Golden, peppery lemon butter shrimp pasta! The seafood pasta you need right now – minimal ingredients, a quick process, and every bit luxurious as it sounds. Full of lemon, toasted walnuts, freshly cracked black pepper, butter, and parmesan cheese.
This beautiful bowl of lemon butter shrimp pasta comes together quickly, with the sauce being made in a skillet as the pasta cooks in a large pot alongside. I’m using “paccheri” for this which is a large, tubular-shaped pasta that the sauce clings to really well. You of course can easily substitute any shaped pasta you’d like, though.
The process is as simple as searing the shrimp, toasting the walnuts + lemon zest until nice and fragrant, simmering the pasta water with lots of black pepper, whisking in butter to create the sauce, then tossing the pasta right on in with a finish of parmesan cheese and lemon juice. It gets plated in a big serving bowl with more parmesan and black pepper over top.
Simple, yet decadent.
lemon butter shrimp pasta – tips
I’ve got three key tips for you when making this lemon butter shrimp pasta…
First, make sure to save the pasta water. It’s an easy step that can sometimes be missed if you drain the pasta before reserving a cup or two of the starchy liquid. This water is the key to create a sauce that thickens and clings to the pasta. I always like to reserve a little extra than needed just in case the sauce reduces too much…you can always add a splash to loosen it back up at the end.
And second, use good parmesan cheese for this. I highly recommend buying a small chunk of real parmigiano reggiano and grating it yourself with a microplane. It’ll melt beautifully into the sauce and lend a pure, nutty flavor to the dish. Usually my go-to for pastas, but especially when there are so few ingredients! You want to make sure you’re getting the best possible parmesan flavor.
On a similar note, use freshly cracked black pepper from a pepper mill. I like to set mine to a coarse texture. Trust me, it makes a big difference, too!Print
Lemon Butter Shrimp Pasta
a simple pasta dish with sauteed shrimp, toasted walnuts, a lemon butter sauce, parmesan cheese, and lots of black pepper
- kosher salt
- ½ lb paccheri pasta
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ¾ lb peeled & deveined shrimp
- 3 oz walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 lemon, zested & juiced
- 20 cracks fresh black pepper
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 oz freshly grated parmesan, plus more for topping
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a heaping palmful of salt. Drop the pasta and cook for 1 minute less than the package’s instructions, stirring often.
- Meanwhile, heat a 12” skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and let heat. Pat the shrimp dry and add them to the skillet. Spread evenly and sear on both sides until pink and golden. Season with a pinch of salt. Transfer the shrimp to a plate and set aside.
- Add the walnuts and lemon zest to the skillet. Toast for a few minutes until fragrant and golden. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet, along with the black pepper. Cook for 30 seconds. Retrieve 2 cups of starchy pasta water from the pot. Add 1 cup of the water to the skillet (reserve the remaining water).
- Bring the liquid to a bubble and simmer for about 2 minutes. Drop the heat to low and whisk in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Meanwhile, drain the pasta and add it right to the sauce. Stir well as the sauce thickens and clings to the pasta (add more pasta water if needed to keep the sauce silky).
- Stir in the parmesan cheese and let melt. Lastly, add the lemon juice and shrimp. Stir well until the shrimp is heated through. Plate the pasta with the walnut mixture spooned over top. Garnish with more parmesan cheese and black pepper.
Lemon Zest Variations: You can either use a microplane to grate the lemon zest, or you can peel the lemon and use a sharp knife to cut it very thinly into strips (what you see in the photos). I find the peeled version gives a bit stronger of a lemon bite which is nice in this pasta dish.
Serving Sizes: I’d say this recipe makes enough for 2 people if you’re having the pasta as your main meal with just a salad or something on the side, or for 4 people if the pasta is meant as a smaller side dish.