25-Minute Shrimp Pesto Pasta

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Light, fresh, and low-effort, this quick and easy Shrimp Pesto Pasta will be your new weeknight dinner favorite! Toss al dente spaghetti in a bright, herbaceous basil pesto sauce, then top with juicy diced shrimp sautéed with garlic and lemon. A restaurant-worthy pescatarian recipe, ready in 30 minutes or less!
An overhead shot of shrimp pesto pasta in a large white bowl atop a straw charger on an off-white surface. The pasta is garnished with pine nuts and basil leaves, and sits alongside a glass of white wine and a second bowl of pasta.

Low Effort, Always Stunning Shrimp and Pesto Pasta – In Less Than 30 Minutes!

One of my favorite low-effort dinner secrets is pairing seafood with pesto. The delicate flavor of fresh seafood practically begs for a vibrant and herbaceous sauce, so the combination is always satisfying, super fresh-tasting, and hella fast-cooking – literally nothing not to love!

My current seafood + pesto obsession is this easy Shrimp Pesto Pasta recipe.

Al dente spaghetti tossed with bright, herbaceous basil pesto sauce and topped with juicy garlicky shrimp. An easy 25-minute dinner for any night of the week!

This simple-yet-stunning pasta dinner packs a big punch of flavor in 30 minutes or less. Each twirl of pasta comes with a fragrant hit of basil and a bite of the juiciest garlic shrimp.

So simple, but so perfect. ✨

I love to make shrimp pesto pasta on warm nights when I’m craving a light, low-cook meal with lots of fresh flavor. But it’s so good, you’ll want to eat it all the time – a weeknight staple, for sure!

🍝 Love quick and easy seafood pasta dinners? ⇢ Same here! 🙌🏼 Be sure to check out my Quick-Baked Shrimp Scampi and Seared Scallop Pesto Pasta. Both easy recipes are light, fresh-tasting, and come together in 30 minutes or less!

An overhead shot of ingredients on an off-white surface: DeLallo spaghetti in its packaging, raw shrimp, a halved lemon, a jar of DeLallo pesto, garlic, olive oil, and finely chopped shallot and red bell pepper.
This easy recipe comes together with 8 simple ingredients: shrimp, oil, garlic, shallot, bell pepper, lemon, pasta, and pesto sauce.

How to Prepare Shrimp for Pasta (Perfectly Juicy, Every Time!)

I love that shrimp is a quick-cooking lean protein – perfect for lazy weeknights. The only problem is that it can be a little tricky to prepare – it’s really easy to overcook the delicate shellfish…and rubbery, dry shrimp is truly the worst! 🙅🏻‍♀️

To avoid that, this recipe uses my go-to method for flawlessly juicy and delicious shrimp every time: rather than cooking whole shrimp, I dice it into bite-sized pieces and sauté it on the stovetop with lots of aromatics. The shrimp cooks super quickly (mere minutes!) and gets lots of flavor without drying out.

An overhead shot of raw shrimp being chopped into fine pieces on a white cutting board atop an off-white surface.
The secret to perfectly juicy and tender shrimp is slicing each piece into small bites that cook quickly without drying out.
An overhead shot of finely chopped garlic shrimp being cooked in a nonstick pan with a wooden spoon atop an off-white surface.
Soften shallot and bell pepper first, then add the diced shrimp and garlic and sauté until the shrimp is opaque and fragrant.
1

Prepare the shrimp. You can use fresh or frozen shrimp, just be sure to let frozen shrimp thaw before cooking (full tips in the Recipe Notes, below). Remove any tails and then slice each shrimp into bite-sized pieces. Why? ⇢ These smaller pieces cook up extra fast while staying tender and juicy.

2

Cook the aromatic veggies. Heat olive oil in a pan on the stove and sauté the diced bell pepper and shallot first. Why? ⇢ Shrimp cooks super quickly! Cooking these aromatics first allows them to soften, so when you add the shrimp, everything is finished at the same time (and never overcooked!).

3

Sauté the shrimp with aromatics. Add the bite-sized shrimp and garlic to the skillet and cook for just a few minutes until the shrimp is opaque and light pink. Finish it all off with a squeeze of lemon juice, then remove from the heat. 🌶  Tip! ⇢ If you love spicy shrimp, add a spoonful of Calabrian chili paste for a good kick of heat.

Pesto Shrimp Pasta Assembly

Best pasta to use? ⇢ I love serving shrimp pesto pasta with spaghetti, but you can use any pasta you love. Pesto linguine shrimp is great, as is fettuccine or angel hair. As always, DeLallo pasta is forever my favorite – it’s made with high-quality durum wheat and slowly dried for the best texture. For a veggie-loaded dinner, swap some of the pasta with zoodles.

An overhead shot of pesto pasta being lifted with tongs from a white cocotte atop an off-white surface. An empty jar of pesto and a juiced lemon half sit alongside it.
Toss al dente pasta with 1 cup of your favorite pesto. Use the starchy pasta water thin out the pesto so it clings to the pasta beautifully.

While the shrimp cooks, prepare the pesto pasta in a separate pot. Try to time out both components so the pasta and lemon garlic shrimp are ready at the same time. I suggest dropping the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water just as you begin cooking the shrimp.

Toss the al dente spaghetti with 1 cup of your favorite pesto. I have 2 go-to homemade recipes – my Lemon Basil Pesto and Damn Good Kale Pesto – but when I’m short on time I always reach for DeLallo Simply Pesto. It’s the best jarred pesto I’ve ever had – super fresh-tasting and studded with pine nuts!

The #1 mistake I see home cooks make when preparing a pasta dish is simply plopping a spoonful of sauce on a plate of cooked pasta. Please don’t do this! For restaurant-worthy results, always toss your al dente pasta with the pesto sauce before serving. To learn more, check out my complete guide for How to Cook Pasta Perfectly Every Single Time.

An overhead shot of two bowls of shrimp pesto on an off-white surface. The pasta is garnished with pine nuts and basil leaves, and the bowls sit alongside glasses of white wine.
Top the pesto pasta with lemony garlic shrimp. Garnish with pine nuts and fresh basil if desired, then dinner is ready!

Quick Serving Suggestions

Divide the pesto pasta into shallow bowls, topping each with a healthy serving of garlicky shrimp. For a special little garnish, I like finishing each plate with toasted pine nuts and fresh basil leaves. If you like a little grated parmesan, go for it!

I love eating this simple shrimp pesto pasta with my go-to Mixed Greens Side Salad. It’s also fantastic with a Grilled Panzanella Salad or Burrata Caprese Salad. Choose any side that’s light, fresh, and easy to make!

(A glass of chilled white wine never hurts either! 😉)

A macro close-up shot of shrimp pesto pasta in a white bowl garnished with pine nuts and basil leaves.
A totally restaurant-worthy pescatarian dinner, ready in 25 minutes or less!

I can’t wait for you to try this 25-Minute Shrimp Pesto Pasta! It’s a simple, stunning crowd-pleaser that’s sure to be a new staple in your dinner rotation.

If you do give it a try, be sure to let us know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo and tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!

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A macro close-up shot of shrimp pesto pasta garnished with pine nuts and basil leaves.

25-Minute Shrimp Pesto Pasta

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  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Pasta Recipes, Main Dishes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

As far as I’m concerned, shrimp and pesto are a low-effort dinner match made in heaven. This 25-minute dinner recipe brings the two together in a light-yet-satisfying pasta dinner that’s super fresh-tasting and hella fast-cooking!

Since shrimp are so easy to overcook, I like slicing each shrimp into a few bite-sized pieces and quickly sautéing them with already-softened aromatics. Everything finishes cooking at the same time, and the shrimp stay perfectly juicy and flavorful – never bland or rubbery!

Just serve over a light and herbaceous pesto pasta with lots of lemon and some fresh basil leaves for a meal that’s both simple and stunning. Nothing not to love! ♡ Happy cooking!


Ingredients

Scale

for the pesto pasta:

for the quick garlic shrimp:


Instructions

  1. Boil the pasta: Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook to al dente according to package directions, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Once cooked, carefully dip a liquid measuring cup into the pot to reserve about 1 cup of the starchy pasta water, and set aside. Carefully drain the pasta. (Learn more! ⇢ How to Cook Pasta Perfectly Every Single Time!)An overhead shot of cooked spaghetti noodles in a colander over a white cocotte on an off-white surface.
  2. Prepare the shrimp: Meanwhile, as the pasta boils, prep the shrimp. If present, remove the tails from the shrimp. Slice each shrimp into 4-5 small bite-sized pieces.An overhead shot of raw shrimp being chopped into fine pieces on a white cutting board atop an off-white surface.
  3. Cook the shrimp: Add the olive oil to a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the shallot and bell pepper. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ground black pepper as desired. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and fragrant, 4-5 minutes. Add the shrimp, garlic, and chili peppers (if using) to the skillet. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ground black pepper as desired. Stir to combine well. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is opaque and cooked through, 2-3 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and ½ lemon juice over top. Set aside.An overhead shot of finely chopped garlic shrimp being cooked in a nonstick pan with a wooden spoon atop an off-white surface.
  4. Assemble the pesto pasta. Transfer the drained pasta back into the pot used to boil it. Add the pesto, ½ lemon juice, and toss to combine well – the pesto sauce should evenly coat the pasta. Add in some of the reserved pasta water if the sauce needs to loosen up a little. Cook 1-2 minutes longer, allowing the pasta to meld with the sauce, then remove from the heat.An overhead shot of pesto pasta being lifted with tongs from a white cocotte atop an off-white surface. An empty jar of pesto and a juiced lemon half sit alongside it.
  5. Serve: Portion the pesto pasta into individual bowls, topping with the prepared shrimp. Finish with a sprinkling of chopped fresh herbs or grated parmesan as desired. Serve immediately. Enjoy!An overhead shot of shrimp pesto pasta in a large white bowl atop a straw charger on an off-white surface. The pasta is garnished with pine nuts and basil leaves, and sits alongside a glass of white wine, a dish of pine nuts and a second bowl of pasta.

Notes

Jess’ Tips and Tricks:

  • Seafood U/Count: A seafood’s “count” number is a measure of size, indicating how many individual pieces make a pound. The smaller the “count,” the larger the shrimp and vice versa (i.e. 16-count shrimp are larger than 25-count shrimp because only 16 individual shrimp make up 1 pound vs 25 pieces). If you cannot find “extra large” or 26-30 count shrimp, feel free to swap them out with the largest shrimp available to you, noting that you will need to decrease cook time to ensure the shrimp do not overcook.
  • Thawing frozen shrimp: The best way to thaw frozen shrimp is to place them in a zip-top bag and submerge in cool water. The steady, cool temperature of the water creates a controlled environment for the frozen shrimp to come up to room temperature. Refresh the water every 10 minutes or so, until the shrimp are completely thawed – 25-30 minutes, tops!
  • 10-Minute Meal Prep: Most of the active prep required for this shrimp pesto pasta comes from chopping the shrimp and veggies. Get all the chopping out of the way ahead of time and all you have to do at dinnertime is cook the shrimp – easy!
    • Prep the shrimp as directed in Step 2, above. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
    • Chop the veggies: Dice 1 shallot and ½ medium bell pepper. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Storage and Reheating:

  • Leftover shrimp pesto pasta will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for 1-2 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave, adding an extra splash of water or cooking stock to loosen up the pesto sauce as needed, until warmed through.

Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest for more unfussy recipes that pack a big punch of flavor!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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