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.
Why you’ll love it: They turn out so well, much better than pre-made frozen coconut shrimp.
How long it takes: 10 minutes or so to prep, and 9 minutes cooking time per batch
Equipment you’ll need: air fryer, three shallow bowls, (small tongs are really helpful for flipping)
Servings: 4 (4 to 5 shrimp per serving)
Perfectly cooked shrimp encased in a flaky, crunchy coconut coating are 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.
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 or the frozen bag from Trader Joe’s or Costco.
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.
Anyways, back to this breaded shrimp recipe. Are you ready to air fry your way to crispy happiness? I’ll get you started here and give you lots of helpful tips.
As always, look for the printable recipe card near the end of the post. It has complete instructions, measurements and nutrition information.
What you’ll need
- Shrimp: Frozen shrimp are just fine. Make sure they are peeled and deveined, tail off, thawed and patted dry. If you prefer fresh shrimp, that’s probably even better. Living here in Michigan means that fresh shrimp usually are not available.
- All-Purpose Flour: This will be the first step in the breading process. The flour is 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 coconut works fine, too, and so does shredded coconut so use what you happen to have in your pantry.
- Panko: Because these bread crumbs are coarse and flaky they add more crunch than regular breadcrumbs.
How to make This Recipe
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
A Note About 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. If you choose shredded coconut, you’ll want to do the same so those long shreds are broken down.
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.
One serving of coconut shrimp (4-5 breaded shrimp) has 21 grams of protein, very little fat, and only 237 calories. That makes it a pretty healthy choice. Shrimp provides important antioxidants and nutrients, especially iodine which isn’t found in a lot of other foods (Healthline). Usually wild-caught shrimp is a better choice than farm-raised because of the potential use of antibiotics.
Imagine briny shrimp encased in a slightly salty and sweet tropical coconut casing. There’s also a contrast in texture: chewy shrimp and crunchy breading.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to try coconut shrimp, please wait no longer! You’ll love it.
We love coconut shrimp dipped in sweet chili sauce. You can usually find it in the Asian section of the grocery story. For cocktails, serve a spicy Paloma, an Aperol spritz, or a simple rosé spritzer.
As an entrée, coconut shrimp goes well with steamed rice and an Asian salad.
Make It 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 to 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.
- If you love the combination of coconut and shrimp, you have to try my creamy coconut shrimp. The sauce is simply amazing.
- Not a coconut fan? Try air fryer breaded shrimp, perfectly flavored with Old Bay seasoning.
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 & Reheating 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.
Breaded shrimp can be reheated quite successfully. A quick stint back in the air fryer is the best way to get the crispness back but an easy alternative is to pop them into your toaster oven for 5 minutes or so. They remain delightfully crispy.
If the shrimp are frozen, there’s no need to thaw them 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 them in the air fryer.
- In a shallow bowl, mix the flour, salt and pepper.
- In a separate shallow bowl, whisk the egg whites till frothy.
- 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.
- Dip the coconut into the flour, then into the egg whites, making sure to cover well.
- Place shrimp in the coconut mixture and press down to cover, flip them over and press the other side to cover.
- 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.
- Set air fryer on 325°F, and cook shrimp for 5 minutes. Flip shrimp over and spray with nonstick cooking spray again. Continue cooking for 4 minutes.
- Remove the shrimp and empty the basket. Repeat the coating process and air fry the rest of the shrimp.
- Serve immediately with dipping sauce. One serving is 4 to 5 shrimp, depending on size.
- 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.
- Storage: Wrap leftover shrimp well and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Reheating: To reheat, air fry the shrimp a couple of minutes or pop them into your toaster oven for 5 minutes or so. They remain delightfully crispy. If the shrimp are frozen, there’s no need to thaw them before reheating. 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 them in the air fryer.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.