Bite into one of these air fryer coconut shrimp, golden brown and crispy, and you’ll know why you have an air fryer! Quick, easy, guilt-free.

A pile of coconut shrimp on a plate with dipping sauce.

Perfectly cooked shrimp encased in a flaky, crunchy coconut coating is exactly what you’re looking for in this delightful appetizer. The air fryer once again is a winner when it comes to “frying” perfectly, with barely any added oil, merely a light spritz of cooking spray. 

Even if you’re not a huge shrimp fan, this recipe may win you over. The coconut breading is slightly sweet and tropical, and the flavor intensifies as the coconut toasts during the cooking process. Shrimp, coconut, and a zingy sweet chili sauce equals some really good eating.

While coconut shrimp is normally served as an appetizer, it makes an equally fantastic entree, served with cilantro-lime jasmine rice, sugar snap peas, or roasted sweet potato wedges with Chinese five spice. Or serve the shrimp with a salad. It would be great with this mango slaw or a Thai freekah salad with peanut ginger dressing. 

Two crispy shrimp in front of a plate full of more.

About this recipe

I don’t know why but making coconut shrimp always seemed a bit intimidating. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s really quite easy. And, if it doesn’t seem too much like bragging, I think this coconut shrimp is way better than its restaurant cousins.

You can see by the short list of ingredients below that this recipe isn’t complicated. You may have everything you need already in your pantry and freezer. I almost always have shrimp in the freezer because it’s so perfect for quick dinners. It takes only a few minutes to thaw the shrimp under running water, and it cooks in mere minutes.

If you’re not convinced yet, try sheet pan shrimp fajitas, shrimp tacos with mango and avocado, or lemon pepper shrimp (a super easy recipe). 

Anyways, back to this breaded shrimp recipe. As always, you can find the complete recipe on the recipe card below.

Crispy shrimp with a bite out of it.

What you need

  • Shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail off, thawed and patted dry
  • Flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Egg whites –  egg whites act as a glue and hold the coconut on much better than whole eggs
  • Sweetened coconut flakes (unsweetened works fine, too, and so does shredded coconut)
  • Panko – better than regular breadcrumbs because the texture is coarse and flaky
Ingredients needed for coconut shrimp: coconut, egg, flour, bread crumbs, and coconut.

How to make it

Your shrimp needs to take three little dips to obtain its crisp coconut carapace: once in seasoned flour, then a quick bath in beaten egg whites, and lastly, a deep dive into a bowl of coconut mixed with panko for ultimate crispiness. Use three shallow bowls, lining them up on your counter in the proper 1-2-3 order. 

1 – flour

2 – egg whites

3 – coconut/panko mixture

Shrimp being dipped in flour on the left, egg on the right.

A note about the coconut: Coconut flakes are too large to really stick to the shrimp and make a nice crunchy coating. This problem is solved by a quick whir in a food processor which breaks up the flakes. You don’t need to pulverize the coconut. You should still see small pieces of coconut about the size of the panko crumbs. Same thing goes for shredded coconut, you’ll want to break down those long shredded pieces.

Coconut shrimp being breaded.

Once you have the shrimp breaded, it’s ready for the air fryer. Depending on the size of your shrimp, coconut shrimp will take around ten minutes to be perfectly done.

Shrimp in air fryer, uncooked on left, cooked on right side.

How to make this recipe your own

  • No panko? Use regular bread crumbs, or make your own panko. For gluten-free coconut shrimp, use gluten-free bread crumbs and flour.
  • Add different seasonings to the flour mixture. Try garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, or onion powder. 
  • Bake the shrimp in your oven instead of an air fryer. Preheat the oven to 400° and bake in a single layer on a greased pan for 10-12 minutes. For best results, bake the shrimp on a rack, sprayed lightly with cooking spray and placed into a sheet pan, so that the shrimp are crispy on all sides.
Overhead view of three plates of cooked shrimp.

Make-Ahead Ideas

Prepare the shrimp as directed. Once you’ve breaded the shrimp, arrange them in a single layer on a plate or container, and cover tightly. Refrigerate for up to two days. Preheat air fryer and continue with recipe.

Storage Tips

Leftover coconut shrimp, wrapped well, can be refrigerated for 3-4 days.

To freeze, once the shrimp has cooked and cooled, spread them on a baking pan and freeze. Once the shrimp have frozen, you can put them into a container and keep them for two to three months. Reheat as directed below.

Reheating Suggestions

Breaded shrimp can be reheated quite successfully. A quick stint back in the air fryer is probably best to get the crispness back. I like to pop them into my toaster oven for 5 minutes or so. They remain delightfully crispy.

If the shrimp are frozen, there’s no need to thaw before reheating. Simply spread them on a baking sheet and put them in a preheated 400°F oven for about 10 minutes or until heated through, or cook in the air fryer.

Close up of a pile of coconut shrimp.

Air Fryer Happiness

Air fry your way to crispy happiness with these easy recipes:

Pile of coconut shrimp on a plate with dipping sauce.

Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Total Time: 19 minutes

Bite into one of these air fryer coconut shrimp, golden brown and crispy, and you'll know why you have an air fryer! 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound raw shrimp (20-30#) peeled and deveined, tail off, thawed and patted dry
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large egg whites
  • ¾ cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. In a shallow bowl, mix the flour, salt and pepper.
  2. In a separate shallow bowl, whisk the egg whites till frothy.
  3. In a food processor or blender pulse the coconut until it is in smaller pieces.  Mix the coconut and panko in a third shallow bowl.
  4. Dip the coconut into the flour, then into the egg whites, making sure to cover well.
  5. Place shrimp in the coconut mixture and press down to cover, flip them over and press the other side to cover.
  6. Spray air fryer basket with nonstick cooking spray, and then place shrimp in a single layer, careful not to overlap the shrimp.  Spray well with nonstick cooking spray.
  7. Set air fryer on 325°F, and cook shrimp for 5 minutes. Flip shrimp over and spray well with nonstick cooking spray again. Replace the basket and continue cooking for 4 minutes.
  8. Remove the shrimp and empty the basket.  Repeat the coating process and air fry the rest of the shrimp.
  9. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Notes

  • Bake the shrimp in your oven instead of an air fryer. Preheat the oven to 400° and bake in a single layer on a greased pan for 10-12 minutes. For best results, bake the shrimp on a rack, sprayed lightly with cooking spray and placed into a sheet pan, so that the shrimp are crispy on all sides.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 4-5 shrimp
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 181Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 464mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 7g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

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