Like a shrimp scampi with olives, this garlic butter shrimp and olives recipe will be one you want to have on regular rotation. It comes together in a flash. This garlic butter shrimp recipe pairs perfectly with crusty bread for a nice appetizer or with pasta for a filling dinner!
This recipe is just a handful of ingredients, including:
- Castelvetrano olives
- Lemon juice
- Crushed red pepper
- Butter and olive oil
- White wine
These ingredients are super similar to a classic shrimp scampi recipe, but where this recipe differs is the inclusion of Castelvetrano olives. While you can use any olive variety you like, Castelvetrano olives work really well in this recipe.
What makes Castelvetrano olives different? Well, they’re a Sicilian variety of green olive, and they’re famous for their gorgeous green color. Unlike other olives, they aren’t heavily cured or fermented. Instead, farmers harvest the Castelvetrano olive young and cure it lightly in salt. The olives then undergo a gentle washing process with lye over a short period. This process removes oleuropein, a naturally occurring, bitter compound that occurs in all olives. While many olives rely on a heavy brine or fermentation process resulting in stronger flavors, this light process yields a beautiful olive that even the staunchest olive-haters may come to enjoy.
Use your favorite olive variety in this shrimp, but if you can find Castelvetrano olives, I highly recommend them for this recipe. Just make sure you don’t accidentally eat all of them while you’re prepping them!
What kind of shrimp should I use for this recipe?
I use tail-on, needle-deveined shrimp. Before you rush out to the grocery store, there are a few things to note about the type of shrimp to use. While most of it boils down to your own personal preference, I’ll include my thoughts below.
You want to devein your shrimp before cooking them. The vein–which is a bit of a misnomer since it’s not a vein at all–is the shrimp’s digestive tract. Yes, it contains shrimp poop, and sometimes sand, and other grit since it acts as a filter for those particles. While you can technically eat the shrimp’s digestive tract, it’s just not a very pleasant thought.
You can buy shrimp deveined in two ways, needle-deveined or just regular old deveined. Regular deveining involves cutting open the back to remove the digestive tract. I prefer needle-deveining, which means a small needle is used to pull up the vein from the top of the shrimp without cutting the back open. The result is a juicier shrimp, and the presentation looks a bit nicer since the back won’t flare out while cooking. You can even needle-devein shrimp at home, and Just One Cookbook has a great how-to!
Should you remove the shrimp tail before cooking?
This is always a hotly debated subject. Some people hate the sight of shrimp tails, but I always strongly encourage leaving them on. The tails (and shells!) have lots of flavor. Leaving the tails on means that flavor works its way into your dish, resulting in more concentrated shrimp flavor, which means more yumminess!
You can eat shrimp tails when they come fried–like in tempura–but when sautéed like this, they’re a little sharp and unpleasant to eat. To eat shrimp with the tail on, simply pierce the tail with your fork and eat the shrimp straight off the tail.
Now, if you’re an avid shrimp tail hater, simply remove them. But don’t throw those tails away! Sauté them in butter, add some aromatics, and add water and simmer. You’ll have the most luxurious shrimp stock, which is perfect for homemade shrimp chowder or my shrimp and sausage gumbo.
How to make this garlic butter shrimp with olives:
Like shrimp scampi, this recipe comes together unbelievably fast.
- Start with prep: Tear the olives, mince the garlic, and juice the lemon. Combine them in a bowl with crushed red pepper. Let them stand for a few minutes, so the flavors marry nicely.
- Sautè: Sauté the bowl of olives and garlic in butter and olive oil until just fragrant. Pour in the white wine and simmer rapidly for 5 minutes until it reduces.
- Cook the shrimp: Pour in the shrimp and cook until just opaque and toss with freshly minced parsley. Once the shrimp are in the serving dish, the residual heat will continue to cook them, so be careful not to keep them in the skillet longer than 5–6 minutes.
I lovingly dub this a shrimp scampi with olives, and–like shrimp scampi–it’s perfect with some warm, crusty bread or a big serving of pasta for maximum comfort!
Garlic Butter Shrimp and Olives
- 6 ounces Castelvetrano olives, torn in half
- 4–5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Crushed red pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup dry white wine or use shrimp or chicken stock
- 1 pound needle-deveined shrimp, tails on or off depending on preference
- ⅓ cup loosely packed parsley, minced
- Salt and pepper
Prepare the olives:
- In a bowl, combine olives, minced garlic, lemon juice, and crushed red pepper. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to marry.
Sauté olives and garlic:
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil.
- Once the butter begins to bubble, add the olive mixture. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
Reduce the wine:
- Pour in the white wine and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to a rapid-simmer for 5 minutes. Continue cooking until reduced by half.
Sauté the shrimp:
- Pat the shrimp dry and season with salt. Add them to the skillet and sauté for 4-5 minutes or until just opaque. Stir in the parsley and immediately remove the shrimp from the heat (the residual heat will continue to cook the shrimp).
- Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with crusty bread or pasta. Enjoy!