This healthy shrimp scampi recipe is a healthy spinoff of the beloved shrimp scampi recipe, retaining all the original tastiness at a fraction of the calories using a few easy flavor hacks.
We know that shrimp scampi is a pasta dish loved by many, but is shrimp scampi healthy?
Shrimp scampi can be a very unhealthy dish given the high fat content in the shrimp scampi sauce – a typical restaurant serving of shrimp scampi can be upwards of 1000 calories, predominantly consisting of fat from the sauce and carbs from the pasta.
Thankfully, you can make a few tweaks to the classic recipe to make a healthy shrimp scampi at a fraction of a calories. That way, you can enjoy this delicious dish while staying on track with your fitness goals.
✅ Why This Recipe Works
Easy to make – No hours of prep needed. You can easily make a flavorful and healthy dish in under 25 minutes.
Restaurant quality taste from home – By utilizing the key cooking techniques used to make top-tier shrimp scampi, you can make it a restaurant-quality healthy shrimp scampi from the comfort of home (and at a fraction of the cost)
Healthy and nutritious – This recipe was specially developed by yours truly to be low-calorie and macro-friendly, so you can satisfy your pasta cravings with this healthy shrimp scampi while still staying in shape. If you like pasta, you should check out my healthy deconstructed lasagna recipe and spicy rigatoni recipe.
🍎 Calories and Nutrition – How To Make It Healthy
A typical portion of shrimp scampi is typically not healthy given that it's typically very high in calories and very low in protein. This is due to the following:
- Not enough shrimp – Your average shrimp scampi probably only has a couple ounces of shrimp, which is likely not enough protein for a given meal. Shrimp is packed with protein so it's best to add an ample amount.
- High fat usage – Shrimp scampi is typically cooked with heavy amounts of oil and butter, which are super high in saturated fats and very calorie dense at 120 calories and 7 grams of saturated fats per serving
- Poor Portion Control of Pasta – While carbs are an essential part of our diet, it's important to be mindful of portion sizes when consuming pasta. On average, an eyeball-sized portion of pasta will always be more carbs and calories than you need.
Looking at each component, it’s easy to see that shrimp scampi can easily be made to be a high–calorie and high–fat dish if the sauce and pasta are not portioned correctly, making it less than ideal for dieting purposes.
But with some careful portioning and key substitutions, I was able to make a healthy shrimp scampi that was only 358 calories with 34 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat, and 41 grams of carbs. Here's what I did to make it healthy while retaining it's delicious flavor:
- Added 6oz of shrimp to ensure ample protein content
- Portioned ¼ tablespoon of butter to retain the flavor of shrimp scampi while controlling for calories
- Omitted usages of oil and used cooking spray, since oil is typically 120 calories a serving, while cooking spray is nearly 0
- Substituted the wine with shrimp shell stock, which cuts the calories from the wine while infusing the pasta with flavor with negligible calories
- Used 1 portion of pasta which is only 190 calories
For a detailed breakdown of each ingredients, their portioning, and how they make up the nutrition profile of the healthy shrimp scampi recipe, you may refer to the table below:
📋 Ingredient Notes
To make the healthy shrimp scampi, you’ll need the following key ingredients:
Shrimp – The star of the dish and the main source of protein for this dish. I recommend getting shrimps with head and shell still attached so that you can make the shrimp shell stock to infuse your shrimp scampi with delicious flavor.
Shrimp Shell Stock – Infuses the scampi with a delicious umami flavor. It simply takes boiling the shrimp shells and heads in water to make. Check out the tips below for more details on how to make this.
Pasta – In this recipe, I used malfadine, but any longer shape would work. I recommend using a longer pasta so that it can twirl the sauce more easily. I prefer bronze-cut pastas as well as they tend to have more ridges to hold the sauce.
Butter – While butter is not the healthiest ingredient, it is key to the flavor of the shrimp scampi. In this recipe, I use a small amount so that the butter-garlic flavor is still retained.
Garlic – This is key to the flavor of the shrimp scampi. Be sure to use ample garlic – the more fresh the better!
See my recipe card below for a complete list of the ingredients with measurements.
📖 Substitutions and Variations
Shrimp shell stock – If you don't have shells on hand to make the stock, you can also use plain chicken stock or water. The flavor won't be quite the same though.
Switch up the pasta – I used malfadine since I was inspired by the New York City restaurant, Scampi, which makes a beautiful scampi malfadine. However, any longer form pasta would work well. Linguine, bucatini, and spaghetti are some other options.
🔪 Step by Step Instructions
Make the shrimp stock – Peel the shrimp, adding the shells and heads if applicable into a saucepan. Add the chicken stock into the sauce pan and bring to a boil, then simmer for 2-3 minutes. Drain the stock into a bowl and set aside. This step adds a delicious seafood flavor to the shrimp scampi and the stock is a great, flavorful substitute for wine in this recipe.
Prepare the pasta – Cook your pasta noodles according to the package directions in heavily salted water. Reserve some pasta water and set aside.
Sauté the aromatics – Prepare the garlic and onion by mincing them. Melt the butter in a pan and sauté the garlic and onions. [Photo 1]
Cook the shrimp – Add the shrimp into the pan, and sprinkle with salt as desired. Cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side, or until the shrimp begins to turn pink and curl up. [Photo 2]
Mix everything together – Add in the pasta, followed by the stock. The pan will come to a simmer/boil. Stir everything together thoroughly, adding pasta water as needed to reach your desired consistency. [Photo 3]
Add garnishes and serve – Mix in the parmesan cheese, add salt and pepper and lemon juice as desired, and garnish with parsley and red pepper flakes. Remove from the pan and enjoy your delicious low calorie shrimp scampi! [Photo 4]
Make the Shrimp Stock – Making the shrimp stock is super simple. To make, take the peeled shrimp heads and shells and add to a saucepan with chicken stock or water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for a few minutes before straining the shells out.
Save your pasta water – Reserve some pasta water so that you can help achieve the right sauce texture once you’ve mixed the pasta with the tomato sauce.
Stir the aromatics to prevent burning – Be sure to stir the aromatics constantly to prevent the garlic from burning.
Don't overcook the shrimp – Shrimp only needs about 1-2 minutes each side to be fully cooked. To prevent overcooking, monitor the shrimp closely and start mixing everything together when the shrimp is just starting to curl up.
💭 Recipe FAQs
Typically, shrimp scampi is very unhealthy and I would not recommend eating it on a diet given its high fat content and calorie content. However, if you follow the tips in this recipe to make it healthier, it can be a great way to enjoy this dish while staying on track.
Any size works as long as you use the right portion of shrimp for yourself – I used 6 ounces since I wanted a dish with higher protein content. You can use this guide on shrimp sizing on how many shrimps to use per size.
Yes, you can make this healthy shrimp scampi in advance. Be sure to store it in an airtight container and consume within 3-4 days.
🍽 Related Recipes
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Healthy Shrimp Scampi
Shrimp Scampi Sauce
- ¼ tablespoon Butter
- 2 cloves Garlic
- ¼ Onion
- ¼ cup Shrimp Shell Stock
Pasta and Shrimp
- 6 oz Shrimp (After removing shells and head)
- 1 serving Malfadine pasta (Or pasta of choice)
- Salt and pepper (To taste)
- Pasta water (Use as needed)
- Lemon juice
- 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
- Parsley and red pepper flakes (For garnish)
- Peel the shrimp, adding the shells and heads if applicable into a saucepan. Add the chicken stock into the sauce pan and bring to a boil, then simmer for 2-3 minutes. Drain the stock into a bowl and set aside. This step adds a delicious seafood flavor to the shrimp scampi and the stock is a great, flavorful substitute for wine in this recipe.
- Cook your pasta noodles according to the package directions in heavily salted water. Reserve some pasta water and set aside.
- Prepare the garlic and onion by mincing them. Melt the butter in a pan and sauté the garlic and onions.
- Add the shrimp into the pan, and sprinkle with salt as desired. Cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side, or until the shrimp begins to turn pink and curl up.
- Add in the pasta, followed by the stock. The pan will come to a simmer/boil. Stir everything together thoroughly, adding pasta water as needed to reach your desired consistency.
- Mix in the parmesan cheese, add salt and pepper and lemon juice as desired, and garnish with parsley and red pepper flakes. Remove from the pan and enjoy your delicious low calorie shrimp scampi!