Shrimp Cakes

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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, jalapeño 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!

Shrimp Cakes

Shrimp Cakes Recipe

  • Yield: Makes six large cakes.


  • 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


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.

shrimp-cakes-method-2 shrimp-cakes-method-3

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

Showing 4 of 21 Comments

  • Suzy

    I made these tonight, I doubled the recipe but they were too soft. I may have needed to add more than 2x the breadcrumbs .. Just not sure. Any suggestions?

  • Maureen

    Hello Elise. Rather than toasting whole spices and grinding them (I don’t have a spice grinder and my blender is unlikely to satisfactorily grind such a small quantity) can pre-ground cumin and coriander be subbed? If yes, what quantities would you suggest?
    Thanks, Maureen

  • JESS

    Can they be made and frozen before cooking?

    I don’t see why not. ~Elise

  • 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!

  • 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!

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