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4.92 from 12 votes

Garlic Shrimp Lemon Pasta

This garlic shrimp lemon pasta is out of this world.  Tender shrimp, the lemon shines through, the capers and garlic give it extra oomph and the butter makes it rich and silky. Seriously good!
Prep Time18 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time28 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings (change as needed): 5
Author: Cheryl


  • 2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined, Note 1 defrosted, Note 2
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon each, salt and black pepper
  • 3/4 pound spaghettinni or angel hair pasta (375 g/12 ounces)


  • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 large lemon (for lemon juice and lemon zest)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated (frozen cubes ok too - 3 teaspoons)
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped


  • Preheat oven to 400F/204C.
    Have all ingredients ready to go. 
  • ROAST SHRIMP: Pat thawed raw shrimp dry with paper towels and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay them in a single layer on a foil-lined pan sprayed with oil. Roast 5-8 minutes (depending on size of shrimp) just until pink and barely no longer translucent. Note 3
  • COOK PASTA: Boil water in a large pot of salted water, add pasta and cook until al dente (or softer if you prefer). Drain pasta, reserving one cup/236 ml of the pasta liquid for the sauce.
  • MAKE LEMON GARLIC SAUCE: While pasta is boiling, heat butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Add all the other sauce ingredients except parsley (including fresh spinach and cherry tomatoes if using). Mix well for 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat.
  • ASSEMBLE: Add cooked pasta to lemon garlic butter sauce and toss together. Add less than 1/2 cup/118 ml of reserved pasta water to create a smooth consistency (add more if needed). Add cooked shrimp with juice in pan. Sprinkle on parsley. Toss together, adjust seasonings if needed (add 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes if you want some heat) and serve immediately. Garnish with lemon slices if you like.


  1. Size of shrimp and how to peel and devein: For this recipe, medium, large or jumbo shrimp will work. Check the label on the package. The numbers tell you the size. For example jumbo is 16-20 which means there are 16-20 shrimp per pound (450 grams). You can buy shrimp already peeled and deveined but they are more expensive. Here's a video on how to peel and devein shrimp on your own. 
  2. How to defrost shrimp: Put them in a colander and run cold water over them until defrosted. This is the quickest way – only a few minutes. Instead, you can put them into a bowl of cold water to defrost. This will take a little longer. In both cases, dry them well with paper towels once defrosted.
  3. How to tell when shrimp are cooked: When the end of the thicker part of the shrimp (opposite the tail) turns opaque, the shrimp is done. The inside should just lose its translucence, but not be totally white. The outside will turn bright pink unless they are white pacific shrimp. Don't overcook the shrimp or they will turn rubbery!
  4. Make ahead and store:
    • Prep ahead: This pasta recipe is best served fresh. You can, however, do all the prep beforehand, just leaving the final assembly to just before serving. For example, you can make the sauce, chop parsley, zest lemon and roast the shrimp ahead. I like to boil the pasta closer to serving time.
    • To store leftovers: Place leftovers in an airtight container and place it in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave for a minute. Careful - shrimp are easy to overcook in the microwave.
Nutrition values are estimates. 
Calories: 617kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 48g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 481mg | Sodium: 1999mg | Potassium: 631mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 3327IU | Vitamin C: 48mg | Calcium: 328mg | Iron: 6mg