Garlicky pesto and shrimp pasta comes together so quickly for any busy weeknight dinner. Garlicky basil pesto tossed perfectly with the pasta and shrimp makes it an easy quick meal. Super fresh and light.
This recipe takes 20 minutes or less. In the time it takes your water to boil and pasta to cook, you will have your pesto ready, shrimp cooked and the pesto sauce made. It’s a 3 1/2 step recipe, that takes no time at all.
The Garlicky Pesto Sauce
Homemade pesto is my favorite way to make a light spring/summer dinner fresh and pop with extraordinary flavor. It’s vibrant, bright and fresh.
If you’re growing basil, you will soon have more than enough to make pesto. Homemade pesto or your favorite store bought is perfect for this pasta dish. The pesto will need to be strong in flavor. Once the pesto is mixed in with the pasta water it will become slightly diluted.
To make pesto, it takes less than 10 minutes. In a food processor or blender, add in all of the ingredients and blend until everything is evenly combined. It will be a thick paste-like consistency and the flavor will be extra strong so that it makes a delicious garlicky basil pesto sauce once mixed in with pasta water.
Buying and Cleaning Shrimp
When you buy shrimp there are two common options. You can purchase them from the seafood counter or frozen. Most frozen packages have shrimp that have all ready been removed from the shell, deveined and cleaned. Frozen shrimp will be the best quality, they are flash frozen almost immediately after being caught. The seafood counter shrimp most likely traveled by truck on ice but not frozen allowing them to age during travel.
When buying shrimp, the package will show a number range, that is how many shrimp weight to make a pound. For instance if you get a 16/20 package, there will be about 16-20 shrimp per pound and the shrimp will be larger than a 31/40 package. The 31/40 package will have between 31-40 shrimp per pound but the shrimp will be slightly smaller. Although they are both 1 pound packages, the 31/40 package will have more per serving count compared to the 16/20 package. For reference, the wild-caught shrimp in the photos are from a 31/40 package, bought frozen from Butcher Box (not a sponsor/partnership, but we do get all of our meat delivered monthly)
To clean shrimp, carefully remove the shell and tail. Then using a pairing knife gently remove the vein from top. Starting at one end, you can carefully poke your knife tip underneath the vein and pull up, slowly removing it from one end to the other end, in one piece.
Garlicky Pesto Shrimp Pasta
- 8 oz Spaghetti
- 1 TBSP Butter
- ½-1 lb Shrimp - peeled and cleaned
- 1 pinch Salt
- 1 cup Garlicky Pesto (homemade or store bought) see blog notes for recipe.
- 1 cup Pasta Water
- In a pot of salty water, cook your spaghetti according to the package instructions.
- As the pasta water heats up/spaghetti cooks, make your pesto and set aside.
- In a large pan with sides, over medium heat, melt your butter and add in the shrimp. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
- You will see their tails start to curl and they will start to turn pink in color. Cook for about 30-60 seconds on each side.
- Remove the shrimp out of the pan and set aside. If there is liquid in the pan, pour out.
- In the same pan the shrimp cooked in, over medium heat, add in your pesto and pasta water. Stir until it's combined into a sauce. Let it cook for about 1-2 minutes.
- Add in the cooked pasta and toss to coat in the pesto sauce.
- Turn off the heat. Add the shrimp back in.
- Toss to slightly coat in the pesto sauce.
This recipe was originally published July 2019, it continues to be one of the most popular recipes of all times. For four years it has been ranked in the top 5 recipes viewed by readers and pinned on Pinterest. I updated the photos and the writing – republished April 2023.