Lemon Butter Shrimp Pasta

a simple pasta dish with sauteed shrimp, toasted walnuts, a lemon butter sauce, parmesan cheese, and lots of black pepper

servings: 2-4

  • Author: Kayla Howey


  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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).
  6. 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.