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Honey walnut shrimp is a popular Chinese seafood dish featuring succulent deep fried shrimp coated in an irresistible creamy and sweet sauce. The dish is finished off with toasted, crunchy, caramelized walnuts coated in sugar for a unique contrast of textures.

honey walnut shrimp in a speckled bowl next to a wooden bowl of walnuts
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This recipe for honey walnut shrimp is a copycat of Panda Express’ popular dish. It’s not always easy to get to a Panda Express to satisfy your Chinese food cravings so having an arsenal of Chinese recipes at home is a great life hack. Be sure to check out my list below on all the Panda Express copycats I have on the website, and some other classic Chinese takeout dishes that you can make at home.

My mouth is watering just thinking about making honey walnut shrimp again for dinner. Succulent jumbo shrimp is dipped in a cornstarch-based batter, which gives it an extra crispy coating that gives the world’s best crunch and texture. Then, after the shrimp is deep-fried, it is tossed in a creamy, sweet, sauce that coats the shrimp for a balance of sweet and salty flavors. Finally, to top it all off, caramelized sugared walnuts are added to give the dish an extra crunch and hint of sweet nuttiness.

honey walnut shrimp with fresh scallions and walnuts on top

Is honey walnut shrimp authentic Chinese food?

Honey walnut shrimp is believed to have originated in Hong Kong, where it has been a popular seafood dish for centuries. It is said that the earliest versions of this classic dish featured crispy prawns and walnuts cooked together in honey syrup. Over time, variations on the original recipe evolved, but its popularity persisted and it has become a favorite throughout Hong Kong and now America. Today, honey walnut shrimp is enjoyed in Chinese restaurants all around the world. More recently, the dish has gained in popularity as Panda Express brought it on their menu.

Why You’ll Love This

  • Much better than takeout. You can control what goes into this and you can give yourself a massive helping of it, because you’re going to want to! It’s so good.
  • Deep-fried goodness. Okay, so fried foods has a negative vibe but in moderation it’s perfectly fine and who doesn’t love a deep-fried shrimp dish every now and then? The crunch and texture is irresistible!
  • Balanced meal. Whether you serve this as an appetizer or a main dish, you can balance this out by serving it with steamed rice, fried rice, noodles, or even lettuce cups.
ingredients for honey walnut shrimp

Ingredients You’ll Need

Here is a list of ingredients you will need to make honey walnut shrimp. Make sure to scroll down to view the full recipe for exact measurements.

To make the candied walnuts:

  • Water
  • Granulated sugar
  • Walnuts

To make the sauce:

  • Evaporated milk – you can use condensed milk if you don’t have evaporated milk, but it makes the sauce a whole lot sweeter. I chose to use evaporated milk because it’s sugar-free so it allows me to adjust the sweetness of the sauce.
  • Kewpie mayo (Japanese mayo) – I like using kewpie mayo in Asian dishes instead of American mayo. It’s slightly more sweet and tangy. However, using American mayo is completely fine.
  • Honey

To make the batter:

  • Cornstarch
  • Egg
  • Shrimp – frozen and thawed shrimp or fresh shrimp. Just make sure they’re peeled and deveined!

How To Make Honey Walnut Shrimp

Here is a general overview of the steps involved to make this Panda Express copycat recipe. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post for the full recipe.

Make the candied walnuts. First, you’ll want to bring water and sugar to a boil in a small pot. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. While the sugar mixture is boiling, you can toast the walnuts in another skillet on the stovetop or on a baking sheet in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about 7-10 minutes. You really just want it lightly toasted. Alternatively, you could skip this altogether and just immediately add the walnuts to the water/sugar mixture. Let boil for 2 minutes then using a slotted spoon, scoop the walnuts out and lay on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet to let cool.

Whisk together the sauce. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.

Heat oil. In a deep pot, heat up about 3 cups of canola or vegetable oil. Attach a deep frying thermometer to the side of the pot to ensure proper temperature. You’ll want to keep it steady at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Batter the shrimp. While the oil is heating up, in two separate bowls, add cornstarch in one and eggs (whisked) in another. Once the oil is almost to temperature, begin battering up the shrimp in batches by dipping the shrimp in the egg then directly into the cornstarch. Shake off the excess. Gently place into the oil then work in batches until all shrimp has been coated and fried. Place fried shrimp on a paper towel-lined plate to cool then onto a wire baking rack.

Coat in sauce. Once the shrimp all done, add the shrimp to a large bowl and pour sauce all over and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

honey walnut shrimp in a large speckled bowl

Recipe Tips, Substitutions, and Variations

  • Don’t overcrowd your pan. This brings down the temperature of your oil and will result in overly greasy shrimp and not a crunchy exterior.
  • Work in batches. You’ll want to work in batches because you don’t want to let the cornstarch/egg mixture to sit too long on the shrimp. It’ll get soggy. Batter about 5-6 shrimp at a time then fry. Repeat.
  • Use a wire baking rack and rimmed baking sheet. The wire baking rack on top of a baking sheet helps cool the shrimp after frying without stifling the air flow which could lead to soggy shrimp due to the condensation from the heat. We are frying the shrimp for a reason so don’t negate your frying efforts by piling the shrimp on top of each other!
  • Replace walnuts with almonds or pecans. If you don’t like walnuts or don’t have them, you can replace with almonds or pecans! Nothing about the sugar mixture changes.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Unfortunately, like all fried foods, this is best eaten the day of. Any leftovers can be saved in an airtight container and put into the refrigerator for maximum 1-2 days. To reheat, I would reheat in an air fryer or toaster oven. I do not recommend microwaving.

an antique fork holds a honey walnut shrimp with fresh scallions

What to Serve with Honey Walnut Shrimp

Other Panda Express copycats:

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5 from 1 vote

Honey Walnut Shrimp

This Panda Express copycat made right in your own home is a creamy, sweet, and ultra crispy delight!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients 

For the candied walnuts:

  • 1 cup (236 ml) water
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (117 g) walnuts

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • ¼ cup (56 g) Kewpie mayo, (Japanese mayo)
  • 2 tablespoons (42 g) honey

For the batter:

  • ¾ cup (96 g) cornstarch
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 pound (454 g) frozen shrimp, thawed and patted dry

Instructions 

  • Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small pot. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. While the sugar mixture is boiling, you can toast the walnuts in another skillet on the stovetop or on a baking sheet in the oven at 300 °F (149 °C) for about 7-10 minutes. You really just want it lightly toasted. Alternatively, you could skip this altogether and just immediately add the walnuts to the water/sugar mixture. Let boil for 2 minutes then using a slotted spoon, scoop the walnuts out and lay on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet to let cool.
  • Mix all the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
  • In a deep pot, heat up about 3 cups of canola or vegetable oil. Attach a deep frying thermometer to the side of the pot to ensure proper temperature. You'll want to keep it steady at 375 °F (191 °C).
  • While the oil is heating up, in two separate bowls, add cornstarch in one and eggs (whisked) in another. Once the oil is almost to temperature, begin battering up the shrimp in batches by dipping the shrimp in the egg then directly into the cornstarch. Shake off the excess. Gently place into the oil then work in batches until all shrimp has been coated and fried. Place fried shrimp on a paper towel-lined plate to cool then onto a wire baking rack.
  • Once the shrimp all done, add the shrimp to a large bowl and pour sauce all over and toss to coat.

Nutrition

Serving: 267grams, Calories: 1449kcal, Carbohydrates: 173g, Protein: 47g, Fat: 67g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 41g, Monounsaturated Fat: 12g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 466mg, Sodium: 1553mg, Potassium: 640mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 120g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.

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2 Comments

    1. i would not recommend doing this in the air fryer. like you mentioned, the wet batter isn’t good for air fryers as it just goes through the holes in the baskets.