Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta in Cream Sauce

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Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta in Cream Sauce- this simple meal comes together in less than 30 minutes! It’s creamy and cheesy with the perfect texture and flavor from the broccoli and shrimp.

It tastes like the American-style “alfredo” sauce, but it is healthier and easier to make. The presentation is fancy for hosting guests and the simplicity is fitting for a fast tasty meal on a Tuesday night. You can’t go wrong with this shrimp and broccoli pasta recipe.

Serve with: Softest No-Knead Bread and a simple salad. If you love shrimp pasta try: Trottole Pasta Recipe with Tomato Sauce and Shrimp.

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Why I love this recipe

This shrimp pasta with broccoli is a lighter and easier version of a creamy Alfredo sauce. This Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta in Cream Sauce is bursting with perfectly cooked shrimp and tender broccoli with a cheesy cream sauce.

If you want a more rich broccoli and pasta dish try: Broccoli and Cheese Pasta with Bechamel Sauce and Orecchiette with Broccoli.

Simple Ingredients

  • Pasta
  • Shrimp
  • Garlic Cloves
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh Broccoli
  • Heavy cream
  • Parmigiano cheese (or parmesan cheese)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • optional: red chili flakes for added heat as a garnish

See the recipe card for quantities.

How to make Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta in Cream Sauce

This dish comes together in a few easy steps!

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt and let boil until ready to cook pasta. Read this guide to cook pasta perfectly every time!
  2. In a large sauté pan on medium heat add: 1 tablespoon of olive oil, garlic, and broccoli. Sauté about 2 minutes until broccoli is tender yet still a bit crunchy. Season with salt. Add water and cover with lid. Cook for 8 minutes until broccoli is soft, but not mushy. 
  3. Season shrimp with salt and pepper to taste. Add remaining olive oil to pan heat to medium- high. Add shrimp and cook about 4 minutes- 2 minutes per side (depending on size of shrimp)- do not overcook shrimp. They will be slightly undercooked at this point. 
  4. Turn down heat to low-simmer. Add cream and cheese. Slowly stir and simmer shrimp in cream and cheese for an additional 1-2 minutes until firm and cooked. Turn off heat.
  5. Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions- “al dente”. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water before straining. 
  6. Drain pasta. Add to pan with shrimp and cream sauce. Add reserved pasta water. Stir until combined. Toss in broccoli and serve hot! Add a little cheese on top before serving.

Another broccoli recipe you will enjoy is this Tuscan Roasted Broccoli!

Shrimp Variety

You can use any shrimp variety with this dish: small, large, tail on/off, whichever you prefer works well.

How to Cook Shrimp

Perfect Shrimp Every Time!

  • Sear or sauté shrimp on high heat. It gives them the best texture, juicy and tender, without any stringy chewiness.
  • Make sure your shrimp are deveined.
  • Make sure all of your shrimp are the same size (do not mix jumbo and medium shrimp because they require different cooking times) and make sure they enter the pan close to the same time as possible.
  • Spread them out in one layer, across the bottom of the pan, it is best not to overlap shrimp or they will not cook evenly.
  • Let the shrimp sear with some butter or olive oil, quick and fast, for about 1-2 minutes per side. Do not flip the shrimp frequently. One time is enough for the best results.

Tips and cleaning shrimp: Courtesy of Bon Appetite

How to Clean and Devein Shrimp

  • The black “vein” below the flesh of the shrimp that runs along the spine is actually the shrimp’s digestive tract. While it’s not harmful to eat, if the tract is really pronounced it can be unsightly.  In general, I like to remove it.
  • To remove the black “vein” use a small sharp knife to make a tiny slit along the middle back of the shrimp.
  • Insert your knife under the “vein” and use your fingers to carefully pull the vein out.
  • Thoroughly rinse your shrimp in cold water and set them aside to dry it on a towel.
  • Make sure the shrimp has expelled all of its water and pat the shrimp dry to cook.
  • The black, slimy “vein” below the flesh of the shrimp is actually the shrimp’s digestive tract.
Pasta in creamy sauce with shrimp and broccoli

How to make a creamy sauce

After your pasta has cooked, the salted water is noticeably cloudier and even a little bit thicker thanks to the starch and gluten that’s released while the pasta cooks.

Adding a little pasta water to the pasta sauce helps it thicken binds the pasta to the sauce. I usually use dip a measuring cup into the pot to reserve pasta water before draining the pasta in a strainer and draining the water completely. I add accordingly depending on how thick or thin the sauce is naturally.

Read: How Long to Boil Spaghetti (pasta)- Perfect Every Time

Variations

This recipe is tasty exactly how it is! Make it this way the first time and try a variation the next time you make it.

  • Use chicken instead of shrimp
  • Add steamed asparagus instead of broccoli
  • Use fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme for color and MORE flavor.

Ever wonder what Pasta Shapes go better with Different Sauces and if Pasta Quality really matters? Read this Pasta Quality Matters: Cheap vs. Expensive Pasta.

Pan recommendations for cooking shrimp

The skillet to use: I love cooking in a cast iron skillet. It distributes the heat evenly throughout the bottom of the pan and up into the sides. It’s naturally non-stick and super durable. You can also use a dutch oven-type pot.

Any large skillet will work for sausage and peppers if you don’t have or want to purchase a cast iron.

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Save this for your weekly dinner rotation!

What to Serve with Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta in Cream Sauce

Focaccia bread, garlic bread, or a crusty loaf of ciabatta bread always pairs well with pasta dishes. Especially ones with a yummy sauce you can use the bread to clean your plate! 

Salads are the perfect companion to pasta dishes. Try Italian Fennel, Citrus, Pomegranate and Salad or Italian Salad with Pears, Walnuts, and Gorgonzola.

You can also add a meat dish: Perfect Pork Tenderloin with Fennel to make this meal even more filling.

Don’t forget dessert! Try Simple Italian Apple Cake (one bowl), BEST Authentic Sicilian Cannoli Recipe, or Creamy Frozen Lemon Bars with Graham Cracker Crust.

More Delicious Pasta Recipes for YOU:

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Pasta in creamy sauce with shrimp and broccoli

Creamy Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta

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4.9 from 11 reviews

This meal comes together in less than 30 minutes! It’s creamy and cheesy with the perfect texture and flavor from the broccoli and shrimp. Save this for your weekly dinner rotation!

  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 garlic gloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli florets + 1 tablespoon water
  • Reserved pasta water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup parmegiano cheese, finely grated
  • 1 lb (454 g) of your favorite pasta variety
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: cili flakes for added heat as a garnish

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt and let boil until ready to cook pasta. 
  2. In a large sauté pan on medium heat add: 1 tablespoon of olive oil, garlic, and broccoli. Sauté about 2 minutes until broccoli is tender yet still a bit crunchy. Season with salt. Add water and cover with lid. Cook for 8 minutes until broccoli is soft, but not mushy. 
  3. Season shrimp with salt. Add remaining olive oil to pan heat to medium- high. Add shrimp and cook about 4 minutes- 2 minutes per side (depending on size of shrimp)- do not overcook shrimp. They will be slightly undercooked at this point. 
  4. Turn down heat to low-simmer. Add cream and cheese. Slowly stir and simmer shrimp in cream and cheese for an additional 1-2 minutes until firm and cooked. Turn off heat.
  5. Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions- “al dente”. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water before straining. 
  6. Drain pasta. Add to pan with shrimp and cream sauce. Add reserved pasta water. Stir until combined. Toss in broccoli and serve hot! Add a little cheese on top before serving.
  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 20 min
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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18 Comments

  1. I made this recipe last night for myself and it was DELICIOUS! I used egg noodles for the “pasta” and it was a great combo. I even added baby spinach, too. I will most definitely make this again. Thank you!