Popcorn Shrimp

popcorn shrimp topped with fresh parsley
Photo: Chris Simpson
Total Time:
30 mins
4 to 6 Serves

Everyone will love these crunch fried morsels. Serve our popcorn shrimp, with spicy cocktail sauce and tartar sauce for dipping, as an appetizer for a summer soirée or enjoy as an entrée with a side of coleslaw. And be sure to use small shrimp for this recipe, 50 to 60 per pound, so they cook in a flash. This keeps them from getting tough and ensures that the batter turns ultra-crispy. Take no shortcuts with the dredging flour. The mix of six herbs and spices provides kick, and the cornmeal adds crunch.


  • Vegetable oil, for frying

  • ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

  • ¼ cup fine cornmeal

  • ¼ cup cornstarch

  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

  • 2 teaspoons onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or ½ teaspoon dried thyme)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 pound peeled, deveined small shrimp (50 to 60), patted dry

  • 1 large egg

  • ¼ cup whole milk

  • Lemon wedges and parsley, for serving

  • Tartar Sauce and Spicy Cocktail Sauce, for serving


  1. In a small, heavy pot or large saucepan, heat 2 inches oil over medium until a deep-fat thermometer registers 365°F; adjust heat as necessary to maintain temperature.

  2. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, oregano, and thyme; season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. In another bowl or a resealable plastic bag, toss shrimp with half of flour mixture to evenly coat. Whisk egg and milk into remaining flour mixture until smooth.

  3. Working in four batches, dip coated shrimp in batter, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Fry, stirring a few times, until batter is crisp and golden brown and shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes a batch, then transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with a wire rack in a preheated 200° oven (to keep crisp and warm). Return oil to 365° between batches. Serve shrimp warm, with lemon wedges, parsley, and sauces.

Cook's Notes

If using larger shrimp, cut them in half.

While frying the remaining batches, keep the cooked shrimp crisp and warm on the wire rack in a preheated 200˚F oven.

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