Honey Walnut Shrimp

4.96 from 115 votes

This lightened up version of Honey Walnut Shrimp is inspired by the Panda Express recipe. It's full of crisp pan-seared shrimp with homemade candied walnuts

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If you’re missing restaurant food and your favorite Chinese takeout options, this Honey Walnut Shrimp really hits the spot. It’s a healthier version of the popular Panda Express menu item. However, there’s no heavy batter involved, no deep frying and no caloric sauce. Still, the shrimp is crisp, the walnuts are sweet and it’s all mixed with a simple sweet and savory sauce.

top down shot of honey walnut shrimp in a bowl with rice
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Why you’ll love candied walnut shrimp

  • Easy to Make. This recipe is easy to follow and can be prepared in under 30 minutes, making it a quick and convenient option for busy weeknights.
  • Unique texture with arrowroot. Coating the shrimp in arrowroot starch before frying or sautéing creates a super crispy and golden brown exterior. The texture is so crisp and light, and helps the honey sauce stick to the shrimp, making it extra flavorful.
  • Sweet and savory flavor combination. The honey shrimp and candied walnuts create a perfect balance of sweetness and savory flavors that make this dish irresistible.

How to make honey walnut shrimp

If you’re looking for a sweet and savory dish that’s easy to make and guaranteed to impress, then honey walnut shrimp is the perfect choice! It’s as simple as coating some shrimp in arrowroot starch and frying them until they’re crispy and golden brown. The honey sauce and candied walnuts finish it off for a flavor explosion!

Candy the walnuts

Start by making candied walnuts. This sounds a lot fancier than it is. You just simply cook the raw walnuts with butter, sugar and water on a skillet. It takes a few minutes only on the skillet. And as soon as the liquid and sugar is absorbed, you can transfer it to a baking dish to allow it to cool and harden.

walnuts on a baking tray

Cook the shrimp

  1. Add the raw shrimp, arrowroot starch, garlic powder, and salt to a bowl.
  2. Toss together until well coated.
shrimp in a bowl tossed with garlic powder, starch and salt
  1. Then clean the skillet you used to make the candied walnuts, and transfer the shrimp to that skillet to cook.
  2. Try to spread the shrimp into an even layer on the skillet and flip only once. This will make sure that the honey walnut shrimp gets beautifully crisp edges.
shrimp cooking in a pan
  • Now the sauce is just a mixture of vegan avocado mayo, honey and lemon juice. It’s the perfect combination of sweet, savory and sour ingredients that you’ll whisk together and pour over the shrimp. You can also leave it on the side to add to the final dish as desired.

I love serving this skinny honey walnut shrimp with rice and shredded cabbage. But you can also serve it with rice noodles, in lettuce wraps or over quinoa or brown rice. It’s sweet and satisfying and will remind you of the restaurant version, but with less calories and less fat.

Tips for making honey walnut shrimp

  • Dry the shrimp with a paper towel. There is a lot of moisture in shrimp, whether it’s fresh or frozen. So you want to make sure to pat it dry before coating it with the starch and spices. That helps the shrimp not release too much liquid that could steam it instead of sear it on the skillet.
  • Make sure the pan is hot before adding the shrimp. When you heat the olive oil in the pan, you want to make sure it’s shimmering but not smoking. I recommend heating the oil on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. You want to hear a sizzle when that shrimp hits the pan.
  • Don’t crowd the pan. I prefer to arrange the shrimp in a single layer around the skillet so there aren’t any overlapping each other. Otherwise the moisture from one piece of shrimp will affect another piece of shrimp from becoming crisp. Cook in batches if necessary or use a skillet wide enough for 1 pound of shrimp.
  • Make it quicker by using store-bought candied walnuts. I always prefer the homemade version when time allows, but you can certainly use pre-made candied walnuts to make this honey walnut shrimp recipe.
  • Use different nuts. Walnuts are perfectly candied in a hot pan with sugar, but if you want to switch it up try substituting them for almonds or pecans.
  • Add fruits. You can add some diced fresh pineapple or mango to the honey shrimp for a tropical twist.
  • Substitute the honey. Use maple syrup, agave nectar, or brown sugar as a natural sweetener alternative to honey.
  • Add some heat. To add some spice to contrast the sweetness, you can either sprinkle in some red pepper flakes or pan fry some chopped jalapenos before cooking the shrimp.
  • Use regular flour. You can use all-purpose flour if you’d like. I use the arrowroot starch to make the honey walnut shrimp gluten-free.

How to store & reheat honey nut shrimp

To store honey walnut shrimp, place the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate within two hours of cooking.

To reheat: Use a non-stick pan or reheat in the oven at a low temperature to maintain the crispy texture of the shrimp and candied walnuts.

How long does shrimp last in the fridge?

When stored properly, shrimp will last up to 4 days in the fridge.

Can I freeze cooked shrimp?

No, it is not recommended to freeze honey walnut shrimp because the texture of the shrimp and the candied walnuts can become mushy and lose their crunchiness when thawed.

Can you use frozen shrimp?

I prefer to use fresh shrimp, but you can use frozen if that’s what you have. Make sure that the shrimp is fully defrosted before using it and remove the vein and shell. Remove any excess moisture by patting it with kitchen towel.

Can you make it ahead of time?

I prefer to serve this honey walnut shrimp as soon as it is made, but if you have leftovers, they will keep well in the fridge for up to three days. You can reheat the shrimp on the stovetop before serving. You can make the candied walnuts up to a week ahead of time.

Honey walnut shrimp recipe inspired by Panda Express

More shrimp recipes:

Honey walnut shrimp is one of the most popular dishes at Chinese restaurants. My lightened version skips the heavy batter, skips the fatty sauce and simplifies the whole process of making this recipe at home. It’s cheaper, healthier and tastes more fresh in my opinion. Make it at home and enjoy a restaurant quality meal in 

If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Honey Walnut Shrimp recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

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Honey Walnut Shrimp

This lightened up version of Honey Walnut Shrimp is inspired by the Panda Express recipe. It's full of crisp pan-seared shrimp with homemade candied walnuts
5 from 115 votes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Calories 422
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
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Ingredients
  

Candied walnuts

  • ½ cup walnut halves
  • 2 tablespoons cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons water

Shrimp

  • 1 pound large shrimp
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot starch
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Honey Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons avocado mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

For Serving

  • Rice
  • Shredded green cabbage
  • Green onions

Instructions

  • In large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add butter, walnuts, sugar and water. Stir until all the sugar melts and the walnuts are coated in the sugar mixture, about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer immediately onto a sheet of parchment paper and separate the nuts right away. Set aside to harden; wipe down the skillet.
  • In a large bowl, place the shrimp, arrowroot starch, garlic powder, and salt and stir to combine until all the shrimp is evenly coated with the mixture.
  • In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the olive oil, and cook the shrimp, turning occasionally until they’re fully cooked, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the avocado mayonnaise, honey and lemon juice. Pour the sauce over the shrimp and toss to combine. Add the candied walnuts on top and
  • Serve the shrimp on top of cooked rice with shaved green cabbage, sesame seeds and green onions.

Notes

Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last up to 3 days in the fridge. To reheat, place on a pan and reheat until warmed through.
Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. However here are some common substitutes that would work well in this recipe.
  • Instead or arrowroot starch, you can use another gluten-free starch or flour of your choice, or you can also use all-purpose flour.
  • Instead of lemon juice, you can use lime juice or another type of vinegar like red wine vinegar.
  • Instead of honey, you can use maple syrup or agave syrup. 

Nutrition

Calories: 422kcal, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 26g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 296mg, Sodium: 1218mg, Potassium: 155mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 15g, Vitamin A: 87IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 179mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Course: Entree
4.96 from 115 votes (96 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. Amy says:

    This was so good! My only complaint was I should’ve doubled the recipe to have more. I substituted corn starch for breading and regular mayo. My husband raved. This will be a repeat.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Yay!! So happy to hear you and your husband loved it!

  2. Christina says:

    Just made and it turned out excellent! So easy to follow. I never had the Panda Express version, but I have had it elsewhere. This was restaurant quality. I also made this a one-pan dish except for the rice and string beans. Julienned the scallions/green onions to top it off. Thank you for making this so easy.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Aww, you’re so welcome! I’m so glad you found the recipe easy and delicious, Christina!!

  3. Mel B says:

    Absolutely delicious and so easy! I love how it’s also a healthier version of a popular dish. Definitely saving this recipe for future dinners!

    1. Yumna J. says:

      So glad you liked it, Mel!

  4. Arlene says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious. I substituted honey for the sugar in the walnuts and air fried the shrimp.
    I served with air fried broccoli and cilantro lime brown rice cooked in the Instant pot. I will definitely make it again.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Yum! That sounds amazing!

  5. D says:

    Made this recipe last night and it was a family favorite! So delicious! Thank you!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      That’s incredible! Yay!!

  6. Livejoyfully365 says:

    Absolutely loved this recipe!! Making it again. Simple, healthy and delicious

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Thank you so much! Yay!!

  7. E b chastain says:

    Delicious

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Thank you!!

  8. Amber S says:

    loved this recipe! the shrimp did take more time than expected to cook in the pan, so i did end up cooking half of them on a sheet in the oven. those didn’t have the same nice crispness, but still delicious because the sauce was great.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Thank you so much! I’m glad it still worked out!

  9. DammaBetty says:

    Yummy!!! Big hit at our house. Thank you again for another delicious healthy recipe

    1. Yumna J. says:

      I’m so happy to hear that! Most welcome!

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