Delicious Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp Recipe to Savor!

As soon as the first notes of “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan play on my stereo, I start preparing my favorite Vietnamese dish: Caramel Shrimp. This Vietnamese-style caramelized shrimp recipe is a delicious combination of sweet and savory flavors that takes your taste buds on a wild ride. You won’t be able to resist the aroma of caramel sauce made with brown sugar and fish sauce that will fill your kitchen.

If you are not a big fan of seafood, this dish will change your mind with its succulent shrimp, which is so tender that it melts in your mouth. The perfect balance between the sweetness of caramel and the salty fish sauce provides an absolutely mouth-watering effect. Furthermore, my secret ingredient, fresh ginger, adds a mild but refreshing zest to the dish.

In this recipe article, I will share not only the ingredients and steps for making Vietnamese-style caramel shrimp but also all of my tips and tricks for getting it just right. Whether you are cooking dinner for your family or inviting guests over for a special occasion, you’ll appreciate how easy it is to prepare this authentic Vietnamese food. Get ready to experience an explosion of flavors in every bite with this best-ever caramelized shrimp tom rim recipe!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp
Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp

Listen up folks, I want to tell you about the Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp Recipe that will blow your socks off. This recipe is perfect for those who are looking for a quick, yet delicious meal that will leave you craving for more. Trust me, this dish will be your new go-to weekday dinner.

Firstly, the combination of fresh ginger, garlic cloves and shallots adds a depth of flavor that is unmatched. The sweetness of brown sugar combined with fish sauce and coconut caramel creates the perfect balance of savory and sweet. It’s so good that you’ll find yourself sipping on the leftover sauce like it’s a soup.

Secondly, this recipe is versatile, allowing you to customize it to your liking. If you prefer spicy food, add some sliced Fresno or serrano chilies for an extra kick. You can also add more shrimp or pork to make it a heartier meal, or even switch out the protein entirely – it works wonders with seafood too.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, this dish can be whipped up in 20 minutes which makes it perfect for busy weeknights or when unexpected guests come over. You won’t have to scramble around for long hours in the kitchen to serve up an impressive meal.

In conclusion, whether you’re a fan of Vietnamese food or not or whether you’re an experienced home cook or a beginner, this Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp Recipe ticks all the boxes. The punchy flavors of this dish will knock your socks off – I guarantee it. Let’s get cooking!

Ingredient List

 Sweet and savory caramel shrimp with a crispy coating
Sweet and savory caramel shrimp with a crispy coating

Ingredients for Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need for this savory and sweet dish of caramelized shrimp:

  • Shrimp: I recommend using peeled, deveined shrimp for convenience. Fresh or frozen shrimp can be used interchangeably. Consider using medium to large size shrimp.

  • Fresh ginger and garlic cloves: These aromatic ingredients give the recipe a zesty flavor. Finely chop or grate the ginger and garlic before adding to the recipe.

  • Shallot: A type of onion that can be found in most grocery stores. It provides a mild onion flavor and delicate sweetness.

  • Fresno and Serrano chilies: These peppers add a little bit of spice to the dish, but can be adjusted depending on your preference. Remove the seeds if you prefer less heat.

  • Sugar: You’ll need both dark brown sugar and white sugar for this recipe. The sugars help create the “caramel” in caramel shrimp.

  • Fish sauce: This ingredient adds umami and saltiness to the dish. Look for fish sauce in the Asian section of your grocery store or online.

  • Water: Use water to help dissolve the sugar and thin out the sauce.

  • Coconut caramel sauce (optional): A decadent addition to this recipe, coconut caramel sauce offers an extra layer of sweetness and depth of flavor. Try making your own or purchase it from an Asian grocery store.

  • Fresh lime juice, cilantro, ground black pepper (optional): These ingredients are used for garnish and add freshness to the finished plate.

Note: This Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp Recipe can also be made with pork or other seafood such as scallops or squid. The use of fish sauce is essential in making many Vietnamese foods, like pho and bun cha, so don’t be afraid to give it a try!

The Recipe How-To

 Perfectly cooked shrimp swimming in a sea of delicious caramel sauce
Perfectly cooked shrimp swimming in a sea of delicious caramel sauce

Step 1: Gather All Ingredients

To start off this Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp Recipe, we have to get all the ingredients prepped up! For this recipe, you’ll need peeled and deveined shrimps, garlic cloves, fresh ginger, shallots, cilantro, fresh lime juice, fish sauce, water, and of course, some sugar for that sweet, sweet caramel.

Step 2: Make the Caramel Sauce

Next up, it’s time to create that iconic caramel taste! In a pan over medium-high heat, add ¼ cup of white sugar and cook until it turns into a dark brown color. Then, lower the heat and carefully pour ¼ cup of the hot water into the pan.

Be careful because it will fizzle and sizzle once you add some water. Stir until everything is evenly mixed before adding in 3 tbsp of fish sauce.

Step 3: Fry The Shrimp

Now we move on to the best part – frying up that delicious shrimp! Heat oil in a pan on high heat until it is hot enough. Once hot, toss in your garlic, ginger, and shallots in for an aromatic fry.

Then add the shrimp into the pan with 2 tablespoons of caramel sauce and let it simmer for around two to four minutes until they turn a beautiful pink color.

Step 4: Finish And Garnish

Once your shrimp is cooked perfectly, it’s time to finish the dish off! Add some freshly squeezed lime juice on top and sprinkle some chopped cilantro leaves for freshness. And voila, your Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp recipe is ready to be plated and served.

This dish can be perfectly paired with some fluffy white rice or even as a starter dish at a dinner party. So don’t waste any more time and give this recipe a try today!

Substitutions and Variations

 A close-up shot of caramel shrimp garnished with cilantro and sesame seeds
A close-up shot of caramel shrimp garnished with cilantro and sesame seeds

If you’re looking to switch things up a bit, there are many variations and substitutions that can be made to make this Vietnamese caramel shrimp recipe your own.

For the caramel sauce, you can use brown sugar instead of white sugar for a richer taste. Adding soy sauce is another alternative as it helps give the caramel sauce a more umami flavor.

If you want to try it with another protein instead of shrimp, pork is a popular choice in Vietnam. A traditional Vietnamese caramelized pork belly recipe is braised in a similar sauce to this recipe using fish sauce, sugar, and water.

For those allergic to seafood or prefer vegan options, try substituting the shrimp with fried tofu or seitan. Other seafood like scallops or mussels can also work well.

To add some heat, you can include sliced Fresno or Serrano chilies while stir-frying the garlic and ginger. For those looking for a milder taste, omit the chilies altogether.

Lastly, for a twist on the classic coconut caramel shrimp dish, try adding shredded coconut to the pan when simmering the shrimp for an added layer of texture and flavor.

The beauty of Vietnamese cuisine is its versatility and creativity in adapting dishes to any preference. Experiment with different ingredients and see what works best for your taste buds!

Serving and Pairing

 Tangy and sweet shrimp glazed with caramel sauce
Tangy and sweet shrimp glazed with caramel sauce

Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp is a flavorful dish that pairs perfectly with steamed white rice or even some wilted greens. This dish is a great option for those who enjoy seafood, as the shrimp are the star of the show, but it’s also perfect for those who enjoy the tender bites of pork.

The caramelized shrimp tom rim Vietnamese style has a sweet and savory taste, thanks to the combination of fish sauce, sugar, and soy sauce. To balance out its sweet flavor, the dish is typically served with some fresh cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. This adds a refreshing taste to the rich and hearty notes of the caramel shrimp.

While this recipe is undoubtedly delicious on its own, you can level up your dining experience by pairing it up with other Vietnamese delicacies such as fried shrimp or garlic shrimp. Other seafood dishes like coconut shrimp will also work well as side dishes, so don’t hesitate to experiment with what you have in your kitchen!

If you’re looking for something more substantial, try serving this dish alongside steamed white rice or some stir-fried vegetables like bok choy or gai lan (Chinese kale). The bitter green flavor perfectly complements the sweetness of the caramel sauce to bring out an overall balanced and delightful taste.

Whether you’re looking forward to hosting a family dinner or craving for some satisfying comfort food, this caramelized shrimp tom rim Vietnamese style is versatile enough to serve in many ways but has no shortage of flavors that will leave your guests wanting more.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A mouthwatering dish that's worth the sticky fingers
A mouthwatering dish that’s worth the sticky fingers

As much as I love making caramel shrimp fresh off the stove, I know that some of you dear readers may want to make this dish ahead of time or have leftovers for later. Luckily, this Vietnamese caramel shrimp recipe stores and reheats quite well.

If you want to make the caramel sauce ahead of time, go right ahead! Simply store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. When you are ready to use it again, just microwave it briefly or warm it up on the stove over low heat until it becomes pourable again.

The shrimp can also be cooked ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to three days in an airtight container. Just reheat the shrimp and caramel sauce together over low heat on the stove until they are nicely warmed through.

If you want to freeze your caramel shrimp, let it cool completely before packing it into an airtight container or zip-top bag. It will keep well in the freezer for up to two months. Defrost the shrimp overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

When rewarming frozen shrimp, I recommend transferring them from the freezer directly into the wok with caramel sauce. Cook them over high heat for several minutes until they are steaming hot and completely thawed. Avoid refreezing any previously frozen seafood like shrimp, as doing so will compromise quality and texture.

Remember that if you do choose to make your caramel shrimp ahead of time or with leftovers in mind, give yourself plenty of time to warm everything back up thoroughly so that each succulent bite is full of Vietnamese-style caramelized flavor.

Tips for Perfect Results

 A Vietnamese twist on classic sweet and sour shrimp
A Vietnamese twist on classic sweet and sour shrimp

One of the challenging parts about making Vietnamese caramel shrimp is achieving the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and savory flavors. To help you impress your taste buds, here are a few tips for making the perfect caramelized shrimp:

First, make sure to devein and peel the shrimp properly. This will prevent them from tasting gritty or rubbery. You can also butterfly the shrimp if you prefer a more elegant presentation.

Next, be generous with the sauce. The caramel sauce should evenly coat each piece of shrimp, so it’s important to stir-fry them in small batches rather than all at once.

When cooking the shrimp, don’t overcook them. Overcooked shrimp can become tough and rubbery. Instead, cook them just until they turn pink and curl up slightly.

Another key element to achieving perfectly caramelized shrimp is using the right kind of sugar. Dark brown sugar works best due to its molasses content that adds an extra depth of flavor to the dish.

Take caution when handling chilies – their juices can cause severe burning sensations on your skin or in your eyes. Make sure to wear gloves when handling and avoid touching your face or eyes.

Finally, garnish generously with fresh cilantro and lime wedges to add a refreshing touch of acidity to balance out the sweetness from caramel sauce.

By following these simple tips, you will have succulent and flavorful Vietnamese caramel shrimp that would make any restaurant proud!


As we finish off our caramel shrimp recipe, we realize that it is quite possible for some folks to be a little confused about certain steps in the dish preparation. Therefore, we have prepared a list of frequently asked questions that will clarify any doubts or difficulties. Hopefully, this will help you cook up a storm and enjoy a delicious Vietnamese-style caramel shrimp meal.

What is Vietnamese shrimp called?

Vietnam’s coastal regions are home to a plentiful supply of mantis shrimps. In local dialects, these creatures are referred to as bề bề or tôm tít, while the ones found in Nha Trang have been aptly named bàn chải due to their resemblance to a scrub brush. Various cooking methods can be applied to these shrimps, including steaming, boiling, grilling, and drying, and they can be seasoned with a range of ingredients such as pepper, salt, lime, fish sauce, tamarind, or fennel.

Bottom Line


In conclusion, this Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp recipe is a must-try for anyone who enjoys seafood or Vietnamese cuisine. The perfect balance of sweetness and saltiness, combined with the succulent texture of shrimp, creates a delectable dish that is sure to please even the most discerning palates. Whether you are a beginner cook or a seasoned chef, making this dish is easy and its versatility allows you to customize it to suit your preferences.

So what are you waiting for? Prepare yourself for an unforgettable culinary experience by following these simple instructions and enjoy the taste of Vietnam in your own home. Don’t forget to share your experience with family and friends; they too deserve to indulge in this irresistible Vietnamese-style caramel shrimp dish that will make them beg for more. So grab your apron, turn on your stove and let’s make the best caramel shrimp recipe yet!

Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp

Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp Recipe

From Serve with jasmine rice.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Vietnamese
Calories 156 kcal


  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro


  • Place sugar and water in a small pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Swirl pan occasionally (do not stir) until the caramel reaches a dark golden brown. Watch carefully to prevent burning. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add shallot, garlic, ginger and chili. Saute 3-5 minutes until vegetables soften and shallots are translucent.
  • Add the shrimp and 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce. Add fish sauce, lime juice and black pepper. Simmer until the shrimp curl and turn pink, 2-4 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, stir in sesame oil and cilantro and serve over jasmine rice.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 161gCalories: 156kcalCarbohydrates: 9.5gProtein: 16.2gFat: 5.7gSaturated Fat: 0.7gCholesterol: 142.9mgSodium: 1350.1mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 6.8g
Keyword < 30 Mins, Asian, Savory, Stove Top, Sweet, Vietnamese
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