Bayou fried shrimp. Say the word “bayou,” and we conjure romantic notions of swampy marshlands and, natch, the best Cajun fried shrimp you’ve ever tasted. And it’s easy. This bayou fried shrimp recipe relies on a quick bath in egg and milk followed by a dusting of cornmeal or self-rising flour. No batter. No breading. Just authentic Cajun fried shrimp recipe. So sit back, relax, and have an Abita Amber along with your shrimp.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Pieces of bayou fried shrimp in a paper towel-lined bowl.

Bayou Fried Shrimp

4.80 / 15 votes
The best Cajun fried shrimp recipe. That’s what this is. Go on. Try it for yourself and see. It’s easy, authentic, and Cajun through and through.
David Leite
Servings6 to 8 servings
Calories795 kcal
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time1 hour


  • Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer


  • 3 pounds large raw shrimp, peeled, tails intact
  • 2 cups milk, preferably whole
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard, (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, such as Tony Chachere’s
  • 1 (12-ounce) package fish-fry mix, or 2 cups finely ground cornmeal or self-rising flour, seasoned with salt,black pepper and, if desired, cayenne or other spices to taste
  • Peanut, canola, or other vegetable oil for frying


  • Using a sharp paring knife, butterfly and devein the shrimp. (That means, quite simply, make a deep slit down the back of each shrimp, all the way from the big end of the shrimp to the skinny tail, cutting almost but not all the way through the inside curve of the shrimp. Use a paper towel or your fingertips to remove the dark line that runs along the length of the shrimp.) Toss the butterflied, deveined shrimp in a large bowl.
  • In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, mustard if desired, and 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning. Pour the mixture over the shrimp, cover, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  • In a shallow dish, combine 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning and the fish-fry mix, cornmeal, or self-rising flour. Dredge the shrimp in the mixture and shake off any excess. Arrange the shrimp in a single layer on 2 baking sheets.
  • Pour enough oil into a Dutch oven or other deep-sided pot to reach a depth of 3 inches. Heat the oil to 325°F (163°C). Place wire cooling racks over paper towels or spread some brown paper grocery bags on your counter.
  • Fry the shrimp in small batches, being careful not to crowd the pot, flipping once, until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes on each side.
  • Transfer the shrimp to the wire racks or the brown paper bags to drain for a few moments. Serve hot.
Southern Living Home Cooking Basics

Adapted From

Southern Living Home Cooking Basics

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 795 kcalCarbohydrates: 49 gProtein: 40 gFat: 49 gSaturated Fat: 8 gMonounsaturated Fat: 11 gTrans Fat: 0.3 gCholesterol: 321 mgSodium: 2102 mgFiber: 4 gSugar: 4 g

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2012 The Editors of Southern Living. Photo © 2012 Southern Living. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This is a very simple, straightforward method for making fried shrimp. Cooking temperature and timing are perfect. The shrimp come out juicy with a crisp crust and perfect seasoning. What’s not to like?

I tested the cornmeal-coated version of this dish; I made my own mix, seasoning it with salt, pepper, cayenne, and a bit of garlic powder and onion powder. If you use the self-rising flour, be sure to season it, just as you would cornmeal. A homemade tartar sauce, or better yet, remoulade is the perfect accompaniment.

Yum! Crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside. I’ve never used self-rising flour as a coating for fried shrimp before, but it worked really well. The light, crisp coating kind of shattered when you bit into the shrimp, and the cooking time was just about perfect. I served it with a sweet Asian chile sauce, but it really didn’t need it.

Normally I just dip shrimp in egg seasoned with Tony Chachere’s and then dip them in the well-known Zatarain’s Shrimp-Fri mix. I’d read that Trisha Yearwood uses the self-rising flour method for frying her catfish, and it sure looked crisp, so I tried that method for this fried shrimp recipe. It does result in a nice, crisp exterior that doesn’t get soggy even if you’re frying a larger amount.

I saved myself some prep time and bought peeled and deveined shrimp with the tails on at $12.99 a pound, and it was worth the time spared. 1 pound fed 3 of us. I thought this was pretty economical. We sure were happy, and the other 2 requested that I fry shrimp this way from now on.

This fried shrimp recipe is a very easy and tasty dish.

The recipe was easy to follow, and all of the times and temperatures worked as written.I used cornmeal seasoned with salt and pepper for the breading. I made my own Cajun seasoning with a simple mixture of salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, and dried oregano. I made a tartar sauce as an accompaniment. Cocktail sauce or remoulade would also be good.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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    1. Jane, if you only have all-purpose flour, use this formula to convert it to self-rising flour. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt to 1 cup of flour. For this recipe, you would need to add 3 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to 2 cups of all-purpose flour. If you make it, please let us know how it turns out.

    2. Thanks for the question, Jane. This recipe recommends either fine cornmeal or self-rising flour as a substitute for packaged fish-fry mix. Those suggested dry ingredients make for a lighter and crispier coating for the shrimp. That said, you could absolutely use plain all-purpose flour, but the result would be less crunchy. You could also make your own self-rising flour: for every 1 cup of all-purpose flour, add 1-1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

  1. Time and temperature are spot on.
    Using fresh shimp, this is the tastiest I’ve eaten. And I love shrimp.
    Kevin G

    1. Thanks, Kevin! We’re so pleased that you enjoyed this and that it turned out so well. Please let us know what you make next.