Do you love Crispy Fried Shrimp? When it comes to cooking shrimp, frying will always be my favorite way to prepare those delicious little morsels. Bubba Blue from Forrest Gump was right when he called shrimp the fruit of the sea.
One of my fondest memories of growing up was my father frying up a bunch of shrimp. My father had been stationed at Fort Polk in Louisiana, which is where he learned the joy of shrimp. A trait that he passed on to me.
Shrimp are still considered a luxury, but they’re readily available in most supermarkets, and with just a little prep, make an easy dinner made with simple ingredients that your whole family will love.
What type of shrimp should I buy?
I am a true believer when it comes to shrimp, and only buy Gulf or Pacific Shrimp produced by American or Mexican companies. As for size, 16-20 Jumbo Shrimp (count per pound) are my first choice.
I also splurge on U-15 when they are priced right, and occasionally 26- 30 for shrimp salad. I don’t recommend buying anything smaller than 26-30 count shrimp. Larger shrimp will always look better, and when food looks good it tastes better.
You’ll find a lot of farmed shrimp in the market from Asian and Indian waters, and I have to tell you, I don’t trust them. Those waters are questionable and we have no idea how those shrimp are processed. So when you think you’re getting a bargain, you might want to rethink what you’re buying.
You’ll almost never see fresh shrimp in supermarkets as most shrimp are frozen on the shrimp boats. If you see shrimp that aren’t frozen, they were more than likely defrosted from frozen to make them more appealing.
Ingredients to make Crispy Fried Shrimp?
Let’s start by gathering the ingredients we need to make Restaurant Style Crispy Fried Shrimp. In Chef Speak, this is called the Mise en Place, which translates into Everything in its Place.
Not only does setting your ingredients up ahead of time speed the cooking process, but it also helps ensure you have everything you need to make the dish.
Should I butterfly the Shrimp?
This is a matter of personal preference. In restaurants, shrimp are often butterflied to make them look bigger. The trade-off is that they cook faster, and the time it takes to get them that perfect golden brown might just overcook the shrimp a little.
When you’re served shrimp that aren’t butterflied, you’ve found a restaurant that is more concerned with preserving the natural sweetness of the shrimp. And trust me, that’s a good thing.
How to make Crispy Fried Shrimp
The first step in making restaurant-style fried shrimp is dipping the peeled and cleaned shrimp in an egg wash.
How to make eggwash
You can make an egg wash many different ways, and there is no right way or wrong way as long as whatever you’re frying gets completely immersed in your choice of egg wash.
- eggs and buttermilk
- eggs and milk
- eggs and cream
- eggs and water
- just eggs
Use about 1 ounce of liquid for every egg used. A little extra liquid won’t hurt the mixture; you just don’t want to water down the egg mixture.
After the egg wash, place the shrimp in seasoned bread crumbs. You can use any type of breadcrumbs that you prefer for this step, including panko crumbs. Just be sure to get a good coating on the outside, covering the entire shrimp.
Do I have to use seasoned breadcrumbs?
No, you do not. You can use any of these options for your fried shrimp or any food you’d like to fry.
- Plain bread crumbs. (you can add your own seasonings if you like)
- Panko breadcrumbs (seasoned or unseasoned)
- Cracker meal
- Gluten-Free bread crumbs of any style
If you want to season your own bread crumbs, you can choose your favorite seasoning. I like to keep the seasoning on the mild side and let the sweetness of the shrimp shine through.
Although you can use all-purpose flour instead of bread crumbs for my crispy fried shrimp recipe, the results will not be as good. You also don’t need to add garlic powder, onion powder, or any other seasonings unless, of course, you want to.
I breaded butterflied and just cleaned (round) shrimp to show you the difference.
Then it’s time to add the shrimp to the hot oil and fry them to a beautiful golden brown. Here you can see that the butterflied shrimp look bigger.
Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the shrimp and the temperature of the cooking oil.
Honestly, both types of my crispy fried shrimp were absolutely sweet and delicious, but the un-butterflied shrimp would still be my first choice.
When you fry foods, the oil you use needs to have a high smoke point. *Smoking point is the temperature it takes for the oil to start to break down and smoke.
The oils I recommend for frying foods are peanut oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil or vegetable oil. My oil of choice is corn oil for home frying and canola in professional kitchens.
Make sure you have enough oil in the pot to fully submerge the food you are frying. Leave enough room for the food you’re frying with an extra few inches at the top for safety. The oil will bubble, and you don’t want to get burned or have a mess to clean up.
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Never add liquid to the fryer, and keep a Kitchen fire extinguisher (rated for oil) nearby.
For most deep-fried recipes, the temperature of the oil needs to be 350 – 375 degrees F. Use a long-stem thermometer to check the temperature of the oil. If you’re cooking in batches make sure to give the oil time to recover before adding more food.
Drain the fried crispy shrimp on a baking rack over a sheet pan (or use paper towels to drain them on). Allowing fried food to drain removes much of the fat associated with deep-frying. Most of the fat will not penetrate the food, staying only on the outer layer (as long as the oil is hot enough)
This half-sheet pan with a wire rack is perfect for draining fried foods.
You can reuse the oil if you filter it, cleaning out the residue that sinks to the bottom of the oil. Using big coffee filters in a stainless steel strainer will work. Just make sure the oil has cooled to a temperature you can safely handle it at.
If you’re serious about home frying I suggest the T-Fal Deep Fryer. It’s the one I use at home for any deep-fried foods.
But the best part of my Restaurant-Quality Crispy Fried Shrimp is eating them! Serve them with my easy homemade tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, remoulade sauce, or pink sauce, and don’t forget the lemon wedges.
I guarantee my easy recipe will make the best fried shrimp you’ve ever had and make a shrimp lover out of every member of your family.
How to air fry fried shrimp
- Heat your air fryer to 400ºF. Working in batches, prep enough shrimp to sit in the air fryer basket, leaving room between them.
- Coat each shrimp with cooking spray.
- Arrange the shrimp in the air fryer with plenty of space around each one to ensure they air fry instead of steam cook.
- Air fry until golden brown, 5- 6 minutes.
- If you’re working in batches, you can keep the shrimp warm in a 200 degree F oven until you’re finished with the cooking process.
Yes, you can. Layout your breaded shrimp on a sheet pan or flat pan and place it in the freezer. Once the breaded food has completely frozen, place it into ziplock bags until you’re ready to fry.
*When you do fry the shrimp, do not defrost them first. Fry while still completely frozen. They will take about 5 minutes to cook fully.
Yes, you can. The only problem you’ll run into is that while sitting, prebreaded foods begin to get wet as the moisture from the food releases.
To overcome this you would need to place the shrimp back in the breadcrumbs before frying.
If you do need to bread ahead of time, try not to let the breaded product sit for more than 4 hours.
Fry shrimp for 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp. They should be golden brown and crispy on the outside and opaque in the center.