Skip to Content

Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta

Shrimp and broccoli pasta with a creamy lemon sauce is the perfect healthy weeknight dinner. Ready in about 20 minutes, this dairy free shrimp pasta with broccoli is so satisfying. Easy enough for a simple weeknight meal but fancy enough for company.

Creamy dairy free shrimp pasta in a bowl with white napkin on the side.
This post contains affiliate links. As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Click here to read my policy and more about affiliate links.

Why you will love this shrimp broccoli pasta recipe

  • Simple ingredients – this broccoli shrimp pasta is made with 10 simple ingredients, most of which are pantry or freezer staples. You can also swap out the shrimp for things like chicken or chickpeas if you don’t have shrimp on hand.
  • Healthy recipe – the creamy lemon pasta sauce is completely dairy free and made with cashews! This dairy free shrimp pasta recipe is packed with fiber from the broccoli, protein from the shrimp and healthy fats from the cashews.
  • Great for company or entertaining – you really can’t go wrong with serving shrimp and pasta coated in a creamy lemon sauce. You can even prep the sauce and the broccoli in advance so all you have to do is focus on cooking the pasta and the shrimp right before serving.
  • Versatile – if you want to make this recipe lower in carbs, serve it over spaghetti squash instead of pasta. Want to make it with a different veggie, try asparagus or green peas. You can even try this with cubed chicken, sausage, scallops or chickpeas.
Ingredients to make broccoli and shrimp pasta in ramekins on marble countertop.

Ingredients

  • Pasta – use whatever pasta you have on hand, but I love serving this with gluten free fettucine noodles. (since this dish reminds me so much of shrimp alfredo).
  • Broccoli – you can use fresh or frozen broccoli in this recipe. Be sure no matter which you choose to chop the broccoli up into small, bite size pieces.
  • Olive oil – olive oil is used to cook the shrimp to help avoid them sticking to the skillet. You could also use avocado oil, melted butter or ghee.
  • Shrimp– I recommend peeled, deveined shrimp for this recipe. This helps cut out a lot of prep time (peeling shrimp takes some work). I recommend removing the tail if it’s still on your shrimp, it’s easier to eat the pasta without having to worry about the tails.
  • Parsley (optional) – flat leaf parsley adds fresh flavor to the pasta. You could also use fresh bail.

Creamy Dairy Free Lemon Sauce

  • Cashews – cashews create a thick and creamy sauce without needing creamy, milk or cheese. The trick is soaking cashews in boiling water for a few minutes before blending so they get nice and soft.
  • Water – you will want to soak the cashews in boiling water and have fresh water for making the sauce.
  • Lemon juice – the lemon flavor in this recipe is the star, so you want a lot of lemon juice. If you want to take the flavor up a notch, add the zest from half a lemon as well.
  • Spices: Salt, garlic powder – these simple spices help create a balanced flavor in the sauce. The salt seasons the entire dish, and the garlic powder adds a subtle garlic flavor and also gives some umami to the sauce.

How to make shrimp and broccoli pasta

Boil water: Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil.

Chop the broccoli: While the water is coming up to a boil, chop the broccoli florets down into small, bite size pieces.

Soak the cashews: Place the cashew in a bowl. When the water is boiling, use a ladle or dip a glass measuring cup in the boiling water and get about 1 cup of water to cover the cashews. Let the cashew sit 5 minutes.

Cashews soaking in jar.

Cook the pasta: Add the pasta to the boiling water and set the timer for 3 minute less than the lowest number on the box (for example if the box says cook for 11-13 minutes, set the timer for 8 minutes). Stir the pasta regularly.

Fettucine noodles added to pot of boiling water.

Make the sauce: While the pasta is cooking, squeeze the lemon juice into a blender along with the salt, garlic powder and water. After 5 minutes, drain the cashews (discard the water) and add the cashews to the blender as well. Blend on high for 1 minute or until smooth.

Reserve pasta water/cook broccoli: When the timer goes off, use a ladle or measuring cup and get about 1 cup of the cooking liquid from the pasta. Add the broccoli to the pot with the pasta and cook for 2 minutes.

Coat the pasta in sauce: When the pasta is done cooking, drain it well and add the pasta and broccoli back to the pot (be sure to turn off the heat and take the pot off the heat). Add the lemon cream sauce and ½ cup of the reserved pasta water to the pasta and stir well.

Cook the shrimp: Preheat a large skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. When the skillet is preheated, add the olive oil and shrimp and cook 2-3 minutes per side. As soon as the shrimp is done cooking, add it to the pot with the pasta.

Make the shrimp broccoli pasta: Stir the shrimp in and test for salt and check the consistency of the sauce. Add more pasta water 1-2 tablespoons at a time until you reach your desired consistency.

Top tips

  • Chop the broccoli into very small, bite size pieces. This helps it cook quickly and also ensures that the pasta is easy to eat!
  • Be sure to reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before adding the broccoli. This helps keep the sauce from tasting too “broccoli” forward.
  • Cook the pasta 1 minute less than the lowest number on the box. This ensures it won’t overcook as you are getting the sauce to the perfect consistency.
  • Soak the cashews in boiling water 5 minutes. This helps ensure the sauce gets super creamy.
  • If you are serving this for company and really want to make a big impression, double the shrimp. This will make the entire dish look more impressive and also help make it more filling.

How to add more flavor to dairy free shrimp pasta

  • Lemon zest – this will intensify the lemon flavor even more. Add the zest of ½ of a lemon to the lemon sauce
  • Red pepper flakes – this will add just a touch of spice to the dish.
  • Cheese – if you love a really creamy, cheesy sauce, add some parmesan or cream cheese (regular or dairy free).
  • Fresh garlic – fresh garlic will really intensify the garlic flavor. I recommend 2-3 cloves of finely chopped garlic cooked with the shrimp.
Lemon broccoli and shrimp pasta in a pot with lemons on the side.

Other vegetables you could use

  • Asparagus – for the best flavor, I recommend you chop the asparagus (discard the woody stem) and sauté them in olive oil before cooking the shrimp in the skillet (don’t boil).
  • Zucchini – sauté these in olive oil before cooking the shrimp (don’t boil)
  • Carrots – thinly slice the carrots and add them to the boiling pasta water about 4 minutes before the pasta is done cooking.
  • Frozen peas – add the frozen peas during the last 30 seconds the pasta is cooking. They don’t need long to warm up.
  • Spinach – Chop the spinach and add it to the pasta after cooking, it will wilt quickly.

Common questions

What is the best way to cook shrimp for pasta

The best way to cook shrimp so that it doesn’t overcook is to cook it on a hot skillet 2-3 minutes per side. Note: it’s ok to undercook the shrimp just a bit because it will cook in the pasta as well. If you overcook the shrimp, it will get rubbery.

What is the best shrimp for pasta

I recommend buying peeled and deveined shrimp for pasta. I like to remove the tails as well if they are intact. This  make it easier to eat the pasta without having to worry about the tail shells.

To ensure that the shrimp doesn’t overcook, I recommend that you use at least medium or large shrimp. The smaller shrimp will overcook quickly. If you are using a smaller size shrimp, cook for only 1 minute once you flip the shrimp.

Shrimp and pasta being lifted from a bowl of pasta.

How to defrost shrimp

Since shrimp are small, they defrost pretty quickly. My go-to method to defrost shrimp is:

  • Break up any clusters of frozen shrimp in the bag. Then put the bag in cold water in a container where you can fully submerge the bag. Put something heavy on top so that all the shrimp is in the cold water.
  • Change out the water every 20-30 minutes. The shrimp will be defrosted in 1-2 hours.

Do not try to use warm or hot water to speed up this process, it will start to cook the shrimp on the outside which will make them rubbery when you cook them in the pan.

Can you use frozen broccoli

Frozen broccoli would work great in this recipe. Just be sure to chop the broccoli down into bite size pieces before adding it to the boiling water.

When you are setting the timer for the pasta, set it for 3:30 less than the lowest number on the box. One you add the frozen broccoli, cook for 2:30 minutes.

Can you make this in advance?

This recipe is best when it’s freshly cooked. If you want to save time and have less to do when serving, here are some of the steps you can do in advance:

  • Make the creamy lemon pasta sauce
  • Chop the broccoli
  • Peel and devein the shrimp (if needed), this includes removing the tails
Broccoli shrimp pasta in a pot with a wood spoon scooping out the pasta.

What if you don’t have shrimp on hand?

You can also make this recipe with scallops, chicken (I recommend my Italian chicken bites or air fryer chicken bites), mild italian sausage or chickpeas (to make this vegan).

Can you make this pasta shrimp broccoli nut free?

You can make the creamy lemon sauce with hemp hearts instead of cashews to make this nut free. You don’t have to soak hemp hearts like you do cashews.

Storing leftover shrimp broccoli and pasta

Fridge: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Reheat in the microwave 2 minutes on high or in a skillet (add a little water) over medium low heat, covered until warmed through.

Shrimp and broccoli on pasta in a bowl.

If you love healthy pasta recipe, you should try

Lemon Tahini Pasta

Zucchini Mushroom Pasta

Creamy Tomato Pasta

Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta

★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below!
Bowl filled with creamy lemon broccoli shrimp pasta.

Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta

Creamy broccoli shrimp pasta is easy to make, ready in 20 minutes and perfect for weeknight meals or entertaining. This healthy dairy free shrimp pasta has a creamy lemon pasta sauce made with cashews.
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: broccoli and shrimp pasta, dairy free shrimp pasta, shrimp broccoli pasta
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 23 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 12 oz fettucine noodles - gluten free
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley - optional

Creamy Lemon Pasta Sauce

Instructions

  • Add water to a large pot and bring it to a boil over high heat.
  • While the water is coming to a boil, chop the broccoli into small bite size pieces.
  • Add the cashews to a bowl or a glass. Once the water has come to a boil, remove about 1 cup of the boiling water to the cashews (I use a ladle or a glass measuring cup to do this).
  • Add the pasta to the boiling water and set a timer for 3 minutes less than the lowest time indicated on the box (example if the box says 11-13 minutes, set a time for 8 minutes).
  • After 5 minutes, drain the cashews. Add the lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, water and drained cashews to the blender. Blend on high for 1 minute or until smooth.
  • Once the timer for the pasta has gone off, take 1 cup of the pasta water from the pot (use a ladle or glass measuring cup). Add the broccoli florets to the pot with the pasta and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Preheat a large skillet over medium heat (2-3 minutes).
  • Drain the pasta and broccoli and add it back to the pot. Turn off the heat (remove the pot from the heat) and add the lemon cashew pasta sauce. Stir well.
  • Once the skillet is preheated, add the olive oil and shrimp. Cook 2-3 minutes, flip and cook 1-2 more minutes.
  • Add the cooked shrimp to the pasta and stir well. Add chopped flat leaf parsley.

Notes

Top tips
  • Chop the broccoli into very small, bite size pieces. This helps it cook quickly and also ensures that the pasta is easy to eat!
  • Be sure to reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before adding the broccoli. This helps keep the sauce from tasting too “broccoli” forward.
  • Cook the pasta 1 minute less than the lowest number on the box. This ensures it won’t overcook as you are getting the sauce to the perfect consistency.
  • Soak the cashews in boiling water 5 minutes. This helps ensure the sauce gets super creamy.
  • If you are serving this for company and really want to make a big impression, double the shrimp. This will make the entire dish look more impressive and also help make it more filling.
How to add more flavor to dairy free shrimp pasta
  • Lemon zest (about 1/2 a lemon)
  • Red pepper flakes 
  • Cheese – add some parmesan or cream cheese (regular or dairy free).
  • Fresh garlic – 2-3 cloves of finely chopped garlic cooked with the shrimp.
 
See how I calculate food cost.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
641
Fat
 
21
g
Carbohydrates
 
82
g
Fiber
 
6
g
Sugar
 
4
g
Protein
 
39
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
DID YOU LOVE THIS RECIPE?Let others know by rating and leaving a comment below!

Recipe Rating