Spicy Shrimp Orzo with Lemon and Basil

Total Time

Prep: 55 min. Cook: 15 min.


6 servings

Updated: Feb. 13, 2024
This shrimp pasta is made in just one pot. Creating a broth with the shrimp shells is an extra step, but it's totally worth it for a flavorful final dish. The lemon adds a brightness that pairs well with fresh basil. —Ed Spangler, Timberlake, North Carolina
Spicy Shrimp Orzo with Lemon and Basil Recipe photo by Taste of Home


  • 2 large lemons
  • 1 pound uncooked shell-on shrimp (31-40 per pound)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 package (16 ounces) uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil


  1. Peel zest from 1 lemon in long thin strips. Grate zest of the remaining lemon. Halve and juice both lemons, reserving juice. Peel and devein shrimp, reserving shells.
  2. In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add shrimp shells; cook and stir until pink, 1-2 minutes. Add vermouth and cook until most of the liquid is gone. Add water, lemon zest strips and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain broth.
  3. In a clean Dutch oven, bring broth to a boil over high heat. Add orzo, pepper, crushed red pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from the heat. Stir in shrimp and grated lemon zest. Cover and let stand until orzo is al dente and shrimp turn pink, 4-5 minutes. Stir in basil and reserved lemon juice.

Nutrition Facts

1-1/4 cups: 370 calories, 4g fat (1g saturated fat), 92mg cholesterol, 736mg sodium, 59g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 2g fiber), 22g protein.