This popcorn shrimp recipe is tender bites of shrimp coated in seasonings and deep fried to golden brown perfection. An easy appetizer option that’s sure to be a hit with family and friends.

Whenever I’m hosting a party, I offer a variety of hearty snacks including cheesy corn dip, baked chicken wings, and these irresistible popcorn shrimp.

Popcorn Shrimp Recipe | Fried Shrimp #shrimp #appetizer #seafood #dinner #dinneratthezoo Popcorn Shrimp Recipe | Fried Shrimp #shrimp #appetizer #seafood #dinner #dinneratthezoo

Popcorn shrimp on a sheet pan, garnished with lemon and parsley.

Popcorn shrimp is one of my all time favorite appetizers to order at restaurants, I just can’t resist those crispy little snacks! It’s actually quite simple to make your own fried shrimp at home. I have to say, I think my version is even better than what you would get at a restaurant.

Why is it called popcorn shrimp?

This dish is referred to as popcorn shrimp because it’s bite sized pieces of  battered shrimp. These shrimp are often eaten by the handful, similar to the way you’d eat popcorn.

How do you make popcorn shrimp?

Mix together flour and seasonings to create the coating for the shrimp. Toss the shrimp with a small amount of the seasoned flour, then dip each shrimp into an egg and milk mixture. Coat each shrimp with another layer of flour, then place them in a pot of hot oil to cook. Drain, then serve immediately with your choice of sauce on the side.

Rock shrimp in a bowl.

What kind of shrimp is best for popcorn shrimp?

You should make this dish with very small shrimp. You can use rock shrimp, or select a shrimp in the 61/70 count, 51/60 count or 41/50 count size. Just be aware that the cook times may vary a bit depending on the size shrimp you select. Watch your shrimp carefully as they cook, then remove them from the oil as soon as they’ve turned golden brown.

Shrimp coated in seasoned flour.


To peel shrimp, simply use your thumb to press into the underside of the shrimp where the legs are. Peel each side of the shell back going from front to tail. You can devein a shrimp by making a cut along the top of the raw shrimp with a sharp paring knife. The cut should go from the front of the shrimp to the tail. Cut about 1/8 inch into the shrimp. Inside the cut you will see a dark vein. Remove the vein with the tip of your knife.

Tips for the perfect shrimp

  • Be sure to use a frying thermometer to keep your oil at the appropriate temperature. If the oil is too hot, the shrimp can burn. If the oil is too cold, the shrimp can absorb excess oil and become greasy.
  • Fried shrimp is best when you serve it immediately. You can reheat popcorn shrimp in the oven, however there’s a chance that the shrimp will become rubbery from the extended baking time.
  • I like to serve my fried shrimp with cocktail sauce. Other great options include marinara sauce or lemon aioli.

Shrimp coated in egg and flour.

Flavor Variations

  • Mexican: Add 2 teaspoons chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon cumin to the flour mixture.
  • Italian: Omit the paprika. Add 1/4 teaspoon onion powder and 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning to the flour. Sprinkle the cooked shrimp with grated parmesan cheese.
  • Cajun: Add 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning to the flour. Serve with remoulade for dipping.
  • Asian: Omit the paprika. Add 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder to the flour. Top the cooked shrimp with sesame seeds and sliced green onions.

A plate of popcorn shrimp served with cocktail sauce.

These shrimp are the ultimate party snack and are always the first item to disappear at parties. Everyone will be begging you for the recipe!

More fabulous appetizer options

Popcorn Shrimp Video

5 from 18 votes

Popcorn Shrimp

AuthorSara Welch
Popcorn shrimp on a sheet pan, garnished with lemon and parsley.
This popcorn shrimp recipe is tender bites of shrimp coated in seasonings and deep fried to golden brown perfection. An easy appetizer option that's sure to be a hit with family and friends.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Serves 4


  • 1 pound small shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika smoked or regular
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 teaspoons 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 3-4 inches of oil in a large deep pot to 375 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.


Calories: 314kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 271mg | Sodium: 677mg | Potassium: 410mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 260IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 3mg

Hello! I’m Sara!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Made this tonight they were really good. Took mine cajun served with some sweet potatoes and pea salad. I had more than a pound so I breded all of them and I am going to freeze these. And warm them on a sheet pan in a week or so. Thank you for the recipe.

  2. Do you think this same recipe would work if I cooked in an air fryer instead of in a pan with oil? If so, do you have any suggestions on time?


    1. I haven’t tried it myself in the air fryer so I’m not completely sure if it would work. If you want to try it I’d suggest cooking for about 4 minutes.

  3. Hi, I’ve made so many of your delicious recipes! How would I modify the recipe with cooked shrimp? I have 2lbs of cooked shrimp and would love to use them for this recipe. Thank you!

  4. 5 stars
    Were home with the corona pandemic so I’m cooking all the time. I made these and it was as good as eating out and really not difficult!

  5. 5 stars
    This recipe is dangerously good. I could sit here and pop the whole plate in my mouth and not even give it a second thought.

  6. 5 stars
    This is so good! The best part is that my kids loved them. They normally don’t like anything seafood related!

  7. 5 stars
    These are little bites of crispy heaven! Was a great dinner option for a busy weeknight with homework and sports! Definitely going to be enjoying this again later this week!

  8. 5 stars
    Popcorn shrimp was a win tonight. My son loves shrimp and he didnt leave much for the rest of us! Thank you for this recipe!