This fried shrimp recipe is for shrimp with a light, but crispy coating. Using cracker meal or corn meal makes it a southern favorite that everyone loves.
Table of contents
- What’s different about “southern style” fried shrimp?
- Exactly what is cracker meal?
- A versatile fried shrimp recipe:
- Tips for making fried shrimp that everyone will love:
- What dip is best for fried shrimp?
- A healthier version of “fried” shrimp
- In addition to this fried shrimp recipe you’ll want to check these out:
What’s different about “southern style” fried shrimp?
To begin with, the breading or coating is thin and light. You won’t find a thick “tempura” style batter on fried shrimp anywhere in the south.
And then there are the ingredients used to coat the shrimp. Our favorite is cracker meal, but corn meal is good too, and both are commonly used to make fried shrimp anywhere in the region.
Many times you’ll find a little Cajun or Creole type seasoning added as well. Our favorite is Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning and we usually add it for a bit of extra flavor.
But, delicious fried shrimp can be made with no seasoning other than salt and pepper. A lot of people add a bit of Old Bay and that’s awesome too.
If you love learing about southern food culture you’ll want to read Southern Food: Then & Now.
Exactly what is cracker meal?
Never heard of it? You’re probably not alone, but it is just what it sounds like. Crackers have been crushed to make a meal. It’s most commonly used for breading seafood, but can be used on chicken or pork, or like any other bread crumbs – as a topping for casseroles and more.
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We’ve been using this cracker meal made by McCormicks, but Ritz makes one also, and it’s as good as you might imagine.
I’ve never made my own, but you can certainly do that. Just give your crackers a spin in the blender or food processor, being sure not to let them get too fine.
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A versatile fried shrimp recipe:
We know y’all love making a recipe your own, and this is the perfect opportunity to do that.
We made ours with cracker meal, but you can use corn meal or a combination of the two. A bit of flour could be added to either as well.
Our fried oyster recipe uses all cornmeal, but it’s also a traditional southern coastal seafood dish that you’ll love.
As mentioned before you can adjust the seasonings to your taste. Maybe you have your own combination that you love – just add a spoonful of it to the cracker meal or cornmeal.
Leave the shrimp tails on or remove them when cleaning and deveining the shrimp. Leaving them on gives a little “handle” to hold the shrimp by when dipping in sauce. If you don’t want them to be a finger food you would remove the tails.
Tips for making fried shrimp that everyone will love:
- Lightly season the shrimp and let them sit a few minutes absorbing that goodness before you do anything else.
- Dip in an egg/milk mixture to assure your meal (cracker or corn) will stick to the shrimp, but let the excess egg drip off first. Otherwise you will have a thick coating.
- Make sure your oil is hot (about 350 degrees) before adding the shrimp and then add them slowly so they don’t stick together. This also gives the temperature of the oil time to recover.
- To cut down on the mess cook your shrimp in a dutch oven or other pan with deep sides. Better yet, cook outside in a deep fryer. This is similar to ours.
What dip is best for fried shrimp?
It’s entirely a matter of taste. Our favorite is a simple, classic cocktail sauce. This post is all about hosting an oyster roast, but we included an easy recipe for cocktail sauce.
Many people love to eat shrimp with tartar sauce, but our preferred creamy sauce is Remoulade and this is a great recipe.
Of course, you can get all fancy if you want and offer a white wine mignonette sauce. It’s a fun alternative to those traditional southern sauces.
A healthier version of “fried” shrimp
We’ve been creating healthier versions of some of our classic southern fried recipes. Air Fryer Breaded Shrimp and Buffalo Shrimp are great alternatives to this traditional recipe if you’re watching your fat intake. Be sure to check them out.
Easy Fried Shrimp Recipe
- 1 pound clean & deveined shrimp
- 1 egg slightly beaten
- ¼ cup milk or buttermilk
- 1 cup cracker meal or corn meal
- 1 teaspoon seasoning Cajun, Old Bay, or a combination of salt and pepper).
- vegetable oil enough to be about 1 inch deep in pan of your choice
- Season shrimp with ½ of your seasoning of choice and set aside for about 10 minutes.
- Combine cracker meal or cornmeal and remaining seasoning.
- Combine egg and milk.
- Dip each shrimp in milk mixture and allow to drain for a few seconds before coating in meal. Repeat with all shrimp.
- Cook in hot oil heated over medium to medium-high heat or at 350-375 of deep fryer about 2-3 minutes or just until lightly browned.
- Drain on absorbent paper before serving.
My kiddos and I made this together! We have been spending a lot more time in the kitchen lately and its so fun. They really enjoyed making this recipe but they enjoyed eating it even more! Thanks for this delish creation, we are adding it to our “make again” list!!
That’s awesome! Thank you so much for letting us know, Cindy!
These look amazing!
These look great, nice and relatively easy and something that works as a main or to serve as appetizers.
Exactly! Thanks, Caroline.
These look out of this world delicious! My daughter and I love shrimp! Can’t wait to try this!
Hope you’ll enjoy them. Thanks, Beth!
Bless my food by payal says
Looks absolutely awesome and beautifully photographed. Really, cooking in nothing less than an art.
Thank you so much for your kind comments!
Terri Stanley says
But, always better with Gulf Shrimp. Post links to Southern Groceries too please and Thank You for another great recipe.
Everyone has their favorites Terri. If we get to choose we prefer to get our shrimp fresh off the Georgia coast – Brunswick, Darien area. But we love all fresh seafood.
Fantastic shrimp recipe and the perfect entertainer in my house! Love how crispy the shrimp is!
Thanks so much, Dionne!
Can I have a big bowl of these please! The dish I can never stop eating… It’s just too good!
haha! Wish I could make them for you.
The crispy coating is my favorite! Simply delicious!
Thank you, Jess!
These shrimp look like the perfect appetizer for summer dining. Thanks for turning me on to cracker meal! I don’t really like cornmeal and I didn’t know cracker meal existed. Perfect!
You’ll love it!
These are addicting and so delicious! Such a big hit and very tasty! My daughter and I were all over these! Definitely remaking these soon!
Happy to hear you enjoyed them.
Love all things southern food. This looks amazing!
Awww…. thanks Jacq!
This is really tasty!! I can’t wait to make this again!
Lima Ekram says
Incredibly tasty and so easy to make! This recipe is a keeper!
Thanks for taking the time to let us know Lima!
I love the idea of using cracker meal! They look so crispy and amazing!
Mindy Fewless says
I kid you not, I looked at these pictures and instantly got hungry lol!! This is the perfect way to make shrimp!!
This is such a delicious and very tasty recipe! My daughter and I absolutely loved how thee turned out! Definitely making these again!
Thanks so much for letting us know, Beth!
The cracker meal makes a PERFECT coating. So light and crispy.
It really does. Thanks, Lauren.
The buttermilk gives these shrimp so much flavorful! My family loved how crispy they turned out!
Chenee Lewis says
I love fried shrimp and this is a perfectly crispy, delicious recipe! I love the combination of Old Bay and Cajun spice!
Sara Welch says
Enjoyed this for dinner last night and it did not disappoint! Quick and easy with the perfect amount of crunch! Easily, the best way to enjoy shrimp!
Thanks so much, Sara!
I have everything I need for this dish, can’t wait to make it this weekend!