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!

creamy pesto shrimp

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 Sally’s Baking Addiction, 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. Pretty sure all other dinners are lackluster in comparison.


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 basil pesto

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.

TRY IT!


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 color.
  • Sprinkle with more parmesan cheese and/or fresh basil if desired.

ingredients for cooking pesto shrimp

creamy pesto shrimp in skillet

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: Instead of shrimp, 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.

pesto shrimp dinner

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creamy pesto shrimp

Creamy Pesto Shrimp

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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!


Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter
  • 23 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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  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 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 milks, and nondairy milks 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 post above if you’d like to substitute chicken.
  4. Tomatoes: If needed, you can use 1 cup 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.

Keywords: pesto shrimp

28 Comments

  1. This sounds delicious and I am anxious to try it! I made your pesto yesterday and served it over penne pasta with some grated Asiago cheese, it was delicious!
    I love it when you give us dinner recipes, I have tried many of your dinner recipes and love them!

    1. Lisa Riegel says:

      This sounds wonderful, and I will be trying it this week! Thanks for sharing, especially since I am going to try making pesto from the basil in my pots.

  2. This looks so good and I have almost everything to make it. I have some whipping cream, not heavy whipping cream. Would that work? I’m guessing the whipping cream has less fat than the heavy whipping cream, but maybe more fat than half and half. I don’t have any milk to mix with the whipping cream I have, but I don’t know if it’s still too much for the recipe to work.

    1. Hi Laurel! Whipping cream can be used in this recipe. Same amount.

  3. Cheryl Thiede says:

    I already made this and I love it! It was perfect timing as I had just pulled a jar of my homemade pesto out of the freezer and had cherry tomatoes in the fridge. I upped the veggie content with zucchini and red peppers. This is fantastic and definitely going into normal rotation. Thanks!

  4. It might not be prudent for me to rate this recipe since I had to change things, because of what I had. But it was delicious, so it’s nice for others to know they can experiment, right? I had a jar of pesto I’d used to make a pizza, so I loved this idea to use some of it. I decided to use spaghetti. While it cooked, I fried up some bacon, but I burned the garlic in the bacon grease, so I let the pan cool down and, instead of mincing up some more garlic, I used my homemade garlic butter. I forgot to divide the milk mixture so I dumped it all in (I didn’t have half and half, so I used 2% milk and sour cream). I used Argentine shrimp (really large, and wild caught). Instead of fresh tomatoes, I used a can of mild Rotel. I added the lemon juice and parmesan. I only used a couple of tablespoons of pesto. I added the spaghetti to the skillet and it was great! Athough my 4.5 y.o. grandson didn’t eat the shrimp, he ate all the spaghetti (and that was the part I was worried about, lol – he loves my “regular” meat sauce over spaghetti, but this was something different for him).

  5. Excellent and very easy. I only had 1% milk and it was still very tasty!

  6. i didnt have any and served with mini linguine. Even my mother in-law liked it and she’s a traditional tomato based pasta person 🙂
    Mine doesn’t look as picturesque, but it was yummy! Will be making this again ❤️

  7. This recipe was amazing!
    Thank you so much for this recipe!
    Have fun!

  8. Made this tonight over cauliflower rice. It was a big hit. Added tomatoes and big handful of spinach. Love it! I will make this again!! Thank you

  9. This is delicious! I made it tonight (along with your pesto sauce) and it was awesome. My family loved it. I served it with Delallo gnocchi and it went really well together. Thanks for the great recipe. I love your savory recipes as much as your sweet ones!

  10. This recipe was delicious! I served it over white rice. Quick and easy. Thanks for another great recipe!

  11. PattiAnn Whisman says:

    Hi Sally,

    I haven’t made this yet, but I bought all the ingredients! Do you think I can freeze this in small portions?

    Thank you,

    PattiAnn

    1. Absolutely! Freezes well up to 3 months.

  12. I made this today, very GOOD , but I pumped it up a little . I used heavy cream, but halved the amount. I use 1/2 spinach 1/2 basil in my pesto ( cause I never have enuf basil) gave it some heavy shakes of my no salt Cajun seasoning and red pepper flakes. I used stuff large ravioli stuffed with spinach & cheese. The shells I had from shrimp, I use to steep in the water I later use after straining to cook my pasta in. My hubby said it was delicious and whenever lockdown is over I’ll make it for our friends ….

  13. Made this as written and it was easy and delicious! Fancy enough for a special occasion but simple enough for a weeknight. Used fresh basil and cherry tomatoes but will definitely make again even if I have to use jarred pesto and out of season veggies.

  14. Can you substitute the half an half for something else? Non dairy?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Meg, You can but it will create a much thinner sauce. See recipe notes for details.

  15. Delicious! I used 1/2 the amount of pesto, which I thought was plenty. Followed the rest of the recipe as written. Served over Garlic Parmesan Acini pasta. I will definitely be making this again. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!!

  16. Shrimp is a wonderful protein for this because of how quickly it cooks, but I could also see this being just as amazing with diced chicken. A little pesto goes a long way for me, so balancing it out with creamy goodness is perfect.

  17. Sheila Jo Sorensen says:

    This was delicious!,..My husband and I loved, loved this recipe,..the only change I made is I didn’t add the tomatoes to the sauce, we had tomatoe slices on the side with a biT of salt and pepper on them. Love the Pesto in the recipe it really makes the dish,..YUMMY!

  18. Amy Wilkinson says:

    My entire family LOVED this dish! (including our 5 year old and 18 month old )I halved it and used pistachios to make Sally’s basil pesto and served it over pasta and handful of power greens…mixed it all up and in 30-ish min voila! A “fancy” meal that my hubby asked me if I had taken a pic of it yet 😉 I LOVE practically everything I try from this website. I really enjoy her thorough details and suggestions for substitutions and how to store/freeze all her recipes. This is the third recipe of sally’s i’ve made in the past couple of days! Her pistachio cupcakesand buttermilk biscuits were AH-MAZING over the weekend. I pretty much solely bake and make her creations weekly! You should DEF give this recipe a try!

  19. Excellent recipe to use with my homemade pesto! I served it over rice and it was delicious. I might serve it over crostini as an appetizer in the future. Sooooo very good!! Thank you!

  20. Jamie Bailey says:

    My husband absolutely loved this! I made the Pesto too but I think I processed it too long because it was very dark in color but tasted great. Thanks again for a wonderful recipe.

  21. I just made this and I’m dead. It is amazinggg and I’m really glad I live alone so I don’t have to share it lol. I put it over a bed of spinach.

  22. I made this recipe yesterday but I substituted the shrimp with chopped chicken breast because I just am not a huge fan of seafood and I must say this was such a delicious dish. I thoroughly enjoyed every bite. Thank you for sharing with us.

  23. Wow! this is so amazing and creamy. I need to try this today and surprise my wife with the new dish. Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe.

  24. Sally, you’re not *just* a baker…you’re a chef too!
    This dish is absolutely fabulous! Once my fiance and I took the first bite we gave each other THE look. Ya know, the look as if you cracked the code to pure culinary expertise that you cant even believe you’re eating something so good that came out of YOUR kitchen! LOL. I served it over Brown Rice, which was fabulous, but next time will definitely be serving it with Pasta…that sauce is too good!

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