Skip Panda Express and make delicious honey walnut shrimp at home with a light tempura breading, tender shrimp, candied walnuts, and a sweetly tart sauce.
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About Honey Walnut Shrimp
While many restaurants have honey walnut shrimp on their menu (made a variety of different ways) it was probably Panda Express that helped boost this dish’s recent popularity – and they did it in their own unique American Chinese way.
And while I’m all in favor of ordering in food, there’s something great about being able to make restaurant favorites at home. Because not only can you control the portions – like, say, the amount of candied walnuts – but you can also control the flavor, such as dialing up the sweetness or toning it back.
That’s exactly what this honey walnut recipe gives you – a spot-on copycat for the popular Panda Express dish with full control to make it just how you like it.
What’s in honey walnut shrimp?
To make this sweet shrimp dish, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Walnuts – Because it’s honey walnut shrimp, of course. That being said, you can skip the addition of walnuts if you don’t like them or have an allergy; the walnuts add a delightful sweet crunch but won’t impact the flavor of the shrimp itself.
- Butter, water, and brown sugar – For giving the walnuts a tasty sweet coating.
- Mayonnaise – A key part in the honey glaze on the shrimp. You can either use traditional mayonnaise (such as Kraft, Hellman’s, etc) or you can use Kewpie, a Japanese mayonnaise. Kewpie tends to be thicker, sweeter, and tangier than the other brands.
- Sweetened condensed milk – Another key part in creating the creamy base of the honey sauce, which also adds a touch of sweetness.
- Honey and Lemon – For adding flavor and tanginess.
- Shrimp – They other key highlight in this recipe. The shrimp should be peeled, deveined, and tail off.
- Vegetable Oil – For frying.
- All-purpose flour ad Tempura – Used for coating the shrimp. And yes, you do need both for the right consistency.
- Eggs and some very cold water – Mixed together and coated on the shrimp, to help make the tempura coating stick.
How long is honey walnut shrimp good for?
Given the delicate fried coating and the creaminess of the sauce, this recipe is best eaten when freshly made. The longer the shrimp sits in the sauce, the softer the fried coating will become, leading to a texture that many might find unappealing.
For best results, enjoy this honey walnut shrimp the same day it was prepared.
Can you freeze shrimp tempura?
Bad news here, guys. I can’t recommend freezing this recipe. Over the years I’ve tried several times to find an effective way to freeze it – either the fully combined dish or storing the fried shrimp and sauce separately – and never had any success. The tempura lost all texture and the sauce ingredients separated.
For best results, enjoy this honey walnut shrimp the same day it was prepared.
Notes & tips for honey walnut shrimp
- When preparing the shrimp, make sure to pat them with paper towels until they are very dry. This will help the batter stick and ensure good frying.
- While this recipe is based on Panda Express’s version, many Chinese restaurants carry other variations of this dish. Honey walnut shrimp originated in Hong Kong, so despite it being popular at an American Chinese restaurant, it is still authentic Chinese cuisine. Some restaurants may serve “honey walnut prawns,” and it’s essentially the same thing – shrimp and prawns are nearly identical in shape and texture, with prawns being a tad sweeter.
- As mentioned above, this recipe is best served immediately, especially once everything has been tossed in the honey sauce.
- This recipe calls for walnuts but you can also use pecans instead.
- If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can dip a piece of wood (like a toothpick or skewer) into the oil to see if it’s ready. If the oil bubbles around the wood then it’s hot enough to fry.
More great copycat recipes
Other recipes with seafood
How to make honey walnut shrimp
This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.
Step 1 – To get started, add the walnuts and butter to a medium saucepan. Once the butter has melted, keep cooking until most of the liquid in the butter has reduced until nearly gone.
Step 2 – Remove the buttery walnuts from the saucepan (can lay them on a plate for now) then add in the water and brown sugar. Whisk the sugar and water together until hot, then return the walnuts to the saucepan. Cook and stir the walnuts until sticky and coated, then transfer the walnuts to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Set the walnuts aside for now.
Step 3 – In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sweetened condensed milk, honey, and lemon juice until smooth and creamy. Set the bowl aside.
Step 4 – Add oil to a large skillet, then heat it to 350 degrees F (using a candy thermometer helps!) Prepare your work area by adding the flour and tempura to separate bowls. Add the egg and cold water to a bowl, then whisk well.
Step 5 – Coat the shrimp in flour, dip them in the egg mixture, then finish by coating them with tempura. Add the coated shrimp to the hot oil and cook until tempura coating is golden brown on both sides, about 2-4 minutes total. Once done, transfer shrimp to a paper towel-lined plate.
Step 6 – When ready to serve, add the shrimp and walnuts to a bowl, then pour the honey sauce on top. Gently toss everything together to evenly coat with sauce.
Step 7 – Serve and enjoy!
Honey Walnut Shrimp
For the Candied Walnuts
- In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add walnuts to pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid in the butter has cooked off, about 5-8 minutes. Remove walnuts from pan and place on nearby plate.3 tablespoon salted butter, 1/2 cup walnuts
- Wipe saucepan clean, then return to burner. Over medium heat, whisk together water and brown sugar until hot. Add walnuts back to pan and cook, stirring frequently, until brown sugar mixture starts to thicken and sticks to walnuts, about another 5-8 minutes. Remove walnuts from pan and place on parchment paper, spacing them out so they don't stick together. Set aside to cool.1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup light brown sugar
For the Honey Shrimp
- In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sweetened condensed milk, honey, and lemon juice until smooth. Taste test the sauce and adjust to your liking. For a sweeter sauce, add more honey. For a milder sauce, add more mayonnaise. Once sauce is finished, set aside.1/3 cup mayonnaise, 2 1/2 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk, 2 1/2 tablespoon honey, 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- When ready to fry, add 1 inch of vegetable oil to a large skillet and heat to 350 degrees F (using a candy thermometer helps!)4 cup vegetable oil
- While oil heats, prepare three bowls: one for flour, one for eggs + cold water whisked together, and another for tempura. Line a large plate with a paper towel, then set nearby.1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 2 egg, 2 tablespoon water, 1 cup tempura
- When ready to fry, work shrimp in mangeable batches (enough so that they can comfortably cover the oil in the pan in a single layer). Coat shrimp in flour, then egg mixture, then press into tempura. Add shrimp to hot oil and cook until coating is golden brown on both sides, about 2-4 minutes (turn if needed). Set cooked shrimp on the paper towel lined plate. Repeat this step until all shrimp has been fried.1 pound shrimp
Putting It All Together
- In a large bowl, add fried shrimp and candied walnuts. Pour honey sauce on top and gently toss to coat. Turning the shrimp too hard or too fast may make the tempura fall off, so go slowly.
- Serve honey walnut shrimp immediatley.
I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.