Creamy Lemon Shrimp Pasta

4.89 from 9 votes
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This creamy lemon shrimp pasta is made with juicy shrimp and tender penne tossed in a garlicky lemon sauce with parmesan and fresh herbs. Every bite is bright and tasty and it’s ready in 30 minutes. Hello, summer on a plate!

I LOVE shrimp, especially in the summertime. It’s lean, quick-cooking, and tastes great in plenty of recipes, from this lemon shrimp pasta to more family favorites like shrimp scampi, creamy shrimp linguine alfredo, and this one pot shrimp with orzo

Lemon shrimp pasta in a bowl.


There’s something about fresh, juicy shrimp and bright lemon flavors that calls to me in warmer weather. This lemon shrimp pasta has been one of my best summer pasta recipes since, well, forever. It has shrimp (obviously) and plenty of garlic, with tender penne pasta, fresh lemon, and parmesan cheese. All that gets tossed together in an irresistible pasta dinner that’s ready on the stovetop in less than 30 minutes. It’s not quite a one-pot meal, but it’s pretty darn close!

Why I Love This Lemon Shrimp Pasta Recipe

  • (Almost) one pot. I take a little shortcut and boil fresh shrimp right in the pot with the pasta. The sauce comes together separately, but it’s pretty much a two-pan deal. I love a delicious dinner that doesn’t leave a ton of dishes in the sink afterward.
  • Quick and easy. This lemon shrimp pasta is ready in about 30 minutes, so it’s great for entertaining. It’s one of my “claim to fame” dishes that I make when I have my girlfriends over for dinner. I can cook and sip wine at the same time (a must), and the flavors are top-notch.
  • Fresh flavors. The zesty, lemony sauce brings out the flavors in the shrimp and pasta so well. With garlic, parmesan, and fresh herbs, everything comes together perfectly in a skillet.
  • Customizable. I love penne pasta, and this lemon shrimp pasta is basically my lemon pasta combined with this garlic butter shrimp pasta, which both use penne. Of course, you can customize this recipe any way that you’d like, from the pasta and vegetables to the protein. You’re going to love it!
Overhead view of a plate of shrimp next to a bowl of penne pasta, a smaller bowl of parmesan, and lemon slices.

Ingredients You’ll Need

I love the ingredients in this lemon garlic shrimp pasta because they’re fresh and simple, but work wonders in terms of flavor. Here are some notes. Scroll down to the recipe card for a printable list with the full recipe amounts.

  • Pasta – I use penne pasta, but you can make this dish with any pasta you’d like. Other good options are rotini, fusilli, shells, bowtie pasta, and long cuts like linguine or spaghetti.
  • Shrimp – Leave the cocktail shrimp ring in the freezer for this one! You’ll want to use fresh, raw shrimp for this lemon pasta. Remember to peel and devein the shrimp if it hasn’t been done already.
  • Olive Oil – Choose a nice quality, mild olive oil for sautéeing.
  • Garlic – Fresh garlic is best. You can adapt the number of cloves depending on how garlicky you like your sauce. 
  • Flour – You’ll need a little all-purpose flour to make what’s called a “roux”. It helps stabilize and thicken up the cream sauce.
  • Broth – This can be low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth.
  • Parmesan Cheese – Freshly shredded parmesan cheese, or you can use pecorino. 
  • Milk – I use skim, but you can use whole milk. For an even richer pasta sauce, use heavy cream or cream cheese.
  • Lemon – You’ll need lemon juice and fresh lemon zest. Pro tip: zest your lemon before you juice it. Like the garlic, the amount of lemon you add is up to you.
Overhead view of lemon cream sauce in a skillet with a whisk, next to a bowl of parmesan.

How to Make Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta

This dinner is as easy as cooking your pasta, whisking up a quick cream sauce, and then tossing it all together with succulent shrimp before serving. It’s great on summer weeknights, but I make this dish all year long because it’s just that good.

I like to cook the penne and shrimp all in the same pot for extra convenience. Once the pasta is boiling, add in the raw shrimp during the last ~3 minutes or so of cooking time.

After you’ve whisked up the sauce, pour it over the cooked penne and shrimp and give that a good toss to combine. I throw in a handful of fresh chopped herbs, like parsley or basil, for garnish. Bon appétit!

Lemon shrimp pasta in a white bowl topped with parmesan cheese and fresh minced parsley.

Recipe Tips & Variations

  • Season your pasta water. Make sure that you use enough water when boiling your pasta, and add a good amount of salt (I usually stir in 1-2 heaping tablespoons). Salted water is key to flavorful cooked pasta.
  • Use fresh shrimp. It’s worth repeating, but I recommend raw, fresh deveined shrimp for this recipe. If you absolutely MUST use pre-cooked shrimp, only add the shrimp at the very end, when tossing the pasta with the sauce.
  • Keep whisking. Make sure the sauce is off the heat when you stir in the parmesan cheese and milk, and keep whisking so it doesn’t curdle!
  • Lighten it up. Stick with skim milk in the lemon sauce, and serve your sauce and shrimp over zucchini noodles (zoodles) instead for a low-carb version.
  • More add-ins. Bulk up this lemon garlic shrimp pasta with more ingredients like cooked asparagus, sautéed mushrooms, and broccolini. You can also use another protein, like chicken or sausage, in place of shrimp.
Lemon shrimp pasta in a white bowl topped with parmesan cheese and fresh minced parsley.

Serving Suggestions

I love my lemon shrimp pasta topped with even more parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of chopped parsley for serving. It’s a meal on its own, or I’ll serve it with a fresh Mediterranean salad, this crab avocado salad, or grilled asparagus for an easy summer dinner. The zesty flavors pair well with a glass of my favorite Pinot Grigio or a refreshing hibiscus iced tea at lunch!

Storing and Reheating Leftover Pasta

  • Refrigerate. This lemon shrimp pasta can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. If you ask me, the flavors get even better with time.
  • Reheat. I like to reheat this pasta in a skillet on the stovetop. It prevents the shrimp from getting rubbery in the microwave. Sprinkle over a little broth or water to help loosen up the sauce and let it get hot throughout.

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4.89 from 9 votes

Lemon Shrimp Pasta

Creamy lemon shrimp pasta is an easy weeknight meal with juicy shrimp and tender penne tossed in a garlicky lemon sauce with plenty of parmesan and fresh herbs. Ready in 30 minutes!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


For The Pasta And Shrimp

  • 8 ounces dry penne pasta
  • 12 ounces peeled and deveined fresh shrimp

For The Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • ½ cup skim milk
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • shredded or grated parmesan cheese, for garnish
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  • Cook the pasta and shrimp. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box, adding the shrimp to the boiling water for the last 3 minutes.
  • Sauté. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 20 seconds, or until fragrant, stirring frequently.
  • Make the sauce. Whisk in the flour to create a roux with the oil. Continue to whisk until the flour isn't dry. Slowly whisk in the broth until the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook until the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat.
  • Finish the sauce. Whisk in the parmesan cheese until melted, and then whisk in the milk until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Lastly, stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice.
  • Combine. Drain the pasta and shrimp and return it to the pot. Pour the prepared sauce over the cooked pasta and shrimp. Mix and stir until combined. Stir in 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley.
  • Serve. Transfer the pasta to dinner plates. Garnish with remaining parsley and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.


  • The pasta. Penne pasta goes great with the creamy sauce. When cooking pasta, use about 4 quarts of water for every pound, and season the water well with 1-2 tablespoons of salt. Using enough water helps the pasta cook evenly and prevents it from sticking together.
  • Shrimp. Please use fresh (raw) shrimp for this recipe, not cocktail shrimp. 
  • Make the sauce thick and creamy. It is important to whisk, whisk, whisk so that the sauce is smooth and does not curdle. The sauce will continue to thicken as it stands. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more milk.


Calories: 373kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 444mg | Potassium: 200mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 455IU | Vitamin C: 4.5mg | Calcium: 193mg | Iron: 1.3mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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  1. Melissa says:

    I’m guessing “no” – but can this be frozen for later?

    1. Katerina says:

      Actually, you can, but you will want to freeze all the components separately. So, pasta in one bag, shrimp in the other, and the sauce in a third. I would also toss the pasta with a drizzle of olive oil before storing it in a freezer bag. When reheating the sauce, try to do it in a skillet set over low heat while constantly stirring.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Delicious! I actually used half and half instead because I had it and it was so rich and creamy and lemony.

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      I’m very glad you enjoyed it! Thank YOU! 🙂