These golden fried shrimp are perfectly crisp on the outside, moist and tender on the inside, and totally greaseless. Plus they are easy to make, and guaranteed to be irresistible!
Serve these fried shrimp with lemon wedges and the easy-to-make cocktail sauce recipe below for a dinner that will satisfy everyone at your table.
Shrimp: Buy the freshest shrimp you can for this recipe. I like to use extra-large shrimp, which are usually 24 - 30 count per pound. Alos, I prefer buytin them fresh, not frozen, and wild Gulf.
Oil: What's important is to choose an oil that has a smoking point well over the frying temperature. Most deep-frying recipes call for temperatures from 350° to 365-375°F; peanut, canola, corn and safflower oils are good choices as they won't smoke or break down until they reach 425°F. I fry nearly everything at 365°F. If the oil goes above 375°, you risk burning the outside of the food before it's cooked through.
Buttermilk: Buttermilk is a key ingredient in many recipes—from pancakes to fried chicken—and for good reason. Being acidic, buttermilk not only gives baked goods a smooth tang but also lift when combined with a basic (or alkaline) ingredient such as baking soda.
Cajun seasoning: I like using a Cajun seasoning in the flour mixture, as it adds lots of great flavor easily. If you don't have it on hand, it can be made by mixing: 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon dried oregano, and ¼ teaspoon paprika.
How to make fried shrimp
1. In a large bowl, mix the buttermilk and Cajun seasoning. Add the shrimp, cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour.
2. In a shallow pie plate or bowl add flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder, stir until thoroughly combined
3. Add enough oil to a large Dutch oven or a heavy cast iron pan until its at least 2½ to 3 inches deep (1 to 2 quarts). Clip a deep-fry thermometer to the side of the pot, and heat oil to 365°F over medium high heat.
4. While the oil is heating, drain off excess buttermilk from the shrimp. Toss the shrimp in the flour mixture to evenly coat. Place the coasted shrimp on one of the baking sheets. (Having all the shrimp coated before you start frying allows for a quicker workflow.)
5. Fry the shrimp in batches until golden brown and cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully remove the shrimp with a large slotted spoon or spider utensil and let the excess oil drip back into the pot.
6. Set the shrimp on the rack over the baking sheet to drain. Serve hot, with cocktail sauce for dipping, and lemon wedges.
• To peel and devein shrimp, cut a slit on the top side of the shrimp running from the base of the tail to the end. Peel shells from shrimp, leaving the tail. Remove the black mud vein, and rinse thoroughly.
• If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, make it by mixing 2 cups of whole milk with 2 tablespoons of white vinegar.
• Foods fry best when they're surrounded by hot oil. A large amount of oil in your pot will actually help keep foods from becoming greasy, as they'll fry faster and absorb less fat. Also, the larger the quantity of oil, the easier it is to maintain the high temperatures necessary for perfect frying; the oil temperature won't be lowered much when you add the food.
• Use an accurate deep-fry thermometer and constantly monitor the heat. It's important to keep the temperature from dropping below 340°F, the point at which the foods would begin to absorb oil.
• You can make the cocktail sauce up to 3 days ahead, keep it covered in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
I prefer to use large cast-iron pots when I fry, and the bigger the better. Cast iron conducts holds it for a long time. The pot should be deep enough for the oil to bubble freely without danger of overflowing. I find that Dutch ovens work well.
Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to 2 days.
Leftover fried shrimp can be reheated in the oven or an air fryer at 165°F until heated through and crispy on the outside.
Coleslaw or a tossed green salad are good choices, as are other fried foods such as hush puppies, or sweet potato or regular fries.
Comments and ratings
If you’ve tried this Fried Shrimp recipe or any other recipes on our site, please leave a comment and rating below. We love hearing from you!
- 1 lb. uncooked extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 Tbs. Cajun seasoning
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 Tbs. horseradish (fresh or prepared); more to taste
- 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- Hot sauce to taste
- Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels.
- In a large bowl, mix the buttermilk and Cajun seasoning. Add the shrimp, cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour.
- In a shallow pie plate or bowl, mix the flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder, until thoroughly combined
- Prepare two baking sheets by placing a cooling rack on top of each; one for the uncooked coated shrimp, and the other to drain the shrimp after frying.
- Add enough oil to a large heavy Dutch oven to measure 2½ to 3 inches, about 1 to 2 quarts of oil. Using a deep-fry thermometer, heat the oil to 375°F over medium high heat.
- While the oil is heating, dredge the shrimp in the seasoned flour mixture, by draining off excess buttermilk and coating the shrimp evenly with the flour mixture. Place the coated shrimp on one rack on a baking sheet. (Having all the shrimp coated before frying allows for a quicker workflow.)
- Fry the shrimp in batches in the hot oil until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes, or until cooked through. Carefully remove the shrimp with a large slotted spoon or spider utensil, letting the excess oil drip back into the pot.
- Drain the shrimp briefly on the other rack set over a baking sheet. Serve hot, with cocktail sauce for dipping, and lemon wedges
- Combine the ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, and hot sauce. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes to let the flavors develop. Bring to room temperature before serving.