This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

When I’m looking for a dish that delivers big on flavor and satisfaction without much time in the kitchen, I turn to this Salt and Pepper Shrimp recipe. It’s the kind of 30-minute meal that feels like a treat, even on the busiest of weeknights – the perfect antidote to those days when you’re craving something special that doesn’t require a complicated cooking process.

Salt-and-Pepper-Shrimp-served-on-a-stainless-steel platter

I first discovered this recipe years ago in one of my favorite Tom Douglas cookbooks, Seattle Kitchen, when I was searching for a quick, impressive dish to serve last-minute guests. (I swapped in standard shrimp for spot prawns and peeled them. His recipe calls for leaving the shell on.) I was instantly hooked by the crisp, golden crust on the shrimp and the lively flavors of the toasted peppercorn blend. But what really impressed me was how easily it came together, using just a handful of pantry staples and some fresh shrimp.

This tasted fantastic! I’ve never been the greatest at getting shrimp crispy but this worked and loved the flavor. We ate it all. I added a little more Sichuan peppercorns since I love the flavor they give. Definitely will be making again.

Rose

Salt and Pepper Shrimp Ingredients

Salt and Pepper Shrimp Ingredients on a white marble board.
  • Medium Shell-On Shrimp: I always opt for medium shrimp, as they tend to have a firmer texture and better flavor than larger varieties.
  • White Peppercorns: These have a milder, more complex taste than black peppercorns, adding depth without overwhelming the shrimp.
  • Sichuan Peppercorns: Also known as Szechuan peppercorns, they add a subtle, tongue-tingling sensation and a distinctive aroma.
  • Kosher Salt: I prefer kosher salt for its clean taste and larger granules, which make it easier to control the seasoning.
  • Avocado Oil: A high-heat, neutral-flavored oil that’s perfect for stir-frying the shrimp.
  • Cornstarch: The secret to achieving a light, crisp coating on the shrimp without deep-frying.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic adds a pungent, aromatic element that complements the toasted peppercorns and shrimp.
  • Serrano Chili Pepper: A touch of heat that balances the richness of the shrimp. Adjust the amount to your taste.
  • Cilantro Leaves: An optional garnish that brings a bright, fresh element to the finished dish.

5 Key Recipe Tips

  1. Be sure to pat your shrimp dry with paper towels before coating them in cornstarch. This helps the cornstarch adhere evenly to get that irresistible golden crust when you stir-fry them.
  2. Toast your peppercorns in a dry skillet until fragrant, but be careful not to let them burn. This step really enhances their flavor and aroma.
  3. Use a wok or a large, heavy-bottomed skillet for stir-frying. The high heat and ample space allow the shrimp to cook quickly and evenly without steaming or getting soggy.
  4. Don’t overcrowd your pan when cooking the shrimp. If needed, work in batches to ensure each piece has enough room to develop a crisp, golden crust.
  5. Serve your Salt and Pepper Shrimp immediately after cooking. This dish is best enjoyed hot, straight out of the wok, when the shrimp are at their crispiest and most flavorful.
Salt-and-Pepper-Shrimp-served on a metal platter photo-from-above

How to Serve

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 with spicy Remoulade Sauce for dipping. Or pile them into charred corn tortillas for the best Shrimp Tacos you’ve ever tasted!

Storage and Reheating

Though these are best enjoyed the day they’re made, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in a skillet over medium-high heat until warmed through, about 2-3 minutes.

These shrimp have been a staple in our weeknight dinner rotation and a reliable dish for company for as long as I can remember. Whether I’m cooking for just the two of us or hosting a casual dinner party, these never fail to impress – delivering restaurant-quality results with minimal effort.

How to Make Salt and Pepper Shrimp

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.

In a large bowl, coat peeled and deveined shrimp in cornstarch.

Coating Raw Shrimp in Cornstarch

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.

Recipe Video

Salt and Pepper Shrimp

5 from 11 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Calories: 251
Servings: 4 people
Salt and Pepper Shrimp are easy enough for a weeknight meal and fancy enough for a dinner party! The shrimp are tender and flavorful inside with a crisp salt and pepper crust. Lightly adapted from this Tom Douglas recipe.

Ingredients  

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

  1. Large shrimp will also work, but I find that medium shrimp often have better flavor and a firmer texture.
  2. 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 251kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 285mg | Sodium: 1172mg | Potassium: 90mg | Vitamin C: 5.1mg | Calcium: 164mg | Iron: 2.4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Leave a comment & rate the recipe below!

Related Recipes

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




33 Comments

  1. Rose says:

    5 stars
    This tasted fantastic! I’ve never been the greatest at getting shrimp crispy but this worked and loved the flavor. We ate it all. I added a little more Sichuan peppercorns since I love the flavor they give. Definitely will be making again.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      That’s fantastic, Rose! So glad you enjoyed these.

  2. David @ Spiced says:

    5 stars
    Oooo…I love this idea! The cornstarch is clutch for texture, but I really like how you kept it simple with salt and pepper here. These would be amazing on top of a salad – hot or cold!