Shrimp stir fry is a low maintenance high reward recipe on your table in 30 minutes!
Shrimp stir fry is a complete meal-in-one and easy to make at home in less time than driving to your favorite Chinese restaurant! It’s bursting with juicy shrimp and crisp tender veggies enveloped in a drool-worthy orange sweet and sour sauce laced with ginger, garlic and chili sauce. This shrimp stir fry recipe is easy to make with a quick marinade while you chop the veggies then you’re just a 10-minute stir fry away from dinner. This recipe is also easy to customize with whatever veggies you love from bell peppers and snow peas to, carrots, mushrooms and zucchini. Complete shrimp stir fry recipe with steamed rice or low carb cauliflower rice, homemade egg rolls and cream cheese wontons for a complete Chinese feast.
We love making Chinese food at home from Chicken and Broccoli, Beef and Broccoli, Mongolian Beef, Orange Chicken, Sweet and Sour Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, Kung Pao Shrimp, Szechuan Chicken and Hunan Chicken – and now you can add this Shrimp Stir Fry to the “must make” list!
shrimp stir fry RECIPE
Today, I’m excited to bring you one of the simplest, ridiculously easy skillet dinners you’ll ever make – shrimp stir fry! This shrimp stir fry is a welcome reprieve from standing on your feet for hours of holiday cooking but is sill company delish. The succulent hot, juicy shrimp and the fresh, tender-crisp veggies offer a rainbow of flavor and texture and boast an adept balance of sweetness, tartness and heat. This shrimp stir fry is guaranteed to satisfy your Chinese takeout cravings – any time, and every time – in 30 minutes!
ABOUT THIS SHRIMP STIR FRY RECIPE:
- QUICK and easy: This shrimp stir fry recipe is one of those easy, “what’s for dinner” or lunches when you don’t feel like cooking. Most of the ingredients are just whisked together to create the sauce and the rest are veggies of your choosing. When it comes to cooking, 1) the shrimp cook in less than 5 minutes, 2) the veggies are stir-fried in 3 minutes and 3) the sauce is simmered for 2 minutes – that’s it with a cook time of 10 minutes!
- Versatile: This recipe is extremely flexible; it can be a different shrimp stir fry every time you make it! Swap the veggies for your favorites or whatever you have on hand, add peanuts, cashews, pineapple, mandarin oranges, etc.
- Flavor! I could have gone any direction with the sauce, but I went with my favorite – sweet and sour, but not just any sweet and sour, orange sweet and sour sauce. It’s sticky, sweet and tangy infused with orange juice, sugar, red wine vinegar, ketchup, sweet chili sauce, garlic and ginger. The layered complex flavors combined with the succulent shrimp will have everyone combing back for seconds and thirds!
- Budget friendly: Feed the entire family for the fraction of dining out with the bonus of customizing the heat and veggies just how you like them.
- Pantry friendly. You can make this shrimp stir fry any time as long as you keep frozen shrimp stocked – then just use whatever veggies you have on hand. So, grab some frozen, deveined shrimp on your next Costco run so you’ll always be ready for this unabashedly flavorful recipe made with minimal effort and pantry friendly ingredients.
SHRIMP STIR FRY recipe ingredients
The ingredient list for this shrimp stir fry recipe is a bit lengthy, but remember, we are just adding the ingredients and whisking to create the sauce in minutes. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Chicken broth: grounds the sauce. se reduced sodium so your shrimp stir fry isn’t too salty.
- Red wine vinegar: adds the fruity tang which works with the orange juice to create the “sour” effect. Please do not substitute the red wine vinegar with a different vinegar.
- Sugar: granulated (plain white sugar) sugar provides the balancing “sweet” to the sour. Please do not use brown sugar as it adds a molasses flavor whereas granulated sugar lets the pure citrus flavors shine.
- Orange juice: you can use freshly squeezed orange juice or 100% pure bottled orange juice.
- Soy sauce: adds a hint of umami. Use reduced sodium so your shrimp stir fry isn’t too salty.
- Ketchup: might sound like an odd ingredient but is fairly common in Asian-American dishes such as Sesame Chicken and Yakisoba. I promise you won’t be able to detect the ketchup!
- Asian sweet chili sauce: I use this Asian condiment ALL the time. It is sweet and spicy and packed with flavor. I love using it instead of extra sugar because it is sweet but also packs a flavorful punch with a slight zing. It can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store.
- Asian chili sauce: if you feel like your shrimp stir fry is missing something, it is probably heat! I recommend adding more to taste at the end of cooking if you would like it spicier. I use Sambal Oelek with the green lid but you can also use your favorite chili sauce.
- Cornstarch: helps thicken the sauce to a glossy, luscious consistency without a raw flour taste.
- Stir fry vegetables: I used carrots, bell peppers and snow peas for contrasting colors, flavors and textures, but feel free to mix up the veggies every time.
- Aromatics: ginger, onions and garlic add warm spicy, almost peppery taste. These aromatics awaken and elevate the entire recipe. If you’re looking to save time and skip some chopping, you can substitute the fresh onions, garlic and ginger with powders. The typical rule of thumb is 3:1, so one part dried to three parts fresh.
IS SHRIMP STIR FRY RECIPE GLUTEN FREE?
As written, this shrimp stir fry recipe is not gluten free. To make it gluten free, use gluten free soy sauce or tamari in the quick shrimp marinade.
WHAT other VEGETABLES can I add to SHRIMP STIR FRY?
Shrimp stir fry can be made with whatever veggies are in your fridge, your favorites, what’s in season or what’s on sale. Try and use a variety of vegetables for a variety of texture and flavor.
Here are some great vegetables to try:
- Baby corn
- Bean sprouts
- Cabbage (green or red)
- Bok choy
HOW TO USE DIFFERENT VEGGIES
Texture is key in any stir fry so it is important to keep that in mind when chopping your veggies – you don’t want some veggies to be crunchy and some to be mushy! There are some vegetables that take longer to cook such as broccoli and carrots and some take less time to cook such as zucchini and bell peppers.
- For this recipe, chop your bell peppers into 1-inch squares and slice your carrots thinly so they can both cook in a couple minutes. The snow pea will be added last because they require hardly any cooking time.
- If you choose to use other vegetables, keep in mind longer cooking vegetables need to be chopped smaller/thinner, and the shorter cooking vegetables larger. For example, broccoli should be chopped small and zucchini should be chopped thick so they cook in the same amount of time.
- This technique will take care of most veggies, but there are some that cook in extremely short time such as cabbage and spinach, which should always be added at the very end of cooking
TIPS FOR BUYING SHRIMP
The star of this shrimp stir fry recipe is the shrimp! Here’s what to look for:
- Purchase wild caught shrimp. Look for wild caught shrimp versed farm-raised for the best flavor and texture.
- Purchase raw, deveined shrimp. Look for shrimp that is raw (not precooked), peeled and deveined. Buying prepared shrimp saves you TONS of time and makes your job a snap because all you have to do is thaw the shrimp.
- Frozen shrimp is awesome! Frozen shrimp is frozen shortly after it’s caught which means it’s frozen at peak freshness. So, unless you live coastal (and even then), it is even more fresh than the seafood counter by the time it’s purchased and you actually use it. Frozen shrimp is also more economical than fresh which means you can keep it stocked and read to use any time.
HOW TO PREP SHRIMP
If you are new to cooking shrimp, here is some helpful information to prepare and cook shrimp perfectly every time, whether for this shrimp stir fry recipe or any of my other fabulous shrimp recipes:
HOW TO DEFROST SHRIMP
You will want to use raw shrimp for this recipe. I typically use frozen shrimp and just thaw it before using. There are two options for thawing your shrimp:
- Easy Thaw: The easiest way to thaw your shrimp in the refrigerator overnight. Simply remove one-pound frozen shrimp (if it’s more than a one-pound package) to a covered bowl and let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
- Quick Thaw: Place the frozen shrimp in a colander then place the colander in a large bowl. Fill the bowl with cold tap water and let it sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, replace the water with new cold tap water and submerge the shrimp again. Let shrimp sit an additional 10- 20 minutes. If the shrimp isn’t completely thawed, repeat.
HOW TO PEEL AND DEVEIN SHRIMP
I like to purchase shrimp that is already peeled and deveined so all the work is done for me! If you purchase shrimp that is not deveined, it will still have the dark, sandy intestinal tract running along the back of the shrimp just beneath the surface. Sometimes it will be very dark and sometimes it will be harder to spot depending on when the shrimp ate last. To devein shrimp:
- First, locate the vein in the shrimp running along its back.
- Make a shallow cut and use the tip of the knife to lift it out.
- The veins and shells can then be thrown away.
- Rinse the shrimp and lay on a paper towel to dry.
DO I HAVE TO DEVEIN BOTH SIDES OF THE SHRIMP?
You may have noticed a second dark tract running along the shrimp’s belly even if you have purchased “deveined” shrimp. This tract is NOT another digestive tract but the nerve cord and does not need to be removed.
HOW TO MAKE SHRIMP STIR FRY
Like most stir fries, this shrimp stir fry recipe is half prep and half stir fry. Here’s the breakdown:
STEP 1: marinate shrimp & make stir fry sauce
- Whisk the soy sauce and rice wine together in a medium bowl. Add shrimp and let rest for 10 minutes up to 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Meanwhile, whisk the Stir Fry Sauce ingredients (sugar, red wine vinegar, orange juice, ketchup, Asian sweet chili sauce, cornstarch) together in a medium bowl; set aside.
STEP 2: COOK shrimp
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast iron skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add half of the shrimp and cook, without stirring, until the bottom of the shrimp are browned at the edges, about 1 minute.
- Flip shrimp over and cook just until opaque and nearly cooked through, about 30 seconds; transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining shrimp.
STEP 3: stir fry vegetables
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in in the now empty skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and carrots and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add bell peppers, ginger and garlic and stir fry for 1 minute.
STEP 4: add sauce and snow peas
- Whisk sauce (to recombine) and add to skillet. Bring the sauce to a boil then reduce to a simmer until sauce has thickened, 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in snow peas and cook an additional one minute.
STEP 5: add shrimp
- Add shrimp and heat through. Garnish with additional chili sauce, green onions to taste if desired.
HOW TO STIR FRY SHRIMP PERFECTLY
Shrimp is very simple to cook – and literally takes minutes! The key to success is to not overcook your shrimp. Here are a few tricks:
COOK SHRIMP WITH TAIL ON
Cook your shrimp with the tails on because the tail shells contain flavor that seeps out and we get more robust shrimp flavor, much like cooking meat on the bone. Once your shrimp is cooked and resting you can remove the tails if you desire.
Use a large wok or cast iron skillet
You don’t need a wok to make a fabulous a stir fry. Set yourself up for success by cooking your shrimp stir fry in a solid, heavy bottom cast iron skillet. I love cast-iron because it gets super-hot without ruining the pan, retains and distributes heat evenly (crucial for stir fries), is naturally non-stick once seasoned and allows steak to sear and release easily while still leaving just enough tasty brown bits behind to be scooped up to flavor the dish.
I love my super high quality Staub and Le Creuset. Their enamel interior don’t require additional seasoning and resists staining, dulling, wear and tear. They are a one-time pricey purchase that will last a lifetime. You can also go with a more economical, trusty skillet like this one which also works very well but it will need to be seasoned and always rubbed with vegetable oil after using.
If you don’t already have cast iron pan, you can use a super-hot heavy-bottom stainless-steel skillet (NOT a cheap thin metal pan or you’ll burn your steak). Stainless steel pans also heat evenly but they are more prone to sticking, so you will need to use more oil to cook your shrimp. I love my Le Creuset Stainless Steel Pan with a limited lifetime warranty but this more economical pan also has excellent reviews.
Use a hot skillet
Wait until your skillet is hot before adding the shrimp. This will ensure a nice sear on the outside of the shrimp without overcooking the inside which will ensure juicy, tender morsels.
DON’T OVERCOOK SHRIMP
There are two indicators of cooked shrimp -the color and shape. Here’s what to look for:
- Color: Raw shrimp starts off translucent gray and as it cooks, it turns pink and opaque with some pink and bright red accents. You will want to remove the shrimp from the skillet as soon as it is fully opaque without any gray left. Look at the crevice in the back of the shrimp where the vein was removed. When the base of this crevice becomes opaque, the shrimp is done.
- Shape: You can also check the shape of your shrimp but this is not as good of an indicator as color. As shrimp cook, their muscle contract which cause them to curl. As soon as the shrimp begin to curl, they are usually done cooking. Some claim that perfectly cooked shrimp have “C” shape while over cooked shrimp have an “O” shape. I think you’ll find that almost all shrimp, maybe with the exception of jumbo shrimp, still have an “O” shape without being overcooked.
HOW TO CUSTOMIZE SHRIMP STIR FRY
The shrimp stir fry sauce is where the flavor comes from and can easily be adjusted to suite your personal preferences. Just keep a note of your adjustments then whip out the perfect sauce every time. Here’s how:
- for more fruity tanginess, add additional orange juice
- for more sweetness/less sour, add additional sugar
- spice it up with additional Asian chili paste or add red pepper flakes
- add a blast of umami with soy sauce
- amp up the garlic and/or ginger for a stronger punch of flavor
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR SHRIMP STIR FRY RECIPE
This shrimp stir fry recipe is pretty straightforward, but here is a summary of tips and tricks to make it a sizzling success:
- Purchase raw, deveined shrimp. Buying prepared shrimp saves you TONS of time and makes your job a snap because all you have to do is thaw the shrimp.
- Can I make this shrimp stir fry recipe with frozen shrimp? Yes! I use frozen shrimp all the time for this recipe. Just make sure you thaw the shrimp completely per instructions and pat it dry before using.
- Mixed vegetables. You can make meal prep faster by picking up a bag of mixed vegetables, and then doing a little chopping if needed.
- How to chop vegetables. The most important key to making a good stir-fry is cutting each ingredient to a uniform size as specified in the recipe. As detailed earlier in the post, chop the bell peppers large and the carrots thinly.
- Customize veggies. You can substitute the carrots and bell peppers for your favorite veggies. Cut long cooking vegetables small and short cooking vegetables larger.
- Don’t marinate shrimp for too long. The shrimp should not be marinated longer than 30 minutes or else it can become mushy.
- Prep veggies and sauce first. While your shrimp is marinating, chop all your veggies, aromatics and prep your sauce. You want everything ready before you start cooking because the actually stir fry portion just takes a few minutes. If you have to stop to make your sauce while your bell peppers are still in the pan, they can end up soft and even worse – mushy.
- Use a large cast iron skillet. You don’t need a wok to make a fabulous a stir fry. A cast iron skillet provides enough surface area to stir fry the ingredients and retain constant heat.
- Use a hot skillet. Wait until your skillet is hot before adding the shrimp. This will ensure a nice sear on the outside of the shrimp without overcooking the inside which will ensure juicy, tender morsels.
- Don’t overcook shrimp. Cook shrimp just until opaque.
- Don’t overcook veggies. Set a timer and DON’T over-cook the veggies because the bell peppers will continue to cook in the sauce – we want crisp tender veggies, not tender crisp. Also, you don’t want to burn the garlic.
- Ginger pro tip. I like to freeze ginger so it’s always at my fingertips. To freeze ginger: grate it, spread it by the teaspoon or tablespoon on parchment paper and flash freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Transfer to an airtight container or plastic bag for up to 6 months. You can add frozen ginger directly to your stir fry.
- How do you thicken the stir fry sauce? The cornstarch in the sauce will thicken the sauce as it simmers with the vegetables. If you still would like a thicker sauce, then continue to simmer until it reaches desired consistency. For an even thicker sauce, make a slurry by whisking 1 teaspoon cornstarch in 2 tablespoons water then adding to the simmering sauce.
- How do you thin the stir fry sauce? Your sauce will thicken more the longer it is simmers. If it simmers to the point of too thick, don’t worry! It is easy to thin by whisking in water a tablespoon at a time until it thins to desired consistency.
SHRIMP STIR FRY VARIATIONS
This shrimp stir fry is a springboard to get your creative juices flowing. You can add different veggies, nuts, fruit etc. Here are some add-in ideas:
- Nuts: add unsalted, roasted or stir-fried peanuts or cashews for a nutty crunch.
- Sesame seeds: adds a nutty sesame flavor. Take care to use toasted sesame seeds or toast them yourself.
- Pineapple: always a welcome addition, especially with this sweet and sour sauce.
- Mango: one of my favorite fruits to add to EVERYTHING. If you’re intimidated by choosing or cutting mangos, check out this post here.
- Mandarin oranges: use canned or fresh. Fresh hold together better but canned or super convenient.
- Water chestnuts: add a nice crunch. Water chestnuts are easy to find in a can so you can keep them stocked and ready to go.
- Canned bamboo Shoots: should be easy to find at every grocery store. They add a crunchy, meaty texture.
WHAT SHOULD I SERVE WITH SHRIMP STIR FRY?
Shrimp stir fry is intensely flavorful so it pairs well with neutral sides such as:
- Rice. I like jasmine rice or brown rice but any rice will work. Just pop the rice in your rice cooker for a hand’s off, easy side. You can also use microwave rice pouches if you’re making a serving for one or meal prep.
- Low carb. Cauliflower rice, quinoa, broccoli rice or a blend of brown rice and any of the aforementioned options. You can also use low carb noodles such as zoodles or spaghetti squash.
- Noodles. Ramen, soba noodles, rice noodles or even linguine are a fun way to mix things up.
- Appetizers: For a complete Chinese feast, pair the shrimp stir fry with Pineapple Cream Cheese Wontons, Crab Rangoons, and/or Egg Rolls.
- Salad: some of our favorite Asian inspired salads include Crunchy Asian Salad, Chinese Salad, and Asian Pineapple Salad.
- Soups: Asian soups make a fantastic starter such as Wonton Soup, Egg Drop Soup or Miso Soup.
MAKE AHEAD shrimp stir fry
Shrimp stir fry only requires about 15 minutes of prep (if you purchase fresh, shelled deveined shrimp), but you can still get a jump start if you wish. Here’s how to make meal prep faster:
- Prep shrimp. If using frozen shrimp, place in the refrigerator the night before to thaw. If you need to peel and devein your shrimp, this can be done ahead of time as well.
- Make stir fry sauce. Whisk the ingredients together up to 24 hours in advance and store, covered in the refrigerator. Let the sauce sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or so before using or microwave for 90 seconds.
- Chop veggies. You can chop your garlic, grate your ginger and chop your carrots and bell peppers 24 hours in advance and store in separate air tight containers in the refrigerator.
- Cook! Within the next 24 hours, proceed with the recipe.
HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT
Shrimp stir fry reheats well if the shrimp is not initially overcooked. You will want to take care not to overcook leftovers as well or the shrimp can taste rubbery.
- How to store: store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- How to reheat in microwave: transfer small portions to a microwave safe dish, heat for one minute, stir then continue to heat at 30 second intervals.
- How to reheat on the stove: for larger portions, rewarm gently in a large skillet, stirring often. You may need to add a splash of water to thin the sauce.
CAN YOU FREEZE SHRIMP STIR FRY?
Yes, shrimp stir fry freezes very well, except for the bell peppers. If using bell peppers, you may want to pick them out or they will become mushy when thawed. Also, you should not freeze shrimp stir fry IF you have use frozen, thawed shrimp as frozen shrimp should not be re-frozen. To freeze:
- Let shrimp stir fry cool completely in the refrigerator.
- Transfer to an airtight container. If using a freezer bag, squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn.
- Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
- When ready to eat, let the stir fry thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Reheat per instructions. in the microwave for 60 seconds then at 30 second intervals or gently on the stove.
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