Throw away the takeout menu and enjoy making these bang bang shrimp tacos at home! Crispy fried shrimp are tossed in a creamy sweet and spicy sauce and then piled into corn tortillas and topped with crunchy cabbage. Dinner is ready in under 30 minutes!
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A Fusion of Culture!
Takeout can be great and sometimes it’s the answer to dinner after a long day, but what I love more is trying new restaurant dishes and then recreating them at home!
My family requests my version of kung pao shrimp all the time! I usually find the dishes are more economical to make myself, and I also like that I know exactly what’s going into them.
What is Bang Bang Shrimp?
It’s such a fun name that really is a nod to the heat of the sweet chili and sriracha in the sauce. Sometimes you’ll see it called firecracker or dynamite shrimp.
The popular appetizer version is a signature dish at the seafood chain, Bonefish Grill, and you’ll see a lot of copycat recipes for it all over the internet. My version is piled into corn tortillas and paired with crunchy cabbage and lime juice. Yum!
The key to these bang bang shrimp tacos is the sauce itself. It’s creamy, it’s sweet, and it has heat. It has it all! And you don’t have to stop at just tacos. You can enjoy the same sauce in my bang bang shrimp and my recipe for bang bang shrimp pasta.
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Bang bang sauce: All you need is three ingredients to make this seriously delicious sauce. Mayonnaise, Thai sweet chili sauce, and sriracha sauce. You can usually find chili sauce and sriracha sauce in most grocery stores. Check in the international aisle.
- Large shrimp: You’ll need 1 pound of large shrimp that have been peeled and deveined and the tails removed. I like to keep bags of them in the freezer, and I’ll often buy the ones that have been peeled and deveined already to save myself time in the kitchen.
- Buttermilk: The buttermilk acts as a brine, guaranteeing it will be tender and juicy when fried.
- Cornstarch: A cornstarch coating for frying gives them an amazing light and crispy crust.
- Shredded cabbage: Cabbage gives the tacos a nice crunch. It’s all about layering textures!
- Lime juice: I serve my bang bang shrimp tacos with lime wedges on the side. A squeeze of fresh lime juice really brightens it up and goes great with the creamy sauce.
How to Make Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos
- Make the sauce. Making the sauce first gives the flavors time to mingle. Stir together the mayonnaise, chili sauce, and sriracha until smooth.
- Soak the shrimp. Combine the buttermilk, onion and garlic powders, and salt, and then add the shrimp. Stir everything to coat each piece entirely.
- Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. You want to make sure to get the oil hot enough before adding any pieces, otherwise, you won’t end up with a nice crispy finish.
- Dredge in cornstarch. Using a pair of tongs, dip each shrimp into cornstarch until coated. Shake off any excess. This is what helps to brown the outside and thicken the sauce once they get tossed together.
- Fry shrimp. Add them to the oil in batches so you’re not overcrowding the pan. Fry for 1 – 2 minutes per side until cooked through and the batter is golden brown. Transfer the shrimp to a paper towel-lined plate while you fry the remaining shrimp. Place the shrimp in a serving bowl, add the sauce, and toss to coat.
- Assemble tacos. Lightly toast the tortillas on a griddle or skillet then fill each one with shredded cabbage and 2 – 3 shrimp. Drizzle with extra sauce and top with your favorite toppings.
- Hot oil. Keep the oil temperature at 375˚F with a digital thermometer (one that clips to the pot is helpful). Be sure to bring the oil back to temperature before frying a new batch.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan. Fry in batches to keep your oil at the right temperature. Adding too many will cause a drop in temperature which decreases the chance for a crispy coating and increases the chance for a soggy coating!
- Adjust the flavor. To make the sauce a little sweeter, add 1 teaspoon of honey or maple syrup. For extra spice, add some cayenne or hot sauce. To make it a little tart, add a dash of lemon juice.
It’s a creamy spicy and sweet sauce with a little heat. You can add some red pepper flakes for added heat or if you’d like more sweetness, add some honey or maple syrup.
You can substitute flour for the cornstarch although using cornstarch gives a nice light crust, which is what you’re looking for in this recipe.
When cooked, they should be firm and pink in color. If they are still grey or translucent, they needs to cook a bit longer. Check one for doneness before removing all of them from the oil.
No, buttermilk is best to quickly tenderize the shrimp. You can make your own 1/2 cup buttermilk by combining milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar or lemon to the 1/2 cup line on a measuring cup. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes and it is ready to use.
When storing leftovers, I like to keep the fried shrimp and sauce separate. You can store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To reheat the shrimp, put them on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes to warm them up and let them crisp up again. They won’t be as crispy as when they’re freshly fried but they’ll still taste delicious!
Reheat the sauce in the microwave in 15-second intervals until warmed through.
Finally, toss the shrimp in the sauce and assemble your tacos.
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Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos
Bang Bang Sauce
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup Thai sweet chili sauce
- Sriracha sauce , to taste
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 pound large shrimp , peeled and deveined, tails removed
- Canola oil , or peanut oil, for frying
- ¾ cup cornstarch
- 8-12 small white corn tortillas , or hard shell tacos
- 3 cups shredded cabbage
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 green onions , sliced
- Lime juice
- Thinly sliced jalapenos , optional
Bang Bang Sauce
- In a bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, chili sauce, and Sriracha until smooth.
- In a large bowl, combine buttermilk, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt. Add the shrimp and stir to coat.
- In a heavy-bottomed pan, add 2 to 3 inches of oil. Heat over medium heat until temperature reaches 375°F on a digital thermometer.
- In a shallow bowl, add the cornstarch. Using tongs, remove 1 shrimp from the buttermilk marinade, letting any excess drip off, and coat each side in cornstarch.
- Add the shrimp in batches to the oil and fry 1 to 2 minutes per side, until cooked through and light brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Return oil temperature to 375°F and repeat with remaining shrimp.
- Place in a serving bowl and add sauce. Toss to coat. Serve warm.
- On a griddle or skillet over medium heat, lightly toast tortillas 30 seconds per side.
- Fill each tortilla with shredded cabbage and 2 to 3 shrimp. Drizzle with extra sauce, if desired. Top with cilantro, green onions, lime juice, and jalapenos, if using.
- Diced tomatoes
- Sliced radishes
- Cole slaw
- Chopped avocado
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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