The Crucial Step That Prevents Breading From Falling Off Shrimp

Move over, fried chicken cutlets — when we want a breaded finger food that's quick and easy to fry up, we're turning to shrimp instead. These little crustaceans only take a few minutes in hot oil before they're nice and crispy, and the end result is a mouthful of tasty breading in every bite. But if you're choosing to make fried shrimp at home, there's a crucial (but simple!) tip to keep in mind so your crunchy coating stays on your seafood.

After you mix together all the ingredients for your coating, make sure to pat your shrimp dry before you dip them in your flour dredge, egg, and breading or batter mixture. While we want a little wetness to ensure the batter sticks to our seafood, most shrimp hold so much moisture that your coating will slide off if applied right away. Plus, too much liquid can prevent your food from getting crispy — even if your breading does manage to stick — as it will turn your breadcrumbs or flour soggy instead of crunchy.

How to get your breading to stick to your shrimp

Patting your shrimp dry before coating them in breading is as simple as laying the crustaceans out on a flat surface and dabbing them with a paper towel on both sides. If the package they come in is extra wet, you may want to drain them first. If you're starting with frozen shrimp, this step is especially important, as it's likely you ran the seafood under water to thaw it before cooking. If your shrimp still has veins or shells, you'll need to take those out before breading, too.

Another way to make sure your coating sticks? Shake off any extra flour or breadcrumbs after you first dip your seafood in them. If your initial layer is too thick, your egg and second breading layer may slide right off. And finally, plop your shrimp in the deep-fryer (or whatever frying device you're using) as soon as you've finished breading them. Dry shrimp should stay crispy if they go in the fryer right away, but if you let them sit out for too long with their thick coating, they could start to get mushy.