Shrimp fettuccine alfredo makes an easy weeknight meal - it's ready in just 30 minutes and prepared in a single pan. Fettuccine noodles and tender shrimp are coated in a creamy homemade alfredo sauce.
You'll be surprised at how easy this shrimp fettuccine alfredo comes together. It's made in a single pan and has the most creamy and cheesy alfredo sauce. What's not to love?
All you need is a sauté pan and a few simple pantry ingredients to get started. If making a homemade alfredo sauce sounds intimidating, don't worry. It's surprisingly easy and you'll never go back to the jarred stuff again!
Ingredients and substitutions
- Butter - Unsalted butter can be substituted with salted butter (cut the listed salt in half).
- Shrimp - I recommend large peeled and deveined shrimp for this recipe, but any size shrimp will work. Take care not to overcook smaller shrimp and remove them from the pan once they look opaque and the tail curls slightly into a "c" shape.
- Broth - Chicken broth can be substituted with vegetable broth or seafood broth if desired. I don't recommend using low or no sodium broth because it adds a significant amount of flavor to the sauce.
- Cheese - I suggest freshly shredding your parmesan cheese for this recipe. Pre-shredded cheeses or cheese in a canister often contains anti-clumping powders that get grainy when melted (or don't melt properly at all).
- Garlic - I recommend freshly minced garlic for best flavor. Two cloves of garlic can be substituted with ½ teaspoon of garlic powder if needed.
- Seasoning - Salt, pepper, and a small amount of nutmeg create a classic alfredo flavor. I don't recommend omitting these ingredients for best results.
- Whole milk - I recommend whole milk because the higher fat content helps prevent your sauce from breaking and adds a creamy texture to the sauce.
- Heavy cream - Adds a rich, creamy texture to the sauce.
Tips and tricks
Cooking shrimp - Shrimp cook quickly and only need a minute or two on each side before they're cooked through. A few telltale signs that your shrimp are done cooking? Their color turns opaque and they curl slightly into a "c" shape. Overcooked shrimp curl tightly into a ball and have a rubbery texture.
Measure pasta and liquid accurately - The most important part about this recipe is measuring your pasta and liquid ingredients exactly. Because your pasta is cooked in the same pan as the rest of your ingredients, it is important to use the exact amount of liquid needed to cook that pasta. If too much liquid is added, you'll be left with a runny sauce. If too little liquid is added, your pasta and other ingredients will get dry, stick to the bottom of the pan, and potentially burn.
Ingredients sticking to the pan? - Turn the heat down and add a splash of water, your stove is a little too hot.
Sauce runny? - After cooking your skillet meal, remove it from the heat and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Your sauce will continue to thicken as it stands.
Use freshly grated cheese - Use parmesan cheese that's grated fresh from a block for best flavor and texture. Pre-grated cheeses (including cheese in a canister) are often coated in anti-clumping powders that add a grainy texture to your meal when melted.
Frequently asked questions
The main ingredients that add flavor to the sauce are fresh garlic, parmesan cheese, broth, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. The resulting sauce is creamy and mild with a garlicky and salty parmesan flavor. For best flavor, I don't recommend omitting or substituting these ingredients. To add more flavor to this recipe, you could add some sun-dried tomatoes (like in my Tuscan chicken mac and cheese recipe) or ¼ teaspoon of Italian seasoning.
Pasta and cream sauces don't thaw well, so I don't recommend freezing this recipe.
Leftovers will keep for 3 to 4 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
This recipe is prepared in a single pan, so it's very important to accurately measure the pasta and liquids in the recipe. Adding too little pasta or too much liquid will result in a runny sauce. If your sauce looks thin after cooking, remove it from the heat and allow it to set, undisturbed, for 5 minutes. The sauce will continue to thicken as it stands.
Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 16 ounces large shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails removed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 16 ounces chicken broth
- 8 ounces whole milk
- 8 ounces fettuccine noodles, dry
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 4 ounces heavy cream
- In a sauté pan over medium heat, add two tablespoons of butter. Once hot, add shrimp and cook for about 1-2 minutes each side, or until opaque and tails curl to form a "c" shape. Transfer to a plate or bowl and cover to keep warm.
- Add remaining butter and minced garlic to pan. Cook for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
- Add chicken broth, milk, fettuccine, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until pasta is al dente according to your pasta's package directions (my fettuccine took about 11 minutes). Stir once halfway through to separate noodles.
- Remove lid and add parmesan cheese and heavy cream. Stir until cheese is melted. Add shrimp and stir to combine. Remove pan from heat allow to set for 5 minutes to allow for sauce to thicken.
- Leftovers will keep for 3 to 4 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. When reheating, add a splash of milk or heavy cream to help prevent the sauce from separating.
- Fettuccine can be substituted with other pasta shapes - bow ties, cavatappi, spaghetti, or shells are all great choices.
- Freshly shredded parmesan from a block is highly recommended. Pre-shredded cheeses contain anti-clumping powders that prevent even melting and make your sauce grainy.
- If using low sodium broth, you may want to add additional seasoning to make up for the loss of flavor.