Pan-seared, tender Thai Shrimp Cakes with a golden panko crust served with creamy Chili Aioli. Simple, yet wildly flavorful, enjoy this 30 minute recipe as an appetizer or entree.
Why You'll Love these Thai Shrimp Cakes
Similar to a crab cake, yet more affordable and with easier ingredients to source, these shrimp cakes are a house favorite. A mix of sweet Thai chili sauce, chili-garlic sauce, and cilantro create a bright, bold flavor profile. The panko breading works two-fold by helping to bind the cakes and creating a crisp outer crust.
You can serve these shrimp cakes with a crisp green salad, or wedge them in a bun, seafood sandwich-style. Just don't skimp on the zesty Chili Aioli, which is the ultimate creamy counterpart.
Both kids and adults will love this simple, 30 minute weeknight meal.
Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions:
- Shrimp: Look for shrimp that are already peeled and deveined (or at least deveined and easy peel). Also, many are surprised to find out that the best shrimp are often in the freezer case. Usually what’s behind the seafood case was previously frozen anyway, so you can often get a better deal by purchasing frozen, and thawing on your own.
- Fish Sauce: If you’re not familiar, fish sauce is a fermented condiment typically made from anchovies with a super savory, umami punch. A little goes a LONG way in terms of saltiness and funky flavor, however it really creates the aromatic backbone of these cakes. Red Boat is my favorite brand–truly, nothing compares!
- Sweet Thai Chili Sauce: Another staple Thai condiment in my kitchen, sweet chili sauce does some heavy lifting in terms of flavor.
- Pepper + Onion: I love using shallots, however you can also use red onion or yellow onion here. You also need some chopped bell pepper--color of your choosing!
- Breadcrumbs: The panko breading works two-fold by helping to bind the cakes and creating a crisp outer crust. If you need a gluten free option, I like Ian's brand.
- Egg: One egg helps bind the mixture together. Just make you thoroughly whisk it before mixing it with the other ingredients.
- Herbs: You can use cilantro, Thai basil, or classic basil for the herb component of these cakes.
- Mayo: Mayo helps bind the cakes, while also ensuring they stay super tender. I prefer using this avocado oil-based mayonnaise, which offers more heart-healthy unsaturated fats.
- Aioli: Luckily, the chili aioli calls on many of the same ingredients as the Thai shrimp cakes. This includes mayo, sweet Thai chili sauce, sriracha, and lime juice. The only additional ingredient is sesame oil, which adds nutty depth of flavor.
Step 1: Combine Shrimp Cake Ingredients
In a large bowl, combine shrimp, red bell pepper, shallots, cilantro, egg, mayonnaise, sweet Thai chili sauce, fish sauce, sriracha, and ¾ cup of the panko. Mix well to combine, and let chill for 10 minutes.
Step 2: Prepare Chili Aioli
While the mixture chills, combine all aioli ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well to combine. Set aside.
Step 3: Form Mixture into Cakes and Dredge in Breadcrumbs
Remove mixture from fridge and use a ⅓ cup measure to scoop shrimp mixture and use your hands to carefully form 8 uniform patties. Transfer patties to a parchment lined baking sheet.
Pour remaining ¾ cup panko on a large rimmed plate. Carefully dredge each shrimp cake in panko, ensuring both sides are evenly coated. Transfer coated shrimp cakes back to parchment-lined baking sheet.
Step 3: Pan-Sear Shrimp Cakes
Heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add 4 shrimp cakes, evenly spacing them apart. Cook for 3 minutes, carefully flip with a spatula and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Place cooked cakes on a plate, add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and repeat the process with the last 4 cakes.
Serve cakes hot with Chili Aioli and fresh herbs, if desired.
FAQs and Expert Tips
Which Shrimp to Buy:
Here are some of my shrimp purchasing tips:
- 1. Buy Frozen. Since I live in a landlocked state without access to freshly caught shrimp, I prefer to buy shrimp frozen. Since it’s flash-frozen promptly after being caught, it is often better quality (for a better price) than what’s sitting in the seafood case. Buying frozen also gives you greater control over the defrosting process, since you can cook them immediately afterwards.
- 2. Look for raw (not precooked) shrimp that is deveined and either EZ-peel or already peeled. Deveining shrimp is a tedious, rather unsettling task, if you ask me! Also, for reference, raw shrimp is always gray-ish white, while cooked shrimp is pink.
What to Serve with Shrimp Cakes:
These Thai Shrimp Cakes can be enjoyed so many ways. Here are a few of my favorites:
- With a Crisp Green Salad: I love serving these over a bed of arugula with thin slices of red onion, chunks of mango, cilantro, and a simple rice vinegar dressing.
- In a Bun: If you've ever had a crab cake sandwich before, you know the gory of it! These shrimp cakes are NEXT-LEVEL served in a soft brioche bun with the chili aioli smattered on both sides of the bun to anchor the patty.
- As an Appetizer: You can form the shrimp mixture into 12 patties instead of 9 and serve them as two-bite treats.
How to Store and Reheat:
- To Store: Place leftover shrimp cakes in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat: These cakes reheat best in the toaster oven or air-fryer, which helps re-crisp their crust. Alternatively, you can reheat them in a skillet over medium-low heat until warmed through.
More Easy Shrimp Recipes to Try:
If you make this recipe, snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations. I also really appreciate readers taking the time to leave a rating and review!
Thai Shrimp Cakes with Chili Aioli
- Large skillet
- Mixing bowls
Thai Shrimp Cakes
- 1 lb. peeled and deveined raw medium shrimp
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs, divided
- ⅔ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
- ½ cup finely chopped shallots (about 1 medium shallot)
- 3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise (I use avocado oil based mayo)
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Thai sweet chili sauce
- 1 tsp. chili-garlic sauce (such as Sriracha)
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil (or avocado oil)
Chili Aioli (Optional)
- ½ cup mayonnaise (I use avocado oil based mayo)
- 2 Tbsp. Thai sweet chili sauce
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp. chili-garlic sauce (such as Sriracha)
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- Prepare Shrimp Cake Mixture:Remove and discard shrimp tails. Use a sharp chef's knife to very finely chop shrimp, or pulse in a food processor until finely chopped. (I prefer the texture using a food processor, however either method will work!)Place shrimp in a bowl, along with egg, ¾ cup panko, bell pepper, shallots, cilantro, mayonnaise, lime juice, fish sauce, Thai sweet chili sauce, and chili-garlic sauce (such as Sriracha). Mix until well-combined.Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- While shrimp mixture chills, prepare Chili Aioli by combining all aioli ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Place remaining ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs on a large rimmed plate. Remove shrimp mixture from fridge and use a ⅓ cup measure to carefully form mixture into 8 uniform patties; place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.Place each patty on plate with panko, and scatter with breadcrumbs until well-coated. Place coated shrimp cakes back on parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add 4 shrimp cakes, evenly spacing them apart. Cook for 3 minutes, carefully flip with a spatula and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Place cooked cakes on a plate, add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and repeat the process with the last 4 cakes.Serve cakes hot with Chili Aioli and fresh herbs, if desired.