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Shrimp Parmesan & Homemade Marinara

This Shrimp Parmesan is a quick, easy French style dish that’s perfect for a date night dinner. The lightly breaded and fried shrimp are nestled in a homemade spicy marinara sauce over linguine pasta, perfected only by a side of homemade garlic bread or focaccia.

Shrimp Parmesan in a cast iron skillet with homemade marinara sauce


Shrimp Dinner Dishes

Shrimp is a meat that we rarely eat for dinner. Most times when we’re enjoying shrimp it’s your basic shrimp ring. Gone within minutes, and high in price, this is a treat that we get maybe 3 times a year. However, there are times that I had frozen, uncooked shrimp in the freezer from a recipe I did for a client. And when it’s dinner time with no chicken or beef thawed, shrimp is a quick meat “replacement” to bulk up a recipe.

Shrimp Parmesan plated with linguini pasta on a plate

What does Shrimp Parmesan taste like?

As you would guess, shrimp parmesan is a mix of shrimp marinara and chicken parmesan. The shrimp is lightly breaded in a mixture of flour and grated parmesan, then lightly fried in a hot skillet and set aside. The breading adds a light, airy crunch to the smooth and slightly sweet shrimp, complemented by a hint of salt and nuttiness from the Parmesan cheese.

The homemade marinara sauce is arguably the star of the show. Deep flavors from the stewed tomatoes and tomato paste pair well with a burst of spice from the red pepper flakes. The sweet smell and taste of white wine and garlic add a fresh, vibrant, semi-floral and herbaceous tang to the sauce. Chunky in texture for bites of tomato, this sauce can be pureed once reduced for those that prefer a smooth consistency.

Shrimp Parmesan Marinara in a cast iron skillet

What Shrimp to use?

Choose a raw, de-vained, medium to large shrimp, tails removed. I know that’s a lot of information there but this will make it easiest for eating. Choose a raw shrimp since we are breading and frying it. This will ensure your shrimp doesn’t get overcooked and tough. The size of the shrimp will also help. Choosing a larger shrimp will mean you have more time to achieve that crisp breading on the outside with a golden color without cooking the moisture completely out of the shrimp.

Choosing de-vained and tails removed saves you prep and cleaning time. De-vaining removes the poop line from the shrimp. Tails on a shrimp are for no other reason than to make it look good. So ahead and skip having to remove them and get ones that are without tails already.

shrimp parmesan on a fork

When at the store, look for a bag that is displaying 26/30 or 21/25. This fraction on a shrimp bag represents how many shrimp you can expect per pound. The larger the shrimp, the smaller the fraction you’ll see because you will get less shrimp per pound.

How to dethaw shrimp?

The safest way to dethaw shrimp quickly is by adding the frozen shrimp to a large bowl with cold water. Set the bowl in the sink and allow a constant stream of cold water to dribble into the bowl, with the overflow going down the sink. If you happen to think the night before, you can also place the bag of frozen shrimp in the refrigerator overnight.

Place the bag on a plate or pie dish to collect and water or condensation that may release during the thawing process. This will save you from having to clean up a mess on the bottom of your refrigerator.

Shrimp Parmesan and Marinara Ingredients

Pasta – Feel free to use linguine , fettuccini, ziti, or any pasta you have on hand. Those with “pockets” like ziti will prove to be an additional vessel for the homemade marinara. But if you want classic presentation, a linguine or fettuccini is perfection!

ingredients for shrimp parmesan

Shrimp – about 16 ounces of shrimp will be needed. The more shrimp you have, the less you have to share!

Flour – all-purpose or gluten-free 1:1 flour can be used.

Parmesan – use good quality Parmesan and grate yourself if possible. If you’re in a rush, shaker cheese will work just fine. Parmesan adds a nutty and salty flavor to the shrimp coating.

Butter & Oil – use unsalted butter to control the amount of salt in your final dish. Using butter and salt will control the smoke point as well as impart flavor and color to the shrimp.

Vegetables – onions, garlic, canned stewed tomatoes, and tomato puree. These are signature flavors in Italian cooking. Basic, robust, and complementary to any pasta dish. You could also add in carrot puree for extra veggies or small chopped bell peppers.

Shrimp parmesan plated on a bed of pasta with homemade marinara sauce

Seasonings & Herbs – fresh parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and bay leaves all work together to bring a robust flavor to the finished sauce.

White Wine – white white is again a staple in Italian cooking. The depth of flavor, sweetness, and floral, fruity aromatics offer a balance to an otherwise hearty and acidic dish. If you prefer to leave out the white wine opt for white grape juice or a chicken or vegetable stock. The white grape juice will bring the sweet notes, while the stock will just help to loosen the final sauce.

How to Make Shrimp Parmesan

Start by thawing the shrimp. Once thawed, drain the water and pat dry with paper towels. Next, dredge the shrimp in a shallow pie plate or rimmed plate of flour and grated parmesan cheese. Set the shrimp to the side until you’re ready to fry.

step by step how to make shrimp parmesan

In a Dutch oven or a 12-inch skillet, add the oil and butter. Allow to melt over medium heat. Once the butter is melted and bubbles are starting to form, add the shrimp to the skillet. Add them in a clockwise pattern similar to how you would fry scallops. Taking care to do this extra step will help you turn them in sequence so all get the same cooking time.

Note: A shrimp is fully cooked as it turns from “clear” to opaque or pink/white. Much like a burger, you can watch the shrimp cook from the skillet up. Once it gets about half way, flip and cook on the other side. Cooking shrimp in total should take less than 10 minutes, no matter the method.

Once the shrimp have cooked on both sides, remove them from the skillet and set aside on a paper towel lined plate so any excess oil will drain, keeping them crispy.

To the skillet now add chopped onion. As you allow the onions to sweat out and soften, any bits on the bottom of the skillet will loosen and stick to the onions. Add in the seasonings, garlic, and tomato paste to the softened onions. Stir and cook out for about a minute just to get the raw flavor out of the ingredients.

Next add in the white wine and stewed tomatoes. I used whole tomatoes and crushed them myself. But you can use pre-diced tomatoes as well to save yourself an extra step. Add the bay leaves on top and simmer the sauce while cooking your pasta, about 10 minutes.

Serve the pasta with sauce and the shrimp placed on top. Adding the shrimp back to the skillet with the sauce would compromise the crunchy texture we’ve achieved frying it. So placing on top is the best option for a variety of texture. Sprinkle with fresh parsley for a fresh and vibrant finish.

Leftovers & Reheating

While leftovers can be stored in an air tight container in the fridge for about 4 days, or even frozen for up to 4 months, a key tip is storing the shrimp separately. To reheat the shrimp you’ll want to do so in an air fryer or a 350F oven to get that crisp coating again. Storing with the leftover sauce and linguine will result in a mushy mess you cannot re-crisp. Likewise, do not microwave for reheating and expect the shrimp to crisp back up – it will not.

how to make shrimp parmesan in a cast iron skillet

Shrimp Parmesan

A spin on a classic Italian dish. Shrimp Parmesan is a blend of chicken parmesan and shrimp marinara. Perfectly crunchy breaded shrimp in a homemade sauce of savory, spicy marinara.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:10 mins
Cook Time:20 mins
Total Time:30 mins

Equipment

  • 12 inch cast iron skillet
  • tongs
  • Plate or pie dish

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces large shrimp raw, peeled, devained, tails removed
  • 6 Tablespoons flour all-purpose
  • 3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese grated, plus more for topping
  • 6 Tablespoons butter unsalted
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions chopped small
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped, plus more for topping
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 28 ounces canned tomatoes whole or diced, with liquid
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 16 ounces pasta linguine or fettuccine

Instructions

  • Thaw the shrimp according to post instructions. Pat dry with a paper towel on all sides. Lightly dredge in a pie plate where flour and parmesan cheese has been mixed.
    step by step how to make shrimp parmesan
  • In a large 12 inch skillet over medium heat, add the oil and butter. Once butter has melted, use tongs to lay the shrimp down in a clockwise, circle pattern. Allow the shrimp to cook about five minutes before flipping over, starting with the first, to cook another five minutes on the other side. Once shrimp are done, remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain of excess oil.
    step by step how to make shrimp parmesan
  • Add the onions to the hot skillet and stir with a wooden spoon, picking up all the bits leftover on the bottom of the skillet. Saute about 5 minutes until the onions become tender.
    step by step how to make shrimp parmesan with homemade marinara
  • Add in the minced garlic, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Stir and cook about 1 minute until garlic is fragrant.
    step by step how to make shrimp parmesan with homemade marinara
  • Add the tomato paste. Cook until it has thinned out and is well incorporated with the onion mixture, 1-2 minutes.
    step by step how to make shrimp parmesan with homemade marinara
  • Add white wine to deglaze the skillet. Add tomatoes with juice, crushing and dicing the tomatoes as needed. Add bay leaves and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
    step by step how to make shrimp parmesan with homemade marinara
  • While sauce is simmering cook the pasta to al dente. Add the finished pasta to the sauce to coat. Top individual plates with shrimp so as to keep leftovers if needed. (see post notes)
  • Top with more Parmesan or parsley as desired.

Notes

Check out the post for more in-depth instructions and tips for preparing this meal. 

Nutrition

Calories: 373kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 127mg | Sodium: 1333mg | Potassium: 868mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1451IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 164mg | Iron: 4mg
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 373kcal
Author: Katie Chase

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    This was delicious! I was looking for something new and unique to make in my new (old) cast iron and this really hit the mark. Delicious flavor and the entire family devoured every last bite. Can’t wait to try more from your site.

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