Shrimp Cakes

One of our hands-down favorite recipes is this one for shrimp cakes. My father pulled the original recipe from Bon Appetit magazine years ago, which he has since changed just ever so slightly. Dad doesn’t even like shrimp, and usually refuses to eat it, but he loves making and eating these shrimp cakes. The base is made with sweet potatoes and they are seasoned with spices, jalapeno chiles and cilantro. This really is one of the best recipes on this site, so if you have even an inkling for making these, do it!

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Shrimp Cakes Recipe

  • Yield: Makes six large cakes.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb tan-skinned sweet potatoes
  • 4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 4 Tbsp (or more) vegetable oil
  • 8 oz peeled, cooked shrimp, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2/3 cup finely ground breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped pickled or fresh jalapeños
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons spice mix (recipe included below)
  • Flour for dusting (1/2 to 1 cup)

Spice Mix Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
  • 3 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Method

Spice Mix Method

Add cumin seeds, peppercorns, and coriander to a heavy medium skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 8 minutes. Let cool a few minutes. Grind spices in a blender or spice grinder (can use a coffee grinder that has been cleaned by grinding raw rice) until finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl, stir in sugar and salt. Makes about half a cup. You'll only need 1 1/2 teaspoons of the spice mix for one shrimp cakes recipe, so store the remainder for future use.

Shrimp Cakes Method

1 Pierce sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Bake in microwave for about 15 minutes until done. Rub one tablespoon of oil over unpeeled garlic. Cook in microwave a few minutes, until soft. Let the garlic and sweet potatoes cool enough to handle. Peel the garlic. Cut the sweet potato in half and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh. Combine the cooked sweet potato and garlic in a bowl and mash until smooth.

2 Add the shrimp, cilantro, breadcrumbs, jalapeño, onion, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the Spice Mix. Mix until well blended. Season with salt. Use your hands to form the mixture into six patties, 3-inches in diameter.

3 Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly dust the shrimp cakes in flour. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook the shrimp cakes until nicely browned, adding more oil as needed, about 2 minutes per side. Place the shrimp cakes on a baking sheet. Bake until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Tastes great served with lemon, tartar sauce, and coleslaw.

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Adapted ever so slightly from Shrimp and Sweet Potato Cakes with Chaote Slaw and Chipotle Sauce, a Bon Appetit recipe on Epicurious.com.

18 Comments

  1. Amy

    We tried these last night, with some minor substitutions, but the same quantities. The only problem we had was with the cakes not being very solid. They tended to fall apart, especially when moving them from the pre-cooked stage to the frying pan, but also later. Any ideas what I did wrong, or is this expected with this recipe?
    Thanks!
    -Amy

  2. Elise

    Hi Amy,
    They shouldn’t fall apart. What you may do is after you form the patties, refrigerate them for an hour first, before cooking. That should help them hold together.

  3. beyonduplication

    I just made this, with some cole slaw…. it was wonderful! My husband and both my children LOVED them. My six year old asked for seconds and my 19 month old had 3 of them, believe it or not.
    I followed the recipe to the letter, I wouldn’t change a thing. Perfect!

  4. friedapplepie

    I had half a pound of salmon and two ears of corn to get rid of tonight, so I threw that in there instead of the shrimp. The flavors were awesome and everyone loved the salmon and corn cakes. thanks!

  5. runnercyclist

    I prepared these tonight and my wife and I absolutely loved these! I was a bit sceptical about microwaving the sweet potatoes but they turned out perfect! Fantastic recipe. Thanks!

  6. Ashley

    I am looking forward to making these shrimp cakes for Christmas Eve, and was wondering if you could let me know if they will be ok if I make them a day in advance?
    Thanks so much!
    I love your recipes on your site and when I saw that you mentioned that this was your favorite, I couldn’t resist!

    Hi Ashley, it should be okay if you form the patties in advance and refrigerate them. Cook right before serving. ~Elise

  7. Lynne

    When I saw this recipe, I was reminded of a Filipino shrimp fritter recipe called “ukoy” that I have not had in a long time. It called for same ingredients- sweet potato and shrimp- shaped into patties and fried. I think this recipe is an upscale version of the ukoy – with the blend of garlic, onions, cilanthro and the spices. My family and I loved it. I did not have jalopena chili and did not want to substitute, so I skipped it. We ate it with avocado and tomato salad, and they worked well together. Thank you for posting this recipe. I like all the recipes I have used from your blog, and I thank you and your parents for sharing them with the rest of us. Have bookmarked your blog.

  8. anisha

    I have uncooked shrimp in the freezer. Would I be able to pan fry the shrimp in olive oil until opaque for the recipe? It looks delicious!

    I would recommend steaming them, or boiling then draining. ~Elise

  9. Purvis

    I had the following ingredients that needed to be used up: frozen shrimp, yukon gold potatoes, and panko bread crumbs. And lo and behold, I found this recipe! Mmmmm….. sooo gooooood.. Thank you!

  10. Purvis

    Oh, but I have to say that when I nuked the garlic for a couple of minutes, they came out charred. I put new ones in the microwave and took them out after 15 seconds. That seemed to be enough. Not sure what happened there.

    Also, I have to say that I wasn’t very hopeful about these when I tasted the pre-cooked mix. But after it came out of the oven, the potato was sooo CREAMY!! The texture and taste was just right. My husband loved these too, and especially liked the cilantro.

  11. elyse

    These sound wonderful but…..I can’t stand cilantro. Any suggestions for an alternative ?

    I would suggest parsley. ~Elise

  12. Pam

    I was searching for recipes and came across your site today. I was so thrilled I did! I made your dad’s Shrimp Cakes for dinner. My husband who enjoys seafood thought they were delicious. We both commented on the combination of ingredients, sweet potatoes, cilantro, shrimp, garlic and spices; a wonderful blend of flavors. I served them with tartar sauce and cole slaw on the side as suggested but these Shrimp Cakes were so delicious, they were perfect just they way they were. Thanks for the recipe and your blog!

  13. Hai

    My boyfriend and I loved them. Thanks for the recipe.

  14. Erin

    Can I substitute olive oil for the vegetable oil?

    Yes. ~Elise

  15. Judy

    Can someone tell me how many medium sized shrimp would be equivalent to 8 oz? I always have problems figuring the conversion.

    Thanks.

  16. abby

    i had to make some substitutions with whatever i had on hand…i used trader joe’s langostino tails, green onion instead of cilantro (husband is allergic), made the tartar sauce to go with them, and they were INCREDIBLE. we loved them!

    elise, i have read your blog for years. thank you so much for everything you do for this blog and for us–your recipes are truly wonderful. i have a gluten/casein/potato (but ok with sweet ones!) free lifestyle for health purposes, and once i learned the art of substitution for all these things, working with your recipes became a snap. thanks again!

  17. Kristin

    Made it tonight–delicious! Thanks, Elise, for the wonderful recipes. I’ve been using your site regularly for about five years, and I check just about every day to see if you’ve posted a new recipe. Always reliable, approachable, and tasty recipes. Cheers, and keep up the good work!
    –Kristin

  18. JESS

    Can they be made and frozen before cooking?

    I don’t see why not. ~Elise

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