Honey Walnut Shrimp

4.99 from 89 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

How to make honey walnut shrimp

Cook 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

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.

shrimp in a bowl tossed with garlic powder, starch and salt

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.

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.

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.

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!

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 89 votes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Calories 422
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins


Candied walnuts

  • 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

Honey Sauce

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

For Serving

  • Rice
  • 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.



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. 


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.

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Honey walnut shrimp lightened up recipe

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  1. 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.

  2. Made these for dinner tonight and they were amazing. Thank you for this take on honey walnut shrimp!

  3. It was super easy to follow and the result was amazing! I have followed other recipes and it often comes out different from the pictures (I either did something wrong or they forgot a step) but it is hard to mess up this recipe. The measurements, time and even some substitutes are included. My whole family enjoyed this and keep asking me to make it so I am super grateful for this!

    1. Aww, I’m so glad to hear that you had such great results and that the whole family enjoyed it! Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

    2. So delicious! Thank you for sharing. I am working on changing my diet, and was craving panda express. Specifically honey walnut shrimp, and this absolutely hit the spot. So good, easy to make. I will definitely be making it again!! Thank you so much again.

      1. Oh that’s so perfect! It’s such a healthier version than Panda Express, and I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  4. I’ve always wanted to try this dish (my friends rave about it) and I finally did! I’m so happy with how it turned out. It was super easy to make and very very tasty. I will definitely be making this again.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! My whole family loved it. The candied walnuts coupled with the shrimp was such a delight. We put it over zoodles and it was great 🙂 will be making this on a weekly basis. Thanks again!

  6. I love, love, love Honey Walnut Shrimp, it’s always my “go to” when we order take out. I was skeptical that a healthy version could taste good. Man am I glad I tried it! DELICIOUS! Such good flavor. Easy to make too. I couldn’t find Arrowroot starch, so I used rice flour. This dish turned out great. Will make again for sure.

    1. I actually usually use frozen fresh. I recommend thawing with cold water until there is no more ice. Then make sure to dry it thoroughly. I like using a paper towel so it’s completely dry before I toss it with the flour.