Salt and Pepper Shrimp (Deep-Fried)

Salt and pepper shrimp recipe

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
144 Calories
1g Fat
6g Carbs
27g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 144
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 227mg 76%
Sodium 1182mg 51%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 27g
Calcium 94mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Spicy salt and pepper shrimp make an excellent appetizer or main course. The deep-fried shrimp shells turn a wonderful orange color, while the spicy seasoning adds extra flavor. Leaving the shells on protects the shrimp meat inside, so it tastes very tender.

Although this is a Cantonese dish, it is sometimes made with Szechuan salt and pepper mix—feel free to use this instead of the sea salt and ground pepper in the recipe if desired. (Use 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons.)

These shrimp are best served hot; enjoy them alone or with some steamed rice on the side.


  • 1 pound medium shrimp (about 25 shrimp), heads removed, deveined, but not shelled
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons tapioca starch or cornstarch, as needed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black, white, or Szechuan peppercorns
  • 4 cups oil for deep-frying

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for deep-fried salt and pepper shrimp
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  2. Soak the shrimp in warm, lightly salted water for 5 minutes.

    Soak shrimp
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. Rinse in cold water, drain and pat dry with paper towels.

    Rinse in cold water
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  4. Lightly coat the shrimp with the tapioca starch or cornstarch.

    Lightly coat shrimp
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  5. In a small bowl, mix the salt with the freshly ground peppercorns and set aside.

    Mix salt and pepper
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  6. Heat the oil to 360 F in a deep fat fryer, heavy saucepan with deep sides, or a second wok (it is easiest not to deep-fry and stir-fry the shrimp in the same ​wok). Carefully add the shrimp to the hot oil, 4 to 5 at a time, and deep-fry until they turn bright orange (about 40 seconds). Make sure the temperature does not fall below 350 F.

    Fry shrimp
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  7. Carefully remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Continue deep-frying the remainder of the shrimp.

    Shrimp on a paper towel
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  8. Heat a wok over medium heat. Add the salt and pepper mixture and the deep-fried shrimp. Stir-fry briefly to coat the shrimp in the mixture (20 to 30 seconds).

    Heat a wok
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 
  9. Serve hot and enjoy!

    Serve salt and pepper shrimp
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga