Skip the heavy, greasy takeout and make a better-for-you version of the Honey Walnut Shrimp. This crispy but tender shrimp in a creamy honey sauce is one of our restaurant favorites, made even better at home!
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When it comes to Chinese food, my oldest daughter and I have the same favorite dishes, but our favorite is Hong Kong inspired Honey Walnut Shrimp. And while you can get it at almost all Chinese restaurants or fast-food chains, it's usually more expensive and often thickly battered and deep fried.
I much prefer this easier, lighter version that I can make at home to feed my whole family for about the same price as one serving at a restaurant! The crunchy, candied walnuts are also impossible for me to resist. I always make sure to make an extra batch to make sure there's enough for everyone to have some extra.
Shrimp is one of our favorite proteins because it's so versatile and quick to cook! I've already shared my Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas and Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp, Tomatoes, and Fresh Basil. I figured that now that I've got Mexican and Italian cuisines covered, it's time to turn to Chinese food!
In my take on honey walnut shrimp take-out, I'm swapping out a heavier batter for a simple, light dusting of cornstarch. It actually gives just enough of a coating to make the shrimp crispy without weighing it down or making it soggy.
I've seen other recipes that first dip each shrimp in an egg wash, but I find it unnecessary, and it also makes the outer coating heavier than I like anyway. Plus, it's a mess and a hassle!
Why We Love This Recipe
- Make this recipe your own by making homemade mayonnaise, or adding a bit of spice!
- We're using fresh ingredients which always taste better and are always better for you!
- Whip this dish up for the entire family in just 30 minutes!
What You'll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Shrimp - You'll need thawed raw shrimp. I like purchasing peeled and deveined shrimp with tails off to save myself the trouble of doing it myself.
- Cornstarch - This is all you need for a light coating on the outside of the shrimp.
- Oil - I use corn oil but you can use vegetable oil if you prefer, or another oil that has a very high smoke point like peanut oil.
- Mayonnaise - For the base of the sauce, use plain mayonnaise, full fat for the creamiest flavor, but any kind is ok. Use plain Greek yogurt to make it even healthier.
- Honey - Use liquid honey so it mixes in easily with the mayonnaise for the sauce. You can substitute it for maple syrup, but the flavor of your sauce will be different.
- Sweetened Condensed Milk - Adds to the creaminess and sweetness of the sauce. Use heavy cream in a pinch but your sauce may not be as sweet.
- Walnuts - Use whole walnuts for a good bite of nutty flavor.
- Sugar - White Granulated Sugar will work well to make candied walnuts, but you can use sweetener alternatives, or coconut sugar if you prefer.
- Salt - To enhance all the flavors in this popular dish.
- Green Onions - Chopped green onions make a great garnish for this dish with a dash of sharp flavor for a perfect balance to the sweet sauce.
How to Make Honey Walnut Shrimp
- Make the sauce. The sauce is super easy to make. It's just mayonnaise, honey, and a tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk. For an even better-for-you approach, you could swap out the mayo for plain Greek yogurt.
- Make candied walnuts. To make the candied walnuts, it's just a matter of combining sugar and water in a medium saucepan and bringing it to a boil to make a quick simple syrup, then adding the walnuts for a couple of minutes before draining and spreading the walnuts out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Set walnuts aside to dry.
- Coat shrimp. Coat the shrimp in cornstarch. You can either dip shrimp individually into the cornstarch a couple of times to fully coat, but sometimes the simplest approach really is the best. Here, that means just tossing the shrimp in the cornstarch and salt in a gallon-size Ziploc bag and shaking until the shrimp are evenly coated. Bah-da-bing, bah-da-boom, and shrimp are ready for the pan.
- Fry. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Shake off any excess cornstarch before adding half the shrimp to the skillet, taking care not to crowd the pan. Cook until the shrimp curl into a 'c' shape and are pink and crisp on the outside, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining two tablespoons of oil and the remaining shrimp.
- Combine shrimp and sauce. Stir the crispy shrimp into the creamy sauce, and sprinkle the top with candied walnuts and green onions. Serve it with white or brown rice, a nice green vegetable like Baby Bok Choy, and a side of these Homemade Egg Rolls, and boom! You've got dinner that is so much better (and better for you!) than takeout.
The creamy sweet sauce in this delicious dish is only made with three ingredients! Mayonnaise, honey, and sweetened condensed milk are all you need, just mix them together, and voila!
This dish as we know it is a Western interpretation of a dish commonly served in Chinese banquets. While most of us know if the Panda Express Honey Walnut Shrimp with thick batter and thich syrupy sauce, the original has a thinner batter making the shrimp crisper and more delicate. My recipe is lightly coated with cornstarch and then shallow fried to provide that light crispy coating.
Honey Walnut Shrimp is best served freshly made. Try to portion it right so you don't have leftovers.
Tips for Success
- Just be sure to cook the shrimp in two batches because you don't want to crowd the pan!
- Pan-fry the shrimp in just a couple of tablespoons of corn oil or vegetable oil instead of deep-frying them.
Which Oil for Frying?
Corn Oil and Peanut Oil have a higher smoke point than most other cooking oils, at 450°F so it's great for stir-frying and sautéing.
Vegetable Oil has a smoke point of 400-450°F so is good for this recipe too.
Canola Oil has a smoke point of 400°F, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a smoke point of 325-375°F, so may not be suitable for frying like this.
Substitutions and Variations
- Oil. Coconut oil also works well for frying these shrimp.
- Air Fryer. You can Air Fry the shrimp if you have one. They don't turn out quite as crisp, but it's almost just as good.
- Protein. Use a different meat, or meat substitute in this recipe, like chicken or tofu.
More Asian-Inspired Recipes
- Beef with Broccoli
- Grilled Thai Pork Tenderloin with Coconut Lime Peanut Sauce
- Oven Baked Korean BBQ Chicken Wings
- Japanese Chicken Curry
- Korean Beef Tacos (Bulgogi)
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Honey Walnut Shrimp
- 1 ½ pounds large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ½ cup cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- Thinly sliced green onions, for garnish
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 1 Tablespoon sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup walnut halves
- Stir the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Add walnuts and continue to boil for 2 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper using a slotted spoon and spread in a single layer. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, honey and sweetened condensed milk.
- In a large ziploc bag, combine the cornstarch and salt. Add the shrimp to the bag, then seal and shake to coat evenly in the cornstarch.
- Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add half of the shrimp to the skillet, shaking off excess cornstarch first, taking care not to crowd the pan. Cook until the shrimp curl into a 'c' shape and are pink and crisp on the outside, about 2 minutes per side side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining two tablespoons of oil and the remaining shrimp.
- Combine the crispy fried shrimp and honey sauce and toss to coat. Sprinkle with candied walnuts and green onions and serve.