Pesto shrimp is a dinnertime win! Savory basil pesto is a natural pairing with juicy shrimp; serve with pasta or rice for an easy dinner idea.

Pesto shrimp

Here’s an idea that has easy weeknight meal written all over it: pesto shrimp! Turns out this bright green, garlicky sauce is the perfect pairing for this succulent shellfish. The two flavors go hand-in-hand, just like famous duos like tomatoes and basil. Alex and I were inspired to make this recipe because of the bushy basil plant in our backyard. There’s no better use for a big patch of pesto than a pile of juicy, succulent shrimp.

How to make pesto shrimp…in 5 minutes!

Yes, this is one of those 5 minute simple recipes that’s a savior on busy weeknights. In our house, we eat seafood only occasionally (we eat mostly plant based recipes). But every now and then, we eat healthy seafood like shrimp or salmon. What we love about shrimp: it cooks so quickly! Just a few minutes in a skillet and you’ve got dinner. Here are the basic steps to how to make pesto shrimp:

  • Pat the shrimp dry. This is key before you start cooking: so there’s not too much extra liquid.
  • Saute the shrimp 1 to 2 minutes per side. Heat the olive oil, then pop in the shrimp and cook just 1 to 2 minutes per side. Just before they are cooked…
  • Add pesto for only 30 seconds! This gets it beautifully bright green and coats the shrimp in a beautiful sauce. Do not cook any longer than that, or the pesto will darken and turn brown.
How to make pesto shrimp

Make with homemade or best quality pesto

The main thing to know about his shrimp pesto recipe: use the best quality pesto! The best, of course, is homemade! Below we’ve listed a few of our favorite options. But we get it: this requires fresh basil, which is not always available. If you can’t make homemade pesto, use the best quality brand you can find. The quality varies a lot between brands, so you may need some trial and error before you find your favorite pesto.

If you’re able to make homemade pesto, here are a few recipes we recommend:

  • Best Basil Pesto The standard! This is our favorite pesto recipe using toasted pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.
  • Cashew Pesto You can make pesto with any kind of nuts! Cashews are cheaper and make a great pesto.
  • Walnut Pesto Walnuts are also great for making pesto.
  • Dairy Free Pesto Don’t want Parmesan in your pesto? Here’s the answer.
Pesto shrimp

Shrimp nutrition

One medium shrimp has only 7 calories, so it’s a great lean protein for a healthy dinner! Shrimp are part of a healthy Mediterranean-style diet. (Here’s more on shrimp nutrition.) The calories & protein in shrimp are as follows:

  • 1 medium shrimp = 7 calories, 1 gram protein
  • 1 jumbo shrimp = 14 calories, 1.5 grams protein

Think ahead: make sure to thaw frozen shrimp

Should you use fresh or frozen shrimp for this pesto shrimp recipe? You can use either! Turns out, frozen shrimp can be even fresher than if you buy fresh at the grocery store. If it’s flash frozen right away, it can be extremely fresh. Either way, try to find wild caught shrimp: it’s usually a sustainable option. If you do use frozen, you’ll need to make sure to think ahead to thaw it before making the recipe. Here’s what to do:

  • Day before: If you think ahead, simply place the frozen shrimp in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Day of: Place the shrimp in a large bowl of very cold water for 15 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes to break up clumps that freeze together. The shrimp should defrost in about 15 to 20 minutes.
Pesto shrimp

Make pesto shrimp into a fast dinner idea

Of course, this pesto shrimp isn’t a full meal in 5 minutes. But it gets you much closer to dinner! Here’s what we’d suggest serving with it to round it out into a meal:

This pesto shrimp recipe is…

Dairy-free, gluten-free, and pescatarian.

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Pesto shrimp

Easy Pesto Shrimp

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 0 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Pesto shrimp is a dinnertime win! Savory basil pesto is a natural pairing with juicy shrimp; serve with pasta or rice for an easy dinner idea.


  • 1 pound large shrimp, deveined (peeled or unpeeled)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup basil pesto (homemade or purchased)
  • Lemon, optional


  1. If necessary, thaw the shrimp.
  2. Pat the shrimp dry.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the shrimp and salt. Cook the shrimp for 1 to 2 minutes per side until almost opaque, turning them with tongs.
  4. Just before shrimp are fully cooked, add the ¼ cup pesto and continue cooking for 30 seconds, stirring continuously.
  5. Serve immediately. If using storebought pesto, adjust lemon and or salt accordingly.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian inspired
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Keywords: Pesto shrimp

More easy shrimp recipes

There are lots more easy shrimp recipes that make for a fast dinner! Here are some of our favorites to try:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. This was fantastic! I served it over linguine! I want to try it in a salad next and with some beans! I used Rana Pesto.

  2. Amazing! It was the easiest recipe we’ve made and definitely a weeknight dinner meal. We used the pesto made in the deli and refrigerated so it was really fresh and not too salty. It will be a weeknight staple at my house.