Why it’s so good!
This creamy prawn pasta is such a delicious recipe and there are possibly a million reasons. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating but it’s really good. This creamy pasta is one I’ve been making for years and I’m so happy to finally be sharing it with you.
- Super tasty: Spiced with pepper and optional chilli with umami from prawns, garlic and parmesan.
- Quick: It can be ready in 25 minutes or less (not including peeling the prawns).
- Easy: Aside from the pasta, everything cooks in one pan.
- Creamy and luscious: The sauce is made up of cream and pasta water making it incredibly silky.
- Use any pasta: I use linguine here but you can use any pasta you have on hand.
- Great for entertaining: While it’s a great easy family dinner, it’s fancy enough for entertaining too.
- It’s abundant with prawns/shrimp: Another reason it’s great for entertaining or spoiling yourself.
A quick and easy pasta dish like this creamy prawn linguine is a must-have on your dinner rotation. Some more you’ll love are this creamy chicken penne pasta, chicken basil pesto pasta or this Italian tray bake.
Hi Marie…just cooked the creamy prawn pasta and its the best prawn linguine ive ever had!!!!….my wife thought it was that good she thought i ordered it from our local restaurant!!!until she saw the pots in the kitchen!!!….i used fresh red chilli pepper in ours and it was perfect….thanks marie kind regards gary ( in uk)Gary Puplett
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Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
- Pasta: I use linguine but any will work. Try spaghetti or penne for instance.
- Butter and oil: The combination adds richness and some caramelisation along the way.
- Prawns: I used large prawns (you may call them shrimp where you are) but medium will work. If you want the very best texture though, you need to peel them yourself.
- Garlic: Umami and flavour.
- Spice: A little freshly cracked black pepper and dried chilli flakes (red pepper flakes).
- Cream: There’s just 1 cup of cream between 4 serves in this creamy prawn pasta.
- Parmesan: Don’t let anyone tell you that parmesan cheese doesn’t go with prawns. Even in Italy they do it. Just like prawns go well with umami-rich meats like bacon and chorizo, they go well with umami-rich parmesan too.
- Fresh parsley: To add a little freshness to this rich dish.
Why should I use prawns with the shell on
The short answer is for both flavour and texture. The long answer comes down to the way they’re stored. Most prawns or shrimp are frozen almost immediately after being caught to prolong their life. If they are shelled before being frozen, the freezer messes with the chemistry a bit so that when they are cooked they end up with a crunchy texture. They also tend to have a watered-down flavour. Prawns frozen with the shell on retain their flavour and have a meatier texture when cooked.
Of course, if you have no issues crunchy prawns, have at it and just buy the already-shelled variety. Make sure to remove the tail too so you’re not stuck removing them as you eat the pasta.
How to make creamy prawn pasta
A short series of very simple steps will have this easy pasta dinner on the table in no time. You can certainly peel your prawns ahead of time, say the evening before or the morning of the day you make it. Everything else takes no more than 20-25 minutes and everyone will be craving more.
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
1. Cook the prawns
Start by cooking the prawns for a couple of minutes on each side in some butter and oil, until opaque, then set them aside.
2. Cook the garlic and spices
To the same pan, add the garlic, pepper and chilli (if using). Just fry that off for a minute or so, being careful not to burn the garlic.
3. Add the sauce
Add some cream and pasta water (if your pasta hasn’t finished cooking, you can halt the cooking process and wait – even a couple of minutes will be good enough to get some starchy water though). Let that come to a simmer and reduce just slightly.
4. Add parmesan
Now add the parmesan to the pan and stir it to melt it in.
5. Add the rest
Now, add the cooked prawns, pasta and parsley. Give it a good toss to coat well and make sure everything is hot, then serve. You can add more pasta water to loosen the sauce if you need to as it will thicken up once off the heat.
Tips and tricks
- Pasta water is magical: It contains starch from the pasta which will give any pasta sauce the most lovely silkiness. Plus, as long as you’ve seasoned it correctly, you’ll actually be seasoning your sauce at the same time.
- Start the pasta first: The prawns and sauce cook quickly so get the pasta on to cook first. The other benefit to this is that you’ll be able to grab some of that pasta water when you need it.
- When are prawns cooked? It’s so easy to tell when a prawn is cooked through. It turns pink on the outside and curls up into a C shape. It also turns opaque, so check the thick end and, if that’s opaque, the prawns are cooked.
Level-up this creamy pasta with prawns by swapping the prawns for lobster meat. Deeeelish!
For a budget friendly option, swap the prawns for chicken breast. Cut the chicken into small peieces. It will take a little longer to cook through than prawns (depending on how thin you cut it) but the rest of the recipe can be done exactly the same.
This creamy prawn linguine is definitely best eaten fresh as the sauce can become a little claggy on reheating. If you do have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Add a dash of cream to the pasta before reheating it to get that sauce as silky as possible again.
Did you try this creamy prawn pasta recipe? Show it some love in the comments below.
- 300 g linguine (10 ½ oz)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 30 g butter, cubed (2 tablespoons / 2oz)
- 500 g raw medium or large prawns, shelled and deveined (prepared weight)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes (red pepper flakes), optional
- 1 cup thickened cream (heavy cream)
- 2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese (grated with a microplane)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- Saute pan or deep skillet
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Add the pasta and cook according to packet instructions or until just al dente.
- Place a jug under a strainer in your sink and pour the pasta into the strainer so that the jug collects some of the pasta water. Set both aside.
- Meanwhile, add the olive oil and butter to a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Let the butter melt, then add the prawns and cook for 1-2 minutes each side until opaque and just cooked through. Set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic, pepper and chilli flakes to the pan and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the cream and ⅓ cup of the pasta water to the pan, stir and let it come to a simmer. See notes below about pasta water.
- Add the parmesan and give it a good stir to melt in.
- Finally, add the cooked pasta, cooked prawns and parsley. Stir well to coat with the sauce and make sure it’s all hot through.
- Add more pasta water if required to loosen it if required. The sauce will thicken as it starts to cool, so keep some pasta water on hand if you need to loosen it up when serving.
- Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.
- Tablespoons: I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons). Check yours before measuring.
- Prawn weight: 500g is the weight of the already peeled prawns. I like to use prawns with the shells on and shell them myself as they have a far better texture than the pre-shelled variety from the local supermarket. In this case, purchase about 1.2kg of prawns in their shells so you have enough.
- Why buy prawns in shells? Freezing raw prawns (as most of them are) out of their shells, tends to ruin the cell structure and instead of being rewarded with a meaty texture, you get a crunchy texture once cooked. If frozen in their shells, this problem is averted.
- Chilli flakes: You can replace the chilli flakes with more pepper or simply leave them out.
- Parmesan with prawns, even in Italy, is a thing. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The same way prawns go beautifully with umami laden meats like chorizo and bacon, then go beautifully with umami laden parmesan.
- Pasta water is a magical ingredient. The starch in it from the pasta adds thickness and silkiness to your pasta sauces. It’s also great for loosening your sauce and, if you’ve seasoned it properly, it adds seasoning to your sauces too.
- How to season pasta water: Pasta water should be heavily seasoned – about 1 tablespoon per 3 litres/quarts and 500g (~1lb) of pasta. The pasta doesn’t absorb all the salt, don’t worry.
- Nutrition details are approximate only – scroll below the recipe to find the full nutritional information.
Raw prawns/shrimp cook very quickly. Pan-fried like this, roughly 1-2 minutes on each side is enough, dependant on their size.
Regular thickened cream or heavy cream is perfect. If you can get something called cooking cream, that will work too as will long-life cream.
While you could combine milk and some flour to create a roux to replace the cream, it won’t have the richness or silkiness of cream.
No, but crayfish meat will work in this dish. Crayfish are larger than prawns and look more like a lobster in shape.
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