you can always remove one from the skillet when you think they are ready and cut it in half to check for doneness. The shrimp should be pink throughout and not translucent.
To finish this dish, add the parsley and lemon juice and stir to combine the flavors. Remove to a serving dish then add the parmesan right over the top! You can also add extra parsley for garnish if you want to be fancy.
We hope you enjoy this shrimp scampi recipe as much as we do! If you give it a try, leave us a comment and rate the recipe below! Or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine.
If you like this recipe, check out more of our popular recipes below:
- Perfectly Seared Scallops
- Crunchy Chicken with White Wine Lemon Butter Sauce
- Easy Homemade Creamy Clam Chowder
- Seared Ahi with Ponzu Sauce
- Parmesan Herb Asparagus with Prosciutto and Pine Nuts