Honey Walnut Shrimp

By Jeri Mobley-Arias
May 18, 2023 | Updated on May 25, 2023

Honey walnut shrimp is crispy battered shrimp coated in a sweet, savory, creamy sauce with candied walnuts. This traditional Chinese entree is a delicious option when you want to make a takeout favorite from the comfort of your home.

For more easy shrimp recipes, try Crispy Baked Coconut Shrimp and Ginger Shrimp and Snow Peas next.

large pieces of shrimp covered in honey walnut sauce with candied walnuts on a white plate

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If you love honey walnut shrimp from Chinese restaurants then you’re in for a satisfying treat. Saucy and slightly sweet, with a delectable crunch from the crispy shrimp batter and the caramelized walnuts, this fried shrimp recipe is absolutely drool-worthy and restaurant quality!

Why This Recipe Works

  • Better than Takeout – Made fresher and faster than ordering from Panda Express, this honey walnut shrimp recipe will satisfy your Chinese takeout craving.
  • Great for Special Occasions – This is fancy enough for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. It’s a stunning presentation and a great dish to share for a potluck.
  • Easy to Customize – Save yourself some calories and sodium when you make this recipe at home.

What is Honey Walnut Shrimp?

Honey walnut shrimp is a classic Chinese dish first made in Hong Kong. The fast food franchise Panda Express popularized it and now it’s a household favorite for many.

Tools You’ll Need

large pieces of shrimp covered in honey walnut sauce with candied walnuts on a white plate

Ingredients You Will Need for Honey Walnut Shrimp

There are three elements to this Chinese walnut shrimp recipe: the creamy honey sauce, the candied walnuts, and the tempura battered shrimp.

Sauce

  • Kewpie mayo – Made with egg yolks, this Japanese mayo is a thicker, richer mayonnaise that I highly recommend.
  • Sweetened condensed milk – This may be a surprising option but this is the creamy base of the sauce.
  • Honey – This sweetens the sauce.
  • Lemon – Both juice and zest add a tangy quality to the recipe.
  • Kosher salt – Use Diamond Crystal brand.

Candied Walnuts

  • Salted butter – Adds a salty, butter quality to the walnuts.
  • Sugar – Sweetens the walnuts.
  • Water – This softens the nuts.
  • Walnut halves – You want bite-size pieces that won’t overwhelm the dish.
  • Kosher salt – Add to taste.

Shrimp

  • Frying oil – Vegetable oil or avocado oil will work.
  • Shrimp – 1 pound 16/20 count shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • VERY COLD seltzer water – This ensures the shrimp has an extra crispy coating.
  • Tempura batter mix – If you have been looking for honey walnut shrimp without cornstarch, this recipe is for you! I go for the batter mix and if you cannot find it, go for potato starch.
  • Seasoning – Season simply with kosher salt and white pepper, and season to taste.
  • Toasted sesame seeds – This adds a nutty flavor.

How To Make Honey Walnut Shrimp

Start by preparing the candied walnuts and the sauce so you can add both to the freshly fried shrimp as soon as they are ready.

Prepare Candied Walnuts

  1. Add butter, water, sugar, and salt to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once mixture comes to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring every minute.
  2. Once mixture reduces and slightly thickens, add walnuts and stir to coat. Cook on low heat for 5-10 minutes or until the sugar completely reduces and coats the walnuts. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, taking care to not overlap the walnuts. Leave to cool and harden.
before and after of candied walnuts cooking in a pot and then placed on parchment paper to harden

Sauce

Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk until combined. Set aside.

honey walnut shrimp sauce before and after kewpie mayo, lemon juice, leon zest, salt, honey, sweetened condensed milk in a bowl

Fry Shrimp

  1. In a wok or 4-quart dutch oven, add frying oil and heat over medium high heat.
  2. Use a paper towel to remove excess moisture from shrimp. Transfer to a bowl and season to taste with kosher salt and white pepper. Set aside for 10 minutes to marinate.
  3. In a separate bowl, add tempura batter and VERY COLD seltzer water. Stir to combine. You should have a nice, somewhat thick batter.
  4. Fry shrimp in Batches. Once the oil registers to 350°F-365°F, dredge shrimp, one at a time, into the batter, lightly tapping against the bowl to remove excess batter. Transfer to the oil and repeat until you have 5-7 shrimp frying. Be sure to not crowd the shrimp as they will stick together. After 3-4 minutes or until lightly golden brown, use a spider strainer to remove the shrimp, shake excess oil and transfer to a stainless steel mixing bowl. Repeat until all shrimp are cooked
  5. Once all shrimp are cooked, pour ⅔ of the creamy sauce and ½ of walnuts, and ½ sesame seeds onto the shrimp and mix to combine. Transfer to a serving plate, top with remaining walnuts and sesame seeds and serve immediately.
large pieces of shrimp covered in honey walnut sauce in a transparent bowl

Tips and Tricks

  • Keep an eye on the walnuts as they cook. Sugar can easily burn so stay close by.
  • Fully dry raw shrimp so the seasoning and batter will easily adhere to the surface. This applies whether you are using fresh or frozen shrimp.
  • Make sure the oil is hot. If the oil is not hot enough, you will end up with soggy pieces. If the oil is too hot, you will end up with crunchy and possibly overcooked batter and undercooked shrimp. I aim for 355°F then maintain a range between 350°F – 365°F while cooking.
  • Do not overcrowd the pan. Instead, cook in batches so the shrimp aren’t cooked too closely together. Otherwise, they will steam up and be soggy instead of crispy, and the batter may fall off.
  • Pat shrimp dry prior to seasoning with salt and white pepper to remove excess moisture.

Variations

  • Nuts. The walnuts can be replaced with whichever nut you prefer. Pecans would be a great substitute. If you are allergic to nuts or just prefer a nut-free honey shrimp, simply omit them.
  • Cornstarch. Some honey walnut shrimp recipes use cornstarch. You can use that in lieu of tempura batter or even rice flour. One thing to not substitute is the COLD seltzer water.
  • Honey Walnut Shrimp Without Condensed Milk. Use plain yogurt as a replacement, but bear in mind the flavor of the sauce will be different.
  • Air Fryer. Instead of frying on the stove, air fry the shrimp at 400°F for about 10 minutes, flipping once about halfway through.

Storing Leftovers

Honey walnut shrimp is best enjoyed fresh because as it cools, the coating absorbs the sauce and it loses its crunch and becomes soggy.

Store leftovers in the fridge and consume them within 4 days. Reheat honey walnut shrimp in the air fryer or oven at 350°F for about 5 minutes.

large pieces of shrimp covered in honey walnut sauce with candied walnuts on a white plate

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is honey walnut shrimp from?

This Cantonese dish originated in Hong Kong, China. Chinese American restaurants were popularized here in the U.S. during the 1980s and 1990s.

Can I use precooked shrimp?

Do not use precooked shrimp to make honey walnut shrimp. The shrimp needs to be coated in batter and fried. Using precooked shrimp will will result in rubbery and overcooked shrimp.

What should I serve with honey walnut shrimp?

Serve honey walnut shrimp on top steamed rice, with fried rice, or steamed vegetables (think broccoli!)

Looking for More Shrimp Recipes

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large pieces of shrimp covered in honey walnut sauce with candied walnuts on a white plate

Honey Walnut Shrimp

5 from 1 vote
Honey walnut shrimp is crispy battered shrimp coated in a sweet, savory, creamy sauce with candied walnuts. This traditional Chinese entree is a delicious option when you want to make a takeout favorite from the comfort of your home.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 2 people
Author Jeri Mobley-Arias
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Chinese

Equipment

  • Spider strainer
  • Wok or Dutch Oven
  • Kitchen Thermometer
  • Baking Sheet
  • Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl

Ingredients

Sauce

  • ¼ cup Kewpie mayo
  • 3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 teaspoons honey
  • tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ lemon zested
  • ⅛ – ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, Diamond Crystal

Candied Walnuts

  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • cup walnut halves
  • pinch kosher salt

Shrimp

  • 4 cups frying oil
  • 1 pound 16/20 count shrimp, peeled and deveined,
  • ½ cup VERY COLD seltzer water
  • ¾ cup tempura batter mix
  • Kosher salt, season generously to taste
  • White pepper, season to taste
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

Candied Walnuts

  • Add butter, water, sugar, and salt to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once mixture comes to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring every minute.
  • Once mixture reduces and slightly thickens, add walnuts and stir to coat. Cook on low heat for 5-10 minutes or until the sugar completely reduces and coats the walnuts. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, taking care to not overlap the walnuts. Leave to cool and harden.

Sauce

  • Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk until combined. Set aside.

Shrimp

  • In a wok or 4-quart dutch oven, add frying oil and heat over medium high heat.
  • Use a paper towel to remove excess moisture from shrimp. Transfer to a bowl and season to taste with kosher salt and white pepper. Set aside for 10 minutes to marinate.
  • In a separate bowl, add tempura batter and VERY COLD seltzer water. Stir to combine. You should have a nice, somewhat thick batter.
  • Fry shrimp in Batches. Once the oil registers to 350°F-365°F, dredge shrimp, one at a time, into the batter, lightly tapping against the bowl to remove excess batter. Transfer to the oil and repeat until you have 5-7 shrimp frying. Be sure to not crowd the shrimp as they will stick together. After 3-4 minutes or until lightly golden brown, use a spider strainer to remove the shrimp, shake excess oil and transfer to a stainless steel mixing bowl. Repeat until all shrimp are cooked
  • Once all shrimp are cooked, pour ⅔ of the creamy sauce and ½ of walnuts, and ½ sesame seeds onto the shrimp and mix to combine. Transfer to a serving plate, top with remaining walnuts and sesame seeds and serve immediately.
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large pieces of shrimp covered in honey walnut sauce with candied walnuts on a white plate

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2 Comments

  1. Laurel says...

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! I especially love lemon and had raw local honey on hand, so it made it that much better!! The recipe was written clearly as well.

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jeri-mobley

Hey, I'm Jeri!

At Whisper of Yum, we explore ALL cuisines - comfort foods, classics, elevated originals. If you love food like me, I invite you to settle in to this place, where swoon-worthy food is attainable + inspo for your next meal awaits.

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