Shrimp Alfredo is a creamy and decadent pasta that requires just a few ingredients. Shrimp are seasoned and seared then tossed with fettuccine pasta in a Parmigiano Reggiano, butter, and cream sauce and topped with parsley. So simple, but so good!
Shrimp Alfredo is a twist on the classic fettuccine Alfredo which typically just includes Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and butter.
We're all for traditions here, but one of the things we love and respect about Italian-American cuisine is that while it was based on tradition, the early immigrants needed to make do with the ingredients they had on hand.
This has allowed Italian-American cuisine to morph into its own cuisine, which is forgiving and allows for improvising when necessary.
Adding shrimp, garlic, and cream to Shrimp Alfredo makes this non-traditional, but we love it and think you will too!
If you're looking for a more "traditional" Roman-style Alfredo, check out our fettuccine Alfredo recipe.
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Begin by mincing 3 cloves of garlic, and 2 tablespoons of Italian parsley. Grate 1 ¼ cups of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese that will be used for the sauce, plus more for serving.
- Bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons of kosher salt per gallon of water) to boil. With paper towels, dry 1 ¼ pounds of extra large thawed, cleaned, and deveined shrimp (shells and tails removed). In a bowl, season the shrimp with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, ½ teaspoon of black pepper, ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder, and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. Mix together and allow to sit for 5 minutes before moving on to the next step. Note: baking soda helps the shrimp to remain plump throughout the cooking process and does not impart any taste.
- Heat a large stainless steel pan to medium heat and wait 3 minutes. Coat the pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the shrimp to the pan.
- Saute the shrimp until just cooked (about 2-3 minutes) or until they're no longer grey. Move the shrimp to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente and be sure to reserve about 1 cup of pasta water.
- Using the same pan as the shrimp, turn the heat down to medium-low and add 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
- Add the garlic and cook until it's golden (about 2 minutes).
- Add 1 ¼ cups of heavy cream and the grated cheese and bring to a low simmer. The sauce will begin to thicken after a couple of minutes.
- Add the al dente pasta to the Alfredo sauce and mix or toss to coat. If the pasta is too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water a little at a time until you achieve the perfect consistency. Add the shrimp to the pasta and mix well. Taste test and make final adjustments to salt and pepper if needed. Add the parsley and serve immediately. Fettuccine Alfredo with shrimp can be served with more Parmigiano Reggiano on the side if desired. Enjoy!
Top tips for Shrimp Alfredo
- The shrimp. We used U21-25 shrimp for this recipe which means there are anywhere from 21-25 shrimp per pound. As with all of our shrimp recipes, we suggest adding baking soda to the shrimp as it helps the shrimp to remain plump while cooking. Be sure to not overcook the shrimp - they really just need a few minutes.
- The pasta water. It is always a good rule of thumb to save pasta water, but even more so when making cream sauces which tend to dry out. Add just a ladle at a time and remix the pasta to bring it back to a creamy consistency.
- The pasta. We used egg fettuccine here which is much lighter than semolina fettuccine. We think it pairs really well with the Alfredo sauce and shrimp. You can use regular fettuccine if you'd like, or pappardelle would also be a great choice.
More shrimp and pasta recipes
If you like Shrimp Alfredo we think you'll love these other shrimp and pasta recipes!
- Cajun shrimp pasta - Spicy shrimp, andouille sausage, and green onion tossed with fettuccine.
- Lemon garlic shrimp pasta - Shrimp tossed with spaghetti in a garlic butter and lemon sauce.
- Shrimp Fra Diavolo - Linguine and shrimp in a spicy garlicky marinara.
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For the shrimp
- 1 ¼ pounds extra large shrimp cleaned, deveined, and shells removed
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the pasta
- 8.8 ounces egg fettuccine or egg pappardelle
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 ¼ cups Parmigiano Reggiano grated, plus more for serving
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons Italian parsley minced
- 1 cup reserved pasta water for thinning, will not need it all
- Bring a large pot of salted (2 tablespoons kosher salt per gallon) water to boil.
- Dry the shrimp with paper towels then season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and baking soda. Mix together and set aside for 5 minutes before moving on to the next step.
- Heat a large stainless steel pan to medium heat and wait 3 minutes. Coat the pan with olive oil and add the shrimp to the pan. Saute until just cooked through (about 2-3 minutes) or until no longer grey. Remove the shrimp to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Begin cooking the pasta until al dente.
- Turn the heat down in the same pan to medium-low and add the butter and garlic. Cook garlic until the garlic is golden (about 2 minutes) then add the cream and cheese and bring to a low simmer. The sauce will begin to thicken after a couple of minutes of simmering.
- Add the al dente pasta to the alfredo sauce and mix or toss to coat. If the pasta is too dry add some of the reserved pasta water, a bit at a time, to get a perfect consistency.
- Add the shrimp to the pasta and mix well. Taste test and make final adjustments to salt and pepper levels. Add the parsley. Serve with more grated Parmigiano Reggiano on the side. Enjoy!
- This recipe easily doubles or triples.
- Use the reserved pasta water to thin out the pasta if it is too thick or dries out. Just add a couple of ounces at a time and mix to get a perfectly creamy consistency.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days in the fridge. Reheat in a pan over medium heat.