Crunchy Fried Butterfly Shrimp

Amazon Associates Disclosure We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

I always have a bag of scratch-made frozen shrimp in my freezer for a quick and easy meal. This Crunchy Fried Butterfly Shrimp recipe is always on demand from my family!

Golden Butterfly Fried Shrimp in basket with lemons and cocktail sauce

While I love coconut shrimp too, these simple fried shrimp are juicy on the inside and crunchy on the outside wrapped in a seasoned breadcrumb crust. They are easy to make and you can increase the portion size as much as you need so they are great for a party appetizer too.

How to butterfly shrimp

The easiest way to butterfly shrimp is to start with a thawed shrimp. The easy-peel shrimp should be deveined already, but always check!

Peel off the shell while pinching the tail — you want to keep the tail so that you have a handle for the breading process.

Take a sharp knife and run it along the opened area, cutting down towards the other side, but do not cut all the way through.

Gently pull the shrimp apart and finish cutting any part of the shrimp that might be preventing the shrimp from fully opening like a book.

If you are using shell-on shrimp it will need to be peeled and deveined. Always use thawed shrimp before attempting to peel or devein. You can quickly thaw frozen shrimp in cold water.

Raw shrimp, butterflied shrimp, and shrimp shells on parchment paper

How to devein shrimp

You always want to check the outer curve of your shrimp to make sure the dark vein has been removed. If not, it’s simple to do yourself!

Deveining and peeling can be done all at once by using a shrimp deveiner or a sharp knife.

Slice alongside the vein just enough to reveal the vein and remove it. The vein, or shrimp digestive tract, is not harmful if eaten but most would say it’s unpleasant.

Ingredients for deep fried butterfly shrimp


  • All-purpose flour
  • Ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Large eggs
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Large shrimp
  • Oil for deep frying

You could try using plain bread crumbs for the recipe but I always find that panko works the best and create a nice crunchy texture.

I tend to use frozen shrimp for this recipe, but fresh shrimp are great too! When buying fresh from the seafood counter, always ask if they’ve been frozen. If so, it’s not worth the up-charge since you can thaw them yourself in minutes.

My preferred oil for these is just plain vegetable oil. Peanut oil is another great choice, but I find it a little pricey. You can also use canola oil or sunflower oil, but save the good stuff like olive and avocado oil for sautéeing.

Photos of butterfly shrimp being breaded

How to make fried butterfly shrimp

  1. In a small mixing dish, combine flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Set aside.
  2. In a second dish, combine the eggs and 1/3 of the water. Set aside.
  3. Put breadcrumbs on a plate then put this to one side.
  4. Another plate should have a light coating of panko. Set this plate aside for later.
  5. Place the shrimp open-side up on a cutting board and carefully cut along the back. Make sure you don’t cut all the way through.
  6. Dust shrimp with flour, shaking off any excess then dip them into the egg, letting any excess egg drip back into the egg bowl.
  7. Once the shrimp are coated with egg, place them in the panko bread crumbs, make sure they are covered, and press lightly to get the panko to stick. Put them on the plate sprinkled with panko.
  8. Cover the shrimp with panko and continue adding to the platter until all of it is used. Depending on the size of the shrimp and how thick the egg wash left on them, you may have to use all 4 cups of panko.
  9. When all of the shrimp are coated and on the plate, put the plate in the refrigerator. Keep it there for at least 30 minutes but for ideally up to 5 hours.
  10. In a medium-size pan, heat oil over medium-high heat until a few panko crumbs sizzle when tossed in the pan.
  11. Cook the shrimp in the oil until golden brown, usually 1-2 minutes and be careful not to overcook.
  12. Serve immediately with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges or slices.

When cooking a large amount of fried shrimp, I keep the cooked shrimp in a 200 degrees F oven. This keeps them warm and crispy until all the shrimp are finished frying.

I like to serve my fried butterfly shrimp with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges, but my kids have definitely preferred ketchup. To each her own!

You could probably get away with 2 or 3 small shrimp as an appetizer, but if you are going to go to all the trouble, do you really want to mess up the kitchen for a few shrimp?

Can you freeze the butterflied shrimp?

Instead, coat all of the shrimp and freeze them for cooking later!

To freeze the shrimp, just place them in a single layer on a baking sheet that’s lightly coated with breadcrumbs and place them in the freezer.

Allow shrimp to freeze completely, then remove from the baking sheet and place in a freezer bag.

This can be cooked from a frozen state, just like the ones from the grocery store!

To cook homemade frozen shrimp, just fry them the same way you would fry them on the day you made them.

It may take an extra 30 to 60 seconds to cook, but they will taste the same.

Do the shrimp have to be butterflied?

No, you can make regular deep-fried shrimp with this recipe too! Use peeled and deveined shrimp, leaving the tail on.

Follow the recipe below and just skip the butterflying step.

I leave the tail so I have something to hold on to while I am breading the shrimp and for when placing them into the hot oil, but you can also remove it for popcorn shrimp.

Fried shrimp and lemons in a basket with cocktail sauce and a teal patterned napkin




Fried Butterfly Shrimp in a basket with lemons

Crunchy Fried Butterfly Shrimp

Butterflying shrimp makes more surface area for the best part — the crunchy coating! Serve with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges for the perfect plate.
4.91 from 10 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 256kcal
Author: Beth Mueller



  • In a shallow bowl, mix flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Set aside.
  • In another shallow bowl, whisk eggs with ⅓ cup of water. Set aside.
  • Pile breadcrumbs onto a plate, set aside.
  • On another plate, sprinkle a light coating of panko and set aside.
  • Carefully cut shrimp along the back and lay it open. Be careful not to cut all the way through the shrimp.
  • Coat shrimp in flour, shaking to remove excess flour. Then, dip shrimp into egg, allowing excess egg to drip back into egg bowl.
  • Place egg-coated shrimp into panko bread crumbs, cover with panko and press lightly, making sure all shrimp is covered with panko and the shrimp has remained open. Place coated shrimp onto the plate that was sprinkled with panko.
  • Continue coating shrimp, adding panko to the plate as needed. You may need to use all 4 cups of panko, depending on the size of shrimp and thickness of egg wash left on shrimp.
  • Once all shrimp have been coated and placed on the plate, place plate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 5 hours.
  • Heat oil in a medium-size pan over medium-high heat until oil sizzles when a few panko crumbs are tossed in the pan.
  • Fry shrimp in hot oil until shrimp are golden brown. Be careful not to overcook.
  • Serve immediately with cocktail sauce and lemons.


Nutritional data assumes there are 30 shrimp per pound and 1 teaspoon flour, breadcrumbs and oil remain on each individual shrimp. Nutritional data will vary greatly in this recipe depending on oil temperature and amount of oil retained during cooking.


Serving: 5large shrimp | Calories: 256kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 253mg | Sodium: 952mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 90IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 159mg | Iron: 4mg
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @PearTreeChefs or tag #PearTreeKitchen!