Fantail Shrimp

Fantail shrimp is a delicious appetizer - the batter is golden and crispy, while the shrimp is succulent and juicy. Fantail shrimp is a fast party favorite and will impress your guests!

Golden fantail shrimp served around a bowl of sweet and sour sauce

Butterflied shrimp

Fantail shrimp is shrimp coated in batter and fried. The shrimp is butterflied, which means it is cut down the middle to create a “fan” effect. Once the shrimp is cut, there is more surface area, which can be coated in batter, and the shrimp also remains flat while being fried (instead of curling in the oil).

To make the fantail shrimp, the shrimp should be headless but otherwise intact. If you are making this recipe with fresh shrimp, deshell the shrimp completely and only leave the tail at the end.

Fantail shrimp served and plated with a crispy batter

The shrimp are butterflied, which means they are sliced through the middle of the underbelly from the top of the shrimp right down to the end of the tail. Remove the black “vein” that runs along the bottom of the shrimp. You can do so by just pulling it off and discarding it with the shell. Once you have sliced the shrimp, you should be able to lay the shrimp down flat with the shrimp spread open.

It is essential to slice all the way down on the shrimp as if the shrimp isn’t sliced entirely down to the tail, the shrimp will curl while being fried, and the “fan” effect will be lost.


The batter for the fantail shrimp is relatively simple, with some added seasoning of garlic powder, salt, and chili powder. The chili powder is entirely optional, but for those who love a bit of spice, we definitely recommend it. Before dipping the shrimp in the batter, we dip the shrimp in a coat of flour, as this helps the batter stick better to the shrimp.

A key ingredient to the batter is carbonated water - it tremendously improves the overall dish as the sparkling water creates air pockets in the batter when frying, which leads to a crispier, lighter texture. This is our top tip for this recipe: add this bubbly water to your batter!

Serving fantail shrimp

Though this dish is an excellent appetizer on its own, and we assure you it will be the star dish of any dinner party, here are some ideas of what to serve with it if you turn it into a main meal or want to put out some extra bites alongside it;

  • Salad greens: A fresh green salad with a light vinaigrette dressing complements the richness of the shrimp.
  • Steamed rice: Plain steamed rice serves as a simple, neutral base that allows the flavor of the shrimp to stand out.
  • Grilled vegetables: Vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, and asparagus, grilled for a smoky flavor, make a great side.
  • Garlic bread: Crispy, buttery garlic bread pairs excellently with seafood.
  • Coleslaw: A tangy coleslaw can add a refreshing crunch and contrast to the shrimp.
  • Cucumber salad: A chilled cucumber salad, perhaps with a hint of dill or mint, offers a cool, crisp accompaniment.
  • Roasted potatoes: Small roasted potatoes with herbs can be a hearty and satisfying side dish.
  • Fresh fruit: A light fruit salad or individual slices of fruits like pineapple or melon can provide a sweet and refreshing finish.

Crispy fantail shrimp being dipped in sweet and sour sauce

Can I use frozen shrimp for this recipe?

Yes! Of course, we recommend trying this out with fresh shrimp. However, frozen shrimp will work perfectly as well. If you’re using frozen shrimp, place them in hot/boiling water for 1-2 min so that they’ll thaw out, then you can follow the directions in the recipe as normal. It is a good idea to practice the butterflying technique with frozen shrimp (once thawed) since they will be a little bit cheaper.

What can I serve with fantail shrimp?

Fantail shrimp truly shine as the centerpiece of any spread, and getting just the right sauce can be key. Sweet and sour sauce offers a delightful balance of tangy and sweet flavors, perfect for complementing the shrimp's delicate taste. Sweet chili sauce brings a mildly spicy and sweet dimension, adding a lively kick. Bang bang sauce, known for its creamy and slightly spicy taste, creates a rich and flavorful experience. Lastly, mango chutney introduces a unique, fruity twist that pairs wonderfully with the shrimp, offering a sweet and tangy flavor profile.

How do I know the oil is at the right temperature?

This recipe is temperature sensitive, and we use a cooking thermometer to check the temperature of the oil as we need to add the shrimp to the pan when the oil hits 330°F. If you do not have a cooking thermometer, you will need to keep an eye on the oil and test whether it has reached temperature by sprinkling a couple of drops of water into the oil. If the oil has reached a high temperature, it should sizzle and spit a little bit which means it should be ready to use for frying.

Fantail Shrimp

Fantail shrimp is a delicious appetizer - the batter is golden and crispy while the shrimp is succulent and juicy. Fantail shrimp is a fast party favorite, and it will definitely impress your guests!



15 mins

15 mins

30 mins

338 kcal

A plate of golden fantail shrimp with tails intact, arranged around a bowl of sweet and sour dipping sauce.


  • ½ cup cornflour

  • ½ cup plain flour

  • 1½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • ⅓ cup carbonated water

  • ½ cup milk

  • 1 egg

  • 2 lb. shrimp

  • 1 cup plain flour

  • 3-5 cups frying oil


  1. Prepare the shrimp by deshelling them, removing the head and slicing them through the middle of the underbelly from the top to the tail of the shrimp. Pat the shrimp dry once you are finished slicing it. The shrimp should be able to lie flat with the tail also spread out.

  2. Mix all the batter ingredients thoroughly in a bowl and set aside until frying begins.

  3. Place the 1 cup of plain flour in a bowl. Dip all the shrimp in the plain flour and make sure all the butterflied shrimp are thoroughly coated in flour.

  4. Add 3-5 cups of frying oil in a small pot and heat the oil to 330°F. Add enough oil to the pot so that the shrimp can be completely submerged in oil.

  5. Once the oil has come to heat, dip the floured shrimp in the batter and then carefully place the battered shrimp into the oil. Submerge the shrimp completely in oil for a few seconds.

  6. Fry the shrimp and keep checking both sides of the shrimp for roughly 3-5 minutes or until the batter has turned golden-brown. Place the shrimp on a kitchen paper towel once they’re fried to absorb any excess oil. Once all the shrimp have been fried, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt and serve with sauce.


  • If you do not have a cooking thermometer to check the temperature of the oil, test whether the oil has reached temperature by sprinkling a couple of drops of water into the oil. If the oil has reached a high temperature, it should sizzle and spit a little bit which means it's ready to use for frying. You will need to keep a close eye on the shrimp to check whether you need to adjust the temperature of the oil.

  • Submerge the shrimp in the oil with a pair of tongs once you have begun frying. The shrimp should be completely submerged for a few seconds - this helps the shrimp retain a flat, fanned shape.


  1. Calories 338 kcal | 
  2. Carbohydrate Content 49.4 g | 
  3. Cholesterol Content 174 mg | 
  4. Fat Content 3.8 g | 
  5. Fiber Content 2 g | 
  6. Protein Content 24.3 g | 
  7. Serving Size 1 portion | 
  8. Sodium Content 586 mg | 
  9. Sugar Content 0.8 g | 

About the author

Emma Donin is the culinary maestro behind this blog that serves as a melting pot of global cuisines and gastronomic adventures. Her culinary journey began in her grandmother's kitchen, where she learned the fundamentals of cooking and the importance of using fresh, quality ingredients.

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