Valentine’s Day is coming up and I thought you might need a little somethin-somethin’ special to cook your honey (even if YOU are your own honey—show yourself some love). This extra luxurious Shrimp Alfredo is super easy and feels just as fancy as going out to eat. …Except way less expensive and way more special because you did it yourself. ;) I promise this creamy shrimp alfredo pasta will earn you some extra points!
What’s in Shrimp Alfredo?
This shrimp alfredo pasta is what I like to call an “Amerifredo” or an American-style alfredo sauce. An Authentic Roman alfredo sauce does not include any heavy cream or garlic, and it derives all of its creaminess and flavor from the butter and really good Parmesan. But if you’re used to the “alfredo” served in American restaurants or bought in a jar in U.S. grocery stores, that’s what this recipe delivers.
This incredibly simple dish features a rich and luxurious Parmesan cream sauce, tender shrimp, and hearty fettuccine noodles. The simple creamy alfredo sauce is made with butter, garlic, heavy cream, and Parmesan, and it comes together in minutes. Then just add some fettuccine and juicy shrimp, which literally take about three minutes to cook in the skillet, and your fancy-pants pasta is done! I promise this one is so easy that anyone can do it!
Can I substitute the Heavy Cream?
The heavy cream is very important for creating the correct texture in this ultra-luxurious sauce, so I don’t suggest replacing it. The low-moisture content of the heavy cream allows the Parmesan to melt in smoothly without clumping like it would with milk. Another option, if you don’t have heavy cream, is to do a milk and cream cheese combination. The cream cheese will help the Parmesan melt in smoothly and produce a thick sauce, similar to heavy cream. You can use the sauce in my Sun Dried Tomato Pasta as a guide.
What Kind of Parmesan to Use
We all know that freshly shredded Parmesan is far superior to the grated Parmesan that comes in a can, both in flavor and melting ability. But I’m here to say this: if all you have is grated Parmesan, use it! I specifically tested this recipe using grated Parmesan just to make sure that it would be delicious no matter what. And if you can get the good kind you’ll just enjoy it that much more. :)
What to Serve with Shrimp Alfredo Pasta
Because this pasta is so rich and creamy, I highly suggest pairing it with a simple side salad to help lighten up the plate and cut through all that creaminess. Making sure to dress the salad with a light vinaigrette will help balance the heavy cream and not overpower the flavors in the pasta. To complement the garlic in the alfredo sauce, you can also add a little homemade garlic bread on the side. :) Garlic bread is never a bad idea! And then a nice cool and crisp glass of Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc would really make the meal complete!
- 1/2 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined ($4.99)
- 1/2 lb. fettuccine ($0.67)
- 2 Tbsp butter, divided ($0.20)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced ($0.32)
- 1 cup heavy cream ($1.00)
- 3/4 cup Parmesan* ($1.08)
- 1/8 tsp salt (or to taste) ($0.02)
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper (or to taste) ($0.02)
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional) ($0.10)
- If your shrimp is frozen, thaw and peel before beginning. You can remove the tails or leave the tails on, if you prefer.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil for the fettuccine. Once boiling, add the fettuccine and boil until tender (7-10 minutes). Reserve a ½ cup of the starchy water before draining the pasta in a colander.
- While the fettuccine is boiling, prepare the shrimp and alfredo sauce. Place the peeled shrimp on a cutting board and pat dry with a paper towel. Season the shrimp with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Add 1 tablespoon butter to a large skillet and heat over medium. Once hot, swirl to coat the surface of the skillet with butter. Add the shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, or just until opaque and pink (do not overcook the shrimp). Transfer the cooked shrimp to a clean bowl.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet along with the minced garlic. Sauté the garlic for 1-2 minutes, or just until it is very fragrant but not brown.
- Add the heavy cream to the skillet and whisk to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Allow the cream to come up to a simmer.
- Whisk the Parmesan into the hot cream until melted. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
- Add the cooked and drained pasta and cooked shrimp back to the skillet with the sauce (make sure to add any liquid from the bowl of shrimp). Toss everything until coated in sauce. If the sauce becomes too thick or dry, add some of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up.
- Taste the pasta and add more salt or pepper if needed. Top with chopped fresh parsley and serve!
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Love alfredo? Check out our Chicken Alfredo, too!
How to Make Shrimp Alfredo Pasta – Step by Step Photos
Thaw and peel ½ lb. of medium (36/40) shrimp. Remove the tails, if preferred. Leaving the tails on is more visually stunning, but can be more difficult to eat since you’ll have to remove the tail with each bite.
Bring a pot of water to a boil for the fettuccine. Once boiling, add ½ lb. fettuccine and boil until tender (7-10 minutes). Reserve a ½ cup of the starchy pasta water before draining the fettuccine in a colander.
While the pasta is cooking, begin to prepare the shrimp and alfredo sauce. Spread the shrimp out onto a clean cutting board. Pat dry with paper towel, then season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Melt one tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is fully melted, swirl the butter to coat the surface of the skillet. Add the shrimp to the skillet in a single layer. Cook the shrimp for 1-2 minutes on each side or just until the shrimp turn opaque and pink. Do not overcook the shrimp. Remove the shrimp to a clean bowl.
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add another tablespoon of butter to the skillet along with 4 cloves of minced garlic. Sauté the garlic for 1-2 minutes, or just until very fragrant but not browned.
Add 1 cup heavy cream to the skillet. Whisk to dissolve the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Continue to heat over medium-low until the cream comes up to a simmer.
Add ¾ cup grated Parmesan to the simmering cream. Whisk until the Parmesan is melted into the cream and the sauce thickens. Season the sauce with ⅛ tsp salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Add the cooked and drained fettuccine and cooked shrimp to the skillet with the sauce. Make sure to add any liquid that has accumulated in the bowl of shrimp because that will add extra shrimp flavor to the sauce.
Toss the pasta and shrimp in the sauce until fully coated. If the sauce becomes too thick or dry, add some of the reserved pasta water and toss until it’s mixed into the sauce. Give the pasta a taste and add more salt or pepper if you’d like.
Finish with a garnish of chopped fresh parsley for color and serve!