Fried Shrimp the Lowcountry Way

Plus, two seafood sauce recipes

Photo: Clay Williams

“My fried shrimp are covered in just enough flour to give them a light, crunchy fried layer,” writes Emily Meggett in her new cookbook, Gullah Geechee Homecooking: Recipes from The Matriarch of Edisto Island. “I use medium-sized shrimp, which aren’t as easily drowned out by oil and breading as the shrimp you find in restaurants. It seems like any time I made fried shrimp, everyone on the island somehow knew. I’d make a big batch so I could serve my family and anyone who stopped by. This recipe will give you plenty of shrimp, enough for family, guests, and anybody who ‘just happens’ to stop by. And if you eat the shrimp tails, nobody knows how many shrimp you had.

“I always serve these with my cocktail sauce or pink sauce (see below for recipes).”


  • Fried Shrimp (Serves 10 to 12)

    • 3 lbs. medium-size shrimp

    • Gold Medal seasoning salt, to taste

    • 2 large eggs, beaten

    • 1 cup milk, whole or 2%

    • 2 cups self-rising flour, preferably White Lily

    • 2½ cups vegetable oil, plus more as needed


  1. Peel, devein, and wash the shrimp, leaving the tails attached. Drain the shrimp in a colander.

  2. Season the shrimp with seasoning salt to taste and place in a bowl.

  3. In a separate medium mixing bowl, mix the eggs and milk with a fork. Pour over the shrimp.

  4. Pour the flour into a brown paper bag. By hand, dip out enough shrimp for the first batch of frying and drop them into the bag. Be sure to flour the shrimp as they are cooked, not all at once.

  5. Close the top of the bag and shake the bag until the shrimp are coated.

  6. In a cast-iron skillet, heat the oil until very hot but not smoking.

  7. Place the shrimp in a single layer in the skillet and fry for 3 to 5 minutes. Do not overcook! Shrimp are easy to overcook. Drain the shrimp on a plate lined with a paper towel.

  8. Repeat this process until all the shrimp are fried, then serve immediately.

  9. Cocktail (Horseradish) Sauce: In a small mixing bowl, mix together 1 cup ketchup, 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice, ¼ tsp. sugar, and 2 tbsp. prepared horseradish. Cover and chill overnight.


  10. Pink Sauce: “The smooth texture and subtle taste make this a favorite on Edisto Island. People come by all the time just to get a bit of my sauce, and my children would ask me at the table, ‘Mommy, can I have some more pink sauce, please?’ It’s with good reason. This sauce is very versatile and goes with just about everything, from fried shrimp to fried green tomatoes.”

  11. In a large bowl, mix together 1 small onion, grated, 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. sugar, ½ cup mayonnaise, ⅓ cup ketchup, and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice.


Excerpt from the new book Gullah Geechee Homecooking: Recipes from The Matriarch of Edisto Island, by Emily Meggett, published by Abrams. Text © 2022 Emily Meggett. Photography by Clay Williams.