Southern Fried Shrimp With Cornmeal Batter

Southern Fried Shrimp

The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 3 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
149 Calories
2g Fat
24g Carbs
8g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 149
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 80mg 27%
Sodium 1423mg 62%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 60mg 5%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 109mg 2%
*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.)

In this fried shrimp recipe, large shrimp are dipped in batter that is made with a mixture of egg, milk, cornmeal, and flour, and then deep-fried in oil for a light and crispy coating. A Southern favorite dish, this cornmeal fried shrimp makes enough for four, but can easily be scaled up as needed. 

Great for a snack or appetizer, you can also serve them up for lunch or dinner with some Southern sides, including creamy coleslaw and homemade french fries. Tartar sauce, rémoulade sauce, or cocktail sauce are a necessity for dipping these delicious fried shrimp.


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  • 3 cups large raw shrimp, fresh or frozen

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/2 cup half-and-half, or milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. If the shrimp is frozen, thaw.

  3. Peel the shrimp, including the tails. To devein, run a small, sharp knife down the back of each shrimp. Pull the dark vein out. You might have to loosen it or scrape part of the vein out with the tip of the knife.

  4. Season the shrimp with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the pepper; let stand at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.

  5. In a bowl whisk the egg with the cream or milk until smooth. Add the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt; stir until the batter is well blended and smooth. Add more milk or cream if the batter is very thick.

  6. Put about 1 quart of vegetable oil in a deep fryer or a deep, heavy pan. Heat the oil to 350 F.

  7. Add the prepared shrimp to the batter and stir to coat them thoroughly.

  8. When the oil reaches 350 F, carefully drop shrimp in deep, hot fat. Don't overcrowd. Adding too many shrimp will cause the temperature to drop significantly, resulting in an oilier coating.

  9. Fry until light golden brown, about 2 to 4 minutes.


  • To thaw frozen shrimp, you can put them in a large bowl and thaw overnight in the refrigerator or do the quick method by putting the frozen shrimp in a colander and placing them under gently running cold water until thawed for approximately 15 minutes.
  • After frying the shrimp, drain them on paper towels. To keep the already cooked shrimp warm, in-between frying the batches, you can move them to a baking sheet and place them in a preheated 200 F oven.

Recipe Variation

Add a little Cajun or Creole type seasoning or Old Bay Seasoning to add a bit of a kick. If you do, eliminate some of the salt.