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Salt and Pepper Shrimp

This crispy salt and pepper shrimp with spicy serrano is a take-out style meal you won’t get enough of. It’s garlicky, has a 2-pepper spice mix, and is perfect over rice.

Salt and pepper shrimp with fresh cilantro.

Quick and Easy Salt and Pepper Shrimp

You’ll never overlook simple spices once you taste these tender salt and pepper shrimp. With a crispy, golden exterior and a buttery center, this will be your new favorite 25-minute dinner. Seasoned with fruity white pepper and tongue-numbing Sichuan pepper, you’ll love every single bite of these peppery, garlicky shrimp. Don’t forget the sliced serranos for a pop of color and heat! Topped with herby cilantro and served over fluffy steamed rice, you’ll be adding these shrimp to your weekly meal rotation in no time.

Why You’ll Love This Salt and Pepper Shrimp Recipe

You’ll be skipping take-out from now thanks to this recipe’s peppery goodness.

  • Better than restaurants. You can have as many servings as you want and even make it extra spicy!
  • Fresh. This dish didn’t sit around in a metal serving tray for days before being scooped and packed up for you.
  • Prep-friendly. Make it ahead for the week and just reheat it after a long day.
  • Quick. It’s ready in 25 minutes and will feel even quicker if you prep the peppercorns and shrimp ahead.
Ingredients for salt and pepper shrimp.

What You’ll Need

Sichuan peppercorns aren’t spicy, they only add a subtle tongue-numbing sensation that’s very characteristic of Sichuan cuisine. Scroll to the recipe card for exact quantities.

  • White peppercorns – It’s sweet and slightly nutty, unlike spicy black pepper.
  • Sichuan peppercorns – These are also called Szechuan peppercorns.
  • Kosher salt – Avoid Himalayan salt because it’s too fruity.
  • Avocado oil – Vegetable, corn, and canola oil work too.
  • Shrimp – Only use medium or large shrimp. Avoid cocktail shrimp.
  • Cornstarch – Tapioca starch is a good swap.
  • Garlic – Fresh garlic is best, but garlic powder works too.
  • Serrano chili pepper – Feel free to use jalapeños.
  • Cilantro leaves – This is an optional garnish.
Close-up of salt and pepper shrimp on a wooden spoon.

How to Make Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Don’t even think about not grinding the peppercorns! Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for more detailed instructions.

  • Toast the peppercorns. Place the white and Sichuan peppercorns in a small pan over medium heat. Let them toast, shaking often, until fragrant.
  • Grind them. Place them in a small bowl and grind them in a spice mill. You can also use a mortar and pestle. Stir in the salt and set it aside.
  • Prep the shrimp. Peel and devein the shrimp. Pat it dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Toss them with cornstarch until completely coated.
  • Fry them. Heat the oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. Fry the shrimp for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. They should no longer be translucent.
  • Add the peppercorn. Stir in the garlic, chili, and ground peppercorn mixture into the pan. Toss until the shrimp are completely coated. Serve immediately and garnish with cilantro. Enjoy!
Take-out style shrimp with serrano chilis.

Tips for Success

Don’t be afraid to add veggies or use leftover breaded shrimp for this Chinese salt and pepper shrimp recipe.

  • Ask your fishmonger. They can clean and devein the shrimp for you, saving you lots of prep time.
  • Use tempura shrimp. Leftover breaded, tempura, or panko shrimp are great ways to add some crunch to this dish.
  • Prep ahead. Clean the shrimp in advance and grind the peppercorns so all you have to do is fire up the wok throughout the week.
  • Add more spices. Add 1/4 teaspoon of 5-spice powder for earthiness or shichimi togarashi chili powder for some heat.
  • Make it extra spicy. Add 1/2-1 teaspoon of chili oil or Sriracha to the recipe to make it spicy to taste.
  • Swap the protein. Change the shrimp for diced tofu or white fish like tilapia for a simple variation.
  • Toss in veggies. Broccoli florets, cauliflower, mushrooms, and bell peppers will add nutrients and more texture to each bite.
Bowl of take-out style shrimp with cilantro.

Serving Suggestions

This salt and pepper shrimp is a great take-out style dinner with a side of steamed rice and Roasted Bok Choy. You can also serve it over your favorite fried rice. Add the leftovers to any of my Asian-inspired bowls too, like my Vietnamese Shrimp Edamame Salad. Other bowl ideas include my Honey Salmon Bowl and Ahi Tuna Sushi Bowl.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Refrigerate any cooled leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Keep it away from direct heat and sunlight because shrimp spoils very easily. Reheat it in the microwave for up to a minute or until warm. You can also heat it in a pan for 6-8 minutes over medium heat.

More Shrimp Recipes to Try

Landscape photo of salt and pepper shrimp.

Salt and Pepper Shrimp

This spicy salt and pepper shrimp recipe with a 2 pepper spice mix is a crispy, tongue-tingling weeknight dinner you'll love. 
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Servings: 4 people


  • ¼ teaspoon white peppercorns
  • ¼ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns also called Szechuan peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup avocado oil or other high heat oil
  • 1 pound medium shell-on shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 small cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon seeded and minced serrano chili pepper or jalapeño
  • cilantro leaves for garnish optional


  • Toast peppercorns in a small, dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and popping, shaking often and taking care not to let them burn. Transfer to a small bowl. Coarsely grind in a spice mill and then combine with kosher salt. Set aside.
  • Peel and devein shrimp. Place in a strainer and rinse; drain and pat shrimp dry with paper towels.
  • Place in a clean dry bowl and sprinkle cornstarch over; toss to coat.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat until nearly smoking.
  • Add shrimp; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, tossing occasionally to cook evenly (do not over cook).
  • Add garlic, minced chili pepper and peppercorn / salt mixture and toss until shrimp is coated and spices are fragrant. Serve garnished with cilantro leaves if desired.
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American, Asian


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