Master this recipe and two tasty variations to earn a spot at the captain's table.
shrimp scampi green bowl
Credit: Lennart Weibull

If you've only ordered shrimp scampi in restaurants, prepare to be shell-shocked. It's amazingly simple to make, and our recipe, which includes a quick, concentrated shrimp stock to intensify the sauce, guarantees jumbo flavor. Master the classic, then try your hand at the two tasty variations outlined here. To further inspire you to add this tasty dish to your dinner rotation, we're also outlining three delicious ways to serve shrimp scampi.

Shopping List

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
  • 1 clove garlic, plus 4 teaspoons minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (from 1 bunch)
shrimp stock skillet
Credit: Lennart Weibull

Prep the Stock

Making stock is not standard for scampi, but it enhances the taste of the seafood—and it only takes five minutes! Place shrimp shells and whole garlic clove in a small saucepan and add one cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, five minutes. Strain stock, discarding solids, and set aside.

Cook the Shrimp

In a bowl, toss shrimp with one teaspoon of minced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt; this gives them a rich flavor base. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add oil and shrimp; cook until they begin to curl. Turn and cook until just opaque, about two minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

skillet with sauce and butter
Credit: Lennart Weibull

Swirl the Sauce

Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining one tablespoon of garlic and red-pepper flakes to skillet; cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add wine, increase heat to high, and boil until reduced to about two tablespoons, two to three minutes. Add one cup of shrimp stock and the lemon juice; boil 30 seconds, then remove from heat. Stir in butter to form an emulsified sauce. Return shrimp to skillet; toss to coat. Season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice. Top with parsley.

How to Serve Shrimp Scampi

There's no one right way to enjoy your creation, but there are three delicious combinations we think are always winners. First, you can toss the finished shrimp with pasta. Cook eight ounces thin spaghetti until al dente. Reserve one cup of the pasta water, then drain. Before returning shrimp to skillet, stir in noodles, then the shrimp and the reserved cup of pasta water. Toss in another tablespoon of softened unsalted butter; season per step three, above.

If you want to pair your shrimp with something other than pasta, consider spooning it over polenta. Bring two cups each chicken stock and water to a boil, then whisk in one cup of instant polenta. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick, about seven minutes. Stir in one cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and two tablespoons unsalted butter; season with salt and pepper.

Last but not least, serve your shrimp with baked bread. Toss two cups coarsely torn rustic bread with two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Toast on baking sheet at 450°F until golden, about five minutes. Sprinkle over cooked shrimp and sauce in baking dish; bake five minutes more.

Scampi Riffs

While the classic preparation lends itself to several different serving methods, you can also whip up a dish that's a riff on traditional shrimp scampi. Whether you choose to add capers and tomatoes or mustard and thyme, make the tweaks below to the standard recipe for delicious results.

mustard thyme scampi riff
Credit: Lennart Weibull

Caper and Tomato

Add two teaspoons of drained capers, one cup of halved cherry tomatoes, and an additional one tablespoon olive oil when sautéing the garlic; cook an additional one to two minutes, then proceed with recipe.

caper tomato scampi riffs
Credit: Lennart Weibull

Mustard and Thyme

Replace the pepper flakes with two teaspoons of country-style Dijon mustard and one teaspoon of minced fresh thyme, and the wine with dry vermouth. Omit the parsley.

Recipe by Sarah Carey. Food styling by Greg Lofts. Prop styling by Sarah Vasil.

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
December 3, 2019
This definitely got a place at my captain's table.