Shrimp Pesto Pasta

5 from 11 votes

This shrimp pesto pasta is made with a simple flavor-packed kale almond pesto sauce, tossed with zucchini and spaghetti noodles and served with shrimp!

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Pesto and pasta are a classic combination, but adding shrimp to the mix takes it to a whole new level. This Shrimp Pesto Pasta recipe brings together the earthy flavors of basil and kale pesto, the creaminess of Parmesan, and the crunchiness of almonds with succulent shrimp and a mix of spaghetti and spiralized zucchini.

Plate of pesto spaghetti with grilled shrimp on the side
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The shrimp pesto pasta is the kind of recipe that makes weeknight dinners feel like an event without requiring a whole afternoon in the kitchen. With the combination of zucchini noodles and spaghetti, it offers a balanced approach that keeps both your taste buds and health in mind.

Recipe At a Glance

Cuisine Inspiration: Italian
Primary Cooking Method: Boiling and Pan-Frying
Dietary Info: Pescatarian
Key Flavors: Herbaceous and Zesty
Skill Level: Intermediate


  • Quick 30-Minute Meal: With a prep time of 15 minutes and a cook time of 15 minutes, this dish is a quick and delicious solution for any mealtime.
  • Nutrient-Rich Pesto: Incorporating baby kale into the traditional basil pesto offers a nutritional boost without compromising flavor.
  • Protein-Packed: Shrimp add a protein kick, making the dish a balanced meal option.
  • Vegetable-Infused: Spiralized zucchini offers a light, nutritious alternative to an all-pasta dish, giving you an extra serving of veggies.

Ingredients You’ll Need To make shrimp pesto pasta

For the Pesto:

  • Basil and Baby Kale: I use a blend of leafy greens to give the pesto a unique flavor profile, balancing the peppery notes of basil with the mild earthiness of baby kale.
  • Almonds: These are used instead of the traditional pine nuts for a slightly different but delightful crunch and flavor.
  • Garlic Cloves: Adds that essential kick that brings all the flavors together.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Freshly grated for that rich, umami character.
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: The better the quality, the more flavorful your pesto will be.
  • Lemon Juice: Adds a subtle tanginess to brighten up the pesto.

For the Shrimp:

  • Raw Shrimp: Deveined and tail-off for ease and convenience.
  • Olive Oil, Salt, and Pepper: Simple seasoning to let the shrimp’s natural flavors shine through.

For the Spaghetti:

  • Zucchini: Spiralized into zoodles to add a lighter, veggie-based texture to the dish.
  • Spaghetti: Any kind works, but whole grain could add a little extra fiber and nuttiness.

How to make the pesto sauce

To make pesto, you’ll need 5 crucial ingredients and the 6th one (cheese is usually optional)

  1. To make the pesto, combine the basil, baby kale, almonds, and garlic in a food processor.
  2. Process until very finely minced. Add the lemon juice and parmesan cheese. Then with the machine running slowly pour in the oil and process until the mixture is smooth.
Collage of the pesto sauce before and after blended

Fun fact, Pesto comes from the Italian word for “pestare” which means to pound or crush. Traditionally, this was done with a mortar and pestle. Now we just use a handy food processor and it’s pesto pronto! Look at that gorgeous green color! I’m obsessed!

Top view of pesto sace

How to make the pesto spaghetti

Now to make the pesto spaghetti, it’s just about mixing the pesto sauce we just made with spaghetti. To make it lighter in calories you can add some more vegetables to the dish, I also use zucchini and spiralize it to blend into the spaghetti. If you peel the skin off the zucchini, you can’t even tell which strands are spaghetti and which are zucchini!

Pesto sauce in food processor, grilled shrimp, zoodles and spaghetti

Keep in mind that when you cook the spaghetti, it’s a good idea to reserve about 1 cup of pasta cooking water. I always do this when I cook pasta because you never know when you need to thin out the sauce. And it’s much more flavorful to thin it out with pasta water than plain water. Olive oil is a good way to thin out pasta sauce, but that adds too many calories and fat unnecessarily sometimes.

When you toss the pesto spaghetti together, I recommend starting with half the pesto, give it a good toss, and then add pesto sauce or pasta water as needed. You may end up with some extra pesto. But that’s not a bad problem haha!

Spaghetti and zoodles getting tossed with pesto sauce

How To Make the Shrimp

  1. To cook the shrimp, season shrimp with salt and pepper. Skewer the shrimp, if desired or cook as is.
  2. Preheat the pan to and add the olive oil. Cook shrimp for a few minutes per side, or until it turns pink.
Two plates of the pesto spaghetti with grilled shrimp on skewers

Tips for me making the best shrimp pesto spaghetti

  • Use high quality ingredients as much as possible. Because the ingredients are so simple for the pesto, it all comes down to quality. So you want to make sure to find fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and fresh garlic. It will make all the difference in the flavor!
  • Use the pulse option on your food processor. Pesto is supposed to be chunky, so feel free to pre-chop the ingredients or use the pulse option of the food processor to chop the herbs roughly before adding the olive oil. This will make sure that the greens keep their bright color and don’t turn pasty with the nuts.
  • Reserve pasta water to mix with the pesto. The salty, starchy water left after cooking the pasta adds a lot of flavor to the pesto spaghetti. But an important thing it does in this recipe is actually help bind the pasta and sauce together.
  • Don’t cook the zucchini. Zucchini releases a lot of water and can turn soggy quickly. After making the zoodles, simple toss the zucchini with the spaghetti and the pesto sauce. The warm cooked spaghetti will heat everything up without making the zucchini soggy
  • Other proteins. Not a shrimp fan? You can easily use chicken strips, bite-sized steak pieces, or even salmon chunks as an alternative. All these proteins pair wonderfully with the pesto; you’ll just have to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
  • Different nuts. If you don’t have almonds on hand, swap them out with walnuts, pine nuts, or even cashews. Each nut will add its own unique flavor to the shrimp and pesto, so feel free to experiment!
  • Make it vegan. Opt for vegan Parmesan and use a plant-based protein like tofu or chickpeas instead of shrimp. You still get to enjoy the savory flavors without the animal products.
  • Use different types of pasta. Penne, fusilli, or farfalle are all excellent spaghetti substitutes that hold up very well to pesto. If you’re looking to go low-carb, zoodles (zucchini noodles) alone are also a great option!

How to store & reheat Shrimp Pesto Pasta

Once you’ve made your shrimp pesto pasta, let it cool down to room temperature. Then, transfer it to an airtight container, making sure the lid is secured. This helps keep the freshness in and any fridge odors out. If you have extra pesto, you can store it separately in a smaller airtight container, making sure to cover the surface with a thin layer of olive oil. This oil layer helps preserve the vibrant green color and fresh flavor of the pesto.

To reheat, start by warming the pasta first if you’ve stored the shrimp and pasta separately. Either in the microwave or on the stovetop with a splash of water or broth to prevent drying out. Then, gently reheat the shrimp in a skillet over medium heat until warm but not rubbery, and combine them back together!

How long will Shrimp Pesto Pasta last in the fridge?

The pesto will last up to 7 days in the fridge. The pesto spaghetti mixed together will stay fresh for 3-4 days.

Can I freeze shrimp and pesto?

You can! However, for the best results, it’s recommended to freeze the pesto separately from the shrimp. For the pesto, place it in an airtight container, and it can be frozen for up to 3 months. For the shrimp, place it in a freezer bag, and they will stay good in the freezer for about 10 months.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use frozen shrimp?

Frozen shrimp works perfectly fine! Just make sure to thaw it properly before cooking. Place the frozen shrimp in the fridge overnight, or if you’re in a hurry, you can also run cold water over them until thawed.

I don’t have a food processor. Can I still make the pesto?

Yes, you can! A mortar and pestle will work; it might just take a bit longer. Another option is a blender, though you might need to stop and scrape down the sides more often to get a smooth consistency.

How can I avoid overcooking the shrimp?

The key is to watch the shrimp closely as they cook. Shrimp cooks quickly, often in just 2-3 minutes per side. As soon as they turn pink and opaque, they’re ready. Avoid leaving them on the heat for too long, and remember they will continue to cook a bit even after you remove them from the heat.

Close up of the pesto spaghetti with parmesan cheese on top

Dive into a plate of this Shrimp Pesto Pasta when you crave something healthy-ish yet simple! It’s a dish that perfectly brings together juicy shrimp with a fresh burst of homemade pesto, a combo that no pasta fan can resist. So good, even the kids at home love it!

For more pesto recipes:

For more pasta recipes:

If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Pesto Spaghetti with Shrimp recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

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Shrimp Pesto Pasta

This shrimp pesto pasta is made with a simple flavor-packed kale almond pesto sauce, tossed with zucchini and spaghetti noodles and served with shrimp!
5 from 11 votes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Calories 683
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


For the Pesto

  • 1 cup basil leaves destemmed
  • 1 cup baby kale destemmed
  • ¼ cup almonds silvered blanched
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon

For the Shrimp

For the spaghetti

  • 2 zucchinis spiralized
  • 8 ounces spaghetti


  • To make the pesto, combine basil, kale, almonds and garlic in a food processor and process until very finely minced. Add the lemon juice and parmesan cheese. Then with the machine running slowly pour in the oil and process until the mixture is smooth.
  • To cook the spaghetti, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta and return to the pot to stay warm.
  • To cook the shrimp, season shrimp with salt and pepper. Skewer the shrimp, if desired or as is. Preheat pan to medium-heat and add the olive oil. Cook shrimp for 2-3 minutes per side, or until it turns pink.
  • When you’re ready to eat, toss the pesto with the pasta water along with the cooked spaghetti and raw zucchini noodles until well combined. Serve with the cooked shrimp on the side with fresh basil, if desired.


Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. The pesto will last up to 7 days in the fridge. The pesto spaghetti mixed together will stay fresh for 3-4 days.
Freezing Instructions: You can also freeze any unused pesto in a plastic bag, glass container or plastic container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and use as you normally would
Make Ahead Tips: You can make the pesto sauce up to a week in advance and store in the fridge until you’re ready to cook the pesto spaghetti.
Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. However this is a very forgiving recipe, so you can substitute the ingredients for the pesto according to my list provided above. You can also switch out the pasta used and serve with other proteins or just a salad.


Calories: 683kcal, Carbohydrates: 49g, Protein: 35g, Fat: 38g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 287mg, Sodium: 939mg, Potassium: 635mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 2205IU, Vitamin C: 43.8mg, Calcium: 284mg, Iron: 4.4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine Italian
Course: Entree

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Recipe Rating


  1. Step 4 says to toss the pesto with the pasta water. Does this mean don’t drain water before adding the pesto? Thanks! Can’t wait to try it.

    1. Hi Laree, no, you do not want to add the pesto to the whole pot of water. The end of step 2 is the instructions for the pasta water. “Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta and return to the pot to stay warm.” Hope you enjoy!

  2. What spiralizer are you using for the zucchini? I bought the one that attaches to my kitchen aid mixer. It wasn’t pretty! I returned it to the store, immediately.

  3. When I saw green spaghetti, read the pesto ingredients, could not wait to cook it.
    I did. Was super delicious. Thanks for all your healthy meals and snacks recipes.