Jumbo garlic lemon shrimp served over creamy, parmesan polenta is ready in just 30 minutes. It’s a restaurant caliber dish inspired by the flavors of Northern-Italy that’s perfect for busy weeknights or for entertaining guests. It’s soul-warming Italian comfort food at its best…and so easy to make!
The combination of these perfectly cooked shrimp in a wine pan sauce with salty prosciutto is perfectly paired with the creamy tangy polenta.
Shrimp recipes are always a win for a easy dinners since they only take a couple of minutes to cook. When combined with the cheesy soft polenta it’s a perfect meal. It’s a simple recipe that’s so good!
If you’ve never made polenta it’s an Italian dish made with boiled cornmeal. It can be made into a porridge consistency (like our Pumpkin Polenta) or made into a loaf and pan fried or grilled (like our pan fried polenta with sauteed greens).
The version we are serving with these savory shrimp is a creamy texture bursting with delicious flavors of parmesan cheese, sour cream and butter. It’s a perfect stand alone dish and great with these garlicky shrimp.
Because shrimp is mild in flavor it’s easy to add them to all sorts of dishes. Cajun shrimp with Cajun seasonings (if you like spicy shrimp) or Mediterranean shrimp would go with this cheesy polenta too if you want a different option than the lemon butter shrimp.
A side salad is all you need to make it a meal.
Recipe Ingredient Notes
Polenta. Unprepared polenta is sold in bags where grains are located in the grocery store (it may also reference ‘corn grits’ on the package but be sure it says polenta). It’s a special grind of yellow cornmeal designed to easily cook into a creamy polenta recipe.
Use medium grind polenta to achieve the right consistency (the package should be labelled). Use regular polenta not quick cooking polenta or instant polenta. Do not use pre-cooked polenta for this recipe. It comes in a tube and you won’t be able to flavor it and cook it in to the right consistency.
Stock or broth. Instead of boiling water we use low-sodium chicken stock to make the polenta though you can use chicken broth as well. Use low-sodium so you can control the amount of saltiness in the dish yourself by adding salt to taste.
Parmesan cheese. This gives the polenta a wonderful cheesy flavor. Grate the parmesan cheese yourself for best melting into the dish.
Milk. We used whole milk to provide a richer consistency.
Sour cream. Just 2 tablespoons is used but it gives the polenta a wonderful tangy flavor. Use full fat sour cream.
Butter. Use unsalted butter.
Shrimp. We used jumbo shrimp that is peeled and deveined. The tails can be left on or off; your choice. Frozen and thawed shrimp can also be used; be sure they are full thawed before starting the recipe. Extra large or large shrimp could also be used; monitor for doneness when cooking (cooking time will be shorter for smaller shrimp).
Lemon juice. Freshly squeezed lemon juice offers the best flavor.
Prosciutto. This well loved Italian dry-cured ham come in paper-thin sheets and adds loads of flavor. You’ll need two sheets or slices of it, chopped (use a large sharp knife to cut it). It is sauteed first before the shrimp and adds wonderful salty flavor to the pan sauce.
Dry white wine. We recommend Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, but a dry chardonnay will also work! Choose a wine that you like to drink, because you’ll taste the flavor in the dish.
How to make Shrimp and Polenta
Bring 2 ½ cups of broth to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat (photo 1). Whisk in the polenta (photo 2).
Reduce to low heat and gently simmer stir occasionally for 15-20 minutes. (You can start making the shrimp while the polenta cooks) (photo 3).
Stir in the parmesan cheese, milk, sour cream, and butter to finish the creamy polenta (photo 4-5). Remove from the heat.
Start the shrimp while the polenta is cooking.
STEP 1. Season the shrimp
Add the peeled and deveined shrimp to a mixing bowl with lemon juice, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper (photos 6-7). Set aside.
STEP 2. Cook
Heat the olive oil to a large skillet or heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the prosciutto, sauté for 5-7 minutes or until any white ribbons of fat are fully cooked (photos 8-9). Remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.
Add the shrimp to the pan and sauté for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until the shrimp is opaque (photos 10-11). Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside. Do not overcook the shrimp.
STEP 3. Make the sauce
Add the white wine, butter and Dijon mustard to deglaze the pan (photo 12). Whisk the sauce together until the butter melts scraping up any browned bits from cooking as you stir. Turn the heat off.
Return the prosciutto and shrimp to the pan (photo 13). Stir in the chopped fresh parsley and top with lemon slices or lemon wedges (photo 14).
STEP 4. Serve!
Serve the shrimp mixture over a thin layer of polenta with lots of flavorful sauce (photos 15-16)! Serve lemon wedge on the side for a squeeze of additional lemon (optional). Sprinkle fresh herbs (fresh thyme is great) on top for garnish is desired.
Do not overcook the shrimp. Shrimp is very lean and cooks quickly only needing a couple minutes a side. You can tell it’s done because it turns from gray and transparent to opaque (you can’t see through it) and a white or pink color. Overcooked shrimp becomes rubbery and tasteless.
How to store
If storing leftovers store the polenta and shrimp in separate airtight containers. You can save the shrimp for 1-2 days and the polenta for up to 4 days.
Reheating: It’s best to reheat this in a pan over the stove (because it’ll get rubbery in the microwave).
- Add the polenta to a pan with a tablespoon or two of broth over medium heat and stir it for 3 minutes.
- Scoot it to the side and add the shrimp (with pan sauce), sauté the shrimp for 1-2 minutes or until it’s warmed throughout.
More recipes you’ll love!
Lemon Garlic Shrimp and Creamy Polenta
- 2 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
- 1 cup polenta (unprepared) medium grind
- 1 cup parmesan cheese grated
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Shrimp and sauce
- 1 pound peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp tails off or on (your choice)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 slices or sheets prosciutto chopped
- 1 cup dry white wine sauvignon blanc, pinto grigio or a dry chardonnay recommended
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 1 lemon cut into slices or wedges (optional, for serving)
- Bring the chicken broth or stock to a boil and whisk in the polenta.2 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock, 1 cup polenta (unprepared)
- Turn down heat to low and stir regularly for 15-20 minutes. (start preparing the shrimp while the polenta cooks).
- Stir in the parmesan cheese, milk, sour cream, and butter. Remove from the heat.1 cup parmesan cheese, ¾ cup whole milk, 2 tablespoons sour cream, 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Shrimp and sauce
- Add the peeled and deveined shrimp to a bowl with lemon juice, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Set aside.1 pound peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, 3 cloves garlic, ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Add olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Add the prosciutto, saute for 5-7 minutes until it crisps. Remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 slices or sheets prosciutto
- Add the shrimp to the pan and saute for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until the shrimp is opaque. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.
- Add the white wine, butter and dijon mustard to deglaze the pan. Whisk the sauce together until the butter melts. Turn the heat off.1 cup dry white wine, 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- Return the prosciutto and shrimp to the pan. Stir in the chopped parsley and top with lemon slices or wedges.¼ cup chopped parsley, 1 lemon
- Serve the shrimp over polenta with lots of pan sauce!
adrianne spoerlein says
I would love this recipe with no changes, however my husband is not a fan of shrimp. How do you suppose this would work with tilapia instead? That’s about the only fish he’ll eat. I know the cook time would be slightly different so I’m willing to experiment….
Toni Dash says
I’m sorry Adrianne I just don’t know. We’ve only made the recipe as written. Tilapia cooks very differently than shrimp with a completely different consistency. You’d really need to rework the recipe and the cooking time.
Diane V says
I found this recipe and made it immediately! Perfect for our holiday lunch, it was amazing!
You saved me! I saw this yesterday morning with no dinner plan. It was so easy and delicious! My whole family loved it too.
Alright – I’m in love with this recipe. It is SO COZY, and the shrimp is also so light that the dish doesn’t feel heavy. Making this again for New Year’s!
I love polenta, and this recipe was delicious!
This is such a beautiful, bright, and cozy meal! We all devoured it!
Gina Abernathy says
Loved this recipe. Always made it with grits but polenta was a nice change. My daughter is a shrimp lover so she was very happy.