Easy Shrimp Alfredo Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
Shrimp Alfredo has a fine-dining reputation that belies how easy it is to make this classy pasta dish at home.

Updated: May 08, 2024

Despite being a staple on restaurant menus, shrimp Alfredo is often overlooked at home, unless a store-bought jar of sauce sits in the cupboard for a quick weeknight meal. But scratch-made Alfredo sauce needs just a few ingredients and cooks quickly. Add the shrimp, toss with pasta and it’s on the table in a flash.

At a restaurant, shrimp Alfredo is a tempting splurge, for the richness of the sauce if not the menu price. The best Alfredo sauce piles in butter and cheese, as well as cream in the American version. This makes the other flavors in it—a little garlic, pepper, fresh parsley and lemon—simply sparkle. It’s just the ticket for a family celebration or an easy, romantic dinner recipe for at-home date nights.

What is Alfredo sauce?

The American take on homemade fettuccine Alfredo finds its richness in a trio of fats: butter, heavy cream and cheese. The ratios of these ingredients can vary somewhat, especially if you love the complexity of grating several hard cheeses into your sauce. Yet the inventor of this sauce, Italian restaurateur Alfredo di Lelio, simply dressed his fettuccine with butter and cheese, tossing in hot starchy pasta water to help the mixture emulsify.

Store-bought Alfredo sauce can include other thickeners as well, creating a white sauce you could almost stand a spoon in. Making your own easy shrimp Alfredo sauce lets you control that thickness and even lower the fat, if desired.

Shrimp Alfredo Ingredients

  • Fettuccine: Wide, thick fettuccine is the best pasta for Alfredo sauce. The sauce coats the pasta, keeping it from clumping, and the pasta soaks up the creamy sauce, infusing its flavor into each bite. Wider ribbon pastas like pappardelle and tagliatelle can stand in for fettuccine. Flat yet narrower linguine will work, but capellini or angel hair pasta will break easily in the thickened sauce. For a shorter pasta, try farfalle, also called bow tie or butterfly pasta.
  • Heavy whipping cream: With up to 35% fat, heavy whipping cream gives Alfredo sauce a velvety texture. As a heavy cream substitute, you can use 1 cup of whole milk plus 1/2 cup of butter for a similar effect.
  • Parmesan cheese: For the best results opt for grating your own Parmesan cheese. Pre-grated cheese is coated in anti-caking additives that can prevent the cheese from properly melding with the sauce. While you’re at it, learn the difference between Parmigiano Reggiano and Parmesan.
  • Precooked shrimp: Peeling raw shrimp and cooking them yourself lets you control the timing and texture, as explained in this primer on how to clean shrimp. When you cook shrimp, remove them from the pan as soon as they are cooked through. That way, when you add them to the sauce to warm them, they won’t become rubbery.

Directions

Step 1: Thicken the cream

Cook the fettuccine according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the cream and bring it to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for three minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk.

Editor’s Tip: Constant whisking helps the water content evaporate from the cream so that it reduces evenly without the need for additional thickeners.

Step 2: Finish the sauce

Add the cooked shrimp, Parmesan cheese, garlic and pepper. Cook and stir with a spatula just until the shrimp are heated through.

Step 3: Combine and serve

Two plates of easy shrimp alfredo on a tableTMB Studio

Drain the fettuccine and toss it with the shrimp mixture while both are still hot. Sprinkle with parsley; if desired, top with additional Parmesan cheese and serve with lemon wedges.

Recipe Variations

  • Add vegetables: The light flavor and texture of the shrimp offset the richness of the sauce, and sprinkling in a few vegetables can do the same. Try folding in fresh baby spinach at the end of the cooking time. Drained chopped tomatoes or sauteed mushrooms also complement the creamy sauce.
  • Make a more traditional Alfredo: For a more traditional approach to shrimp Alfredo, skip the cream. While the pasta cooks, put the butter and cheese in a bowl. When the fettuccine is al dente, reserve 1 cup of starchy pasta water, drain the pasta, and place it in the bowl. Add in some of the pasta water, and stir the pasta, butter and cheese until the sauce looks creamy and smooth. Add more water (or cheese!) as needed.
  • Make it spicy: Sprinkle homemade creole seasoning mix into the sauce; the cream will tone down the heat, so you can add just a smidgen or generously spice it up. For a different twist, try a lemon-pepper or salt-free seafood seasoning.
  • Add some char: If you start with raw shrimp, you can grill shrimp for a lightly charred taste in the pasta dish. Feel free to season them first, such as with lemon and dill or Cajun spices, because grilling will infuse those flavors into the shrimp and later the sauce. Leftover shrimp and grilled vegetables can become a whole new dish when stirred into Alfredo sauce. This guide on how to grill vegetables has several options that would be tasty additions to this shrimp Alfredo.

How to Store Shrimp Alfredo

Shrimp Alfredo tastes best when freshly made. If you do have leftovers, store them in an airtight container for up to four days. If you plan on serving later, store the sauce and fettuccine separately, and, if starting with raw shrimp, cook the shrimp when it’s time to serve. When reheating shrimp Alfredo, you may need to add a little liquid to get the sauce to a creamy consistency.

We don’t recommend freezing shrimp Alfredo. Freezing and thawing will cause the creamy sauce to separate, and the shrimp will likely turn out rubbery—especially if they were originally frozen.

Shrimp Alfredo Tips

A plate of easy shrimp alfredo on a tableTMB Studio

How can you thicken or thin Alfredo sauce?

To thicken Alfredo sauce, you can add a roux, similar to making bechamel sauce. To make roux, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and then whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour. Allow the mixture to cook for 2-3 minutes. Then, slowly add the warm Alfredo sauce to the roux, whisking constantly until it thickens.

For a thinner Alfredo sauce, whisk in a little more heavy cream. If you also prefer to cut the richness, thin the sauce with a little starchy pasta water or whole milk instead.

How can you reuse leftover Alfredo sauce?

Although we tend to link this buttery, cheesy sauce to fettuccine, that’s just the beginning of recipes with Alfredo sauce. Besides other stovetop and baked pasta dishes, try this creamy sauce on pizza or spooned over turkey or chicken. If you gobble up all of the sauce but have extra pasta, leftover fettuccine can become the base for other sauces in classic pasta recipes.

What do you serve with shrimp Alfredo?

Just like in a restaurant, serve shrimp Alfredo with a nice crisp green salad, homemade breadsticks or garlic bread. If you want a nutrient-dense vegetable on the side, try sauteed spinach or baked broccolini.

Watch how to Make Easy Shrimp Alfredo

Easy Shrimp Alfredo

Prep Time 30 min
Yield 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 pound cooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
  • Lemon wedges, optional

Directions

  1. Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in cream. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Add the shrimp, cheese, garlic and pepper; cook and stir until heated through. Drain fettuccine; toss with shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with parsley; if desired, top with additional Parmesan cheese and serve with lemon wedges.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 788 calories, 51g fat (31g saturated fat), 317mg cholesterol, 573mg sodium, 45g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 2g fiber), 38g protein.

Instead of buying a jar of sauce, make it from scratch for this easy shrimp Alfredo recipe. The garlic aroma will call your family to the table. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin