How to make spiced prawn crackers from scratch

A far cry from the white, bland prawn crackers that have hardly any flavour at all, these ones, made entirely from scratch, are more like those lovely crackers you can get in good Thai restaurants.

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This is, for me, a first: I have never made prawn crackers before and fancied giving them a shot. I am so glad I did, as this is something I plan to return to again and again! This is a recipe adapted from several sources to include flavours I like.

In essence, the dough (made in moments) gets steamed, chilled overnight, sliced thinly, dried and deep-fried.

Don’t get put off making these!

If it all seems something of a faff, please don’t get put off: there is little hands-on time, they are easy to make and the flavour is far superior than any prawn crackers you can buy.

A dehydrator helps things along enormously, although drying the discs of dough in the oven works very effectively, too.

I have taken the basics of a standard recipe for prawn crackers – equal weights of tapioca flour and prawns blitzed together with enough water to bind them – but I have upped the flavour quotient somewhat to give the sort of prawn crackers I love to eat.

YouTube demonstration of this recipe

A quick demo showing the stages for making these prawn crackers can be found on my YouTube channel: spiced prawn crackers


I have gone very simple with the spices here, but I sometimes add a couple of teaspoons of shrimp paste, dried chilli or dried lemongrass to give extra oomph….

A mix and match affair is certainly in order, and you can use whatever spices you like. You can even keep the flavour very simple, though, by using just salt in the dough….

Recipe: spiced prawn crackers – serves 4 generously

For the dough:
  • 150g cooked, peeled prawns: king prawns, smaller prawns or a mixture.
  • 150g tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder (smoked garlic powder is wonderful, too)
  • 3 teaspoons ground white pepper
  • about 50ml cold water, to mix
For deep-frying:
  • vegetable oil

(1) Put the prawns in a food processor and pulse for a few moments until they become a paste. Add the remaining dough ingredients, apart from the water, and pulse for a minute or so until you have a very fine sandy texture.

(2) Add about 50ml water and pulse until you get a thick dough, adding more water if necessary: after a few moments of pulsing, the dough will start to come together to form a ball. You want a soft but not sticky dough that holds it shape rather than falls apart.

(3) Turn the dough onto the work surface and knead the dough for a few moments until smooth. Roll into a fat cylinder.

(4) Wrap the dough cylinder tightly in cling film. Steam for an hour before cooling and chilling overnight, still wrapped in the cling film.

NB: as it chills, the cooked dough will firm up to give a texture that is like soft plastic. It will also change colour to give a slightly deeper colour than before it was steamed. You can also freeze some of the dough if you prefer.

(5) Cut thin slices from the dough, cutting to about 1-2mm thick.

(6) Dry the slices in a dehydrator set to 60C for 4-5 hours or until fully dry: alternatively, place them on baking trays lined with parchment and pop in the oven set to 50C (fan oven).

NB: to test they are ready, they should feel very light, they will be firm and they will clatter.

(7) When dry, the spiced prawn discs can be stored in an airtight container until you are ready to deep-fry them. To deep-fry them, heat the oil to 190C and drop several at a time into the hot oil for about 1 minute until puffed up, giving them a turn part-way through.

(8) Remove from the oil, and drain on kitchen paper. Serve with a dip of choice.


Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

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