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Shrimp Carbonara

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close up shot of Shrimp Carbonara on a plate
Indulge in this shrimp carbonara, where succulent shrimp meet creamy, cheesy carbonara sauce for a pasta dish that's simply impossible to resist.
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Table of Contents
  1. Shrimp Carbonara Ingredients
  2. Shrimp Carbonara Recipe Substitutions and Additions
  3. How To Make This Shrimp Carbonara Recipe
  4. How To Serve This Recipe for Shrimp Carbonara
  5. When to Serve Shrimp Carbonara
  6. Storage Tips for Seafood Carbonara
  7. Why This is the Best Shrimp Carbonara
  8. Frequently Asked Questions
  9. More Recipes You’ll Love
  10. JUMP TO RECIPE
  11. More Recipes to Try

Shrimp carbonara is a blend of succulent, tender shrimp, crispy pancetta, and velvety pasta smothered in a parmesan sauce. A twist on a classic pasta dish, this delicious recipe is easy enough to make on a busy weeknight but elegant enough to serve to guests.

overhead shot of Shrimp Carbonara on a plate

Shrimp Carbonara Ingredients

Shrimp Carbonara raw ingredients that are labeled
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The spaghetti offers the perfect way to show off the sauce in this dish, while the pancetta adds a crispy, salty dimension. 

The tangy parmesan cheese enriches the sauce, complementing the juicy shrimp, making this an irresistible pasta meal.

You’ll need these simple ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
  • 8 ounces of spaghetti (or your favorite pasta)
  • ½ cup of reserved pasta water (divided into ¼ cup and ¼ cup)
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) of chopped pancetta 
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 pound of large deveined and peeled shrimp
  • 2 extra large eggs, well beaten
  • 1 cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese + extra for garnish 
  • ½ teaspoon of fresh cracked black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh parsley (optional garnish) 

Shrimp Carbonara Recipe Substitutions and Additions

SPAGHETTI: If you prefer a different pasta shape, such as fettuccine or linguine, feel free to make the swap. They’ll work just as well.

PANCETTA: In a pinch, crispy bacon can be used instead of pancetta for a similar flavor profile. 

You could also swap pancetta with prosciutto for a milder, slightly sweeter flavor that still adds a crispy and salty touch.

PARMIGIANO REGGIANO CHEESE: Grana Padano or Pecorino Romano are excellent alternatives to Parmigiano Reggiano.

SHRIMP: You can experiment with other seafood like scallops or even lobster for a luxurious twist on the classic.

MUSHROOMS: For a vegetarian twist, replace the shrimp with sautéed mushrooms. They bring an earthy richness to the dish.

ZUCCHINI NOODLES: If you’re looking for a low-carb alternative, use spiralized zucchini noodles (zoodles) instead of traditional spaghetti.

TURKEY OR CHICKEN: Substitute shrimp with cooked, diced turkey or chicken breast for a poultry twist on this classic.

PEAS: Add a pop of color and a touch of sweetness with fresh or frozen peas. Toss them in during the last minute of cooking.

CHERRY TOMATOES: Halved cherry tomatoes bring a burst of freshness and acidity to balance the dish.

RED PEPPER FLAKES: Spice things up with a pinch of red pepper flakes if you enjoy a hint of heat.

LEMON ZEST: Grate some lemon zest over the finished dish for a citrusy brightness that complements the seafood.

FRESH BASIL: Garnish with torn fresh basil leaves.

SAUTEED SPINACH: Incorporate wilted spinach for added color, nutrients, and a mild earthy flavor.

RED PEPPERS: You could add half a cup of jarred red peppers to this creamy pasta.

You could also saute a fresh red bell pepper in olive oil until tender if you wished. Just slice into thin strips first.

How To Make This Shrimp Carbonara Recipe

This comforting pasta dish may seem intimidating, but it is quite simple. Once you get the pasta cooking, we’ll show you how to make the sauce before you toss it all together and serve.

You’ll be hooked after the first bite — everyone will love this good carbonara!

Let’s dive into the step-by-step instructions.

STEP ONE: Fill a 5-6 quart stock pot two-thirds of the way full with water over medium-high heat until the water reaches a low boil. 

Add the kosher salt and the spaghetti, stir occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking. Cook pasta according to package directions until it is al dente and remove from the heat. 

Reserve a half cup of the starchy pasta water before draining the rest of the water off. This will help you temper the eggs when making the sauce.

STEP TWO: While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. 

Add the extra virgin olive oil and the chopped pancetta, stirring often to keep the pancetta from burning. 

Once the pancetta is nice and crispy, use a slotted spoon to transfer just the pancetta to a plate. Keep the rendered fat and olive oil in the pan. 

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

Keep a close eye on the pancetta while cooking it since every stove cooks differently. It can go from crispy to burnt quickly, so adjust the heat accordingly.

pancetta cooked in olive oil

STEP THREE: Add the minced garlic. Saute just until the garlic is fragrant, 30 seconds to one minute. Be careful, garlic can go from fragrant to burned very quickly. 

garlic sautéed in a skillet

STEP FOUR: Immediately add the shrimp. Cook for two to three minutes per side until the shrimp is a nice pink on both sides. 

If you are using a smaller skillet, you will need to cook the shrimp in batches. 

Transfer the shrimp to the plate with the cooked pancetta. Reduce the heat to low.

shrimp cooked in the skillet

STEP FIVE: Very quickly stir together the beaten eggs and the one cup of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Set the mixture aside.

eggs and parmigiano reggiano cheese stirred together

STEP SIX: Add the drained pasta, pancetta, and shrimp to the skillet. Use tongs to toss the pasta, pancetta, and shrimp to coat and combine. 

pasta, pancetta, and shrimp tossed and combined in a skillet

STEP SEVEN: Add a quarter cup of the warm reserved pasta water to the bowl with the eggs and cheese to temper the mixture. 

This will help keep your eggs from scrambling rather than making a creamy sauce.

STEP EIGHT: Remove the skillet from the heat. Pour the cheese and egg mixture over the cooked pasta. 

Use tongs to continuously toss the pasta, egg, and cheese mixture. Drizzle the remaining quarter cup of additional pasta water to ensure a creamy sauce. 

Place the skillet back over the heat and continue to use the tongs to toss the pasta for another minute.

PRO TIP:

While adding the egg mixture, continuously toss the pasta to evenly distribute the sauce. This creates a luscious coating.

egg and cheese mixture poured over pasta in the skillet

STEP NINE: Sprinkle the remaining kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Toss to combine. Remove the skillet from the heat. 

Garnish with the chopped fresh parsley and extra grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Serve immediately.

PRO TIP:

This pasta is best served hot and immediately after preparing it. It does not keep or reheat well.

salt and pepper sprinkled into pasta and toss

How To Serve This Recipe for Shrimp Carbonara

Serve this classic Italian pasta dish as a stand-alone meal, or pair it with a simple Caesar salad and crusty bread or garlic bread to complete the dining experience.

You could think outside of the box and use leftovers to stuff bell peppers, or even toss it into a pasta salad for a unique twist.

Finish your meal with a classic tiramisu for dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Everyone is always on the lookout for new pasta dishes to try. Our classic pasta carbonara is always a winner while our bruschetta chicken pasta is a new way to combine two favorite dishes. 

When to Serve Shrimp Carbonara

DINNER PARTY: Impress your dinner guests with shrimp carbonara at your next dinner party. Its elegant flavors make it ideal for special occasions.

DATE NIGHT: Elevate your date night with a homemade shrimp carbonara. It’s the perfect dish to impress your significant other.

FAMILY GATHERING: Hosting a casual family gathering? Shrimp carbonara is a crowd-pleaser that will leave everyone satisfied.

WEEKNIGHT MEAL: Need a quick and satisfying weeknight easy dinner? Shrimp carbonara is a go-to recipe for a busy weekday for the whole family.

Storage Tips for Seafood Carbonara

This dish is really best enjoyed fresh, but if you do have leftovers, we have a few tips for you.

MAKE AHEAD: You can prepare the egg and cheese mixture in advance, but it’s best to cook the shrimp and pancetta just before serving for the freshest taste.

IN THE FRIDGE: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days. Reheat gently on the stovetop to maintain the texture.

IN THE FREEZER: Shrimp carbonara is best enjoyed fresh and not recommended for freezing.

REHEATING: To reheat, gently warm the dish on the stovetop over low heat, adding a splash of milk or cream to restore the consistency.

Why This is the Best Shrimp Carbonara

CREAMY INDULGENCE: Shrimp carbonara offers a luxurious sauce that coats every strand of pasta, making each bite a rich experience.

PERFECT BALANCE: The combination of crispy, salty pancetta with the delicate sweetness of shrimp strikes a perfect balance of flavors and textures that’s both comforting and exciting.

QUICK AND EASY: Despite its gourmet appeal, this recipe is surprisingly easy to make, making it a go-to choice for busy weeknights when you crave something special.

CROWD-PLEASER: Whether you’re a seafood lover or a fan of classic Italian pasta dishes, shrimp carbonara is a crowd-pleaser that satisfies a wide range of palates.

GOURMET AT HOME: It allows you to enjoy a restaurant-quality dish in the comfort of your own home, impressing guests and loved ones with your culinary skills.

close up shot of Shrimp Carbonara in a cooking pan

In a nutshell, shrimp carbonara is a recipe that delivers the best of both worlds. With its creamy indulgence, perfect balance of flavors, and versatility for any occasion, it’s a seafood dish that brings the taste of Italy to your table.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use frozen shrimp for this recipe?

You can use frozen shrimp, but make sure to thaw and drain them thoroughly before cooking.

Can I use turkey bacon instead of pancetta?

While it’s not traditional, turkey bacon can be used as a leaner alternative to pancetta.

Can I make this dish without eggs?

You can omit the eggs, but the sauce won’t have the same creaminess.

Can I use pre-grated Parmesan cheese?

Pre-grated Parmesan can be used, but freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano will elevate the flavor.

Is it okay to use dried parsley if I don’t have fresh?

While fresh parsley is preferred for its vibrant flavor, dried parsley can be used in a pinch.

Can I make this recipe vegetarian?

You can omit the shrimp and pancetta for a vegetarian version, but the flavor profile will be different.

Can I double the recipe for a larger crowd?

Absolutely, just make sure to use a larger skillet to accommodate the increased quantity.

What’s the key to preventing the eggs from scrambling?

Adding the warm pasta water gradually to temper the egg and cheese mixture is essential to avoid scrambling.

Can I use whole wheat pasta instead of regular spaghetti?

Yes, whole wheat pasta can be used for a healthier twist on the recipe.

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close up shot of Shrimp Carbonara on a plate

Shrimp Carbonara

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Indulge in this shrimp carbonara, where succulent shrimp meet creamy, cheesy carbonara sauce for a pasta dish that's simply impossible to resist.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces spaghetti, or your favorite pasta
  • ½ cup reserved pasta water (divided into ¼ cup and ¼ cup)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, extra virgin
  • 4 ounces chopped pancetta (113 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 pound large deveined and peeled shrimp
  • 2 extra large eggs, well beaten
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley, optional garnish

Instructions
 

  • Fill a 5-6 quart stock pot ⅔ way full with water over medium-high heat until the water reaches a low boil. Add the kosher salt and the spaghetti, stir occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking. Cook the pasta until it is al dente and remove from the heat. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water before draining the rest of the water off.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat a 10 to 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the extra virgin olive oil and the chopped pancetta, stirring often to keep the pancetta from burning. As every stove cooks differently, keep a close eye on the pancetta to keep it from burning. Adjust the heat up or down accordingly. Once the pancetta is nice and crispy, use a slotted spoon to transfer just the pancetta to a plate. Keep the rendered fat and olive oil in the pan.
  • Add the minced garlic. Saute just until the garlic is fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Be careful, garlic can go from fragrant to burned very quickly.
  • Immediately add the shrimp. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side until the shrimp is a nice pink on both sides. If you are using a smaller skillet, you will need to cook the shrimp in batches. Transfer the shrimp to the plate with the cooked pancetta. Reduce the heat to low.
  • Very quickly stir together the beaten eggs and the 1 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Set it aside.
  • Add the drained pasta, pancetta, and shrimp to the skillet. Use tongs to toss the pasta, pancetta, and shrimp to coat and combine.
  • Add ¼ cup of the warm reserved pasta water to the bowl with the eggs and cheese to temper the mixture. This will help keep your eggs from scrambling rather than making a creamy sauce.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat. Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the pasta. Use tongs to continuously toss the pasta, egg, and cheese mixture. Drizzle the remaining ¼ cup of pasta water to ensure a creamy sauce. Place the skillet back over the heat and continue to use the tongs to toss the pasta for another minute.
  • Sprinkle the remaining kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Toss to combine. Remove the skillet from the heat. Garnish with the chopped fresh parsley and extra grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Keep a close eye on the pancetta while cooking it since every stove cooks differently. It can go from crispy to burnt quickly, so adjust the heat accordingly.
  • While adding the egg mixture, continuously toss the pasta to evenly distribute the sauce. This creates a luscious coating.
  • This pasta is best served hot and immediately after preparing it. It does not keep or reheat well.

Nutrition

Calories: 582kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 283mg | Sodium: 3165mg | Potassium: 384mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 567IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 393mg | Iron: 2mg
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Proudly Prepared by the Spaceships Kitchen

This recipe was developed, tested, cooked and photographed by the Spaceships Kitchen. From our dinner table to yours, we hope you think it's out of this world!

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