Creamy Pesto Shrimp

Creamy Pesto Shrimp

Creamy Pesto Shrimp

This is creamy pesto shrimp, an unbelievably versatile meal you can serve with pasta, rice, vegetables, salads, and more. I love using homemade pesto, but your favorite store-bought version works too. It’s cheesy, flavorful, and satisfying– and ready in less than 30 minutes!

I made this creamy pesto shrimp about 6 months ago. Made it again 3 more times that month and about 45 times since then. Exaggeration? Never. I don’t share too many dinner recipes on this site, but a repeat recipe like this CAN’T go unannounced. I used frozen shrimp in the winter, but when the weather began to warm up, fresh shrimp worked like a charm. We love it over orzo, but I’ve served it with white rice, zucchini noodles, mixed with tortellini pasta, and even on cold crunchy salads.

Easy, quick, tasty, and versatile.

This Creamy Pesto Shrimp Is:

  • Ready in less than 30 minutes
  • Immensely flavorful
  • Adaptable based on what you have/like
  • Best with homemade pesto, but store-bought works too
  • Cheesy, creamy, yet completely fresh-tasting
  • Excellent on pasta, rice, veggies, salads, and more

Homemade Pesto

Let me use this opportunity to persuade you into making homemade pesto! Though store-bought is fine, homemade pesto makes this shrimp dinner infinitely better. (You need most of the pesto ingredients for the creamy sauce, anyway.) Quick and versatile, pesto can be used in a variety of recipes like my sausage & garlic pesto flatbread or mixed with cooked pasta, roasted vegetables, spread on sandwiches, artisan bread, and today’s shrimp recipe. From-scratch pesto is much easier than you think and tastes worlds better than store-bought. You need a food processor or blender and I have plenty of ingredient variations on my Homemade Basil Pesto page, too.

Overview: How to Make Creamy Pesto Shrimp

This dish is made on the stove-top. Add everything in stages:

  • Melt a little butter, add garlic, and some half-and-half. You can use a mix of whole milk and heavy cream instead, but using all heavy cream will make a very heavy sauce, and using milk will make a very thin sauce. Keep this in mind if making a substitution.
  • Add the shrimp, then some cherry tomatoes. Cook until the shrimp is nearly cooked through, then add more half-and-half, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese. The cherry tomatoes make this sauce a little brown.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the pesto. I like adding the pesto after removing the dish from heat so that it retains some of its fresh green colors.
  • Sprinkle with more parmesan cheese and/or fresh basil if desired.

Possible Substitutions

  • Tomatoes: You can use diced tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes or leave the tomatoes out completely. Or try throwing in a big handful of spinach instead!
  • Shrimp: I love quick & easy shrimp recipes like this. But instead of shrimp, you can try 1 lb of diced uncooked chicken. Add chicken to the skillet when you melt the butter. Cook it until almost completely cooked through, then add the garlic and 1/3 cup half-and-half. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 3 full minutes, then add the cherry tomatoes, remaining half-and-half, the lemon juice, and parmesan cheese. Cook for 1 minute or until sauce has thickened and chicken is cooked through.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan adds an extra layer of flavor, so I don’t recommend substituting or skipping it! In a pinch, though, you can substitute another cheese or leave it out.


Creamy Pesto Shrimp

Bursting with flavor, this creamy and saucy shrimp dish is excellent on its own but tastes wonderful over your favorite pasta, rice, or even cooked zucchini noodles. Garlic, lemon, and tomatoes add bright flavor, while half-and-half keeps it extra creamy. I recommend using homemade pesto!

  • 1 Tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter
  • 2–3 cloves garlic, minced*
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) half-and-half, divided*
  • 1 lb medium or large uncooked shrimp, peeled & deveined*
  • 1 cup (about 200g) halved cherry tomatoes*
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (about 40g) parmesan cheese, freshly shredded*
  • 1 cup (240ml) store-bought or homemade pesto
  • optional: fresh basil and extra parmesan cheese
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the minced garlic and 1/3 cup (80ml) half-and-half. Stir to combine, then bring the half-and-half to a simmer. Once simmering, add the shrimp. Cook for 1 minute, then add the halved cherry tomatoes. Stir and cook until shrimp is nearly cooked through, just about pink on both sides. Stir in the remaining half-and-half, the lemon juice, and parmesan cheese. Cook for 1 minute. (Shrimp should be fully cooked by this point. If not, keep cooking until it’s pink.)

  2. Remove from heat, then immediately stir in the pesto while everything is still hot. Serve plain, over cooked pasta, rice, or even zucchini noodles. Sprinkle with fresh basil and extra parmesan cheese, if desired.

  3. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

  1. Garlic: If you don’t have fresh garlic cloves, use 3 teaspoons minced garlic from the jar or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. (If desired, add more garlic powder for a stronger flavor.)
  2. Half-and-half: Half-and-half is strongly recommended for the best texture. If you don’t have half-and-half but you have heavy cream and whole milk, whisk 1/3 cup (80ml) of each together to use in this recipe instead. Using all heavy cream or even canned coconut milk will make a very heavy and rich sauce, while whole milk, lower-fat milk, and non-dairy milk will create a much thinner sauce. Keep this in mind when making substitutions.
  3. Shrimp: You can use frozen and thawed uncooked shrimp if needed. If using pre-cooked shrimp, make sure it’s thawed first. Stir it in with the lemon juice and parmesan cheese towards the end of step 2 and cook in the sauce until heated through. See the post above if you’d like to substitute chicken.
  4. Tomatoes: If needed, you can use 1 cup of diced tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes.
  5. Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan adds an extra layer of flavor, so I don’t recommend substituting or skipping it! In a pinch, though, you can substitute another cheese or leave it out.
Creamy Pesto Shrimp

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