Popcorn Shrimp

Make this popcorn shrimp recipe for a delicious party appetizer. This easy recipe comes together in about 30 minutes and is wonderful for sharing.

two plates of popcorn shrimp appetizers

Popcorn Shrimp recipe

When I was growing up, my family used to visit fish camps on the occasional summer weekend.

In North Carolina, fish camps are like our supper clubs. The menu consists of fried and grilled fish dishes. There’s always a salad bar and a little shop off to the side with old-fashioned candy.

It was at one of these fish camps that I fell in love with popcorn shrimp. Little shrimp fried in batter and dipped in cocktail sauce? The best!

Now, I like to make this recipe for smaller parties, though you can totally make this as dinner, too! Popcorn shrimp is perfect for little ones.

Why you’ll love this recipe

Here’s why you’ll love this super crispy popcorn shrimp:

  • Popcorn shrimp doubles as a starter or an easy meal. You can even enjoy it atop a salad or a Bloody Mary!
  • The small size is utterly moreish. Serve it with dips like cocktail and tartar sauce.
  • You only need a handful of ingredients to make this recipe, and it’s ready in 30 minutes.
a hand holding a piece of popcorn shrimp garnished with parsley

What is popcorn shrimp?

Despite its name, there’s no actual popcorn in popcorn shrimp! (Though if you love popcorn…)

It gets its name from the small, popcorn-sized shape these little bites of crispy fried shrimp take on when cooked.

Popcorn shrimp are breaded shrimp that’s fried on the stove. They’re usually served with dipping sauces like cocktail sauce and tartar sauce.

popcorn shrimp ingredients ready to cook

Ingredients

You only need a few simple ingredients to make this crunchy popcorn shrimp:

  • 1 pound medium or small shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning (make your own)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • oil, for frying
  • chopped parsley, for garnish

How to make Popcorn Shrimp

Making popcorn shrimp is easy to do in a few easy steps.

raw shrimp in a bowl

In a large bowl, season the shrimp with salt and pepper.

bowls of egg, flour and breadcrumbs
panko crumbs and old bay seasoning

Set out three medium bowls with all-purpose flour in one, beaten egg in another, and Panko bread crumbs in the third separate bowl. Combine Panko bread crumbs and Old Bay Seasoning.

Working with one raw shrimp at a time, use a fork to dip the shrimp into the flour, shaking off any excess flour. Then dip it in the beaten egg mixture and coat it in the bread crumb mixture. Repeat the process for a second time to make it extra crunchy.

breaded raw shrimp on a plate

Place the shrimp on a plate in a single layer to rest. Once all the shrimp are coated, let them rest for 5 minutes.

shrimp frying in oil

Heat a pan or Dutch oven filled with oil about 2-3 inches deep to around 375°F. Place 9-10 pieces of shrimp in the hot oil and fry on medium until they reach crisp, golden perfection and are evenly cooked from the inside (about 2-3 minutes). Just make sure not to overcook as that might turn shrimp rubbery and chewy.

cooked shrimp on a paper towel

Remove the shrimp from the oil with a slotted spoon, letting any oil drip off. Place fried shrimp on a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet. Repeat steps 5 & 6 with the remaining shrimp, working in batches.

Serve on a platter or in a bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce.

Variations and substitutions

Use cajun seasoning. You can use 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning instead of old bay seasoning if you want.

Make gluten-free popcorn shrimp. Use a gluten-free 1:1 flour substitute and gluten-free Panko bread crumbs. Old Bay Seasoning is gluten-free.

How to store popcorn shrimp

It’s best to enjoy popcorn shrimp immediately for the freshest taste and crispiest texture.

However, you can store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. For best results, reheat the shrimp gently in the microwave in 30-second intervals, making sure not to overcook them.

Freezing popcorn shrimp is not recommended.

popcorn shrimp on a plate

Tips for success

Here are a few tips for making sure your popcorn shrimp come out perfectly every time.

  • Make sure the oil is at an appropriate temperature. Too hot and the shrimp might burn and overcook; too cold and the shrimp might absorb excess oil and become greasy. Make sure your oil is right at 375°F by using an instant-read thermometer that clips onto your pan.
  • Use small- or medium-size shrimp in this recipe. Keep in mind that cook time might vary depending on size of shrimp so watch them carefully while they cook. Smaller shrimp pieces may cook faster. You may use larger shrimp, but you should test your cooking times and may need to double the batter ingredients.
  • Take them out of the oil as soon as they turn golden-brown for the most tender shrimp.
  • You can use either fresh or frozen shrimp (defrosted and dried). If using frozen shrimp, make sure that they are not precooked.
popcorn shrimp on a plate with dipping sauces

Best sauces for Popcorn Shrimp

Now that you’ve made popcorn shrimp, you are going to need a dipping sauce to go with it! Here are a few ideas:

How to serve popcorn shrimp

I love to serve popcorn shrimp as an appetizer or main dish with at least one or two dipping sauces. (Three or four if I’m feeling fancy!)

You can also add it to your favorite pasta dish for a crunchy protein.

Serve a handful of pieces over a kale salad for an easy dinner or lunch.

Popcorn shrimp makes a great garnish for a New Orleans Bloody Mary!

More easy appetizer recipes

a plate of popcorn shrimp

Popcorn Shrimp

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Juicy and tender bites of breaded shrimp are fried to golden brown perfection. Super crispy and absolutely delectable, popcorn shrimp is an easy-to-make recipe that will surely be a hit for any party or get-together.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • oil, for frying
  • chopped parsley, for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, season the shrimp with salt and pepper.
  2. Set out three medium bowls with all-purpose flour in one, beaten egg in another, and Panko bread crumbs in the third. Mix Old Bay Seasoning into the Panko bread crumbs.
  3. Working with one shrimp at a time, use a fork to dip the shrimp into the flour, shaking off any excess flour. Then dip it in the beaten egg and coat it in the bread crumbs. Repeat the process for a second time to make it extra crunchy.
  4. Place the shrimp on a plate to rest. Once all the shrimp are coated, let them rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Heat a pan filled with oil — about 2-3 inches deep — to around 375°F. Place 9-10 pieces of shrimp in the hot oil and fry the shrimps on medium until crisp, golden and evenly cooked from the inside (about 2-3 minutes). Just make sure not to overcook as that might turn shrimp rubbery and chewy.
  6. Remove the shrimp from the oil, letting any oil drip off. Place fried shrimp on a paper towel-lined plate.
  7. Serve on a platter or in a bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot with your favorite dipping sauces.

Notes

Popcorn shrimp are best the day they are made. However, you can store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. To reheat, warm the shrimp gently in the microwave in 30-second intervals, making sure not to overcook them.

Freezing popcorn shrimp is not recommended.

You can use 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning instead of Old Bay Seasoning.

Make sure the oil is at an appropriate temperature. Too hot and the shrimp might burn and overcook; too cold and the shrimp might absorb excess oil and become greasy. Make sure your oil is right at 375°F by using an instant-read thermometer that clips onto your pan.

Use small or medium-size shrimp in this recipe. Keep in mind that cook time might vary depending on size of shrimp so watch them carefully while they cook. Take them out of the oil as soon as they turn golden-brown.

You can use either fresh or frozen shrimp (defrosted and dried). If using frozen shrimp, make sure that they are not precooked.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 376Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 286mgSodium: 2015mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 34g

Did you make this recipe?

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