In this classic Italian-American dinner, meaty shrimp are broiled in a garlic butter sauce with lemon and white wine until tender. This Easy Shrimp Scampi is ready for the table in 30 minutes, with only 15 minutes of cooking time!
There’s something so satisfying about a dish of Shrimp Scampi. Whether it’s the meaty shrimp themselves, the luscious garlic-butter sauce, or the divine combination of the two together, Scampi has always been a dinner I’ve loved.
Traditionally, my mother has made broiled Shrimp Scampi as a part of our Christmas Eve seafood dinner. While it was always one of the many welcome items on my plate each year, I always also looked forward to nights when dinner was Scampi alone. Probably because I had room to enjoy more of it!
As an adult, this Easy Shrimp Scampi recipe is perfect for when I want to have a special dinner without spending a lot of time cooking. This is a dish that’s equally perfect for a cozy winter night at home or summer alfresco dining with friends. Pair it with a crisp glass of Pinot or Sauvignon Blanc and a loaf of crusty bread, and you have a dinner to be savored.
What is Shrimp Scampi?
This garlicky dish we know as Shrimp Scampi is an Italian-American variation of a dish made in Italy. The difference is that in Europe, the term “Scampi” doesn’t refer to the dish itself, but to a specific type of crustacean.
Also known as langoustines, Dublin Bay prawns, and Norwegian lobsters, “scampi” are not shrimp at all. In fact, they look very much like a miniature lobster, with a shrimp’s head. Their flavor and texture are richer and sweeter than that of shrimp, more reminiscent of crawfish.
Fun Read: Langoustines Are the New Foie Gras from Bon Appétit
In Italy, one of many ways to prepare “scampi” is to sauté them in garlic, onion, wine, and olive oil. When Italian-American cooks came to the United States, they adapted the dish using the shrimp that were available here, and the popular recipe for Shrimp Scampi was born.
Making Easy Shrimp Scampi
There are a couple of different ways to make Shrimp Scampi, from cooking the dish entirely on the stove, to baking it, or, in a fun summer variation, grilling it. My favorite cooking method is the way my mother has always made her recipe for Shrimp Scampi, starting on the stove, and finishing under the broiler for great flavor.
I know there tend to be a lot of recipes on the Internet titled “quick” this and “easy” that. This Easy Shrimp Scampi truly is one of the easiest and most flavorful shrimp dinners you can make. Prepping the ingredients takes all of 15 minutes (less, if you buy your shrimp cleaned at the seafood market), and cooking them just 15 minutes more.
All you have to do to get this bright, indulgent dinner on the table is melt together butter and olive oil in a large skillet, and add garlic, red pepper flakes, scallions, lemon zest, and dry white wine. Stir in your shrimp, broil a few minutes until cooked, and finish with lemon juice and parsley. Done!
It might look like you have a lot of butter in the pan, but trust me when I say that you don’t want to skimp on this. The garlic-white wine-butter sauce is the hallmark of this dish. You’re going to want enough sauce with the shrimp for tossing with pasta, drizzling over rice, or dipping with a warm piece of bread.
What Size Shrimp Should I Use to Make This Scampi Recipe?
I like to use U15 shrimp (“under 15 shrimp per pound”) for Scampi. Their larger size makes them feel substantial for dinner and they stay nice and juicy under the broiler.
To read more about shrimp sizing and what to look for at the seafood market, check out my recipe post for Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp with Bourbon Glaze, under the “Shopping for Shrimp” heading.
You can certainly make this easy shrimp scampi recipe with smaller shrimp, and might even prefer to do so if you’re serving the dish over spaghetti. For the best texture, the smallest I ever use is jumbo, or 21/25.
Smaller shrimp will require less time under the broiler. Start checking after a couple of minutes and cook just until shrimp are firm, opaque, and pink. Overcooking shrimp gives them a rubbery, dry texture, so watch them closely!
Easy Shrimp Scampi
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 large cloves garlic , minced
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, to taste)
- 1/4 cup scallions , thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1-1/2 pounds raw U15 sized shrimp (deveined, shelled, tail on)*
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves , chopped
- Preheat broiler with rack 6-inches from the element.
- In a large, broiler-safe skillet over medium-high heat, melt together butter and olive oil until foaming subsides. Add garlic and red pepper flakes (if using) and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in scallions, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Add wine, reduce heat slightly, and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add shrimp, tossing to coat them with the butter mixture. Arrange shrimp in a single layer. Place pan in oven and broil shrimp for 3-4 minutes per side, until they are pink and opaque. Do not overcook.
- Stir in lemon juice and parsley. Serve over pasta, rice, or with crusty bread to dip into the butter sauce.