Bang bang shrimp is the perfect weeknight meal! Ready in less than 15 minutes, this creamy spicy shrimp recipe is going to quickly become part of your weekly rotation! Serve with cauliflower rice or stuff it in tacos for a healthy, quick meal!
3 reasons I love this recipe:
- This is a much simpler version of bang bang shrimp than what you get when you eat out. The shrimp is not breaded and pan fried, making it so much easier to prepare. Although I love the crispy coating on the appetizer at Bonefish Grill, this version is much more approachable for everyday eating.
- The bang bang sauce is made without mayo, making it egg free. Most recipes include mayo, sweet chili sauce and sriracha. I replaced the mayo with cashews (which are naturally slightly sweet). The cashews help make a creamy sauce that pairs perfectly with the sriracha, no sugar needed.
- This recipe can easily be doubled, so it’s great for company! There is nothing better than being able to cook for company in under 20 minutes. Make a big batch of this shrimp and serve it with lettuce wraps, homemade slaw and all your favorite taco fixings for a flavorful meal.
- Sriracha (or garlic chili sauce)
- Coconut aminos
Start by soaking the cashews in boiling water or covering them in water and microwaving them for 2:30 (be sure to use a large glass where there is room for the water to boil).
Let the cashews soak 2-3 minutes.
Add the shrimp to a large skillet sprayed with avocado oil or olive oil spray. Cook over medium heat 2-3 minutes per side.
While the shrimp are cooking, drain the cashews and discard the water from soaking.
IN THIS FREE EBOOK
Add the cashews, fresh water, sriracha, coconut aminos and salt to a high speed blender (I use my bullet blender). Blend on high 1 minute.
After shrimp are done (they will have formed tight C shapes and feel firm to the touch), remove them from the heat.
Add the bang bang sauce and stir well.
Serve over cauliflower rice, rice, slaw, lettuce or as tacos!
- Before you start this recipe, be sure your shrimp are already defrosted (if previously frozen), peeled, deveined and the tails removed.
- You can soak the cashews up to 8 hours ahead of time. The sauce can be made up to a day in advance and stored in the fridge. Take it out of the fridge about 15-30 minutes before cooking so it has time to get up to room temperature so it doesn’t make the shrimp cold after cooking.
- If you need the sauce to be less spicy, add up to 2 tablespoons of ketchup to the sauce. The ketchup will help offset the heat from the sriracha (be sure to use a Whole30 ketchup if you are doing a Whole30).
What to serve with this recipe:
Bang bang shrimp is often served with slaw or as tacos at most restaurants. The crispy shrimp and spicy sauce are usually an appetizer but can sometimes be a main course meal as well. I like to eat the shrimp as a meal. Here are my favorite ways to serve it:
- On cauliflower rice (seasoned with salt and garlic powder)
- On tacos with cilantro lime slaw
- Over jasmine rice (not low carb or Whole30)
- Over spaghetti squash
Can you use frozen shrimp?
Yes! Defrost the shrimp first. You can defrost shrimp in cold water, changing out the water every 10 minutes or so (this process takes about 30 minutes). You can also defrost the shrimp in the fridge overnight (be sure to put the bag of shrimp in a container in case it starts leaking from the bag). Do not use hot water to defrost the shrimp, this changes the texture of the shrimp and makes it rubbery and tough.
Do not cook the shrimp from frozen, as the outside of the shrimp will overcook by the time they are defrosted in the pan.
What is the best shrimp to buy?
The reason this recipe is so quick is because I buy shrimp already peeled, deveined and tails removed. This can be more expensive but I find it’s worth the investment. You can often find shrimp in-the-shell on sale but it takes 10-15 minutes to shell and devein shrimp, it is a process that I do not prefer to go through.
You will want medium to large shrimp. Usually a count of 20-35 per pound. If you find smaller shrimp you want to use, keep an eye out as they may cook quicker than the recipe indicates.
If you have frozen cooked shrimp, defrost using cold water and add the shrimp to the pan and only cook 2-3 minutes total, allowing the shrimp to just heat up. You really don’t want to overcook the shrimp.
What if you don’t love shrimp?
You could also use scallops in place of shrimp. If you are not a big seafood eater, you could use white beans (vegan) or even chicken. If you want this to still be a quick cooking meal, cut the chicken into small bite size pieces and cook it 8-10 minutes in the skillet until it’s cooked through.
3 ways to soak cashews
In order to make a creamy thick sauce, it’s best to soak cashews so they are soft and blend up easily. After the cashews are soaked, be sure to drain off and discard the soaking liquid before making the sauce. There are 3 ways to easily soak cashews:
- On the counter: Soak cashews in fresh water for 6-8 hours. This is the easiest way to soak cashews, but takes the longest.
- In the microwave: Cover with fresh water and microwave on high 2:30. I usually use an extra large mason jar to ensure there is enough space for the water to boil.
- On the stove: Bring the water to a boil. Boil the cashews for 3-5 minutes.
Fridge: Store any leftover shrimp and bang bang sauce in the fridge in a well-sealed container for up to 3 days.
Shrimp can quickly get tough and rubbery if overcooked, so reheating the shrimp takes time. Reheat the shrimp in sauce in a 350F oven for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. You could also reheat in the microwave using short 20-30 second intervals and stirring after each interval making sure the shrimp doesn’t get too hot (take about 1 – 1:30 minutes).
Freezer: You can make extra bang bang sauce and freeze it for later (up to 3 months). Since shrimp cook up so quickly, I wouldn’t recommend freezing the shrimp and the sauce, because of how rubbery shrimp can get if overheated when reheating.
Store the sauce in ice cube trays and once frozen, transfer the cubes into a freezer safe bag with a label. Defrost the cubes in the fridge overnight.
Shrimp: You could also make this dish with scallops, chicken or baked tofu cubes (vegan, not Whole30). Simply cook the protein appropriately and cover in the sauce.
Cashews: the cashews and water replace the typical mayo in this recipe, creating a creamy base for the sauce. If you cannot have cashews, find a mayo that you enjoy. You will need about 1/3-1/2 cup.
Sriracha (or chili garlic sauce): Most store bought sriracha or chili garlic sauce is not Whole30 friendly. The chili garlic sauce has sulfides and sriracha often has sugar. You can make your own sriracha or buy it at the store. Yellowbird makes a sriracha with dates, just be sure to check the label when picking it up at the store as they also make one with agave.
Coconut aminos: Coconut aminos add a touch of natural sweetness and help balance out the flavors. If you cannot have coconuts, you could use tamari (gluten free soy sauce) or liquid aminos if not Whole30.
If you love this recipe, you should try:
Bang Bang Shrimp$10.94 recipe/$2.73 serving
- Soak cashews in boiling hot water 2-3 minutes (I use water from my kettle). You can also follow tips below on how to soak cashews without boiling water.
- While the cashews soak, spray a large skillet with olive oil or avocado oil spray and add shrimp. Cook over medium heat 2-3 minutes per side.
- Drain the soaking liquid from the cashews. Add the soaked cashews, fresh water, sriracha, coconut aminos and salt to a high speed blender.
- Blend on high 1 minute.
- Once shrimp are done cooking (they should form tight C shapes and be firm when you press on them), turn off the heat and pour the sauce over the shrimp.
- Toss the shrimp in the sauce and serve.
- Countertop: Cover cashews with water and soak on the counter for 6-8 hours. Drain the water from cashews before use.
- Microwave: Barely cover cashews with water in an extra large jar or bowl. Microwave 2:30 (be careful when removing from microwave, it will be hot). Drain the water from the cashews before use.
- Stove top: Bring cashews and water to a boil. Boil 2-3 minutes. Drain cashews from water before use.