Easy Shrimp Pesto Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

This easy shrimp pesto pasta tastes better than a restaurant but is simple enough for a fast, weeknight dinner. It’s fantastic!

If you are a lover of fancy pasta dishes that don’t take all day to make, you are going to love this shrimp pesto pasta. It comes together in less than an hour (way less), and it is easily one of the best shrimp recipes I’ve ever made.

With just a hint of creaminess, the pasta gets a huge flavor boost from the pesto and sun-dried tomatoes. 

easy shrimp pesto pasta in skillet

This is definitely one of those meals that finds me on a serious mission to hoard the leftovers (and/or sneak pieces of shrimp off my kids’ plates).  

Spoiler alert: this shrimp pasta is crazy delicious eaten cold, straight from the fridge. Day or night. #nojudging

I’m not exaggerating when I say this is easily in my top favorite meals of all time. 

shrimp, pasta, sun-dried tomatoes in two stacked white bowls

Cooking Shrimp at Home is Easy-Peasy

This dish comes together fast, in part, because shrimp take only a few minutes to cook!

The shrimp sizzle in a hot skillet with a little olive oil just until they start to turn pink. They cook the rest of the way simmering in a little cream, broth, and sun-dried tomatoes. YUM.

I’ve given some notes in the recipe below about what kind of shrimp I buy. In short, I grab a bag of frozen peeled and deveined shrimp, let it thaw, drain, pop off the tails and use them in recipes like this.

Fresh shrimp is pretty much impossible to find where I live, so frozen, thawed shrimp does the trick just fine.

how to make easy shrimp pesto pasta

After the shrimp cook all the way in the creamy, saucy mixture, the pasta and pesto are added and everything is tossed together. 

The pasta is coated in a perfectly light sauce that doesn’t overpower any of the ingredients. It is definitely best served right away. 

But like I mentioned above, the leftovers are magnificent, too. Kind of reminiscent of a cold pasta salad. Less saucy, but plenty yummy.

shrimp, pasta, sun-dried tomatoes in white bowl with fork

If you’re looking for a recipe to impress, this easy shrimp pesto pasta is your ticket.

I love how quickly this comes together; it’s a true testament how simple ingredients can come together to form something absolutely spectacular. 

I’ve been so excited to share this one with you guys. I hope you love it!

easy shrimp pesto pasta in skillet

FAQ for Shrimp Pesto Pasta

What kind of shrimp should I use?

I almost always use frozen shrimp (from Costco – 21/25 per pound) that have already been peeled and deveined. After the shrimp have thawed and drained, I take off the tails.

Can I sub another kind of meat for the shrimp?

You can definitely experiment with that! I have only ever used shrimp because I love it. But you could use leftover, grilled chicken (just toss in at the end with the pasta) or cook chicken in the first step like the shrimp (chicken will need to cook a bit longer than the shrimp). You could also easily leave out the meat for a meatless meal.

Can I use jarred sun-dried tomatoes?

Yes. I use oil-packed chopped or julienned sun-dried tomatoes. I drain, rinse, drain again and use in the recipe. An 8-ounce jar of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes will yield about 3/4 to 1 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

Does this freeze well or work for a make-ahead meal?

This recipe is definitely served quickly after being made, so it wouldn’t fare great as a freezer meal. Although the leftovers are delicious (less saucy, but still good).


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Easy Shrimp Pesto Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Yield: 5-6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
pasta with shrimp, parmesan and sun-dried tomatoes in white bowl with fork

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed (see note)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (I use low-sodium)
  • 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (drained and lightly rinsed if packed in oil or water)
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto (see note)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta in lightly salted boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain. Set aside.
  2. In a deep 12-inch skillet or medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat until hot and rippling. Add the shrimp and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for about a minute and flip or stir the shrimp and cook for another 30 seconds or so until the shrimp start to turn pink but don't cook all the way.
  3. Add cream, broth, and sun-dried tomatoes and simmer for 2-3 minutes until the shrimp are cooked through. Stir in pasta and pesto and toss until evenly combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed.
  4. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Notes

Shrimp: I almost always use frozen shrimp (from Costco - 21/25 per pound) that have already been peeled and deveined. After the shrimp have thawed and drained, I take off the tails.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes: an 8-ounce jar of sun-dried tomatoes, drained and rinsed, will yield about 3/4 to 1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes. See note below about adding more tomatoes than called for in the recipe.

Pesto: I highly recommend using refrigerated basil pesto over shelf-stable jarred pesto. It has a fresher taste and will add a brighter flavor to the pasta. I use the refrigerated pesto from Costco. Homemade pesto is also a great option.

More or Less: most of the ingredients (pesto, pasta, shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes) can be adjusted to taste - use more or less depending on your preference. You really can't mess it up.

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Recipe Source: adapted from a recipe Alli R., a MKC reader, sent me (her MIL got it from a Sunset magazine 10+ years ago)