Firecracker Shrimp is the crispy, sweet and spicy shrimp of your dreams that’s better than your favorite takeout!
This Firecracker Shrimp is a sensational combination of juicy, crispy, sticky, sweet and spicy. Each bite explodes with texture and flavor – like a mini firecracker – you will be obsessed! This shrimp recipe comes together quickly with zero chopping, and can even be breaded ahead of time. Best of all, you control the heat and cooking method depending on how naughty you want to be; cook the shrimp by baking, air frying, pan frying or deep frying – all options included. Serve this Firecracker Shrimp as everyone’s favorite appetizer or as everyone’s new favorite entrée with rice and veggies.
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How to make firecracker shrimp video
Ingredients for panko breading
Breading the Firecracker Shrimp is important because the panko not only makes the shrimp crispy, but it acts like a sponge, seeping in the sweet and spicy sauce for addictingly flavorful morsels you won’t be able to stop eating! Here’s what you’ll need (full measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):
- Panko breadcrumbs: Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb sold in every grocery store (including Walmart) usually next to the other breadcrumbs. It is the secret behind the CRUNCH in this recipe, so please don’t skip it.
- Flour: The shrimp is lightly dredged in flour to give it a clingy surface for the eggs to bind to. I use all-purpose flour, but I’m sure gluten free flour, almond flour, etc. would also work.
- Eggs: Three whisked eggs act as a sticky glue for all of the breadcrumbs to adhere to. When the egg proteins cook and solidify, the panko is secured onto the shrimp.
- Seasonings: Every element of a dish should be seasoned, including the shrimp, and not just the sauce. The shrimp is seasoned with garlic powder ground ginger, salt and pepper that’s whisked directly into the flour.
- Canola oil, cooking spray or vegetable oil: The type of oil will depend on which cooking method you choose. If baking, the panko is tossed in canola oil then toasted, or for an even lighter version, you can spray the panko with cooking spray. If frying, you will use vegetable oil or canola oil because they have a high smoking point.
CAN I USE REGULAR BREADCRUMBS INSTEAD OF PANKO?
Please do not substitute panko breadcrumbs with regular breadcrumbs or you will be missing out on the gorgeous, satisfying CRUNCH. Panko is KEY to crispy shrimp. Panko breadcrumbs are larger and dryer than normal breadcrumbs so they absorb less moisture and become much crispier.
ingredients for firecreacker sauce
The sauce for this Firecracker Shrimp recipe is easy to make with just 5 ingredients thanks to the Asian Sweet Chili Sauce which is a one stop complex flavor explosion. Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need:
- Asian Sweet Chili Sauce: If you have been following me for long at all, you know Asian Sweet Chili Sauce is one of my favorite Asian ingredients and I add it to almost every Chinese recipe such as Sweet Fire Chicken, Honey Sesame Chicken, Chinese Chicken Salad, Crockpot Cashew Chicken, and Mongolian Beef, just to name a few. This sauce is made with red chilies, onion, garlic, brown sugar and fish sauce for a dynamic sweet heat all packaged for you! This popular condiment should be easy to find in the Asian section of your grocery store. It is sometimes labeled “Thai Sweet Chili Sauce.” Please do not confuse it with Asian Chili sauce/paste without the “sweet” – or your mouth will be on fire!
- Soy Sauce: Use low sodium so your recipe isn’t too salty. The soy grounds the sauce with its salty depth.
- Red Wine Vinegar: The vinegar’s fruity tang adds the needed acid to balance the sauce. You may also use rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar in a pinch. If you only have white vinegar, use less because it is stronger.
- Honey: The honey adds just a touch more sweetness to balance out the heat.
- Asian Chili Sauce: This is different from Asian Sweet Chili Sauce – there is no sweet about it! This chili sauce is pure heat and is what really brings the fireworks to Firecracker Shrimp. I use Sambal Oelek with the green lid but you can also use your favorite chili sauce such as Sriracha or even Buffalo Wings Hot Sauce.
HOW TO FREEZE crispy shrimp
This Firecracker Shrimp freezes well if frozen after it’s cooked but before it’s tossed with the sauce. To freeze:
- Space shrimp apart on a baking sheet and freeze for 1-2 hours or until solid. This prevents the shrimp from clumping together.
- Add shrimp to a freezer size bag, squeeze out excess air, and label.
- Freeze the shrimp and sauce separately for up to 3 months.
- When ready to eat, thaw in a single layer in the refrigerator before reheating and combining with the sauce.
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- 1 ½ pounds raw extra-large shrimp (16-20 ct), peeled and deveined, tails left intact
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 tsp EACH salt, garlic powder, ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- Canola oil or vegetable if pan frying or deep frying
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Add panko to a large baking sheet and toss with ¼ cup canola oil until evenly moistened. Spread panko into an even layer. (You may also spray with cooking spray instead of oil, see notes). Bake at 425 degrees F for about 5-7 minutes, or until golden, stirring half way through cooking. Keep an eye on the panko the last few minutes so it doesn’t burn.
- Breading stations: In a shallow dish, whisk the flour, garlic powder, ground ginger, salt and pepper together. In a second shallow dish, whisk the eggs together. In a third shallow dish, add the panko. To receive the breaded shrimp: Line the counter next to the stove with parchment paper or if baking, top two baking sheets with wire racks and spray with cooking spray.
- To bread the shrimp: Use one hand for dredging the shrimp in the flour and panko and one hand for the egg. Working with a few shrimp at a time, dredge them in flour mixture, followed by the eggs, letting excess drip off, followed by the panko. Press the panko firmly into the shrimp so it adheres. Transfer shrimp to the prepared parchment paper or wire racks.
Cook (Pick One)
- To deep fry: Pour enough oil into a heavy large pot to reach depth of 1 ¼ inches; heat to 350 degrees F. Working in batches, fry shrimp until golden and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Using a spider strainer, transfer shrimp to paper towels in a single layer. Bring oil back to 350 degrees F between batches.
- To shallow pan fry: Heat 3-4 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil in a large sauté nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the shrimp to the pan in a single layer. Cook the shrimp for 1-2 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Using tongs, transfer shrimp to paper towels in a single layer. Wipe out pan as needed in between batches and repeat.
- To air fry: Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees F. Spray the shrimp with cooking oil and add to the air fryer in a single layer (you’ll need to work in batches). Cook for 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway through. For extra crispy shrimp, spray the shrimp again after flipping. Transfer shrimp to paper towels in a single layer.
- To bake: Space the shrimp evenly apart on the racks so they aren't touching. Bake at 425 degrees F 7 to 9 minutes, or until cooked through.
COMBINE WITH SAUCE
- The last few minutes the shrimp is cooking, whisk all of the Sauce ingredients together in a large saucepan. Adjust the heat as desired with more or less chili sauce. Bring to a simmer until warmed through.
- When ready to serve, add the cooked shrimp and toss to coat. Garnish with green onions if desired and serve immediately.
- Shrimp: Feel free to use frozen shrimp, thaw first.
- Panko breadcrumbs: Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb sold in every grocery store (including Walmart) usually next to the other breadcrumbs. It is the secret behind the CRUNCH in this recipe, so please don’t skip!
- Asian Sweet Chili Sauce: This popular condiment should be easy to find in the Asian section of your grocery store. It is sometimes labeled “Thai Sweet Chili Sauce.” Please do not confuse it with Asian Chili sauce/paste without the “sweet” – or your mouth will be on fire!
- Asian Chili Sauce: This is different from Asian Sweet Chili Sauce – there is no sweet about it! I use Sambal Oelek with the green lid but you can also use your favorite chili sauce such as Sriracha or even Buffalo Wings Hot Sauce.
- Add vegetables: Reduce the shrimp to 1 pound and include stir fry vegetables such as bite size broccoli florets, thinly sliced carrots or bell peppers chopped into 1-inch pieces. Stir fry the vegetables over medium high heat until crisp tender, about 3 minutes, and then add the sauce.
- Gluten free: Use your favorite gluten free flour, tamari instead of soy sauce, gluten free panko such as Aleia’s Gluten-Free Panko and double check that your Asian Sweet Chili Sauce is gluten free (Mae Ploy and Thai Kitchen brands are).
- Egg-free: Cooks Illustrated recommends using heavy cream instead.
- To bake without wire racks: Line baking sheets with lightly greased foil and place in the oven to get nice and hot while you bread the shrimp. Take care when adding panko shrimp because your pans will be HOT!
- Meal Prep: The panko can be toasted ahead of time and you can also completely bread the shrimp ahead of time. Spread breaded shrimp on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover with foil and refrigerate. Uncover and let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature before cooking. Note: this method will produce ever so slightly less crispy shrimp if baking.
How to store and reheatThis Firecracker Shrimp is best enjoyed fresh once tossed with the sauce because the breading softens upon refrigeration. I suggest reheating the shrimp in the oven or air fryer to revive the crispy texture. The microwave will warm the shrimp but won’t improve the texture.
- Storage: Store the shrimp in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. For best results, let the shrimp cool completely before storing.
- Air fryer: Place shrimp in a single layer in the basket without touching, air fry for 3-4 minutes, until crispy and warmed through.
- Oven: Spread shrimp on a lightly greased baking rack set in a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-8 minutes, or until heated through.
- Microwave: Microwave for 30 seconds, then in additional increments of 10 seconds as needed.
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