This fresh and flavorful Lemon Caper Pasta with Shrimp is a dinner you can have on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Stainless steel skillet filled with linguine and shrimp dressed with a caper and herb sauce.

When I was a kid, if somebody had tried to serve me pasta with no visible (red) sauce, I’m pretty sure I would have been like “um yeah, no way.”

Luckily, I’ve expanded my palate a bit from the days when Prego represented the finest pasta sauce the world had to offer.

Sometimes, especially in the winter, I still want a great rigatoni bolognese or lamb bolognese that’s simmered all day, or a hearty piece of cottage cheese lasagna.

But often, my pasta cravings turn to something lighter and fresher, like salmon pesto pasta or Greek yogurt pasta sauce.

I love a well-crafted pasta dish with a combination of flavors and textures and just a light coating of simple sauce. This lemon caper pasta with shrimp is a flavorful weeknight meal that’s easy to make with pantry ingredients.

A colander of shrimp and cut lemons, small bowl of capers, and linguine on a wooden surface.

Lemon Shrimp Pasta Recipe Ingredients you’ll need

  • pasta – I like linguine for this recipe (and my salmon pasta), but you could also use spaghetti!
  • shrimp – I find that 26-30 count peeled and deveined shrimp are the perfect size for this lemon pasta with capers recipe. That size also works great for my shrimp fajita recipe!
  • butter – unsalted butter will form the backbone of the sauce.
  • lemon juice – freshly squeezed lemon juice adds acidity to this lemon caper pasta. You can use white wine instead if you prefer. Or, buy a whole bag of lemons and make my lemon smoothie or lemon curd cake, too!
  • garlic – 4 cloves of garlic adds a ton of flavor to the sauce. Garlic lovers – don’t miss my garlic dip recipe!
  • capers – there’s nothing else quite like the salty, briny taste of capers! Any extra capers from the jar can be spooned over a cottage cheese lunch bowl or used to make salmon piccata.
  • red pepper flakes – I like to add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of these for a little heat (and to my roasted broccoli with lemon, too!), but feel free to omit them for a milder version of this lemon caper shrimp pasta.
  • salt – kosher salt is best for seasoning both the pasta water and the sauce of this shrimp and caper pasta.
  • parsley – I love to add chopped fresh parsley for a little extra freshness. Basil would work well, too!
  • Parmesan cheese – not everybody agrees with seafood + cheese together, but I do, sometimes. I like a little bit of Parm in crab stuffed salmon and on top of Cajun salmon pasta, and I think it works well as a garnish for this dish, too.
A dark patterned skillet filled with shrimp and capers cooking in butter.

How to Make Lemon Caper Pasta with Shrimp

Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil so that you can cook your pasta. Salt the water very well and cook the pasta according to package instructions for al dente.

Make sure you save some pasta water to finish your lemon pasta with capers! More on that below.

While the pasta is cooking, remove the tails from the shrimp, if necessary. Pat the shrimp very dry with paper towels and season it with salt.

In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter, and then add the garlic and the shrimp. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until the shrimp are almost but not quite cooked all the way through.

Add the lemon juice, capers and red pepper flakes to the shrimp mixture, and continue cooking another minute or so or until the shrimp are cooked all the way through.

When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and return it to its pot. Pour the buttery shrimp mixture over the pasta, add a little bit of pasta cooking water and the parsley, and toss everything together.

The lemon caper pasta should be coated with a thin sauce. If needed, add a little more pasta cooking water to achieve this.

Divide the pasta between bowls or plates and serve it garnished with Parmesan cheese.

A gray bowl filled with lemon caper pasta and shrimp, with spices and capers and a larger serving bowl of pasta garnishing the scene.

Save the pasta water when making Garlic Lemon Shrimp Pasta

Being an Italian grandma at heart, no matter what type of pasta I am making, I ALWAYS reserve a cup of pasta cooking water before I drain the noodles.

I do this because this water is kind of culinary magic! As the pasta cooks in the water, it releases excess starch (which is why the water gets cloudy as it cooks).

When you add a bit of this salty, starchy water to your lemon caper shrimp pasta, the starch acts as a binder and emulsifies the pasta and sauce together so that the noodles are perfectly coated in sauce.

The pasta cooking water trick works wonders for fettuccine bolognese and for this lemon pasta with capers, too!

Stainless steel skillet filled with lemon pasta with capers and shrimp, garnished with parsley.

Tips when making this Lemon Shrimp Pasta

  • It’s important that you cook your pasta only to al dente in Step 1. It might feel a little toothsome if you take a bite, but it will continue cooking as you toss it with the shrimp mixture and pasta water in Step 5, and it will be perfect.
  • Also be sure not to overcook your shrimp, as it can turn rubbery. Cook just until they are opaque and then remove from the heat.
  • Feel free to stir in some baby spinach in Step 5. You’ll get a serving of veggies and maybe eliminate the need for a side dish!

What to serve with Lemon Butter Shrimp Pasta

My favorite thing to serve with a big plate of lemon caper pasta is a fresh salad tossed with either citrus salad dressing or feta dressing.

Sometimes I’ll serve this pasta with a side of blistered tomatoes (or even toss them right into the pasta).

And in my opinion, homemade garlic bread is always a good move for this lemon pasta with capers, too! Finish the meal with vanilla bean creme brulee for an extra special touch.

A rustic gray bowl filled with linguine, shrimp, lemon sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Storing Leftover Caper Pasta Recipe

Lemon Caper Pasta with Shrimp is best eaten as soon as it’s made. But, if you have any leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Reheat in the microwave at 50% power, stirring frequently, until warmed through.

Stainless steel skillet filled with linguine and shrimp dressed with a caper and herb sauce.

Lemon Butter Shrimp Pasta

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This fresh and flavorful Lemon Caper Pasta with Shrimp is a dinner you can have on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces linguine
  • 1 pound 26-30 count peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for salting pasta water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. In large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions for al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta and return to pot.
  2. Meanwhile, remove tails from shrimp, if necessary, and discard. Pat shrimp very dry with paper towel. Sprinkle shrimp with salt.
  3. In large nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and shrimp; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp start to become pink and are almost cooked through, stirring frequently.
  4. Add lemon juice, capers and red pepper flakes; cook 1 minute or until shrimp turn opaque throughout, stirring frequently.
  5. Pour shrimp mixture over pasta. Add parsley and 1/4 cup pasta cooking water. Using tongs, toss to combine, adding more pasta water if needed to create a thin sauce. Serve pasta garnished with Parmesan cheese.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 407Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 275mgSodium: 1503mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 33g

This website provides estimated nutrition information as a courtesy only. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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