This butter and garlic shrimp penne is delicious and easy; the sauce is perfection, especially when paired with the tender, succulent shrimp.

I don’t cook with shrimp very often and so when I do, I want the result to be good. As in, jaw-dropping, mouth-watering, worth-the-money, hoard-all-the-leftovers good.

This meal is just that. A delicious silky, light sauce comes together to coat the shrimp and pasta with a heady garlic and butter flavor that is lightened with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

White bowl full of cooked penne and shrimp.

Honestly, this sauce is perfection, especially when paired with the tender, succulent shrimp.

The reactions in my house justified the indulgence: my husband’s jaw dropped, my kids’ mouths were watering, we were all convinced it was worth the splurge and I’ll let you figure out who hid all the leftovers. (Hint: I’ve been known to sneak into closets and eat precious food commodities before.)

Top view of a white bowl of cooked penne and shrimp.

What To Serve With This:

Roasted Asparagus
A tasty green salad like this Spinach Strawberry Salad
Fresh, seasonal fruit

One Year Ago: Apple Cider Pudding Cake
Two Years Ago: Fusilli alla Caprese


Butter and Garlic Shrimp Penne

4.41 stars (67 ratings)


  • 5 garlic cloves, minced (about 5 teaspoons)
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 ½ pounds large shrimp, 21 to 25 count, peeled, deveined and each shrimp cut into 3 pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ¾ cup clam juice, you can find this by the tuna, usually
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


  • In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with 2 teaspoons of the minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let the shrimp stand in this mixture for 20 minutes at room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, heat the rest of the oil (2 tablespoons) over medium-low heat and add the smashed garlic cloves. Stir the mixture now and then to prevent the garlic burning and cook until the garlic is light and golden, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and use a slotted spoon to take out the garlic, leaving as much oil as you can in the skillet. Throw the garlic away and set the skillet aside.
  • In a large pot, bring at least 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt once the water comes to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until the pasta is tender (look at the package directions as each brand of pasta can differ). Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water in a small bowl. Once drained, throw the pasta back into the pot.
  • While the pasta is boiling, return the skillet with the oil to medium heat and add the shrimp with the marinade to the skillet, making sure the shrimp is in a single layer. Cook the shrimp, without stirring or moving them, until the oil starts to gently bubble, about 1 to 2 minutes. Now you can start stirring the shrimp and continuing to cook until the shrimp is just cooked through, about 1-2 minutes. It will cook fast so be careful not to overcook or the shrimp will turn tough.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a medium bowl. Add the remaining 3 teaspoon minced garlic and the red pepper flakes to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the flour and stirring constantly, cook the mixture for 1 minute. Whisk in the chicken broth and cook, whisking constantly, for 1-2 minutes, until the clumps of flour incorporate and become smooth. Whisk in the clam juice and parsley and cook until the mixture begins to thicken 2-3 minutes. Take the skillet off the heat and whisk in the butter and lemon juice. Add the shrimp and sauce to the pasta, adjusting the consistency with the pasta water if it is too dry (I didn’t need to add any pasta water to mine). Serve immediately.


Prep: this meal comes together quickly, especially if you marinate the shrimp as you prepare the other ingredients.
Serving: 1 Serving, Calories: 502kcal, Carbohydrates: 64g, Protein: 26g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 158mg, Sodium: 880mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g

Recipe Source: slightly adapted from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen