This 20 minute garlic butter shrimp pasta is a spin-off of my favorite sautéed lemon garlic butter shrimp. This is a very lightly dressed pasta recipe, being that it's just the lemon garlic butter (from the sautéed shrimp), mixed with fresh spinach and grated parmesan cheese. If you like light pasta dishes and garlic butter shrimp, this one is for you.
Why This Works
This easy pasta recipe comes together in 20 minutes flat and uses simple ingredients.
It's a quick pasta dish, great for an easy weeknight dinner when things get busy. Not to mention, this easy garlic shrimp pasta has the perfect balance of sautéed garlic butter shrimp, fresh spinach, grated parmesan, and angel hair pasta.
Pasta: I recommend using angel hair pasta for this garlic butter shrimp pasta recipe. The thin pasta cooks quickly and the thin pasta absorbs the light garlic butter sauce.
Pasta sauce: The light pasta sauce is a mixture of the lemon garlic butter (from the shrimp), fresh spinach, and grated parmesan cheese.
Shrimp: The main part of this recipe is basically making sautéed lemon garlic butter shrimp (see ingredients below). I recommend using fresh shrimp (not previously cooked). Use raw shrimp or previously frozen shrimp. I prefer large shrimp that's peeled and deveined for this recipe.
Tasty garlic butter sauce: Use high-quality extra virgin olive oil, salted butter, garlic cloves, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
See the recipe card at the end of the post for quantities.
How To Make Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta
The key to making this lemon garlic shrimp pasta dish quickly is to boil the pasta while the shrimp cooks.
1. Boil the Pasta
Boil a large pot of water with salt. Add the angel hair pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente while preparing the shrimp.
Once the pasta has finished cooking (about 5 to 7 minutes), remove 1 cup of the pasta water (to use in the sauce). Drain the angel hair pasta using a strainer and set aside.
2. Prepare the Garlic Butter Shrimp
Peel, devein, and pat dry the shrimp with paper towels.
Add fresh garlic cloves and salt.
Mash the garlic and salt together using a mortar and pestle. Alternatively, use a garlic press or finely mince the garlic with a chef's knife.
In a large skillet, add the olive oil and butter on medium high heat.
Add the shrimp in a single layer. Season with salt and black pepper.
Once the shrimp start to turn pink (after about 1 to 2 minutes), move the shrimp aside to add the mashed garlic. Flip the shrimp over one by one so the other side of the shrimp can cook.
Squeeze the lemon on the shrimp.
Cover the skillet with a lid for 2 to 3 minutes for the shrimp to cook through. Add some freshly chopped parsley on top.
3. Make the Shrimp Pasta
Remove the shrimp from the skillet, keeping the garlic lemon butter in the pan. Add the fresh spinach and 1 cup of pasta water (the water the pasta was cooked in). Alternatively, use water or chicken broth.
Cook until the spinach wilts.
Add the cooked angel hair pasta
Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional).
Optional: Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and the juice from another lemon.
Add the sauteed shrimp.
Mix the pasta, shrimp, and freshly grated cheese together. Add some chopped fresh herbs. Serve hot with some crusty bread.
Tips and Tricks
- Kerrygold butter: This butter is very flavorful, bringing out the garlic butter sauce.
- Use fresh garlic and freshly squeezed lemons. I'm a big fan of using fresh garlic and freshly squeezed lemon juice for the garlic butter sauce since it's the main part of this dish.
- High quality jumbo shrimp (or prawns): I don't recommend using small shrimp for this recipe because they have the habit of turning a little too rubbery if overcooked.
Variations and Substitutions
- Substitute prawns for shrimp: Prawns are actually different from shrimp, but they are similar in taste. Prawns remind me of a mix between lobster and shrimp.
- Add some chili flakes, chili powder, or freshly chopped pepper for spice: This dish is excellent with a little zing to it.
- Add a heavier sauce: If you like a heavy sauce on your pasta, it's perfectly fine to add a béchamel pasta sauce, fettuccine sauce, or cream sauce.
- Use a different kind of pasta.
- Add a splash of dry white wine to the buttery garlic sauce as the shrimp cooks.
- Mortar and pestle for mashing the garlic (or a garlic press)
- Large nonstick skillet with a lid
- Large stovetop pot (for boiling the pasta)
- Strainer (for straining the pasta from the water)
This garlic butter shrimp pasta is good for about 2 days in the fridge. I don't recommend freezing it.
Make sure the shrimp is fully cooked through prior to serving. Shrimp is easy to tell if it's cooked through (by its color). The shrimp should not be translucent and should be fully pink.
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Sautéed Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta Recipe
- 1½ lbs Jumbo or large shrimp 680 grams
- 16 ounces package of angel hair pasta
- 5 to 6 cloves are garlic
- 2 tablespoon of butter
- 2 tablespoon olive oil may add more to the pasta if desired
- ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup of fresh spinach leaves
- the juice from 2 lemons
- salt and pepper to taste
Make the Pasta
- In a large stovetop pot, fill with water. Bring to a boil. Add the angel hair pasta.
- Cook the angel hair pasta until tender (about 5 to 7 minutes).
- Remove a cup of water from the pasta water and set it aside.
- Drain the pasta using a strainer.
Make the Garlic Butter Shrimp
- Peel, devein, and pat dry the shrimp.
- Mash the garlic with some salt using a mortar and pestle. Alternatively, use a garlic press or finely mince the garlic using a chefs knife.
- In a nonstick skillet on high heat, add the olive oil and butter. Place the shrimp in a single layer on the nonstick skillet. Once the shrimp starts to turn pink (after 1 to 2 minutes), move the shrimp over a little bit and add the mashed garlic to the pan.
- Flip each shrimp over to the other side. Squeeze the lemon juice over the shrimp. Cover the nonstick skillet to cook through for 2 to 3 minutes.
Make Shrimp Pasta
- Remove the shrimp from the skillet. There should be a generous amount of lemon garlic butter in the pan still. On medium heat, add the fresh spinach and 1 cup of the pasta water. Cover and cook for about 1 minute until the spinach has wilted.
- Add the cooked angel hair pasta, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and cooked garlic butter shrimp.
- Mix everything together well. Add some chopped parsley to garnish.
- Substitute prawns for large shrimp.
- Use fresh garlic cloves and freshly squeezed lemons for the lemon garlic butter sauce.