Popcorn shrimp combines fresh shrimp with a creamy seasoned mayo mixture and breadcrumbs. They’re baked until golden and ultra crispy – perfect as snacks or party appetizers with freshly chopped parsley, lemon wedges, and your favorite dip or sauce.

A plate of popcorn shrimp with a dipping sauce.
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During the summer in college, I waitresses at a restaurant on the lake in my hometown. One of the perennially favorite appetizers on the menu was popcorn shrimp with a cajun remoulade.

While I never witnessed any of the kitchen staff doing the gross stuff you fear happens to your food behind the kitchen doors, I will say that all of us, myself included, picked plenty of these delicious fried shrimp off plates about to be run to a table. They were just so good, and when you’re 20 years old working doubles and not caring about calories, they hit the spot.

That was literally half my lifetime ago but the memory of those shrimp is what inspired this baked popcorn shrimp recipe.

If you love crispy foods but don’t love the mess and added fat associated with traditional deep-frying, this baked popcorn shrimp is the answer!

This recipe is made with simple ingredients, coated with flavored mayonnaise and breadcrumbs. The shrimp are baked until golden and crispy, skipping excess oil from the deep-frying process.

Popcorn shrimp make a great crispy party appetizer along with other options like crispy salmon bites and panko cheddar chicken fingers.

Ingredients for a popcorn shrimp recipe.

Where does the name come from?

Popcorn shrimp gets its name from the similarity in appearance to popcorn. Made with small shrimp, they’re typically the same size as popped corn kernels and can easily be eaten by the handful too!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Popcorn shrimp are irresistibly crispy with a simple seasoned mayo coating and breadcrumbs – perfect as a snack, party appetizer, or as an addition to salads and wraps as tasty light meals.
  • Baking these popcorn shrimp is much healthier than traditional deep-fried popcorn shrimp and keeps that fried stench out of your house.
  • Our recipe uses breadcrumbs instead of a flour coating and a mayo mixture instead of an egg wash making the preparation a much less messy process.
  • Easily adjust or adapt your popcorn shrimp by using your preferred seasoning and gluten-free breadcrumbs instead of regular breadcrumbs.
  • Enjoy this popcorn shrimp using minimal ingredients, ready to serve in less than 20 minutes.

Ingredients For Popcorn Shrimp

  • Shrimp – I’ve used medium-sized shrimp (41/50) that have been peeled and deveined. If you want the tiny shrimp used in restaurants, use smaller shrimp. The typical count size for popcorn shrimp is 51/60 or 61/70. These numbers reflect how many shrimp are in one pound.
  • Mayonnaise – Store-bought or homemade mayonnaise can be used for this recipe.
  • Seasoning – I’ve used Old Bay (or Cajun seasoning), sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder for the seasoning, but you can adjust it easily to suit your preferences.
  • Bread crumbs – Gluten-free breadcrumbs can be used if required. You can also make your own breadcrumbs from scratch.
  • Parmesan – Freshly grated parmesan cheese is best for flavor.
  • Olive oil spray – A quick spritz of spray helps the exterior get nice and crunchy while baking in the oven.
  • To serve – I like to garnish these popcorn shrimp with freshly chopped parsley, a side of lemon wedges and a choice of cocktail sauce, tartar sauce, guacamole, mayonnaise, or yum yum sauce.

How To Make Popcorn Shrimp

Preheat the oven to 350°F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and pat the shrimp dry on paper towels.

Combine the mayonnaise with the seasonings in a bowl and pour the breadcrumbs into a separate bowl with the grated parmesan.

Coat the shrimp in the mayonnaise mixture and then toss small batches of the shrimp into the breadcrumbs until fully coated.

Place the coated shrimp in a single layer on the lined baking tray and spray the shrimp lightly with olive oil.

Bake the shrimp for 6 minutes, then flip them over and bake them for an extra 6 minutes, spraying the other side first.

Once cooked and golden, allow the shrimp to cool so that the breadcrumbs can crisp up.

Sprinkle freshly chopped parsley over the shrimp to serve alongside lemon wedges and your favorite dipping sauce. 

My Pro Tips

Recipe Tips

  • Don’t overcrowd the shrimp on the baking tray or they can steam instead of getting an even crispy exterior.
  • For finer breadcrumbs, add the breadcrumbs to a food processor and pulse once or twice. Gluten-free breadcrumbs tend to be more coarse than Panko breadcrumbs.
  • Cooked shrimp will curl and turn opaque. If the popcorn shrimp is still translucent or gray in color, it requires further baking.
Baked popcorn shrimp on a baking sheet with lemon wedges.

Variations

  • Seasoning: Easily change the seasoning for these popcorn shrimp to suit your preferences. Cayenne pepper, paprika, or red chili flakes are great for adding a slight kick of heat.
  • Gluten-free: Use gluten-free breadcrumbs instead of regular breadcrumbs like Panko breadcrumbs.
  • Cooking method: These popcorn shrimp can be cooked in an air fryer instead. Preheat the air fryer to 400°F and spray the air fryer basket or racks depending on your model. Add the coated shrimp in a single layer in the basket and cook in batches, if required, for about 8 minutes, flipping them halfway to ensure an even crispy cook on all sides.
  • Frozen shrimp: I’ve used fresh shrimp for this recipe. You could use frozen shrimp instead and either allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight, defrost it in a bowl of water for 15-20 minutes, or cook the shrimp from frozen. When cooking the shrimp from frozen, increase the baking time and keep a close watch so that the breaded coating doesn’t burn.
  • Shrimp size: This recipe calls for medium-sized shrimp. You could use smaller shrimp for bite-sized popcorn shrimp or Jumbo shrimp for larger snacks!
A person's hand dipping a piece of popcorn shrimp into a white sauce.

Storage

Store leftover popcorn shrimp in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Keep in mind that the crispy breadcrumb coating will soften while the popcorn shrimp is stored.

Leftover popcorn shrimp can be reheated in the oven at 350°F-400°F for 10 minutes or in the air fryer at 350°F for 4-5 minutes, shaking the baking tray or the air fryer basket halfway to ensure an even reheating.

Once completely cool, leftover popcorn shrimp can be stored for longer in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat as directed above.

Serve With

This recipe can be enjoyed as a party snack or appetizer alongside your favorite dip or sauce, such as cocktail sauce, sweet chili sauce, tartar sauce, chipotle sauce, or buffalo sauce. Pairing with a fun dip is an easy way to get kids to try these out.

Turn the popcorn shrimp into a light meal for lunch or dinner by serving them with this summer corn and tomato salad, our avocado mango lime salad, or this baby kale salad instead of the roasted chickpeas in that recipe.

These crispy popcorn shrimp can also be added to wraps with other delicious additions, such as pesto, dressing, and mango salsa.

A baking sheet of oven-baked popcorn shrimp garnished with parsley.

More Crispy Appetizers To Try

Baked bang bang shrimp is another party appetizer-favorite, offering a healthier cooking method than traditional deep-frying.

Keeping to the seafood theme, these crispy baked salmon sticks make tasty snacks, lunchbox fillers, or can be paired with crispy rosemary baked fries as a meal that the kids will love!

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5 from 30 votes

Easy Baked Popcorn Shrimp

Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Total: 17 minutes
A plate of popcorn shrimp with a dipping sauce.
Crispy and crunchy popcorn shrimp baked in the oven are deliciously addicting and perfect for dipping in your favorite sauce for an appetizer.

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 tbsp cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp Old Bay or Cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/3 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup bread crumbs, use GF if needed
  • 3 tbsp grated parmesan
  • olive oil spray

For Serving

  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Lemon wedges
  • Favorite dipping sauce – guacamole, mayo or yum yum sauce

Instructions 

  • Pat the shrimp dry using paper towels.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Mix mayonnaise with seasonings, salt and pepper.
  • Add the shrimp and coat to combine.
  • Depending on how coarse your breadcrumbs are you may want to pulse them in a food processor to get a finer crumb. GF breadcrumbs tend to be more coarse.
  • Pour the breadcrumbs into a separate bowl and mix together with the parmesan. Toss small batches of the shrimp in mixture until fully coated.
  • Place the shrimp in a single layer (not touching each other) on your prepared baking sheet.
  • Spray shrimp with olive oil.
  • Bake for 6 minutes, then flip the shrimp over and bake another 6 minutes, spraying the other side first. They are cooked when golden and crispy. Allow to cool slightly. This also allows the breadcrumbs to crisp up.
  • Serve with parsley, lemon and favorite dipping sauce.

Notes

Nutrition

Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 350kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 21gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 10gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 155mgSodium: 1184mgPotassium: 204mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 277IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 156mgIron: 2mg

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

Additional Info

Course: Appetizers
Cuisine: Japanese
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Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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Recipe Rating




22 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My kids are obsessed with these baked chicken popcorn shrimp. I pack in in their lunch box and we sprinkle it on salads! So good!

  2. 5 stars
    The shrimp turned out super crunchy and flavorful without all the extra oil. And the best part is the mayo mixture it adds a creamy richness to the shrimp that I absolutely love. I enjoyed it with a side of cocktail sauce and it was the perfect appetizer option. Yum!

  3. 5 stars
    So thankful to find a recipe for one of my favorite appetizers without the need to deep fry! They came out nice and crispy, and they weren’t overcooked at all. Will be making again!

  4. 5 stars
    Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. The seasoning is perfect, and the breadcrumbs made them so crispy! Great with a side of guacamole for dipping!

  5. 5 stars
    I love popcorn shrimp, but I hate frying things in the RV because it makes everything smell for a week 😂 I didn’t think baking them would turn out so crispy, but they were so good. I’m glad I gave this method a try. Thanks for sharing

  6. My pinterest hates me – I’ve been trying to pin this post for like 5 minutes (which is a lot in blog time). It looks so delicious! I want it!

  7. Looks delish! I love popcorn shrimp, haven’t had it in a long time!! The weather was rainy, cold and windy here and I basically humg around the house and baked! Your weekend sounds so nice and relaxing! I to love Staurdays!!! My day home alone, peace!