Shrimp Alfredo

5 from 1 vote

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This shrimp and pasta alfredo hits all of the right notes — satisfying, creamy but not too heavy, comforting, and lush.

Wooden spoon stirring a pot of Shrimp Alfredo.

Shrimp alfredo with pasta is the very definition of indulgent comfort food, and it couldn’t be easier to make at home. This recipe is a very weeknight-friendly version, with the pasta cooking right into the sauce in one skillet! As Ina would say, “How easy is that?”

Alfredo sauces can be delicious and creamy, but sometimes they can feel a little one-note — rich without being exciting. Not this one! Red pepper flakes, scallions, Parmesan, and parsley give it interest and freshness. This restaurant-style dish is a little decadent, but not too heavy (you won’t feel like you need to take a nap after eating it). The sauce combines chicken broth with heavy cream, so it’s balanced and lightly creamy.

Serve this pasta dish with a green salad dressed with homemade Italian dressing or Cherry Tomato Antipasti Salad. And, if you like this recipe, you’ll want to try Fettuccine Alfredo and Chicken Alfredo as well.

Small bowl of Shrimp Alfredo topped with parsley.

This shrimp and pasta Alfredo hits all of the notes – satisfying, creamy but not too heavy, comforting, lush.

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Shrimp Alfredo Ingredients

  • Butter – Any Alfredo sauce worth its salt has a bit of butter in it!
  • Shrimp – You’ll want two pounds of shrimp for this recipe, which is quite heavy on the shrimp. Buy extra-large or jumbo (21/25 count).
  • Scallions – A generous amount of green onions really livens up this lush sauce. Use both the white and green parts, which will also add nice color to the dish.
  • Garlic – Not too much, but enough to give it all extra oomph.
  • Chicken broth – I prefer to use low-sodium broth, which prevents the sauce from getting too salty. You can, of course, add more salt to taste on your own; it’s better when the cook has more control over the salt in any recipe!
  • Dried pasta – In this recipe, I used penne rigate, which means that the pasta is ridged, and so holds onto the sauce better. You can also use a longer, thinner noodle, like linguine or fettuccine; just know that the cooking time will probably be a few minutes shorter. If you want to use a whole grain or gluten-free pasta, check the package cooking directions against the timing in the recipe and make any necessary adjustments.
  • Cream – You can use heavy cream (preferred) or light cream. Make sure to warm the cream in a microwave or in a small pot before adding it to the main pot so the pasta’s cooking time isn’t affected.
  • Freshly grated Parmesan – If you’re not grating it yourself, buy the Parmesan from a place that grates it on-site and that has a high turnover in their cheese department.
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley – This adds a fresh herby note and some nice color.
  • Red pepper flakes – I love the way crushed red pepper cuts through the richness of the sauce. I use red pepper flakes or some sort of spicy ingredient in almost all of my creamy dishes, and I think it keeps the flavor from getting too monotonous. Pass a little bowl of pepper flakes on the side and let folks decide if they want to add more to their portion.
Spoon with a scoop of Shrimp Alfredo.

How to Make Shrimp Alfredo Pasta

This is made in one skillet, but you will be creating the dish in a couple of stages.

  1. Sauté the shrimp: Cook the shrimp in batches, so that you can get a bit of color on the outside of the shrimp. After you finish that step, do NOT clean that pan. Those brown bits on the bottom of the pan are going to add flavor to the sauce. 
Sauteing shrimp in pan on the stove.
  1. Cook the aromatics and broth: Add the green onions and garlic to the pan and sauté over medium heat for just 1 minute, until you can smell the garlic. Turn the heat to high, add the chicken broth, and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen up all of those delicious, caramelized bits. 
  2. Cook the pasta: The pasta cooks right in the broth, and also with the cream towards the end. Make sure to warm the cream before you add it, so it doesn’t slow down the pasta cooking process. Then the shrimp gets added back in, along with some Parmesan, and lo and behold — fabulousness ensues.
  3. Serve: Don’t forget that sprinkle of fresh parsley at the end to brighten things up, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes if desired.
Woman seasoning a skillet of Shrimp Alfredo.

One-Pot Shrimp Alfredo Cooking Tips

  • You can buy shrimp peeled and deveined, or do that yourself, which usually saves you a few bucks. Frozen and defrosted shrimp are a great option.
  • Don’t overcook the shrimp during the initial sear, you want them to just get pink on the outside, not cook through.
  • Don’t clean the pan after cooking the shrimp. The bits stuck to the bottom of the pan (called the fond) will add great flavor to the dish.
  • Warming the cream before adding it to the pot will allow the pasta to continue cooking in the simmering liquid, and not slow down the cooking time. You can warm the cream in a measuring cup in the microwave, or in a pot over medium-low heat. Don’t allow the cream to come to a boil or it might curdle.
  • Fresh Parmesan really makes a difference in this dish! Pass extra on the side so people can give their dish a final sprinkle.

How to Reheat Leftover Shrimp Alfredo

It’s best to reheat pasta dishes made with cream (like Alfredo pastas) over low heat. You don’t want to let the pasta get too hot too quickly or the sauce might separate a bit (it will still be delicious, just not as smoothly creamy).

Leftover shrimp alfredo will keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days. Heat it in a pot over low heat, stirring frequently, or heat in the microwave in short 20-second bursts, stirring after each burst to help the pasta and shrimp heat through evenly. Stop as soon as the pasta and shrimp are warmed throughout.

What to Serve With Shrimp Alfredo

Two small bowls of Shrimp Alfredo on a wooden table.

More Shrimp and Pasta Recipes

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5 from 1 vote

Shrimp Alfredo

This shrimp and pasta alfredo hits all of the right notes — satisfying, creamy but not too heavy, comforting, and lush.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 People
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Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds extra-large or jumbo shrimp (21/25; peeled and deveined)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 cup minced scallions (white and green parts)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 cups chicken broth (preferably low-sodium)
  • 1 pound dried penne or ziti rigate
  • 1 ½ cups heavy (whipping) cream or half-and-half (warmed)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (plus more to serve)

Instructions 

  • Melt the butter in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, in batches (you don’t want to crowd the pan), season with salt and pepper, and sauté until just pink but not cooked through, about 1 minute on each side. Remove the shrimp and set aside on a plate.
  • Do not clean the pan! Those brown bits on the bottom of the pan are going to add flavor to the sauce. Add the green onions and garlic to the pan and sauté over medium heat for just 1 minute, until you can smell the garlic. Turn the heat to high, add the chicken broth, and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen up all of those delicious, caramelized bits. Bring to a simmer.
  • Add the pasta, stir well, and simmer, partially covered, until the pasta is almost cooked through, about 8 minutes (check package directions, and shave three minutes off the cooking time). Stir in the warm cream. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is almost tender, and most of the liquid has been absorbed, another two minutes. Stir in the partially cooked shrimp, 1 cup Parmesan, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste). Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 more minutes until the shrimp is cooked through, the pasta is tender, and everything is nicely blended. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
  • Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the parsley. Or serve it hot and sprinkled with parsley right from the pan. Pass extra Parmesan and red pepper flakes at the table.

Notes

  • Don’t overcook the shrimp during the initial sear, you just want them to get pink on the outside, not cook through.
  • Don’t clean the pan after cooking the shrimp. The bits stuck to the bottom of the pan (called the fond) will add great flavor to the dish.
  • Warming the cream before adding it to the pot will allow the pasta to continue cooking in the simmering liquid, and not slow down the cooking time. You can warm the cream in a measuring cup in the microwave, or in a pot over medium-low heat. Don’t allow the cream to come to a boil if it might curdle.

Nutrition

Calories: 599kcal, Carbohydrates: 61g, Protein: 19g, Fat: 31g, Saturated Fat: 19g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 92mg, Sodium: 874mg, Potassium: 334mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 1503IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 277mg, Iron: 2mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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