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Honey Walnut Shrimp (With Candied Walnuts!)

Honey Walnut Shrimp (With Candied Walnuts!)

Restaurant-quality Honey Walnut Shrimp at home! This honey walnut shrimp recipe is the perfect balance of crunchy, sweet and savory.

Succulent shrimp is velveted with cornstarch, pan fried until crispy, then tossed with a smooth shrimp glaze and candied walnuts. The process is similar to what we use to make Boom Boom Shrimp.

Honey shrimp pairs with Empress Chicken, Hunan Shrimp, Hunan Beef, Pad Woon Sen, or Fried Rice (or even Instant Pot Sushi Rice).

Panda Express Walnut Shrimp

If you love Panda Express honey walnut shrimp, you’ll love this copycat version. It’s as close to the real thing as you’re gonna get. By “real thing” I mean the American-Chinese hybrid found at fast-casual chains.

Ingredients to make Panda Express Walnut Shrimp.

Ingredients

There aren’t a ton of “non-pantry” ingredients required. For the full list of honey shrimp ingredients, reference the recipe card below.

Shrimp – Raw, fresh or frozen (and thawed) 

Walnut – Add as many as you like! Prefer pecans? Swap them in for the walnuts.

Sweetened Condensed Milk – Not to be confused with evaporated milk.

Rice Vinegar – If you don’t have any on hand you can substitute in apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.

Honey Glazed Shrimp

This honey glaze for shrimp is a very important part of the final product! Don’t use cheap mayonnaise as you’ll taste it the first bite.

Another “no no” is swapping out the sweetened condensed milk for evaporated milk. The flavor of the shrimp glaze will be lacking and considerably thinner.

Fried seafood coated with white sauce.How To Make

Making honey walnut shrimp doesn’t require much time, but it’s all hands on time. For the full recipe to make Panda Express shrimp, reference the recipe card below.

Walnuts – The candied walnuts harden as they dry, so make them first.

Sauce – Prepare the sauce so it’s ready to go as soon as the fried shrimp has been removed from the hot oil.

Prep the Shrimp-  Butterfly (optional) the shrimp and dredge in cornstarch.

Cook the Shrimp – Fry the shrimp for 2-3 minutes, remove and toss with the sauce.

seafood coated in cornstarch.

Velveting Meat

This honey walnut shrimp recipe is mirroring a process known as “velveting meat”. It’s a crucial step in Chinese cooking, so don’t skip it!

In short, it’s coating the meat, in this case shrimp, in eggs and cornstarch before cooking to produce a juicy and silky textured shrimp vs. tough and dry shrimp.

To streamline this version, we’ve eliminated the egg wash step. So technically not “velveting” 100%, but you’ll get the same outcome.

Expert Tips

  • Butterfly the shrimp for maximum shrimp to sauce ration.
  • Make sure the shrimp is 100% dry before adding the cornstarch. You’ll find the end results will suffer as the coating won’t stick.
  • Do not overcrowd the pan. Fry in batches to avoid brining down the temperature of the oil thereby creating soggy shrimp. 
  • This honey walnut shrimp panda express recipe is best when enjoyed immediately. 

Shrimp in a pot of hot oil

Recipe Honey Walnut Shrimp

Originating in Hong Kong, honey walnut shrimp is considered a classic Cantonese dish. It’s a staple on most American Chinese restaurant menus; this version being closely aligned to Panda Express Walnut Shrimp. 

With that said, you can create a version of your own! Here are some common variations:

Walnuts in simple syrup.

Honey Walnut Shrimp Recipe Variations

Honey Walnut Chicken

Omit the shrimp and replace it with chicken. You’ll just need to add a few extra minutes when cooking the protein.

Spicy Honey Shrimp

Like some heat? Add a 1/2- 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the sauce for an extra kick. 

Honey Walnut Prawns

Prawns are similar to shrimp in terms of shape, texture however they’re on the sweeter side. Replace in equal parts.

Honey shrimp on a white plate.

More Asian Recipes to Check Out 

Chow Mei Fun
Egg Drop Soup
Korean Beef Bulgogi
Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl
Instant Pot Chicken Adobo

Honey shrimp on a white plate.

Honey Walnut Shrimp

Restaurant-quality Honey Walnut Shrimp at home! This honey walnut shrimp recipe is the perfect balance of crunchy, sweet and savory. Honey shrimp would pair great with Empress Chicken or Fried Rice (or even instant pot sushi rice).
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Chinese
Keyword: Copycat Recipes, Panda Express Recipes, Shrimp Recipes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 1295kcal
Author: Darcey Olson

Ingredients

CANDIED WALNUTS

  • ¾ cup walnut halves, rinsed with water and dried (*Note 1)
  • 3-4 cups canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • tsp salt

HONEY WALNUT SAUCE

  • ¼ cup high quality mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tsp honey
  • ¼ tsp rice vinegar
  • tsp salt

HONEY WALNUT SHRIMP

  • 1 lb medium raw shrimp, deveined and shelled (*Note2 )
  • cup cornstartch
  • optional garnish: diced chives

Instructions
 

PREP THE WALNUTS AND SAUCE

  • Rinse the walnuts with water and let dry before proceeding. If you add wet walnuts to oil it will spit out hot oil. Do not attempt.
  • Add the mayonnaise, condensed milk, honey, rice vinegar and salt to a small bowl and mix to combine. Set aside (do not refrigerate).

MAKE THE CANDIED WALNUTS

  • Pre-heat oil in a small saucepan (enough to cover a piece of shrimp) to 325°F. Add the dried walnuts to the oil and dry for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Remove the walnuts with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Set aside. Turn off the oil while you proceed with the next steps.
  • Pre-heat a second small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the sugar, water and salt and mix until the sugar and salt are dissolved (approx. 2-3 minutes).
  • Add the walnuts to the syrup. Keep stirring until there's no liquid in the bottom of the pan and the syrup isn't dripping off the walnuts. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper ensuring the walnuts don't touch.

FRY THE SHRIMP

  • Place the cornstarch in a shallow bowl and lightly dredge all the shrimp. Set aside for 3-4 minutes. Do not toss out the remaining cornstarch.
  • Turn the heat back on and pre-heat the oil to 350°F.
  • Dredge the shrimp a second time in the cornstarch and shake off any excess. Repeat until all the shrimp have been coated twice.
  • Add the shrimp to the oil, one at a time, as to avoid splashing the hot oil. Get the shrimp in there as quickly as possible to ensure even cooking. Work in batches, if needed.
  • As the shrimp cooks, flip them around a couple times to ensure even cooking. Cook until golden brown, approx. 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large heat-safe mixing bowl. Pour the mayonnaise sauce over the shrimp and gently toss to coat.
  • Transfer the shrimp to a serving plate or bowl and top with the candied walnuts and chives.

Notes

Note 1 - Do not add wet walnuts to oil; it will spit out hot oil and burn ya!
Note 2 - Do not use pre-cooked shrimp. It will overcook and become tough and rubbery.

Nutrition

Calories: 1295kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 130g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 43g | Monounsaturated Fat: 74g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 260mg | Potassium: 305mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 36IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 1mg
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