Chinese Shrimp Balls Appetizer

Chinese Shrimp Balls Appetizer

The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 24 mins
Soak: 5 mins
Total: 44 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Yield: 18 shrimp balls
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
229 Calories
14g Fat
6g Carbs
19g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 229
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 191mg 64%
Sodium 851mg 37%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 19g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 76mg 6%
Iron 0mg 3%
Potassium 213mg 5%
*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.)

Chinese shrimp balls make a delicious appetizer. The shrimp balls are nicely seasoned and have water chestnuts added for some crunch. They are sure to please your guests, whether set out on an appetizer buffet or passed. You can choose the dipping sauce to accompany them. Some people like sweet and sour sauce, cocktail sauce, or spicy Chinese mustard sauce.

An advantage of this recipe is that it can be prepared gluten-free as long as you use gluten-free soy sauce and gluten-free cornstarch. If you would like breading or a crunchier coating, variations are provided below.

"The shrimp balls were delicious, and it was an easy recipe to follow. They were wonderful with sweet and sour sauce. Each batch took about 4 minutes to fry. I got 18 shrimp balls (around 1 inch diameter). My only regret is that I didn't make a double batch!" — Diana Rattray

Chinese shrimp balls with dip
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • Vegetable oil, for frying

  • 1/2 cup canned sliced water chestnuts, drained, or 8 whole peeled water chestnuts

  • 1/2 medium green onion

  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon rice wine, or rice vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste

  • 1 large large egg

  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Chinese Shrimp Balls Appetizer ingredients

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  2. Soak the shrimp in warm, lightly salted water for 5 minutes. Pre heat the oil for deep-frying to 350 F.

    Soak the shrimp in warm, lightly salted water

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  3. Rinse in cold water, drain, and pat dry with paper towels.

    shrimp on a paper towel lined plate

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  4. If using canned water chestnuts, run them under warm water to remove any tinny taste. Drain.

    water chestnuts in a colander

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  5. Mince the shrimp and water chestnuts.

    Mince the shrimp and water chestnuts

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  6. In a medium bowl, combine the minced shrimp and water chestnuts. Mix in the chopped green onion, grated ginger, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, sesame oil, pepper, egg white, and cornstarch.

    combine the minced shrimp and water chestnuts with spices

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  7. Form the mixture into small balls, approximately 1 inch in diameter (about half the size of a golf ball).

    shrimp mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  8. Carefully add the shrimp balls to the hot oil, adding only a few at a time so as not to overcrowd the wok. Deep-fry the balls, turning constantly, until they are crisp and golden (3 to 4 minutes). Remove the shrimp balls from the hot oil and drain them on paper towels.

    fried shrimp balls

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  9. Serve the shrimp balls with sweet and sour sauce, plum sauce, or hot mustard.

    Chinese Shrimp Balls Appetizer

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg


  • The shrimp mixture is quite wet. To make shaping easier, moisten your hands with a little water.
  • When adding the shrimp balls to the hot oil, stir gently a few times to keep them from sticking together.
  • For ease of dipping, you can skewer each on a cocktail toothpick. This works for both passed appetizers and those presented on a tray buffet-style for self-service.

Recipe Variation

  • This recipe keeps it simple, but if you want more texture, you could roll the shrimp balls in a plate of panko breadcrumbs before deep-frying. Or, cut wonton skins into small strips and roll the shrimp balls in them before deep-frying.
  • Add some heat to the shrimp balls with about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of Asian chili paste.
  • Make a fast and easy dipping sauce by combining 1 1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic, 1/3 cup of light soy sauce, 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, 4 teaspoons of sesame oil, and 2 teaspoons of chili oil.
  • For gluten-free shrimp balls, make sure the cornstarch is labeled gluten-free and use a gluten-free soy sauce.

How to Store and Reheat

  • Transfer leftover fried shrimp balls to a shallow container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • For longer storage, freeze the shrimp balls in an airtight container or zip-close freezer bag for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat shrimp balls, place them on a rack on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 375 F oven for about 4 minutes, or until hot. If they are frozen, heat for about 7 to 10 minutes. The internal temperature should be at least 165 F, the minimum safe temperature for leftovers (USDA).

Recipe Tags: