Home Healthy food Creamy Garlic Shrimp Pasta

Creamy Garlic Shrimp Pasta

by Contributing Author

This creamy garlic shrimp pasta not only tastes great with garlic butter parmesan, but it’s also quick and easy to make.

Simple and quick enough for a weeknight dinner, this creamy shrimp pasta is also restaurant-level.

Check out our recipes to see some hacks to lighten dishes that are usually thick and heavy with cream!

Type of shrimp used

The truth is that most of us end up dealing with frozen shrimp, not freshly caught shrimp. Even the shrimp on most butcher counters at the grocery store is frozen and thawed shrimp.

I like to use large shrimp for this recipe. Packages are labeled for 21-30 shrimp per pound. But practically any size shrimp can be used.

Toss shrimp with smoked paprika, salt and pepper.

Smoked paprika is the key to the delicious layers of flavor in this recipe. If you don’t have smoked paprika, you can use regular paprika, but I think it’s worth getting smoked paprika.

Raw shrimp with paprika in a glass bowl.

Cook shrimp in a single-layer skillet until nicely pink and cooked through.

It doesn’t take long! Shrimp cooks quickly, so don’t overheat.

It’s a good idea to do this in two batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.

Stir-fried shrimp with paprika and garlic in a frying pan.

How to make Creamy Garlic Butter Sauce

The first step in the creamy sauce is to heat the butter and garlic together until they are fragrant.

Then follow your heart and decide how you want the sauce to be creamed.

Options are:

  1. Fresh cream* is used. It’s thick, luxurious, rich, and non-gritty.
  2. A little milk + cornstarch. Light (both in texture and calories), creamy, simple and smooth.

I made this recipe with both options and honestly each variation is really, really delicious. I made it this way.

*Depending on the brand of fresh cream you have, You can also whip cream with cornstarch for a thicker sauce. You’ll notice that different brands of heavy cream vary considerably in thickness. Heavy creams labeled as 38-40% cream are very thick (this is usually the kind I buy at Costco). .

Pour milk into a frying pan with paprika and butter.

shimmer and toss

Cook the sauce over low heat for a few minutes until it thickens slightly. Then add the Parmesan cheese and whisk until the cheese melts.

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese is the best here. It melts much better than finely chopped Parmesan cheese.

Toss the pasta into the cream sauce using tongs.

Notes on Pasta

Useful timing tips: Boil the water for the pasta first, then move on to the shrimp and sauce. Take a break and throw in the pasta. Finish the other ingredients while the pasta is boiling.

The most important thing to remember about this recipe is that you need to set aside about 1 cup of pasta water before draining the pasta!

Each time I made this recipe, I ended up using a good portion of the pasta water I had set aside to loosen the sauce. Prevents stickiness.

Pasta with linguine cream sauce, boiled shrimp and fresh parsley.

The great advantage of this pasta is that it can be served quickly. The sauce for this dish is thin anyway, so the longer you let it sit, the less creamy it will be.

You can make sauced pasta with more sauce ingredients, but I found the amount of sauce in the recipe perfectly complemented the pasta and shrimp without being overpowering.

Interestingly, for light-on sauce pasta, I think leftovers are great, but that’s not always the case for leftover pasta.

Served slightly warm (or even served cold), the leftovers are more reminiscent of a pasta salad than a decadent pasta dish – and it works really well for me. Like: Hello, I’m Mel.

Twisted fork with shrimp in creamy linguine.

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Shrimp cooked in creamy linguine on a white plate.

creamy garlic shrimp pasta

Pasta + Shrimp:

  • 1 to 2 lb Peeled and deveined shrimp (remove tails if necessary) – see notes
  • 1 ½ tea spoon smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
  • salt and pepper
  • 12 ounce linguine or spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil


  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 3-4 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 ½ cup milk (not skim) or heavy cream (see note!)
  • 2 tea spoon cornstarch
  • ¼ tea spoon salt
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly chopped parmesan cheese
  • fresh chopped parsley (for garnish)
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese for serving
  • Dry the shrimp with a paper towel. In a medium bowl, place the shrimp with the smoked paprika and a pinch of salt and pepper.

  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook al dente according to package directions. Remove 1-2 cups of pasta water before draining and set aside for later. Boil the pasta.

  • while the pasta is boiling Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 12-inch skillet (or deep skillet) over medium heat until hot and rippling. Add half the shrimp in a single layer and cook for 30 to 45 seconds. Flip the shrimp and cook until the shrimp are pink and cooked through (it doesn’t take long!).

  • Using tongs, transfer shrimp to plate, keeping as much butter/liquid in pan as possible. Repeat with remaining shrimp – when done, transfer to a plate with other shrimp.

  • Return the skillet to medium heat and melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add garlic and cook, stirring often (do not burn!), until fragrant, about 30-45 seconds.

  • If using milk, whisk with cornstarch (see note below). Wait 1-2 minutes for it to thicken slightly.

  • Add salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Stir over medium heat until cheese melts.

  • Add the boiled noodles and stir while lifting with tongs to coat the pasta with the sauce. Add a spoonful of the reserved pasta water to loosen up the sauce and pasta (just by eye, you probably don’t need to add all the reserved water).

  • Add shrimp and mix with pasta. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired! Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

  • Consume immediately (for maximum creaminess). Serve with parmesan cheese if desired.

shrimp: You can use shrimp of any size. I prefer to use larger shrimp – the package says “21 to 30 shrimp per pound” – or so. If using frozen shrimp, thaw before serving. Please use. I prefer to use 2 pounds of shrimp for this recipe.
Cornstarch: If the recipe uses milk, use only cornstarch.
sauce: If you want a more saucy pasta, you can easily increase the ingredients in the sauce.
Parmesan cheese: Finely chopped Parmesan cheese will not dissolve in the sauce and can give the sauce a gritty/lumpy texture.
Nutrition Facts Table: Nutritional information for this recipe is calculated using low-fat milk instead of heavy cream. Also, please remember that the Nutrition Facts table is provided for convenience only and is an estimate only, not a guarantee.

Serving: 1 serving, calorie: 371kcal, carbohydrates: 41g, protein: twenty twog, obesity: 13g, saturated fat: 6g, cholesterol: 107mg, sodium: 659mg, fiber: 2g, sugar: Fourg

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Recipe source: From Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn commissions by linking to Amazon.com and affiliate sites. As an Amazon Associate, I earn income from qualifying purchases.

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