Pesto Shrimp Pasta Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
Garden-fresh basil and plump shrimp combine for a shrimp pesto pasta bursting with alfresco vibes.

Updated: May 22, 2024

I’m always looking for the perfect patio pasta—something fresh, light and easy to make and serve. This shrimp pesto pasta is all that and more.

And it’s easy as can be. Toss hot pasta with a summery five-ingredient pesto spiked with a bright kiss of fresh-squeezed lemon. Add sauteed bites of juicy shrimp and crisp-tender asparagus to that magical mixture, and you have an elegant dish worthy of company. (Don’t worry; I won’t tell them how simple it was to make.)

Pesto shrimp pasta must be on your alfresco fare rotation this summer. But shrimp recipes like this are so good, you’ll want to make it year-round. I’ve added this pasta to my list of favorite Italian recipes as it satisfies my never-ending pesto obsession. If you love pesto as much as I do, don’t miss even more recipes using pesto.

Ingredients for Shrimp Pesto Pasta

  • Shrimp: When shopping for fresh shrimp, avoid shrimp with a strong ammonia smell. Next, check the shells, passing on slimy or cloudy ones. Buying frozen shrimp is a safe bet, as they are usually frozen immediately after harvesting, which preserves their fresh-from-the-sea flavor. Buy peeled and deveined shrimp to save time, or learn how to clean shrimp yourself.
  • Fresh basil: This is yet another great way to use up a surplus of summer basil from the garden. Sweet with a slightly spicy aroma, it adds flavor notes of black pepper, anise and mint.
  • Olive oil: In this recipe, use refined or virgin olive oil for sauteing, while reserving extra virgin olive oil, which has a lower smoke point, for making pesto. Put your most flavorful foot forward by cooking with the best olive oil you can find.
  • Lemon: Ripe, juicy lemons are heavy for their size and give a little when pressed. When shopping for lemons, skip out on ones that feel too soft or have wrinkled skin. Firmly rolling the lemon on a countertop with your hand will help produce more juice when squeezed.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic is key to homemade pesto. This tried-and-true trick to peel garlic makes prepping garlic a breeze.
  • Asparagus: Although available year-round in most grocery stores, the freshest asparagus is found in spring. Look for firm, thin stalks that stand easily on their own. Make sure the cut ends are moist, and store them in the refrigerator in a glass dish with a shallow layer of water at the bottom to extend their shelf life.
  • Pasta: This recipe calls for easy-to-find spaghetti noodles, which get their name from the Italian word spago, meaning “twine” or “string.” Most any kind of pasta will do, though.


Step 1: Make the pesto

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, combine 1 tablespoon oil, basil, lemon juice, garlic and salt in a blender; cover and process until smooth.

Step 2: Saute asparagus and shrimp

In a large skillet, saute the asparagus in the remaining oil until crisp-tender. Add the shrimp and pepper flakes. Cook and stir until shrimp turn pink, two to four minutes.

Editor’s Tip: Saute the shrimp until just pink and starting to curl, as they can become tough and rubbery if left on the heat for too long.

Step 3: Mix pesto with pasta and shrimp

Drain the spaghetti, and place in a large bowl. Add the basil mixture, and toss to coat. Add the shrimp mixture, and mix well.

overhead shot; black background; Pesto Shrimp Pasta served on white plate with silver fork; lemon wedges on wooden board; over kitchen towel;TMB Studio

Shrimp Pesto Pasta Variations

  • Make a different pesto: Get creative, and use your favorite pesto variation, whether it’s arugula pesto, spinach pesto or even sweet pea pesto. If you’re short on time, you can even use prepared pesto.
  • Add an array of veggies: This recipe features asparagus, but you could add or substitute grape tomatoes, roasted red peppers, sauteed mushrooms, peas or even fresh spinach or arugula.
  • Play with pasta: Make this recipe with fresh vs. dried pasta, or experiment with different pasta shapes, such as rigatoni, farfalle or orzo. Substitute the pasta with spaghetti squash if you’re watching your carb intake.

How to Store Shrimp Pesto Pasta

Store leftovers in the refrigerator in a food-safe container for up to three days. To reheat, gently heat leftovers over low heat on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated through.

Shrimp Pesto Pasta Tips

3/4th shot; black background; Pesto Shrimp Pasta served on white plate with silver fork; lemon wedge;TMB Studio

Do you need to heat pesto before adding to pasta?

You don’t need to heat the pesto before tossing it with the pasta. In fact, not heating it beforehand helps maintain its garden-fresh flavors. In this recipe, the heat from the pasta and shrimp will gently warm the pesto to perfection.

How do you avoid overcooking shrimp?

When it comes to cooking shrimp, it’s all about timing. They’re perfectly cooked when they turn pink and hold a curved C shape. Once you see that, it’s time to remove them from the heat.

What can you serve with shrimp pesto pasta?

Green vegetables pair nicely with shrimp pesto pasta, so try one of these side salad recipes. You could also serve it with bruschetta recipes or homemade bread, like copycat Olive Garden breadsticks.

Watch how to Make Shrimp Pesto Pasta

Shrimp Pesto Pasta

Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 15 min
Yield 4 servings


  • 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


  1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a blender, combine 1 tablespoon oil, basil, lemon juice, garlic and salt; cover and process until smooth.
  2. In a large skillet, saute asparagus in remaining oil until crisp-tender. Add shrimp and pepper flakes. Cook and stir until shrimp turn pink, 2-4 minutes.
  3. Drain spaghetti; place in a large bowl. Add basil mixture; toss to coat. Add shrimp mixture and mix well.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 393 calories, 12g fat (2g saturated fat), 103mg cholesterol, 406mg sodium, 47g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 3g fiber), 23g protein.

Fresh basil and dash of red pepper puts zip in this lively shrimp pesto pasta. — Gloria Jones Grenga, Newnan, Georgia
Recipe Creator