This Coconut Lime Shrimp & Pasta recipe is an easy way to add some variety to your weeknight meal rotation! If you’re tired of classic pasta sauces, this tangy coconut lime sauce will be a refreshing change of pace, and the whole meal comes together in about half an hour!
This is adapted from my Coconut Lime Chicken & Pasta recipe, one of the most popular dishes on my site!
Key Tips – Coconut Lime Shrimp & Pasta
The cilantro is more than just a garnish.
- This dish is a combination of simple flavors, and the cilantro really adds a lot. It’s more than just a decorative garnish, so don’t skip it!
- For the cilantro-averse, consider subbing a similar herb like parley or Thai basil (I would choose Thai basil because I’m not a big fan of parsley myself). Another option is to bump up the flavor in the dish a bit by making it spicy, so the cilantro won’t be as missed (see note below).
Check out my guide on freezing fresh garlic to save some time in the kitchen.
- If you’re looking for the convenience of pre-minced garlic, but the flavor of fresh garlic, freezing your own minced garlic is a great option! You’ll be surprised to find that the flavor of frozen garlic is nearly as good as fresh, without the sticky prep and clean-up. Read more about it here: How to Freeze Garlic.
Add a little spice.
- I typically make this recipe as written, because I love the combination of simple flavors. But if you’re looking for a little kick, consider adding some diced jalapeño or serrano peppers. Add the diced peppers to the sauce as it simmers.
Tenderize your shrimp with baking soda, then coat with corn starch.
- Tenderizing with baking soda is a simple trick that will help you get delicious, tender shrimp every time. Instructions for tenderizing the shrimp with baking soda are included directly in the recipe. Just make sure to thoroughly rinse off all the baking soda when it’s done.
- A dusting of corn starch helps the shrimp develop a golden crispy outside, which is key for making sure the sauce will stick to it.
Use thin spaghetti, or similar.
- I’ve tested this recipe with a number of pastas, and thin spaghetti is my favorite. Some other good options are regular spaghetti, or capellini (angel hair). Thin spaghetti is basically halfway between the thickness of spaghetti and capellini.
- If you’re looking to make this recipe gluten-free, or just switch it up, you can also use thin rice noodles.
For extra lime flavor, add lime zest or serve with lime wedges on the side.
- I love to serve this recipe with extra lime wedges, so you can add some more tangy lime juice as you eat.
- If you want to boost the lime flavor, consider zesting your limes before juicing and including that in your sauce. Don’t over do it with the zest, this will also make the sauce more bitter.
I don’t recommend substituting full fat coconut milk.
- I recommend using lite coconut milk (like this!) in this recipe. Full fat coconut milk has a different consistency, and this recipe isn’t optimized for it. If you do choose to use it, omit the cornstarch from the sauce.
Dietary Restrictions – Coconut Lime Shrimp & Pasta
This dish is naturally Dairy-Free!
Make it Gluten-Free:
- Use gluten-free pasta. Chickpea pasta is my favorite GF variety! This dish also works well with thin rice noodles.
A Note On Serving Sizes
Serving sizes are a very personal thing, making it very difficult for me to select a serving size that suits everyone. While this is listed as 4 servings, some people would prefer to have more than one serving. I typically serve this dish as 2 large dinner portions. The pictures show two servings per bowl.
Coconut Lime Shrimp & Pasta
- To tenderize shrimp (optional): In a medium bowl, dissolve 1 tsp of baking soda and 1/2 tsp salt in some cold water. Add the raw shrimp, make sure there is enough water to completely cover them, then return the shrimp to the fridge and let soak for 30 minutes. Thoroughly rinse, then pat dry with power towels.
- Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
- Begin boiling a large pot of salted water for the pasta as you prep the other ingredients. Boil pasta per package instructions for al dente, then drain a set aside, keep covered. (I typically add the pasta to the water during step 6)
- Season the shrimp all over with salt and pepper, then dust with 2 tbsp of corn starch and toss to evenly coat. (The corn starch will create a coating and help the sauce stick to the shrimp better.)
- Heat a generous swirl of olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Once hot, cook the shrimp for one minute, then flip and cook for one minute more. Remove to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
- Carefully wipe the skillet clean of excess oil, then add the coconut milk mixture. Reduce heat to medium and let the sauce reduce until it’s thick enough that a spatula pulled through it briefly leaves streaks in the pan, about 7 minutes. (Note, if you taste the sauce on its own, the lime flavor will be very strong, but this is mellowed when served with the pasta)
- Once the sauce is ready, remove from heat and reserve about 1/4 cup (for coating the shrimp). Toss the pasta in the remainder of the sauce, and plate into serving dishes. Toss the shrimp in the reserved sauce, then top the pasta with the shrimp, pouring any remaining sauce over top. Garnish the whole dish with the cilantro and serve immediately.
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