Better than take-out, budget-friendly crispy honey walnut shrimp tossed in a creamy, sweet sauce topped with caramelized walnuts. This recipe will give panda express a run for its money!
Honey walnut shrimp is my absolute GO-TO order when it comes to Chinese take-out. I always order this dish even if it is the most expensive item on the menu because it is 100% worth it. This dish may be $$$ in restaurants but it is pretty inexpensive if you make it at home. We are ballin' on a budget here. Pair this honey walnut shrimp with my all-time favorite fried rice and you have got yourself a gourmet Chinese dinner.
What is honey walnut shrimp?
Honey walnut shrimp originated in Hong Kong. This dish has become immensely popular and can be found in almost every Chinese restaurant. Honey walnut shrimp is also popular in Chinese banquets usually served in large events like weddings, birthdays, Chinese New Year, etc.
The shrimps are lightly coated with cornstarch, fried to create that crispy shell, and tossed in sweet and creamy honey and condensed milk sauce. It is paired with crunchy candied walnuts and served with rice and broccoli. I am warning you now this honey walnut shrimp recipe is addictive. Dare I say, this recipe is even better than Panda Express' Honey Walnut Shrimp. How can you say no to an easy, budget-friendly, luxurious dish that is incredibly satisfying?
Kitchen Equipment For This Recipe
- Deep Skillet: you will need a deep enough skillet that will fry the walnut and the shrimp. Ideally when frying, there should be at least 1-2 inches of oil just enough to cover the shrimp.
- Thermometer with clip attachment: having a thermometer with a clip attachment will allow you to measure the temperature of the oil more accurately. You don't have to hold your hand over the hot splattering oil to see whether or not you have reached optimal temperature. You can also use an electric thermometer as well.
- Slotted Spoon or Spider Strainer: Having a spider strainer is a must if you plan on cooking more Asian dishes. It helps makes straining and frying over a hot stove a breeze.
- Large Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl: you will need a large mixing bowl to toss the shrimp in the sauce with. I personally think using a stainless steel mixing bowl is the best tool for this job since it is not fragile and wide enough to toss the shrimp freely without them spilling out.
Ingredients For This Recipe
This dish involves the simplest home ingredients that you can make for under $15! You can find all of these ingredients at your local grocery store.
- Walnut halves: raw walnut halves work the best for this recipe.
- Shrimp: the simplest way method is to buy already peeled and deveined shrimp. Honestly, when it comes to buying shrimp I always just pick the one that is on sale.
- Broccoli: this is entirely optional but to me adding the broccoli makes this dish a show stopper and a well balanced meal.
- Honey: adds the sweetness into the sauce.
- Mayonnaise: mayo is the base of the sauce that gives it the creamy consistency.
- Sweetened Condensed Milk: the condensed milk thickens and sweetens the sauce.
- Lemon juice: the acidity from the lemon cuts through the density of the sauce.
- Sugar: granulated sugar + boiled water makes a simple syrup that creates a light caramel glaze on the walnuts.
- Salt and Pepper: seasons the shrimp and the broccoli.
- Large egg: the egg binds the cornstarch to the shrimp.
- Cornstarch: the cornstarch creates a light crispy coating to not make the shrimp feel too overly heavy.
- Canola oil: canola oil is the best for frying the shrimp and the walnuts because it has a high smoke point and a neutral minimal flavor that doesn't take away from the original flavor of the ingredients.
- Sesame seeds: the sesame seeds are optional for a garnish.
How to Make This Recipe
Honey Walnut Shrimp can be broken down into three different parts for each of the components for this dish 1) candied walnuts, 2) steamed broccoli, and 3) honey shrimp. You can omit the walnuts and broccoli if you want to go straight for the goods but I personally like it with the candied walnuts and broccoli.
Make Candied Walnuts
- Fry the walnuts. In a small saucepan or deep skillet, heat about 1 inch of oil to 325F around 3-4 cups. Fry the walnuts for 4 minutes or until golden brown. This oil will be used to fry the shrimp.
- Make the simple syrup. While the oil is heating, mix 2 tablespoons of water with 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar and a pinch of salt into a frying pan over low heat stirring occasionally for 4 minutes or until reduced about ½ way.
- Candy the walnuts. Once the walnuts are fried immediately scoop them out with a slotted spoon, drain the oil and transfer to the simple syrup. Coat the walnuts with the simple syrup on medium low heat until no remaining liquid in the frying pan and the sugar has browned. This creates the thin candy coating.
- Transfer to a parchment lined sheet pan. Be sure to spread them out so they are not touching each other.
Blanch the broccoli
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Blanch the broccoli florets in the boiling water for 30 seconds-1 minute depending on how firm you want the broccoli. Transfer to a bowl of cold water for 10 seconds to stop the cooking process. Drain and plate in a circle.
- Mix sauce. In a mixing bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, honey, sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice. Set aside.
- Prepare the shrimp. Peel and devein the shrimp. Cut the backs of each shrimp a little deeper to get a nice coating and more opened shape. Season with salt and pepper.
- Coat the shrimp. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg and prepare the bowl for cornstarch. Dip the shrimp into the egg, drain excess and then dredge in the cornstarch.
- Pan fry the shrimp. In the same deep skillet, re-heat the oil to 350F. Working quickly, place the shrimp into the oil. Be sure to separate the shrimp so they do not meld together. You will have to do this in a few batches. You may need to re-dredge in cornstarch if the moisture absorbs the cornstarch. Fry them for about 2-3 minutes until golden brown.
- Toss the shrimp with the sauce. Using a slotted spoon or spider strainer, transfer the fried shrimp into a large stainless steel mixing bowl lined with a paper towel to drain excess oil. Remove the paper towel and pour the creamy sauce mixture onto the shrimp and toss until coated.
- Serve. Place the shrimp into the center of the plate with the broccoli, sprinkle with candied walnuts and sesame seeds and serve with rice.
Tips for This Recipe
- Use an oil thermometer with a clip attachment. The thermometer with a clip attachment has made frying in oil 100x easier. With the clip attachment, I don't have to continue holding the thermometer or worry about it falling in or out of the pan. A thermometer also will help you regulate the temperature of the oil. When you heat oil, the temperature fluctuates quickly and having an attached thermometer will help you monitor these fluctuations.
- Use a deep skillet. For this dish, I recommend using a deep skillet instead of a sauce pan. A wider skillet will allow you to fry more shrimp without them touching each other.
- Butterfly cut the shrimp. After peeling and deveining the shrimp, cut the back of the shrimp along the spine about halfway deep. This will have the shrimps open up beautifully when you cook them.
- Keep coating the walnuts in the sugar syrup until no water remains. This is an important step to guarantee the crisp walnut candied crunch. If you remove from the heat while there is still water on the pan, it may be too early and result in a chewy walnut.
This recipe is best served immediately. The crunch will dissolve over time by the sauce. You can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days but the texture will no longer be crispy.