How to make Cajun Popcorn

JamieTurner Mar 3, 2008 Food
This variation is from the original recipe made famous by Paul Prudhomme, the Cajun culinary god. The New Orleans dish is so named because they’re eaten by the handful, just like popcorn. Because crawfish tails are not widely available, this dish is more likely to be made with small-sized 60-80 shrimp, usually called popcorn shrimp (the numbers refer to the piece count per pound). You can use which ever shellfish you choose or that is available, the recipe remains the same in either case. Serves 8 as an appetizer, or 3 to 4 as an entrée.

Things you’ll need

  • large heavy bottom pot or deep-fat fryer
  • deep frying or candy thermometer
  • slotted metal spoon
  • large paper or plastic bag
  • 2 lbs. crawfish tails partially cooked, shelled, OR:
  • 2 lbs. raw shrimp, 60-80 size, shelled, cleaned, without tails
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 qt. vegetable oil
  • coarse sea salt to taste


  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano


  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup finely ground cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Procedure Steps

  1. Blend the seasoning mixture ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Toss the crawfish or shrimp in the seasoning mix. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  2. When ready to cook, heat the oil in the pot or fryer until it reaches 375 degrees. While the oil is heating, combine all of the ingredients for the coating together in the bag. Close and shake well to mix.
  3. Remove the shellfish from the refrigerator and sprinkle the water over them to moisten each piece. Add the shellfish to the bag, close twist and close tightly and shake well.
  4. Open the bag and carefully put just one handful of the crayfish or shrimp into the fryer. Cook each batch for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they are golden brown and crunchy. Remove with the slotted spoon and drain onto paper towels. 
  5. Continue frying the rest of the shellfish, batch by batch, until all are finished. Sprinkle the Cajun Popcorn with the sea salt and serve immediately.


  • If you don’t have sea salt you can substitute regular table salt, but just remember to use less because it’s much saltier that the better quality sea salt.
  • To keep the oil from dipping below 350 degrees, it may take several batches before all of the shellfish are cooked.
  • Don’t allow the shellfish to clump up in the fryer. Carefully stir with the spoon or shake the fryer basket to separate any pieces that are stuck together.
  • If you’re not sure if the shellfish is completely cooked, remove one from the fryer and carefully cut it open to see that it’s not raw inside.
  • Enjoy this as an appetizer or keep eating until you’re stuffed for a regular meal.
  • Serve with green Tabasco and a bottle of Dixie beer.


  • Dropping the shellfish into the hot oil can cause splashes that can easily burn your hand if you’re not careful. Use the spoon to put the batches into the oil if you’re unsure.
  • Cooking anything in a deep-fat fryer or “mock” fryer (in a large pot) can be very hazardous. Watch out that you never spill any oil over the side and into the burner as this will cause an immediate fire danger. For safety’s sake, it’s always best to keep a fire extinguisher on hand when frying.
  • To keep from burning your hand, use oven mitts when handling the hot fryer.


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  • Last Updated : Mar 3, 2008