Looking for an easy pasta dish that’s on the lighter side, but still satisfying? This Lightened-Up Shrimp Alfredo is all that, and more! Wholesome fettuccine pasta is tossed with buttery shrimp and crisp-tender veggies, all in a creamy sauce that’s light on calories, but big on taste. It’s a 30-minute meal the whole family will devour!
Restaurant-Style Shrimp Alfredo, on the Lighter Side!
Have I ever told you about my husband’s obsession with Olive Garden? It’s real, my friends. In fact, years ago, he worked at an Olive Garden just so he could eat all the pasta and breadsticks, all day, every day. (File that one under “relatable.”)
In other words, his obsession with Olive Garden is right up there with my obsession with Chili’s! But that’s another post, for another time…
The point is, I’m always looking for ways to recreate our restaurant faves, with more emphasis on “light and healthy” and less emphasis on processed food or unnecessary calories. Which leads me to this beauty of a dish: shrimp fettuccine alfredo, made at home and sneakily lightened up. You get all of the flavor, with fewer calories and less fat!
Ready in under half an hour, this easy dish has all the creamy, comforting good vibes of your favorite pasta alfredo, but with fewer calories and a serving of perfectly cooked, buttery shrimp. I was eating them straight out of the pan! They’re that good, seriously. You’ll need a bit of self-discipline to leave any for your family members. Or is that just me?
Anyway, my secret to lightening up this alfredo recipe is to go all-in with Parmesan cheese and seasonings, but to leave out the cream. Chicken broth, skim milk, garlic, and Parmesan are all you need to make a perfectly rich and creamy sauce. And just to top things off, I add a pop of contrast by mixing broccoli florets and English peas into the pasta. It’s so easy to do. Just use frozen veggies, and go!
What You’ll Need
So just what goes into this classic pasta dish? Just wholesome, natural ingredients – nothing weird or unpronounceable! You know I don’t play when it comes to my ingredients! Here’s the skinny (literally!):
- Pasta: My family adores classic flat fettucine noodles in shrimp alfredo, but you could also make it with linguine, spaghetti, penne, or even bowtie pasta. I don’t recommend using angel hair or small pasta shapes, because the broccoli and shrimp will overwhelm those.
- Frozen Veggies: You’ll notice that frozen peas and broccoli are used here. However, frozen mixed vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots would also be good. You could also just use broccoli or peas. Or leave them out, if you prefer!
- Butter: Regular butter is fine, or use vegan butter. I used Earth Balance in this recipe.
- Garlic: For the brightest flavor, mince up your own fresh garlic, or put it through a garlic press.
- Shrimp: For six servings, you’ll need about a pound of large shrimp, shelled and deveined, with their tails removed.
- Salt and Pepper: To taste.
- Olive Oil: For sauteeing.
- Flour: A small amount of all-purpose flour helps thicken the shrimp alfredo sauce and add body.
- Broth: You can use chicken or vegetable broth.
- Milk: To make this recipe lighter, I use skim milk, but you could easily substitute whole milk, lowfat milk, or even non-dairy milk. It’s up to you!
- Parmesan: Pre-shredded is fine, but for the best flavor, grate your own cheese before making this dish.
How to Make It
One great thing about this recipe for shrimp alfredo is how easily and quickly it comes together. It uses one of my favorite quick tips for cooking with pasta: during the last 5 minutes of boiling the pasta, add whatever veggies you are using to the pasta pot, and let them blanch in there while the pasta finishes cooking. So easy!
- Cook the Fettuccine and Vegetables. Following the package directions, heat up a large pot of water and cook the pasta in it. Add your frozen veggies during the last 5 minutes of cooking, so that everything cooks up together.
- Cook the Garlic and Shrimp. While the pasta and veggies are cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet. Once the butter has melted, add half of the minced garlic to skillet, and cook it just for a few seconds, until fragrant. Then place the shrimp in the skillet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for two minutes on one side, flip, and then cook for another couple of minutes. The shrimp should be fully cooked through, opaque, and pink. Transfer them to a bowl or plate, and set them aside.
- Make the Sauce. In the same skillet, heat up the olive oil, and saute the other half of the garlic for about 30 seconds, stirring. Then sprinkle your flour into the skillet, stirring well to combine. Cook for another minute, stirring occasionally, and then whisk in the vegetable broth slowly. Whisk in the milk as well, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Finally, stir in the cheese, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir until the sauce is smooth.
- Combine the Sauce, Shrimp, Pasta, and Vegetables. Drain the water out of the cooked pasta and veggies. Add them to the sauce in the skillet, along with the cooked shrimp. Toss to combine, and cook until heated through.
- Enjoy! Let the shrimp alfredo stand for a few minutes before serving.
The Best Tips and Tricks
Before you get started making this recipe, please take a look at these helpful hints! They’ll help you craft the best shrimp alfredo, ever. Pick out the very best shrimp, customize the sauce, and more!
- Know Your Shrimp: When it comes to shrimp, you must, must, must pay attention to the appearance and fragrance of the shrimp! A good shrimp will have a clean, sea-washed gray color to it, and a smell that’s like clean seawater – never “fishy” or “ammonia.” If your shrimp smell or look strange, discard them! You can easily make this dish without them for an easy vegetarian alfredo, if necessary!
- Frozen vs. Fresh: Unless you live in an area that’s close to good-quality seafood fishing, steer clear of most “fresh” shrimp. Chances are, they’ve traveled a long way, and aren’t all that fresh. Or they have been previously frozen, which means that you might as well buy the more affordable frozen shrimp, anyway!
- Prepped or Not Prepped? That Is the Question. If you have time, you can peel, devein, and tail your own shrimp. But if you’d like to save the time, go ahead and get your shrimp prepped. Easy!
- Amp Up the Sauce: If you want to add even more flavor to this recipe, you can add a splash of white wine to the simmering sauce. Minced shallot is also good, sauteed right along with the garlic. Finally, add a little lift to the finished dish with a garnish of freshly chopped parsley. Yum.
What Goes with Shrimp Alfredo?
A simple salad and breadsticks combo is just right for serving with shrimp alfredo, but you can also make something fancy! These easy sides and appetizers will hit the spot.
- Asparagus: Steamed, roasted, or maybe wrapped in bacon? Yeah, I’m thinking wrapped in bacon! This addictive recipe for Bacon Wrapped Asparagus with Balsamic Glaze might just be your new favorite side.
- Roasted Carrots: Add extra color and texture to your menu with smoky, sweet, caramelized carrots! This super-simple recipe for Garlic Butter Roasted Carrots is just right.
- Bruschetta: Go with classic tomato bruschetta, or try my traditional Macedonian Mushroom Bruschetta! It’s so flavorful and simple, you’ll want to make it all the time!
Storing and Reheating the Leftovers
To store leftover shrimp alfredo, I recommend putting it in an airtight food storage container or bag, and then refrigerating. It will keep for up to three days.
To reheat, place your leftovers in a covered skillet over low heat. Add a tablespoon or two of milk. Heat slowly, stirring occasionally, until the pasta and shrimp are hot all the way through. Don’t overcook, though, or the shrimp will be tough.
Can I Freeze This?
Sure can! Just store your cooled leftovers in an airtight container, and freeze for up to two months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating, and be sure to stir the pasta well while you reheat it.
Lightened-Up Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo
- 12 ounces fettuccine
- 1 bag (12 ounces) frozen peas and broccoli
- 4 tablespoons vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
- 4 cloves garlic , minced, divided
- 1 pound large shrimp (about 16), shelled and deveined, tails removed
- salt and fresh ground pepper , to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1/2- cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- salt and fresh ground pepper , to taste
- Prepare fettuccine pasta according to package directions; add frozen veggies the last 5 minutes of cooking.
- In the meantime, add butter to a large nonstick skillet and melt over medium-high heat; add half of the minced garlic to butter and cook for a few seconds, or until fragrant.
- Add shrimp; season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
- Flip the shrimp and cook until fully pink and cooked through, about 2 more minutes.
- Transfer the shrimp to a bowl and set aside.
- Add olive oil to the pan and heat it up.
- Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.
- Sprinkle with flour, and stir to combine.
- Cook for an additional minute to cook the flour, stirring occasionally.
- Using a whisk, start to slowly add vegetable broth to the pan, whisking to combine until smooth.
- Whisk in milk, and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Let cook for an additional minute, or until thickened.
- Stir in parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper; continue to cook until the cheese melted.
- Drain pasta and veggies.
- Add the shrimp, cooked pasta, and veggies to the sauce; toss well to combine and continue to cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let stand couple of minutes.
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.