The Best Southern Fried Shrimp Recipe – The Ultimate Guide to Deep Fried Shrimp

Breaded and fried until golden brown and delicious, these Southern Fried Shrimp are tender and juicy with an incredibly crispy crust. Make the best fried shrimp for your next fish fry – you will not be disappointed. Gluten-Free instructions and recipe variations included.

The best fried shrimp batter is made with cornmeal which is what makes this recipe a southern fried shrimp.

Typically a New England-style batter would be made with a flour-based batter that uses beer as its carbonation for a beer-battered shrimp recipe which has a lighter bread coating similar to tempura shrimp which uses carbonated water, flour, and corn starch.

A Pinterest pin image of golden Southern Fried Shrimp.

Fried Shrimp Ingredients

** See the full, printable recipe card below for full measurements and instructions. **

  • Shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on (Medium, Large, Jumbo)
  • Oil for frying

For the Wet Dredge

  • Milk (optional, see notes below)
  • Hot sauce (your favorite brand, optional)

For the Dry Dredge

  • All-purpose flour, for GF, use GF AP flour, like Bob’s Redmill.
  • Cornmeal for GF, use GF cornmeal flour, like Bob’s Redmill.
  • Baking powder for GF, use GF baking powder. Read the label – not all are GF.
  • Ground black pepper
  • Salt

Optional Garnishes

  • Lemon, fresh, cut into wedges
  • parsley chopped as a garnish

Tools

Deep-fried foods don’t require any special frying machines or deep fryers. All you really need is a good, heavy bottom pot to make pan-fried shrimp.

A 5-quart enameled Dutch oven [paid link] is the perfect size for small batch frying and cast iron is perfect for deep frying since it maintains the oil temperature perfectly.

Be sure to use a candy thermometer [paid link] to tell when the oil is at the correct temperature for frying. Too cool and the food will absorb the oil. Too hot and the flour will cook quickly leaving the inside undercooked.

Variations on Fried Shrimp Batter

Panko breadcrumbs – To use panko crumbs omit the cornmeal and instead use 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1-1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs.

Shrimp Tempura – To make a tempura batter use 1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour, 1-1/2 cups cornstarch, and 2 cups club soda. Whisk [paid link] together until smooth. Dip shrimp in the batter and fry as directed.

Beer Batter Shrimp – Mix use 1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour, 1-1/2 cups cornstarch, and 2 cups of your favorite beer. Whisk [paid link] together until smooth. Dip shrimp in the batter and fry as directed.

Egg-free – Luckily, this egg does not use egg as a binder. It gives the shrimp and eggy flavor. Use the recipe as written.

Dairy-Free – To make this recipe without milk or dairy, you can substitute the milk for water.

Gluten-free – to make this recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free all-purpose flour. I prefer Bob’s Red Mill brand GF flour.

Cornmeal-free – to make this recipe without cornmeal, omit the cornmeal and use seasoned breadcrumbs of equal measure in its place.

Oven-fried Shrimp without Batter – to make shrimp without batter, roast them in the oven. Try this Roasted Buffalo Shrimp recipe.

A Pinterest pin image of golden Southern Fried Shrimp.
Images shown were made using a Gluten-Free Fried Shrimp Batter.

How long to fry Shrimp

Shrimp cook rather quickly so the optimal frying temperature of the oil should be between 350 degrees F and 375 degrees F. The shrimp will cook in just 1-2 minutes, depending on size and oil temperature.

Shrimp are being removed from the frying oil in a stainless steel spider strainer.
Image shown were made using a Gluten-Free Fried Shrimp Batter.

Best Oil for Fried Shrimp

  • Canola Oil – is an incredibly versatile neutral-flavored cooking oil. It’s great for many different kinds of frying. Similar to vegetable oil in cost, it is an economical choice. Since it has a high smoke point, it can be cooled, filtered, and reused before discarding.
    • Store used canola oil in an appropriately labeled bottle for up to 1 to 2 months. Before next use, uncap and smell the oil. If there is even a hint of rancidity or any type of “off” note, it’s time to toss it out.
  • Vegetable Oil – is usually a mix of different plant-derived oils blended together making it very cost-effective. It has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point for frying.
  • Peanut Oil – Peanut Oil has a neutral taste and a high smoking point of nearly 400°F. For these reasons, it is considered one of the best oil for frying. However, peanut oil is quite costly in comparison to canola and vegetable oil.


How to fry Shrimp

** See the full, printable recipe card below for full measurements and instructions. **

One of the first seafood recipes I learned to cook was how to make fried shrimp. It’s pretty simple to do and takes just a few minutes. Once you set up your dredge and get a system down, the process goes pretty fast.

  1. Prepare the Oil: Preheat oil to between 350 degrees F and 375 degrees F. Line a bowl or tray with paper towels and set aside.
  2. Prepare the Dredge: In a shallow baking dish, whisk [paid link] together milk (or buttermilk) and hot sauce. In a separate shallow dish, whisk [paid link] together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, black pepper, and salt.
  3. Coat the Shrimp: Dredge the shrimp in the dry mixture first, then into the wet mixture, and finally into the dry mixture again. Shake off any excess flour between each dredging.
  4. Fry: Deep-fry in small batches being careful not overload the fryer (which drops the oil temperature resulting in oily food). Fry for about 2 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
  5. Drain: Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on the paper towel lined baking tray. Serve warm.
A basket of fried shrimp with a dish of homemade cocktail sauce for dipping. Lemon wedges and a sprinkling of parsley are on the tray as garnishes.

Best Seafood Dipping Sauces

dip or dipping sauce is a common condiment for many fried seafood recipes. Unlike other sauces, instead of applying the sauce to the food, the food is typically placed or dipped into the sauce.

Tartar sauce – also called sauce tartare and tartare sauce is a condiment made of mayonnaise, chopped pickles, capers, and herbs like tarragon and dill. It’s one of the two sauces most commonly served with seafood. My favorite English chippie makes his tartare sauce with dill and chopped pickles. It tastes absolutely amazing with his pub-style fried cod.

Seafood Cocktail Sauce – The next most common sauce served with fried shrimp is typically a red cocktail sauce. Cocktail sauce is typically served chilled or at room temperature and is made predominantly of ketchup mixed with prepared horseradish that gives the sauce a bit of spiciness. A squeeze of lemon, a dash of Worcestershire sauce round out this classic seafood sauce recipe.

Marie Rose Sauce – also called Fry Sauce is a combination of ketchup and mayonnaise mixed together to make a light pink sauce the same color as the shrimp themselves. It is very lightly flavored and allows the flavor of the shrimp to shine through. Marie Rose Sauce is similar to Thousand Island Dressing.

Big Mac Sauce – For added flavor, mix equal parts of mayonnaise and ketchup together with a dash of mustard and some chopped dill pickles to make a quick take on the classic Big Mac Sauce recipe. It’s delicious on French fries, too!

Bang Bang Shrimp Sauce – Made popular by Bonefish Grill, check out this Bang Bang Fried Shrimp Sauce Recipe. Bang Bang Sauce is a creamy, sweet and spicy Asian-style mayonnaise-based sauce. It’s absolutely delicious on fried shrimp.

An up-close image of a basket of fried shrimp with a dish of homemade cocktail sauce for dipping. Lemon wedges and a sprinkling of parsley are on the tray as garnishes.
Images shown were made using a Gluten-Free Fried Shrimp Batter.

FAQs

What is the Method to fry shrimp?

Deep-fried foods don’t require any special frying machines or deep fryers. All you really need is a good, heavy bottom pot to make pan-fried shrimp. A 5-quart enameled cast-iron Dutch oven is the perfect size for small batch frying and cast iron is perfect for deep frying since it maintains the oil temperature perfectly.

What shrimp is best for Fried Shrimp?

Fresh local shrimp has great flavor but frozen or farm-raised shrimp may also be used. As far as size, it really depends on your intention. For popcorn shrimp, use small shrimp. For a stand alone main meal, I prefer large or extra-large (Jumbo) shrimp.

What is the best oil for Frying Shrimp?

Honestly, there are three to choose from canola, vegetable, or peanut oil. u003cstrongu003eCanola Oilu003c/strongu003e – is an incredibly versatile u003cemu003eneutral-flavoredu003c/emu003e cooking oil. It’s great for many different kinds of frying. Similar to vegetable oil in cost, it is an u003cstrongu003eeconomicalu003c/strongu003e choice. Since it has a high smoke point, it can be cooled, u003cstrongu003efiltered, and reusedu003c/strongu003e before discarding. Store used oil in an appropriately labeled bottle u003cstrongu003efor up to 1 to 2 monthsu003c/strongu003e. Before next use, uncap and smell the oil. If there is even a hint of rancidity or any type of u0022offu0022 note, it’s time to toss it out.

What is the best temp for frying Shrimp?

Shrimp cook rather quickly so the optimal frying temperature of the oil should be between 350 degrees F and 375 degrees F. Using a thermometer to tell when the oil is at the correct temperature for frying is key to success. Too cool and the food will absorb the oil. Too hot and the flour will cook too leaving the inside undercooked.

Ho long to cook Fried Shrimp?

Depending upon size and oil temperature, the shrimp will cook in just 1-2 minutes.

How Do you store leftover fried shrimp?

Store any leftovers in an air-tight container or zip-top bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

How Do you reheat fried shrimp?

Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees F for 5-10 minutes to re-crisp outer coating. u003cbru003eThe air fryer is also great for this and restores the outer coating to a nice crispiness. Set the air fryer to 350 degrees F for 5 minutes.

Can Fried Shrimp be Frozen?

Absolutely. Place cooled shrimp in an air-tight, freezer-safe container or zip-top bag for up to 3 months. Heat from frozen by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange frozen u003cstrongu003eshrimpu003c/strongu003e on u003cstrongu003ebakingu003c/strongu003e sheet. Bake 18 minutes on middle oven rack. For best results, turn u003cstrongu003eshrimpu003c/strongu003e over after 6 minutes.

A piece of fried shrimp is being dipped into a small bowl of homemade cocktail sauce.

More ways to Serve Fried Shrimp

Of course, Fried Shrimp is perfect as a stand-alone main dish with a side of French fries and coleslaw, but their use doesn’t end there. Southern-fried shrimp are perfect in salads and wraps, too. Below is a list of other fried shrimp dinner ideas to consider.

Mexican – tacos, burritos, enchiladas, nachos, quesadillas

Asian – Crispy shrimp fried rice, Shrimp Tempura Sushi roll, eggrolls

Handhelds – Fried Shrimp Burger, Po boys, hoagies, lettuce slaw wraps

Italian – Fried Shrimp And Pasta Fettuccini alfredo

The Best Side Dishes for Deep Fried Shrimp

Fried shrimp is pretty versatile and tastes great with many side dishes or as a stand-alone dish. As a meal, pair this with Coleslaw, Potato Salad, Air Fryer French Fries, or Boston Baked Beans.

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Southern Fried Shrimp 9 of 12

Southern Fried Shrimp

Ronda Eagle | Kitchen Dreaming
Looking for tips and tricks for making the perfect fried shrimp? Get all the best recommendations for selecting the right oil, cooking vessel, variations, cooking times, shrimp dipping sauces, alternate cooking methods, and serving suggestions. Get all your Fried Shrimp FAQs answered! Breaded and fried until golden brown and crispy, these Southern Fried Shrimp are tender and juicy with an incredibly flavorful crust. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 2 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings
Calories 564 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs Shrimp , peeled and deveined, tails on (medium, Large, or Jumbo) [See FAQs below]
  • vegetable oil for frying , about 6 cups. Canola, Vegetable, or peanut oils work best. [See FAQs below]

For the Wet Dredge

  • 1/2 cup milk You may also substitute buttermilk, nut milk, water or coconut for dairy free [See Note 1]
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce , your favorite brand

For the Dry Dredge

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour , for GF, use GF AP flour, like Bob's Redmill.
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal for GF, use GF cornmeal flour, like Bob's Redmill.
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder for GF, use GF baking powder. Read label – not all are GF.
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Optional Dipping Sauces

  • Tartar Sauce
  • Seafood Cocktail Sauce
  • Marie Rose / Fry Sauce
  • Big Mac Sauce

Optional Garnishes

  • 1 Lemon , cut into wedges
  • parsley chopped as a garnish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oil to between 350 degrees F and 375 degrees F. [See Note 2]
  • Line a bowl or tray with paper towels and set aside.
  • In a shallow baking dish, whisk together milk (or buttermilk) and hot sauce. In a separate shallow dish, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, black pepper, and salt.
  • Dredge the shrimp in the dry mixture first, then into the wet mixture, and finally into the dry mixture again. Shake off any excess flour between each dredging.
  • Deep-fry in small batches being careful not overload the fryer (which drops the oil temperature resulting in oily food). Fry for about 2 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
  • Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on the paper towel lined baking tray. Serve warm.
  • Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees F for 5-10 minutes to re-crisp outer coating.

Notes

  1. You may substitute buttermilk or use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to milk to make homemade buttermilk for this recipe.
  2. Using a thermometer to tell when the oil is at the correct temperature for frying is key. Too cool and the food will absorb the oil. Too hot and the flour will cook quickly leaving the inside undercooked. The temperature of the oil will dip as food is added into the oil, especially if the pan is over-crowded.

FAQs

What is the Method to fry shrimp?
Deep-fried foods don’t require any special frying machines or deep fryers. All you really need is a good, heavy bottom pot to make pan-fried shrimp. A 5-quart enameled cast-iron Dutch oven is the perfect size for small batch frying and cast iron is perfect for deep frying since it maintains the oil temperature perfectly.
What shrimp is best for Fried Shrimp?
Fresh local shrimp has great flavor but frozen or farm-raised shrimp may also be used. As far as size, it really depends on your intention. For popcorn shrimp, use small shrimp. For a stand alone main meal, I prefer large or extra-large (Jumbo) shrimp.
What is the best oil for Frying Shrimp?
Honestly, there are three to choose from canola, vegetable, or peanut oil. Canola Oil – is an incredibly versatile neutral-flavored cooking oil. It’s great for many different kinds of frying. Similar to vegetable oil in cost, it is an economical choice. Since it has a high smoke point, it can be cooled, filtered, and reused before discarding. Store used oil in an appropriately labeled bottle for up to 1 to 2 months. Before next use, uncap and smell the oil. If there is even a hint of rancidity or any type of “off” note, it’s time to toss it out.
What is the best temp for frying Shrimp?
Shrimp cook rather quickly so the optimal frying temperature of the oil should be between 350 degrees F and 375 degrees F.
Ho long to cook Fried Shrimp?
Depending upon size and oil temperature, the shrimp will cook in just 1-2 minutes.
How Do you store leftover fried shrimp?
Store any leftovers in an air-tight container or zip-top bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
How Do you reheat fried shrimp?
Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees F for 5-10 minutes to re-crisp outer coating.
The air fryer is also great for this and restores the outer coating to a nice crispiness. Set the air fryer to 350 degrees F for 5 minutes.
Can Fried Shrimp be Frozen?
Absolutely. Place cooled shrimp in an air-tight, freezer-safe container or zip-top bag for up to 3 months. Heat from frozen by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange frozen shrimp on baking sheet. Bake 18 minutes on middle oven rack. For best results, turn shrimp over after 6 minutes.

Nutrition

Serving: 8ozCalories: 564kcalCarbohydrates: 60gProtein: 56gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 578mgSodium: 4456mgPotassium: 583mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 107IUVitamin C: 9mgVitamin D: 1µgVitamin E: 3mgVitamin K: 4µgCalcium: 502mgFolate: 141µgIron: 8mgZinc: 5mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

9 thoughts on “The Best Southern Fried Shrimp Recipe – The Ultimate Guide to Deep Fried Shrimp”

  1. We just got into shrimp season and fresh local shrimp is amazing. We cook between 350 and 375. At 375 it drops down when you add in the shrimp to around 365 which works perfectly for us. We especially like the addition of the corn meal in the crust.

    Reply
  2. They look delicious. The recipe says to heat the oil to 350 degrees in one spot and another it saus 375. Can you please confirm which one is accurate?

    Reply
    • Hi Eric – good catch, thank you. I cook at 350. 375 can be too hot and they get too dark brown before they cook through. If the oil drops down below 350, let it heat back up between batches.

      Reply

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