These Southern-Style Fried Shrimp are so juicy and tender, with the crispiest crust. Deep fried in a buttermilk and flour/cornmeal batter, they’re perfect with cocktail sauce as an appetizer, or a fun dinner!
This is one of my Seafood recipes I know you’ll want to keep on hand!
There’s something very fantastic and delicious about fried food. Obviously it’s an indulgence, and not something to enjoy every day, but as an occasional treat, it’s amazing.
That ultra crispy outer coating combined with the juicy tender shrimp inside is a match made in heaven!
I’ve titled this recipe Southern-style fried shrimp, because from what I can gather, it’s a more southern-style breading, but I make no claims to it’s authenticity as a Southern food.
This is just my take on a classic fried shrimp recipe 🙂
How to make Southern-style fried shrimp?
This is just an overview; the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card toward the bottom of this post.
- Combine breading ingredients. I like to use a shallow bowl or square baking pan for this, so you can easily manipulate the shrimp.
- Add eggs and buttermilk. Again, a shallow bowl is best here.
- Heat oil. Use a heavy bottomed pot, so it heats evenly, and make sure to use a candy/frying thermometer so it doesn’t get too hot.
- Bread shrimp. One by one, add a shrimp to flour mixture, into the egg mixture, then back into the flour mixture again.
- Fry shrimp. Frying the shrimp in batches helps to not overcrowd the pan.
- Repeat with all remaining shrimp.
Adding the cornmeal to the breading mixture adds crunch and the faintest sweet flavor that goes so well with the slightly sweet flavor of the shrimp.
Variations of this recipe
- Seasonings – feel free to play around with the seasonings in this recipe. I kept it pretty simple; with the flavors we enjoy, but we all have different tastes.
- Oil – for the best flavor, I prefer to fry in peanut oil. However, if you have allergies, vegetable, canola, or sunflower oil are great alternatives.
- Deep fryer – if you have a deep fryer, you can absolutely use it for this recipe. Just set the temperature to 350°F.
- Other sizes of shrimp – you can absolutely use different sizes of shrimp for this recipe, just know that if the shrimp are larger, they’ll take a bit longer to fry. If they’re smaller, they’ll take a bit less time.
- Hot sauce – try adding some hot sauce to the egg/buttermilk mixture to kick up the spice in this shrimp recipe.
- Beer batter – for a twist on the breading, try using the beer batter from my beer battered fish!
I’ve not tested this recipe in an oven, or air fryer, so I can’t speak to how the batter would hold up. For baking, I prefer a breadcrumb coating as opposed to a wet batter.
There’s nothing worse than something that’s supposed to be crispy, ending up soggy instead. Once the shrimp are fried, don’t add them to a paper towel or straight onto a plate. Those things will cause the shrimp to steam a bit, which makes the coating soggy. Adding the fried shrimp to a wire cooling rack is preferred, since it elevates the shrimp off the surface.
Making fried shrimp ahead of time
This recipe, like all fried foods, tastes best when made fresh.
However, the flour mixture can be whisked together ahead of time. This cuts down on some of the prep time involved.
Leftover fried shrimp should be stored in an airtight container and eaten within 3-4 days.
To reheat, bake in a preheated 350°F for 10-15 minutes. This should help it stay crispy during the reheating process.
Top Frying Tips!
These super handy tips will work for frying just about anything!
- Pat the meat very dry before adding it to the batter. The wet batter will slide right off a wet shrimp.
- Use a thermometer to ensure the oil is the right temperature. Guessing just isn’t the way to go here. If the oil is too hot, the shrimp will burn before they’re cooked through. If the oil is too low, the shrimp will take on too much oil and be oily and soggy. Around 350°F is the sweet spot.
- Drop the breaded food away from you when you add them to the oil. Hot oil is not fun to get on your bare skin – trust me!
- Don’t overcrowd the pot/pan. Every time you add anything to hot oil, it lowers the temperature a bit. So adding all your shrimp at once will drop the temperature too much, which leads to unevenly cooked, oily and soggy shrimp.
- Use a frying spider instead of tongs to handle fried food in the oil. Tongs have a tendency to rip off pieces of that delicious batter. Spiders are inexpensive and great for so many things.
- Drain the fried food of excess oil after frying by adding it to a wire cooling rack. This elevates the food and keeps the coating crisp.
- Serve with lemon wedges. That way you can add a little squeeze of lemon juice to the shrimp before eating – which brightens up the food and makes it taste even lighter.
I love using this enameled cast iron pan to fry in. It’s heavy bottomed, holds heat evenly, is shallow enough to be able to work in, yet deep enough so you don’t get splatters of oil all over your stove!
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
- 2 lbs. raw peeled and deveined shrimp with tails removed (medium size, roughly 40-50 count/lb)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp seafood seasoning (like Old Bay)
- peanut oil for frying canola or vegetable oil are good substitutes
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal finely ground
- 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 1/2 tsp seafood seasoning (like Old Bay)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Prepare to fry
- Add several inches of oil to a large heavy bottomed pot, like a dutch oven, and heat over MED heat until it reaches 350°F.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper, then set aside. Line another rimmed baking sheet with paper towels and top with a wire cooling rack. Set aside.
- In a shallow mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder, salt, cornmeal, 2 1/2 tsp seafood seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and cumin and whisk together.
- In another shallow mixing bowl, add eggs and whisk, then whisk in buttermilk.
- Pat shrimp dry and season with 1/2 tsp seafood seasoning and black pepper and set aside.
- Bread shrimp, one at a time, by adding to the flour mixture, then turning to coat all sides.
- Next, add the shrimp to the egg/buttermilk mixture, turning to coat all sides and letting the excess drip off.
- Next add the shrimp back to the flour mixture, turning and patting to thoroughly coat all sides.
- Finally, add the breaded shrimp to the wax paper lined baking sheet. Repeat with all remaining shrimp.
- Fry the shrimp in batches so as to not overcrowd the pot, for about 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Cooking time may change slightly depending on the size of the shrimp. Adjust heat periodically, as needed, to maintain the 350°F frying temperature.
- Remove shrimp using a frying spider or slotted spoon and transfer to the baking sheet topped with a cooling rack.
- Repeat with remaining batches of shrimp, until all are fried. Serve immediately, with cocktail sauce and/or remoulade sauce.
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- Calorie count doesn’t include the oil, as that amount will vary from individual to individual.
- Prep time does not include the time for the oil to come up to temperature, as this will vary from individual to individual.
- Using a candy or frying thermometer (or even an instant read one) is highly recommended to ensure proper oil temperature.
- When adding shrimp to hot oil, gently lower the shrimp until the bottom end is in the oil a bit, then gently lay it down in the oil, moving your hand away from you. This causes the shrimp to drop away from you as well, and saving you from any oil splashes that could potentially happen.
- Avoid overcrowding the pan when frying. Overcrowding causes the oil’s temperature to drop too low, which means the shrimp will end up soggy, oily, and not cook evenly.
- To remove shrimp from the hot oil, I highly recommend a spider, but a slotted spoon will do.
The Chunky Chef is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.