A restaurant appetizer favorite, these Popcorn Shrimp are easily made at home. Small tender shrimp are coated in a flavorful breading, then fried until golden and crispy. They’re so delicious and the perfect bite!
What is Popcorn Shrimp?
There’s no actual popcorn in this shrimp dish. Popcorn shrimp is an appetizer made of tender shrimp that’s coated in a seasoned breading, then fried until golden and crispy. They’re usually made with the smallest shrimp, so they’re bite-sized, which you pop in your mouth by the handful – just like you would with a bowl of popcorn.
Popcorn Shrimp Recipe
Here’s what you’ll need to make this fried shrimp recipe:
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Shrimp: You need raw shrimp that’s peeled and deveined, with their tails off. Select very small shrimp either in the 61/70 count, 51/60 count, or 41/50 count (keeping in mind cooking times will vary.)
- Flour: Regular all-purpose flour. This gives the shrimp a nice protective coating.
- Seasonings: Parsley, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper gives these little gems flavor!
- Milk: Provides a creamy base and also adds a little flavor.
- Egg: Beaten egg keeps the shrimp tender and gives the flour mixture something to adhere to.
- Vegetable oil: Use for frying.
If our seasonings don’t do it for you, omit them and try these mixed into the flour instead:
- Cajun: 1 1/2 teaspoons cajun seasoning.
- Asian: 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger.
- Italian: 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon each onion powder and garlic powder.
- Mexican: 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Old Bay: You can’t go wrong with a couple teaspoons of Old Bay seasoning. If you do use Old Bay, cut back on the salt.
How to Make Popcorn Shrimp
These shrimp are your typical (awesome!) fried food fair where you dredge them in a seasoned flour, dip them in an egg/milk mixture, then coat with more flour and submerge them in hot oil until cooked through, golden and crispy. Drain and enjoy on their own or with a dipping sauce. To make this popcorn shrimp recipe, follow the steps below included in the printable recipe card. Make sure to refer back to the article for all the helpful tips!
Tips for Perfect Fried Shrimp
- Use raw shrimp: Deep frying already cooked shrimp can make them hard and rubbery.
- Pat the shrimp dry: The flour won’t coat the shrimp properly if they’re wet.
- Get the oil temperature right: You want the oil temperature to be at 350 degrees F. If the oil isn’t warm enough, the shrimp will absorb too much of it and be greasy. Alternatively, if the oil is too hot, they will burn. Use a thermometer to regulate it.
- Use a cast iron skillet: Cast iron retains heat so well and is the best choice for frying.
- Fry in batches: Frying only a handful of shrimp at a time will avoid over-crowding the pan and helps regulate the oil temperature. This ensures that each shrimp is nice and crispy.
- Serve immediately: Deep fried food is best served right away. The longer it sits, the breading looses its crispiness.
Make Ahead and Storing Leftovers
Unlikely you’ll have any leftovers! But if you do, allow to cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator – they will keep for up to 3 days. To reheat, simply bring them to room temp, place them on a sprayed baking sheet and warm them in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes.
To freeze popcorn shrimp: Cook the shrimp according to the recipe directions, let cool completely, then transfer to a baking sheet in a single layer so they are not touching. Flash freeze for about 1 hour until solid, then transfer to a freezer-safe plastic bag for long term storage – they will keep for about 2 months.
Popcorn Shrimp Video
What to Serve with Popcorn Shrimp
Popcorn shrimp are great on their own, but even better with a dipping sauce. Some suggestions include:
- Remoulade Sauce
- Yum Yum Sauce
- Sweet Chili Sauce
- Marinara Sauce
- Tartar Sauce
- Lemon aioli or just a drizzle of lemon juice
- You could also make more of a meal out of the shrimp by making Shrimp Po Boy sandwiches or Fried Shrimp Tacos, or adding them to a Cobb Salad or wrap. So good!
- 1 pound small shrimp , peeled and deveined, tails removed
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt , plus more for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika (smoked or regular)
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons milk
- vegetable oil , for frying
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt, paprika, pepper, and garlic power.
- Pat the shrimp dry and place them in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the flour mixture and toss to combine until the shrimp are all coated.
- Heat about 3 inches of oil in a large deep pot to 350 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk.
- Dip each shrimp into the milk mixture, then dredge in the remaining seasoned flour.
- Place 8-10 pieces of shrimp in the oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove the shrimp from the oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat the process with the remaining shrimp.
- Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately.