Blackened Shrimp Alfredo
Blackened Shrimp Alfredo is a home-run dish with pan-fried shrimp and tender pasta swimming in an irresistible cream sauce. You can easily control the heat and have this impressive meal on the table in 30 minutes.
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Alfredo sauce is one of life’s simple pleasures. It’s surprisingly easy to make, yet rich, creamy, and pure comfort when dressing up ribbons of pasta. I originally perfected a homemade version for this simple tortellini Alfredo. When I had some blackening seasoning left over from a separate project recently, I knew it would be the perfect twist to add a little heat to the classic white cream sauce.
Why This Recipe Works
You’ll love that this recipe feels fancy, but is ready to eat in well under 30 minutes — pinky swear!
It’s also easy to control the heat simply by adjusting the amount of time the shrimp soak up the seasoning prior to cooking, so you can make this dish fairly mild or knock-your-socks-off-style, as you wish.
Ingredients & Common Substitutions
To make blackened shrimp Alfredo, you’ll need:
- Raw shrimp. You’ll want them to be peeled and deveined, so buying them that way is a big time-saver. You can keep the tails on for presentation and maximum flavor, or remove them before cooking to make the dish more convenient to eat.
- Blackening seasoning. This adds the signature flavor! You can typically find this with other spice blends in the grocery store, or buy a small container on Amazon.
- Fettuccine or another pasta you love.
- Chicken or veggie broth. This starts the sauce and is important for deglazing the pan. Deglazing is the step that scrapes up all the browned bits — and major flavor from the seasoning — left in the pan after searing the shrimp and incorporates that goodness into the sauce.
- Lemon juice. Fresh if possible; bottled works, too.
- Cream. I usually use heavy cream, but you can sub a lighter cream if you prefer. Using half-and-half or milk, however, will yield a very thin sauce, and I wouldn’t honestly recommend it.
- Parmesan cheese. Fresh-grated Parmesan delivers the best results in recipes like this, because it has amazing flavor and melts very smoothly into the cream sauce.
- A few staples: olive oil, butter, all-purpose flour.
- Other seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder.
What is Blackening Seasoning?
According to Chili Pepper Madness, blackening seasoning is a blend of chili powders, spices, and herbs, usually including garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, salt, oregano, and thyme. It’s very similar to Cajun and Creole seasonings, and usually falls in between them in terms of heat. You can easily buy it or make your own.
That said, “blackening” actually refers more to the cooking process than to the seasoning, per se. You can blacken chicken, fish, seafood, and more, simply by dipping the protein in butter — or cheat a bit with olive oil, as I use here — coating it with the spice mixture, and then cooking over high heat so it develops those signature blackened marks.
How To Make Blackened Shrimp Alfredo
- Prep shrimp. Toss with olive oil and blackening seasoning. Do this right before cooking for mild-to-medium heat, or place the seasoned shrimp in the fridge to marinate for up to 12 hours for why-didn’t-you-warn-me flavor.
- Cook pasta. Just to al dente, following package directions.
- Cook shrimp. Be sure to use a very hot skillet to get the best blackening action, and keep a close eye, because shrimp cook very quickly, especially at high heat.
- Make sauce. You’ll make the Alfredo sauce directly in the same skillet after removing the cooked shrimp. This infuses the sauce with all the delicious flavor of the seasoning blend.
- Combine and serve. Bon appetit!
Tips, Tricks, & Variations
- Defrost shrimp quickly. Unlike many proteins, shrimp are easy to defrost right before cooking. Simply place frozen shrimp in a large colander, place in the sink, and run them under cold water for about 5 minutes. Why cold water? Shrimp are so easy to cook that hot water can start that process before you’re ready!
- Use kitchen tongs to flip shrimp quickly and easily. So must less hassle than a spatula or spoon. This pair is fantastic, if you’re in the market.
- Use well-salted water to cook the pasta. This infuses subtle flavor into the pasta. Don’t be shy; the water should be salty like the sea.
- Change up the protein. Use cubes of chicken in place of, or in addition to, the shrimp. Follow the same instructions to coat them with blackening seasoning and then sauté over medium-high heat.
- Use Cajon or Creole seasoning instead. These will also be delicious, but may add more heat, so use one you love and use it judiciously!
What to Serve With It
Pasta with Alfredo sauce is pretty rich, so I like to pair it with lighter side dishes. Favorites include steamed or sautéed green beans, kale or collard greens, or a peppery arugula salad. Of course, you can also go big and add some garlic bread. No one will complain! 😉
Good news! Blackened shrimp Alfredo keeps very well, so you can enjoy it for extra meals throughout the week. Store in an airtight container in the fridge; it will last 4-5 days.
More Shrimp Recipes
If you try this Blackened Shrimp Alfredo, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.
Blackened Shrimp Alfredo
- 1 pound raw shrimp peeled and deveined
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 2 tablespoons blackening seasoning
- 12 ounces fettuccine or other pasta
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 3/4 cup chicken or veggie broth
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8-10 cranks fresh-ground black pepper.
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- In a medium bowl, combine shrimp, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and blackening seasoning. Stir to evenly coat the shrimp. Set aside to use right away, or, for more heat, cover and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- While pasta cooks, warm remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes per side, just until charred and cooked through. Remove cooked shrimp to a plate.
- After removing the shrimp, melt butter in the same skillet, then whisk in flour and cook for 60 seconds.
- Reduce heat to medium. Whisk in broth and lemon juice.
- Add cream, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Whisk until smooth, then let the sauce simmer for 1-2 minutes to thicken slightly.
- Stir in Parmesan. Let it melt until the sauce smooths out once again. Taste and add more salt or pepper as desired. Stir in the pasta, toss well, top with cooked shrimp, and serve.
- Garnish. For a pop of color, a few leaves of parsley sprinkled on top are nice.