Popcorn shrimp is a delicious appetizer, light lunch, or snack that everyone loves! Sprinkled with cajun seasoning and deep fried until golden brown, serve with your favorite dipping sauce for an irresistible finger food.
Tasty Popcorn Shrimp
Invented by Red Lobster in the 1970s, this breaded shrimp dish was quick to become a household favorite. Pan-fried to perfection, these crispy popcorn shrimp pair nicely with bang bang sauce or cocktail sauce.
These flavorful shrimp are perfect for family dinners, parties, or just afternoon snacking. Simple to make and easy to store, they will quickly become your favorite way to serve shrimp.
Popcorn Shrimp is best when right out of the pan, but leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated in an oven or an air fryer without worrying about it becoming soggy. You can also pop them in the microwave for 30 second intervals, just make sure not to overcook them.
Enjoy them by themselves or toss them on a salad or a Po Boy sandwich!
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Shrimp – Peeled and deveined. Small size is best (61/70, 51/60, or 41/50 sizes)
Flour – All purpose is best. I haven’t tested this with alternate flours.
Panko bread crumbs- These make them extra crunchy. Substitute plain or seasoned breadcrumbs.
Pantry staples – Salt & pepper
Vegetable oil – Can substitute canola or peanut oil for frying.
How to make Popcorn Shrimp
FIRST: In a large bowl, season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. In three separate bowls, place the beaten egg, flour, and panko. Toss the Old Bay Seasoning in with the panko and toss to combine.
SECOND: Coat the shrimp, one at at time: First in the flour mixture, then in the egg, and finally in the seasoned panko. Place on a plate to allow the coating to set. Repeat with the remaining shrimp and let rest for 5 minutes.
THIRD: Heat oil to 375F. You will need 2-3 inches deep in the pan for frying. In batches, fry the shrimp, flipping if necessary, until crispy and golden brown on the outside. This should take 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook.
FOURTH: Remove the shrimp and drain on a paper towel lined plate or on a wire cooling rack to drain excess oil. Garnish with chopped parsley or chives and serve with your favorite dipping sauce. Enjoy hot!
For the full recipe and detailed instructions, please refer to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Why are they called popcorn shrimp?
This recipe got its name from the small size of the battered shrimp. Eat with your fingers, like popcorn!
What’s the difference between popcorn Shrimp and regular shrimp?
Besides being fried while regular shrimp is not, there is also a size difference. Popcorn Shrimp is usually made with the smallest shrimp in order to be bite-sized and easy to pop in your mouth.
What do you eat popcorn shrimp with?
Popcorn shrimp pairs with a variety of sauces and side dishes. I recommend pairing them with tartar or cocktail sauce.
French fries and macaroni salad are a delicious side dish with this recipe.
What seasoning variations can I use?
If you want to level up your Popcorn Shrimp dish, add some of your favorite seasonings into the flour. Some of my favorite flavor combinations are:
- Five spice powder and ground ginger
- Cajun seasoning
- Italian seasoning, onion powder, and garlic powder
- Chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper
How do you air-fry Popcorn Shrimp?
Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F. Spray the basket with cooking spray. Place the shrimp in, leaving space around the shrimp. Spray again to get them extra crispy.
Air fry for 4 minutes, flip and fry for another 2-4 minutes or until crispy golden brown. Depending on the size of the air fryer you might need to cook in batches.
The air fried shrimp should be a crispy golden brown with a crunchy texture. Keep a close eye on both the shrimp and the time so they don’t overcook.
Tips and Tricks
- Ideal size is 61/70 but you can also use 51/60 or 41/50. Anything larger and they can be too big.
- Use uncooked fresh or frozen shrimp. Be sure to thaw frozen shrimp before cooking.
- Shrimp coated twice will be extra crunchy!
- Be sure the oil stays at 350 while frying. Too cold equals greasy, too hot and they can burn.
- Serve cooked shrimp immediately with your favorite dipping sauce!
- Store leftovers for 3-4 days in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
- Freezing is not recommended as the shrimp will be tough and chewy when you reheat them.
If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!
This popcorn shrimp recipe makes a delectable appetizer or dinner for any gathering. Serve with a variety of dipping sauces for different flavor combinations!
More Easy Appetizers
- 1 pound shrimp (peeled, deveined) Small size is best (61/70, 51/60, or 41/50 sizes)
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon 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 garnishing
- In a large bowl, season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
- In three separate bowls, place the beaten egg, flour, and panko. Toss the Old Bay Seasoning in with the panko and toss to combine.
- Coat the shrimp, one at at time: First in the flour, then in the egg, and finally in the seasoned panko. Place on a plate to allow the coating to set. Repeat with the remaining shrimp and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Heat 2 to 3 inches of oil to 375F in a pan for frying.
- In batches, fry the shrimp, flipping if necessary, until crispy and golden brown on the outside. This should take 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook.
- Remove the shrimp and drain on a paper towel lined plate or on a wire cooling rack to drain excess oil.
- Garnish with chopped parsley or chives and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
- Enjoy hot!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 272Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 941mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 9g
This nutrition information was generated via a third party. I can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.
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