The Ultimate Ranking Of Chain Restaurant Fried Shrimp, According To Reviews

While there are a million ways to enjoy juicy shrimp, there is something irresistible about fried shrimp. When done right, they're magically juicy and soft on the inside but crunchy on the outside.

But when done wrong, they can be a tragedy, with soggy breading, salty batter, mushy shrimp, or a detestable fishy odor. The best fried shrimp dishes use fresh, tender shrimp and a thoughtful breading ratio to create an impeccably balanced flavor and texture.

From coconut to bang bang to spicy to barbecue shrimp, some of your favorite chain restaurants serve their version of fried shrimp. However, not all of these fried shrimp dishes will satisfy. This list ranks the fried shrimp at popular chain restaurants according to reviews on sites like Tripadvisor and Yelp. The rankings were assigned based on flavor and texture, first and foremost, followed by portion size, shrimp size, and shrimp freshness to help you find the best fried shrimp near you.

17. Applebee's: Double Crunch Shrimp

While Applebee's has dubbed its fried shrimp the Double Crunch Shrimp, a common complaint among customers is the lack of crispiness in the batter. Some orders come with 12 shrimp, which sounds generous, but the shrimp are disappointingly small.

On Reddit, one commenter described the shrimp: "It's the most average shrimp I ever tasted ... just breading with shrimp." Some customers said the fried shrimp used to be better, but the restaurant has now swapped out medium-sized shrimp with measly ones. The batter, which should have a delightful crunch, quickly becomes soggy and soft. People have lamented that they peeled the batter off in an attempt to enjoy the shrimp solo. Sadly, the shrimp underneath aren't much better, with a strange gooey texture coating the shrimp and a horrible flavor that had some diners worried the seafood was rancid.

The most positive reviews concerning the Double Crunch Shrimp stated they were mediocre. The worst described the fried shrimp as completely inedible.

16. TGI Fridays: Fried Shrimp

The TGI Fridays' Fried Shrimp misses the mark for most customers. With only six pieces in every order and shrimp that are much too small, most people feel the dish is stingy and unfulfilling. The plate is somewhat deceptive, as the tiny shrimps are egregiously covered in an excessively greasy batter.

As one customer on Tripadvisor put it, the overwhelming amount of batter is put there "obviously in an attempt to hide the little shrimp," making the entire dish feel lazy and cheap. Even if the shrimp-to-batter ratio was more balanced, the shrimp are still minuscule, and the batter is underwhelming and covered in smelly oil. According to other Tripadvisor reviews, shrimp from TGI Fridays can be appetizing, but the fried shrimp is an example of how the seafood at this chain restaurant can go very wrong.

The shrimp are often ordered as an add-on to a more robust meal, like a steak dinner. Some customers seem to be more forgiving of the unexceptional shrimp when it's not the star of the meal.

15. Hooters: Buffalo Shrimp

The Hooters Buffalo Shrimp stands out from other fried shrimp because of the zesty and hot Buffalo sauce flavor that the dish has. The main reason this fried shrimp dish doesn't fall lower on the list is that there are many Buffalo fanatics who praise it. One fan of the fried shrimp wrote on Yelp: "You get the seafood, spicy and friedness all in one." Some customers say the Buffalo is mild and could use more of a kick. But most say the Buffalo sauce is plenty spicy for them, bringing a nice element of heat to the dish.

Aside from the heat level, people enjoy the Buffalo sauce because it has a creamy and thick texture, unlike some watery hot sauces that drip everywhere. The crunchy breading and fiery Buffalo sauce are the main draws that keep people coming back for these shrimp, but the shrimp themselves are lackluster.

Some customers reported that the shrimp were overcooked, causing an unpleasant, rubbery texture that substantially dragged down the quality. In the end, Buffalo lovers may enjoy them, but most people find them subpar.

14. The Cheesecake Factory: Fried Shrimp Platter

The Cheesecake Factory is known for its large portions, but the quality of its food is often up for debate. Its Fried Shrimp Platter has about eight fried shrimp, coleslaw, and French fries. Even though there are only eight shrimp, they are decently sized, and the overall portion is satisfying.

However, these fried shrimp are butterflied, making them look heftier than they actually are. The shrimp are also heavily coated in batter, so the shrimp-to-breading ratio is not ideal. Some find the texture acceptable, but others complained that the coating became soggy and mushy, making the entire dish a gloopy disaster.

One of the worst complaints concerning the Fried Shrimp Platter is the freshness of the shrimp, with one Yelp reviewer saying: "I could barely finish one piece of shrimp due to the overwhelming fishy odor. This was definitely not fresh."

Sadly, some customers have said the shrimp at The Cheesecake Factory used to be sensational but have significantly gone downhill in recent years. The butterflied preparation satisfies some customers, but more people think this quality makes this dish a must-avoid.

13. Cracker Barrel: Country Fried Shrimp

While certain folks go to Cracker Barrel specifically to enjoy the Country Fried Shrimp, others have been woefully disappointed by the dish. The biggest issue with Cracker Barrel's fried shrimp meal is the lack of consistency between locations and customer visits. One customer reports that the portion is plentiful. However, others report that their meal came with a pitiful three or four pieces.

People lamented that they once enjoyed large, juicy fried shrimp at Cracker Barrel, making it all the more disheartening when they were brought small shrimps with a humdrum flavor. On occasion, the shrimp also comes out obviously overcooked, with a dark brown breading and tough, hard shrimp. A review on Yelp wrote: "Darker brown, but the shrimp inside was as crunchy as the outside." While these problems come up for some people, others still say that Country Fried Shrimp is a tasty and robust dish that satisfies, even if it doesn't excite.

12. Olive Garden: Shrimp Fritto Misto

The fried shrimp dishes at these chain restaurants can be basic and dull, with a straightforward flavor profile that doesn't inspire or excite. For this reason, the Shrimp Fritto Misto from Olive Garden ranks higher on the list, offering a more interesting taste with fried onions, peppers, flavorful side sauces, and zesty seasoning.

The shrimp are on the smaller side but not ridiculously tiny. As far as quality and flavor, the shrimp quality is fine but not amazing, and the flavor can be too potent for some. One customer on Reddit said the appetizer was a "decent value but the breading was rather overly salty when I had it." The side sauces — classic marinara and spicy ranch — elevate the dish and make it more enticing.

Customers particularly enjoy the kick of the spicy ranch with the flavorful shrimp. You get more than half a pound of shrimp and mix-ins, and the large size makes this an extremely filling main course or a wonderful appetizer for a group to share.

11. Outback Steakhouse: Bloomin' Fried Shrimp

If you're familiar with Outback Steakhouse's fried Bloomin' Onion, then you know what to expect with the Bloomin' Fried Shrimp. The two appetizers use the exact same batter and seasoning, which fans of the Bloomin' Onion love.

One Yelp reviewer mentioned they were thrilled to have this seafood option, saying: "I'm not a fan of onions so this was a great alternative to the blooming onion." The shrimp are an average size that leans toward the smaller side but aren't too tiny for most customers. Outback Steakhouse describes them as "bite-sized," so they are not claiming the pieces are massive.

The appetizer comes in a generous portion, whether it's a shared starter or a solo main course. The well-seasoned shrimp are drizzled with the classic spicy bloom sauce, which complements the Bloomin' blend of flavors. Overall, the texture of the crispy batter and tender shrimp are well-received. So, this is an excellent option for folks who love the piquant and savory flavor of the signature Bloomin' spice mix.

10. 99 Restaurants: New England Fried Shrimp

The 99 Restaurants chain is often compared to places like Applebee's and TGI Fridays, but the company's fried shrimp seems to trump the shrimp at those two restaurants. The New England Fried Shrimp here is a favorite of some customers, and people say the shrimp flavor is prominent and fresh.

A review on Tripadvisor explained: "You could actually taste the shrimp and not the coating." Many fried shrimp dishes at restaurant chains rely too heavily on the batter, both in flavor and portion size, but the 99's fried shrimp is more balanced and authentically shrimpy. It's served with coleslaw, fries, and a sweet cocktail sauce, but the shrimp are undoubtedly the star of the dish. People describe the batter as light and crispy, offering a fried dish that isn't too heavy or greasy.

But the shrimp are small, and the portion is average. While the batter, texture, flavor, and freshness are all praised, the portion size and shrimp size are subpar, causing this fried shrimp dish to rank in the lower half of the list.

9. Red Lobster: Walt's Favorite Shrimp

Red Lobster is all about seafood, so some people expect more from the chain's famous fried shrimp dish, which is called Walt's Favorite Shrimp. You get around five decent-sized pieces of shrimp served with tangy cocktail sauce.

While the portion is much smaller than other fried shrimp dishes, many find the serving enough to satisfy them. Unlike many other chain restaurant fried shrimp dishes, Walt's Favorite Shrimp is served with the tails on, making it slightly more appealing to seafood lovers. Some people rave about the shrimp, such as one Tripadvisor reviewer who said: "My favorite dish is their Walt's favorite shrimp!" But others are not as impressed. The fried shrimp have been described as dry, which one does not expect at a seafood restaurant.

People generally enjoy the flavor and batter of this dish, saying it's a familiar taste with a pleasant crispiness on the outside. However, there have been some complaints that the batter is too salty. Overall, most people like the dish but aren't particularly excited by it.

8. Red Robin: Tsunami Shrimp

Red Robin totes itself as a burger restaurant, but people find its fried shrimp dish unique and well-executed. The Tsunami Shrimp are visually appealing, with a shiny sauce and sprinkling of sesame seeds, served on a bed of ruffled potato chips. 

These rank higher on the list because of their unique flavor and sticky sauce that sets them apart from the more generic fried shrimp offerings. The sweet and spicy sauce is flavorful and tickles the taste buds, can be a bit divisive. A customer reviewed the shrimp on YouTube, reporting: "Panko crumbs make it very crispy ... you do get some heat." The spiciness does not appeal to everyone, but people who enjoy it seem to be head over heels for the rich taste.

It's also commendable that the shrimp retain their crispiness even when doused in this thick sauce. With a generous portion and medium-sized shrimp, most customers who order the Tsunami Shrimp leave happy.

7. Ruby Tuesday: Coconut Shrimp

Ruby Tuesday's Coconut Shrimp are beloved by coconut fanatics because the nutty, sweet flavor of coconut is unapologetic. The shrimp are thickly battered with a crunchy coating loaded with coconut flakes.

While some fried shrimp dishes go overboard with the batter, the ratio on this appetizer is well-received and puts the coconut at the forefront of the flavor profile. Unfortunately, it seems that the batter receives more care and attention than the shrimp themselves. One dissatisfied patron said that although the batter was nice and crispy outside, the shrimp beneath the breading was painfully overcooked to the point that it was just mush surrounded by crunchy coconut. The shrimp being overcooked was not a one-off complaint, as several diners lamented about this.

With only a handful of shrimp, some feel the portion is stingy, especially for the price. A customer left a review on Grubhub explaining their unsatisfactory experience. "Serious buyer's remorse when they deliver a five shrimp appetizer that costs more than a meal," they wrote.

6. Yard House: Firecracker Shrimp

Yard House's fried shrimp appetizer has an interesting and extraordinary flavor that makes it stand out to many diners. The Firecracker Shrimp are fried tempura-style, coated in a sweet chili sriracha sauce, and served on top of a crispy rice cake with herbs.

These are a favorite among some patrons, with one Tripadvisor reviewer declaring: "Its worth a visit just for the firecracker shrimp." The spicy sauce has a lot of heat, which isn't for everyone but thrills spice lovers looking for a kick. Unlike many fried shrimp dishes, the shrimp in this appetizer are large, making them more succulent and tender.

While some are disappointed that the starter only comes with about five to six shrimp, others think it's filling enough to be a whole meal. If this dish had more shrimp, it would likely rank higher. Even though sweet and spicy sauces can be somewhat divisive, almost everyone who has reviewed the Firecracker Shrimp raved about the mouthwatering and hot flavor.

5. Bahama Breeze: Firecracker Shrimp

Bahama Breeze has a Firecracker Shrimp on the menu featuring a sriracha aioli drizzle. Customers rave about the decidedly crispy batter and the soft, juicy shrimp that taste fresh and flavorful. Even people disappointed by the rest of their Bahama Breeze meal recommend the Firecracker Shrimp because of its distinct flavor and bright sauces.

There are a few complaints about this appetizer, but some did say the portions between locations are inconsistent. Aside from that, people have nothing but adoring things to say about this dish. One Yelp reviewer said: "The sauce was such a complimenting touch to the dish. The shrimp was lightly battered and juicy." Diners are not afraid to call this appetizer a must-order and have confidently labeled the Firecracker Shrimp as the best item on the menu.

Bahama Breeze is all about island flavors and fresh ingredients, and those shine in this popular fried shrimp starter. While many people also like the Coconut Shrimp from Bahama Breeze. The Firecracker Shrimp has something special about it that keeps people coming back for more.

4. LongHorn Steakhouse: Wild West Shrimp

The Wild West Shrimp from LongHorn Steakhouse is a hot shrimp dish that people say positive things about. This appetizer comes with spicy cherry peppers and a drizzle of garlic butter served with ranch on the side.

The spicy peppers give the dish some heat without making every bite of shrimp incredibly hot, catering to people who like heat and those who don't. The portion is very generous, with some customers saying it's more than enough for a meal. While this chain restaurant is a steakhouse, the Wild West Shrimp was a pleasant surprise for some. One Tripadvisor review said: "Funny to say that the best shrimp appetizer I've had is at a Western style Steak house, but this is the real thing."

This customer-favorite offers a large portion, but the shrimp themselves are small, with customers describing them as popcorn shrimp that are perfectly bite-sized. The crispy and flavorful shrimp are popular, and people have few complaints about this starter.

3. Ruth's Chris Steak House: Spicy Shrimp

Ruth's Chris Steak House is famous for its steak, but plenty of people visit just to enjoy the Spicy Shrimp appetizer. While the appetizer is clearly labeled spicy, customers report it's mild, making it appealing to a wider audience.

While the delicate and crispy coating is described as having a nice texture with the right amount of crunch, some advise diners only to order it if they're partial to shrimp covered in sauce. A Yelp reviewer said: "If you like saucy and spicy shrimp, that dish will probably be your jam." The spicy cream sauce covers all the shrimp, ensuring every bite is vibrant and delectable.

Ruth's Chris Steak House fried shrimp portion is decent, with between 10 and 12 pieces per order, and the shrimp are moderately sized, somewhere between popcorn and jumbo. However, very few online reviews mention the shrimp or portion size, as people are obsessed with the rich and unique flavor that makes their mouths water.

2. Bonefish Grill: Bang Bang Shrimp

Bonefish Grill has two fried shrimp appetizers: Crispy Fried Shrimp and Bang Bang Shrimp. While both are always well-executed and yummy, the online reviews show the Bang Bang Shrimp as the clear winner.

One Tripadvisor review sums up why people love this fried shrimp dish, saying: "The shrimp was crispy and spicy and cooked to perfection." Even people who tend to avoid seafood admit that the Bang Bang Shrimp is enjoyable and tasty. The signature spicy cream sauce that coats the shrimp delivers a noticeable but thoughtful amount of heat; some find the dish too hot for their tastes, but more people say the spice is profoundly brilliant. If you want a fried shrimp dish that packs a punch, this is it.

Beyond the flavorful sauce and crunchy coating, the medium-sized shrimp are sensationally fresh with a juicy and tender texture. While not everyone may want a spicy, fried appetizer, everyone who reviewed this shrimp praises the overall quality and execution.

1. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.: Dumb Luck Coconut Shrimp

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. prides itself on serving a wide variety of exquisite and inviting shrimp dishes, so it makes sense one of its shrimp dishes takes the number one spot on the list. The Dumb Luck Coconut Shrimp checks many boxes for shrimp and coconut lovers.

They've become a favorite of some customers, with many returning just to enjoy the succulent and nutty shrimp that always hit the spot. Even some customers who aren't usually excited about coconut find these shrimp irresistible, showcasing how exquisite the flavor profile is. However, the bold coconut flavor and abundance of coconut flakes can deter some people, so it's definitely a dish geared toward coconut fans.

Aside from the fabulous flavor and texture, people rave about the generous portions that leave them wholly satisfied. Each order comes with at least six large shrimp. One Tripadvisor reviewer exclaimed: "I had the coconut shrimp and they were the size of tennis balls," so these jumbo shrimp are much more substantial than most fried shrimp dishes from chain restaurants.