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
Yield: 21 to 25 shrimp
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
322 Calories
20g Fat
8g Carbs
26g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 322
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 239mg 80%
Sodium 1389mg 60%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 26g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 106mg 8%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 200mg 4%
*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.

"I served these at an appetizer-only dinner party. They were absolutely delicious; tender and crunchy. I peeled the shrimp before cooking because I knew most guests would be standing. I wish I made a double batch, because they were gone in an instant!" —Diana Andrews

Salt and Pepper Shrimp (Deep-Fried)/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), heads removed, deveined, but not shelled

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons tapioca starch, or cornstarch, as needed

  • 1 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided

  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black, white, or Szechuan peppercorns

  • 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. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt to 2 cups warm water. Soak the shrimp in the salted water for 5 minutes.

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

    Rinse shrimp 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 remaining 1 teaspoon 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 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 draining on a paper towel
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  8. Heat a second large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add all the shrimp and the salt and pepper mixture. Stir-fry briefly to coat the shrimp and to warm them through, about 30 seconds.

    Stir-fry shrimp
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 
  9. Serve hot and enjoy.

    Serve salt and pepper shrimp
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga