Cream-Free Shrimp Alfredo

Prep Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
40 mins

There's no cream in this take on alfredo, but the end result is just as rich and silky as its heavier versions—and arguably makes a better final dish since ingredients like cream tend to mask delicate flavors like seafood. So how did we manage to create a creamy (yet cream-less) alfredo? By slowly whisking in butter, cheese, and egg yolk into starchy pasta water, the mixture emulsifies into a sauce that—once tossed with the shrimp, fettuccine, and peas—is guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser.


  • 12 ounces fettuccine

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • ¾ cup frozen peas (unthawed)

  • 1 pound medium shrimp (26 to 30), peeled and deveined

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (¾ cup), plus more for serving


  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of generously salted boiling water until al dente, about 2 minutes less than package instructions. Add peas during last 15 seconds of cooking. Drain, reserving 2 1/2 cups pasta water and covering to keep warm.

  2. Meanwhile, season shrimp with salt and pepper. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp in a single layer and cook, flipping once, until golden brown in places and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

  3. In a bowl, slowly whisk 3/4 cup pasta water into egg yolk. Bring another 3/4 cup pasta water to a simmer in skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low until water is steaming hot but no longer simmering; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter until melted. Whisk in cheese, a little at a time, allowing each addition to dissolve before adding more, until smooth. Slowly whisk in yolk mixture.

  4. Add pasta and peas; increase heat to medium and cook, tossing a few times, until sauce thickens just enough to evenly coat pasta. Remove from heat; toss in shrimp and any accumulated juices. (If sauce has thickened too much, add more pasta water, a few tablespoons at a time.) Serve with more cheese and pepper.

    Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo recipe
    Chris Simpson
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