Salt and Pepper Shrimp are tender and buttery with a crisp salt and pepper crust. They’re easy enough for a weeknight meal and fancy enough for a dinner party! Make them start to finish in less than 30 minutes.
It’s the flavor combination in this salt and pepper shrimp recipe that makes these so irresistible! A quick coat of cornstarch before stir frying gives the shrimp a crispy crust without deep-frying. Then they’re tossed in the wok or skillet with toasted and ground white and Szechuan peppercorns, kosher salt, garlic and minced fresh serrano pepper. The recipe is so simple that I know it by heart!
I’ve been making these crispy salt and pepper shrimp for years because it’s an easy recipe to make and always spectacularly good. I started with this recipe from Tom Douglas, but swapped in standard shrimp for spot prawns and peeled them (his recipe calls for leaving the shell on).
Pair these as a main dish with cooked rice or Mashed Red Potatoes and Chinese Cucumber Salad for a knock-out meal! Serve as a crowd pleasing appetizer. Or pile them into charred corn tortillas for the best Shrimp Tacos you’ve ever tasted!
How to Make Salt and Pepper Shrimp
Step 1: Toast peppercorns (white and Szechuan) in a small, dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and popping, taking care not to let them burn. Coarsely grind in a spice mill and then combine with kosher salt.
Step 2: In a large bowl, coat peeled and deveined shrimp in cornstarch.
Step 3: Heat oil in a wok or large skillet until nearly smoking. Add shrimp; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, tossing occasionally to cook evenly. Add garlic, minced chili and peppercorn / salt mixture and toss until shrimp is coated and spices are fragrant. Serve.
Salt and Pepper Shrimp Recipe Video
Salt and Pepper Shrimp
- 1/4 teaspoon white peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns also called Szechuan peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup avocado oil or other high heat oil
- 1 pound medium shell-on shrimp recipe note #1
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 small cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon seeded and minced serrano chili pepper or jalapeño
- cilantro leaves for garnish, optional
- Toast peppercorns in a small, dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and popping, shaking often and taking care not to let them burn. Transfer to a small bowl. Coarsely grind in a spice mill and then combine with kosher salt. Set aside.
- Peel and devein shrimp. Place in strainer and rinse; drain well and pat shrimp dry with paper towels. Place in bowl and sprinkle cornstarch over; toss to coat.
- Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat until nearly smoking. Add shrimp; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, tossing occasionally to cook evenly. Add garlic, minced chili pepper and peppercorn / salt mixture and toss until shrimp is coated and spices are fragrant. Serve garnished with cilantro leaves if desired.
- Large shrimp will also work, but I find that medium shrimp often have better flavor and a firmer texture.
- I love to serve these over a frilly but sturdy lettuce like frisée. And if you’re making these in early spring, they’re wonderful over fresh pea tendrils.