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
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.
How to make honey walnut shrimp
Cook the walnuts
Start by making candied walnuts. This sounds a lot more fancy that 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.
Cook the shrimp
Then it’s time to cook the shrimp. Toss the raw shrimp in a large bowl with arrowroot starch, garlic powder and salt until it’s well coated. You can use regular flour if you’d like. I use the arrowroot starch to make the honey walnut shrimp gluten-free.
Then clean the skillet you used to make the candied walnuts, and transfer the shrimp to that skillet to cook. 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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use frozen shrimp in this recipe?
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.
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!
Honey Walnut Shrimp
- ½ cup walnut halves
- 2 tablespoons cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 pound large shrimp
- 3 tablespoons arrowroot starch
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons avocado mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Shredded green cabbage
- Green onions
- 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.
- 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.