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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 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 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 and pesto pizza, 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 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: 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.
pesto shrimp dinner

Let me know if you try this! I have more dinner inspiration, too:

More Favorite Dinner Recipes

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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


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
  • 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


  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 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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I had all the ingredients in my cupboard and fridge – made my own half and half and scaled the recipe down to half- it was perfect, you were right , it’s flavourful and satisfying and quick and easy! I served it quickly with a supermarket veggies “rice” medley and ate the leftover sauce like a soup with a little bread on the side. Look forward to trying it over rice or pasta next time. Thanks Sally!

  2. I found a bag of peeled and deveined shrimp in my freezer that must be emptied before the holidays, so I used it to make this recipe tonight. The recipe was also a great excuse to pull out one of my containers of pesto made this past summer. I cooked up one cup of dry pearled couscous to serve with it. However, I cook very lean for my husband who has a heart stent. For this reason, instead of butter I used plant-based margarine, instead of half and half I used 2% milk, and I used grated parmesan instead of shredded parmesan. The grated parmesan helped to thicken the sauce. In addition, when I dumped the cooked couscous into the recipe I included the starch water with it, thickening it further. It came out so good that I texted my husband and asked him to stop for a baguette on the way home. This rich, tasty, thick and creamy meal is a keeper. Thank you!

  3. Made recipe today as I had just gotten fresh shrimp on trip to the beach. We liked the recipe very much, creamy and tasty, but did think it was a bit heavy on the garlic as the pesto sauce also has garlic. Next time I will cut the garlic and use 1 1/2 teaspoon instead of 3, and add 1 teaspoon of salt as tomatoes need a little boost. But overall we liked the recipe, had the creamy shrimp with pasta, and it will go in our index card box!
    Thinking of trying it out with chicken instead of shrimp to suit other tastes as my son does not eat any type of seafood but does like pesto sauce…we’ll see how it turns out

  4. I made this and it was so delicious! Thank you! I definitely will make it again. I didn’t have as much cheese as the recipe called for, so I added a few pinches of salt to the sauce, a little at a time.

    I also have a question about the “notes” section. In note 3 it says “You can use frozen and thawed uncooked shrimp if needed.” – should that read “cooked” instead of “uncooked”?

    1. Hi Michelle, We’re so glad you tried and loved this! This recipe calls for uncooked shrimp, but you will cook it!

  5. Great and easy recipe. I prepped the tomatoes in advance and also added diced carrots, used less than 6 oz of jarred pesto because I went heavy on the diced jarred garlic, used 2 kinds of cheese, parmesan and shredded parm/asiago. At first I thought the sauce would be too thin, however just a few minutes after removing from the heat, it all thickened up. Really loved the tomatoes in the dish. Will make again and also considering using chicken for the protein. Thanks so much, I really really believe in your recipes and the testing you put them through so that i have confidence in great results.

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