A Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy is a classic sandwich from New Orleans, Louisiana, that features crispy fried shrimp nestled inside a piece of French bread – fully dressed with shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and sliced pickles.

A Shrimp Po Boy is one of those must-get meals that my husband and I always get when we visit family in Louisiana. We usually split a po’ boy, and each get a cup of seafood gumbo. I often make Roast Beef Debris Po’ Boys at home, but I don’t make shrimp po’ boys often because fresh shrimp have to be dealt with right away, and we’re usually exhausted after traveling home from New Orleans.

After our most recent trip home to see his parents, I decided to surprise my husband, and we treated ourselves to some homemade po’ boys, and thus, our shrimp po’ boy recipe was born. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Contrary to most shrimp po’ boy recipes that you’ll find online, you don’t want to coat the shrimp in a thick layer of cornmeal breading as you would a piece of fried catfish. The shrimp in a Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy should be light with a thin, crispy breading that allows the shrimp to be the star of the sandwich.

A fully dressed fried shrimp po boy on a blue plate with french fries.

Your shrimp po’ boy should be served fully dressed, which means it needs a healthy slather of mayonnaise, shredded iceberg lettuce, tomato slices, and pickles. You should use small enough shrimp that you can get one in a bite and not have to bite them into pieces, and the shrimp should nearly be spilling out of the sandwich.

Where did the po-boy sandwich originate?

In 1929, the Po Boy Sandwich was created in New Orleans by the Martin Brothers, Bennie, and Clovis Martin, when thousands of unionized streetcar workers and motormen walked off the job and went on strike and onto the picket line. The Martin brothers gave sandwiches to the strikers that were made out of fried potatoes, gravy, and spare bits of roast beef on French bread. (These are now known as Roast Beef Debris Po-Boys.) The name “po’ boy” is said to come from the phrase “poor boy,” referring to those poor boys that were on strike at the time. You can read the full story about the history of the delicious sandwich on the Parkway Poor Boys website.

A fried shrimp po boy sandwich with extra pickles and crispy fries.

🥘 Ingredients Needed

The ingredients needed to make fried shrimp po boys, laid out and labeled.

For Frying the Shrimp

  • Fresh Shrimp, peeled and deveined. I like to use small or medium shrimp for po’ boys as they are easier to eat.
    • If you get a bag of shrimp from the grocery store or a seafood store, they have a number that tells you how many shrimp are in a pound if you buy that size. The smaller the number, the bigger the shrimp will be. I like to use the size 21-25 for fried shrimp for po’ boys at home. (It all depends on what the store has!)
Fresh shrimp for sale on ice in a seafood store.
  • Crystal Hot Sauce Or use your favorite kind. We also really like Tabasco sauce.
  • Self-Rising Flour – I like to use White Lily Self-Rising Flour. The self-rising flour makes the breading on the shrimp light and crispy. If you don’t have self-rising flour, you can make a substitute with all-purpose – mix together 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.
  • Kosher Salt
  • Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning You can also use your favorite Cajun seasoning, but I would not recommend using Old Bay unless you are expecting the flavor – it is a completely different seasoning blend, and the flavor profile is totally different.
  • Black Pepper
  • Peanut Oil for Frying – I like to use Peanut Oil because it has a mild flavor, but you can also use vegetable oil or canola oil. You want to fry in oil with a high smoke point that will not burn, but you also want to make sure that it has a mild taste that won’t make your food taste like oil. (Do not use olive oil as it won’t taste right.)

For Assembling and Dressing the Sandwich

  • French Bread, sliced into four 6 to 8-inch pieces – Crusty french bread is essential to making the perfect po’ boy. If you live somewhere that French bread is not available, you can use Cuban bread or whatever bread your bakery has that is crunchy on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside. Louisiana French bread is NOT the same as a French baguette. Leidenheimer’s Bakery is the original French bread, but it is also a good example of what to look for when looking for traditional po-boy French bread.
  • Plain Mayonnaise – We like to use Blue Plate Mayonnaise. Some people also like to use Creole Remoulade Sauce or Tartar Sauce.
  • Tomato, thinly sliced
  • Dill Pickle Chips
  • Iceberg Lettuce, thinly sliced

🍽 Equipment Needed

  • Deep Fryer (You can also use a dutch oven or a cast iron pan with deep sides and a candy thermometer with a slotted spoon)
  • Two Shallow Bowls
  • Measuring Cups and Measuring Spoons
  • Baking Sheet
  • Paper Towels
  • A Paring Knife, or I actually like to use a Peeling Knife – I find it easier to use on the shrimp.

🥣 How to Make Shrimp Po’ Boys

Peel and devein the raw shrimp, including the tails.

How to Peel and Devein Shrimp

To peel the shrimp, use your fingers to pull and twist to remove the heads. Then, from the underside of the shrimp, peel each side of the shell, starting from the front and going all the way back to the tail.

Devein the shrimp by cutting a straight line along the outside, following the dark line down the middle. Use a sharp paring knife. Using the tip of the knife, scoop out the black vein or the “poop chute,” then rinse the shrimp and pat dry. Repeat for all shrimp. You can also do the same on the inside of the shrimp if desired.

Cook the Shrimp

Preheat your deep fryer to 350-375°F and get the oil warning. (If you don’t have a deep fryer, you can use a dutch oven with a few inches of oil for frying, just use a thermometer to be sure that you can monitor the temperature of the oil.) I usually heat mine to 375°F as the oil temperature will drop as the shrimp cook.

Toss the shrimp in the hot sauce in one of the shallow bowls and let them sit for a few minutes. In the second bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, and Creole seasoning to make the seasoned flour.

A bowl of shrimp and a bowl of seasoned flour with a bottle of Crystal hot sauce.

Toss the marinated shrimp in the flour mixture until fully coated, then shake off any excess flour. Lay the shrimp out on a baking sheet and repeat until they are all coated.

A collage of images showing how to dredge shrimp in breading to make shrimp for po boys.

When all of the shrimp are coated, drop them in the hot oil, a few at a time. Be sure to avoid crowding the oil, as it can cause the temperature to drop, and the shrimp will cook too slowly and get soggy instead of getting crispy and frying. Cook for 1-2 minutes, just until the shrimp are golden brown. (Pictures 1-4)

Remove the shrimp from the fryer and shake off any excess oil (I hang the basket on the side of the deep fryer for a minute or two) before dumping the shrimp out onto paper towels to cool. Sprinkle a pinch of Creole or Cajun seasoning over the cooked shrimp. (Picture 5)

A collage of images showing how to fry shrimp for po boys, steps 1-5.

*To use a pot on the stove, heat a few inches of oil in a dutch oven to 375°F. Fry the shrimp a few at a time, then remove with a slotted spoon to cool on paper towels.

How to Assemble Fully Dressed Po Boys

First, slice the loaf of French bread into 6-8 inch pieces (or smaller if desired), then slice it in half and toast it lightly.

A collage of images showing how to assemble a fried shrimp po boy sandwich.

Next, thoroughly slather both sides of the bread with a healthy scoop (and by healthy, I mean a heaping, generous amount) of mayonnaise. I recommend using Blue Plate mayonnaise.

Place a layer of shredded lettuce on top of the mayonnaise, then add tomatoes, then shrimp, and finally, top it with pickles. Serve your po boys and enjoy!

A fully dressed crispy fried shrimp po boy on a blue plate with french fries, and hot sauce.

Can You Bake or Air Fry Breaded Shrimp?

Baked Fried Shrimp: You can bake these southern fried shrimp instead of deep frying them by coating them with an oil-based cooking spray and baking them on a sheet pan at 425° F until golden brown and crispy. It should take about 15 minutes

Air Fried Shrimp: You can air fry these shrimp as well! Preheat your air fryer to 400°F and spray the breaded shrimp with an oil-based cooking spray. Air fry for 4 minutes, then flip the shrimp, spray again, and cook for 2-3 more minutes until the shrimp are brown and crispy.

A fully dressed fried shrimp po boy.

🍱 Recipe Yield

This recipe should make enough po boys for four people.

🙋‍♀️ Frequently Asked Questions

How do you keep batter from falling off fried shrimp?

The batter will stay on the shrimp if you don’t use too much. If the batter is too thick or clumpy, (or if the shrimp are very wet or frozen), it won’t stick on well. Shake off any excess breading, and the remainder will stick to the shrimp to make them light and crispy.

What is the best oil to fry shrimp in?

I like to use peanut oil as it is the least likely to impart any oily flavor on the shrimp. If someone has a peanut allergy, I use vegetable or canola oil.

Can you deep fry shrimp from frozen?

Shrimp usually stick together when they are frozen, so it will be much easier to cook the shrimp if you defrost them first, then pat them dry before breading and frying them.

Can you deep fry precooked shrimp?

You can, but I would not recommend it, as the shrimp will get very rubbery and overcooked.

Button linking to the Pinterest page for Southern Bytes.
A fully dressed fried shrimp po boy on a blue plate with a jar of blue plate mayonnaise and a jar of Crystal hot sauce.

How to Store Leftover Po Boys

Store leftover po boys wrapped in plastic wrap and leftover fried shrimp in an airtight container – both in the refrigerator. Shrimp will keep for only a few days, so eat them quickly!

How to Reheat Leftover Fried Shrimp

The best way to reheat leftover shrimp is in the air fryer. The air fryer will crisp the shrimp back up by heating up the oil in the breading, and the shrimp will taste just like they were freshly cooked. (Try not to reheat the lettuce and tomato if possible.)

✏️ Helpful Tips

  • If you are cooking a lot of shrimp, place them on a wire rack on a baking sheet in the oven at a low temperature to keep warm until the rest of the shrimp are done cooking. This will help them stay crispy and warm.
  • If you want to make your po’ boys unique, you can serve them with a zesty remoulade sauce spread on them or with homemade chips on the side.

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What to Serve with Shrimp Po Boys

If I break my deep fryer out to make anything, I usually make as much as I can, so I will serve my po boy with other fried things:

  • French Fries or Homemade Chips – I just soak some sliced potatoes in cold water for 10 minutes, rinse them, repeat one more time, then drain them and pat them dry. I fry them while assembling the po-boys and salt them generously.
  • Fried Okra
  • Sweet Potato Fries

We also love serving po’ boys with a cup of gumbo. My husband and I love to split a large po boy, and we each have a cup of Seafood Gumbo.

I will also serve my crispy fried shrimp with extra dipping sauces because, inevitably, I will make extra fried shrimp to eat. I like to dip my shrimp in tartar sauce and homemade remoulade sauce.

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A fully dressed crispy fried shrimp po boy on a blue plate with crispy french fries.

Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy

5 from 1 vote
A Fried Shrimp Po' Boy is a classic sandwich from New Orleans, Louisiana, that features crispy fried shrimp nestled inside a piece of French bread – fully dressed with shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and sliced pickles.
Author: Kari
Servings: 6
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Assembly: 15 minutes
Total: 45 minutes

Ingredients  

For the Shrimp

For Building and Dressing the Sandwich

  • 1 loaf French bread
  • 2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise per sandwich
  • 1-2 large tomato thinly sliced
  • dill pickle chips
  • iceberg lettuce thinly sliced or shredded

Instructions 

Cook the Shrimp

  • Preheat your deep fryer to 350-375°F and get the oil warming. I usually heat mine to 375°F as the oil temperature will drop as the shrimp cook. (See below for stovetop instructions.)
    3 cups peanut oil
  • Toss the shrimp in the hot sauce in one of the shallow bowls and let them sit for a few minutes.
    1 ½ pounds small or medium shrimp, 3-4 tablespoons Crystal Hot Sauce
  • In the second bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, and Creole seasoning to make the seasoned flour.
    1 ¾ cups White Lily self-rising flour⁠⁠⁠⁠, ¼ cup yellow cornmeal, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
  • Toss the marinated shrimp in the flour mixture until fully coated, then shake off any excess breading.
  • Lay the shrimp out on a baking sheet and repeat until they are all coated.
  • Carefully drop the shrimp in the hot oil, a few at a time.
  • Cook for 1-2 minutes, just until the shrimp are golden brown.
  • Remove the shrimp from the fryer and shake off any excess oil (I hang the basket on the side of the deep fryer for a minute or two) before dumping the shrimp out onto paper towels to cool. Sprinkle a pinch of Creole or Cajun seasoning over the cooked shrimp.
  • *To use a pot on the stove, heat a few inches of oil in a dutch oven to 375°F. Fry the shrimp a few at a time, then remove with a slotted spoon to cool on paper towels.

How to Build Fully Dressed Po Boy Sandwiches

  • First, slice the loaf of French bread into 6-8 inch pieces (or smaller if desired), then slice it in half and toast it lightly.
    1 loaf French bread
  • Next, thoroughly slather both sides of the bread with a heaping amount of mayonnaise.
    2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Place a layer of shredded lettuce on top of the mayonnaise, then tomatoes, then shrimp, and finally, top it with pickles. Serve your po boys and enjoy!
    1-2 large tomato, dill pickle chips, iceberg lettuce

Notes

Depending on how big you make your sandwiches, this recipe will serve 4-6 people.

How to Store Leftovers

Store leftover fried shrimp in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Shrimp will keep for only a few days, so eat them quickly!

How to Reheat Leftovers

The best way to reheat leftover shrimp is in the air fryer. The air fryer will crisp the shrimp back up by heating up the oil in the breading, and the shrimp will taste just like they were freshly cooked.

Tips

  • If you are cooking a lot of shrimp, place them on a wire rack on a baking sheet in the oven at a low temperature to keep warm until the rest of the shrimp are done cooking. This will help them stay crispy and warm.
  • If you want to make your po’ boys unique, you can serve them with a zesty remoulade sauce spread on them or homemade chips on the side.

What is a Substitute for Self-Rising Flour?

Use all-purpose flour. 1 cup Self-Rising Flour = 1 cup of all-purpose flour mixed together with 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of salt.
Note: Most of the oil will not be absorbed by the shrimp, but it is needed by the fryer. Nutrition facts are calculated assuming about ½ cup of oil is used.

Special Equipment Needeed

  • deep fryer

Nutrition

Serving: 1sandwichCalories: 543kcalCarbohydrates: 53gProtein: 33gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.02gCholesterol: 185mgSodium: 1917mgPotassium: 517mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 616IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 117mgIron: 4mg

Nutrition information is approximate and is automatically calculated, so should only be used as a guide.

Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Cajun, Creole, Southern
Keyword: fried shrimp po boy, po boy recipe
Did you make this recipe?Mention @southernbytes or tag #southernbytes!

Other Types of Po Boy Sandwiches

While the classic Louisiana po boy sandwich is made with fried shrimp and a creamy creole remoulade sauce (or mayonnaise) or roast beef debris, po boys can be made from whatever you have:

A man eating a slow roasted duck po boy at French Quarter Fest.
  • Alligator Po Boys – This is a wild one. You can make a po boy from fried alligator bites or alligator sausage!
  • Fried Crawfish Po Boys
  • Vegetarian Po Boys
  • Fried Green Tomato Po Boys
  • Cochon de Lait Po Boys
  • Oysters Rockefeller Po Boys
  • BBQ Fried Oyster Po Boys
A barbecue fried oyster with blue cheese sauce from the Red Fish Grill at French Quarter Fest.

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Hi, I'm Kari!

I am a newlywed, food blogger, health coach, and mama to a hot mess of a border collie. I love to put a new spin on old family recipes and I try to make as many meals as possible with an Instant Pot.

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