These air-fryer coconut shrimp are crispy and succulent with a sweet coconutty flavor. They pair wonderfully with various dipping sauces, but I prefer simplicity, opting for Thai sweet chili sauce. By using an air fryer instead of traditional stovetop frying with oil, you achieve perfectly crispy shrimp without the hassle of post-cooking splatters to clean up.
Enjoy them as an appetizer or transform them into an easy dinner by serving with rice and sautéed baby bok choy in toasted sesame oil and fresh ginger.
Shrimp: For this recipe, use large or jumbo (12/15 count) fresh or frozen shrimp. If your shrimp are too small, the ratio of breading to shrimp will be off, and they'll cook through too quickly, turning rubbery as the crust crisps up.
Coconut: Use medium shredded unsweetened coconut for this recipe, as the sweetened product adds too much sweetness.
Panko: Adding panko-style bread crumbs to the coconut mixture gives the shrimp an extra-crispy crust. Be sure to use panko and not regular bread crumbs, as panko has a lighter texture and crisps better.
How to Make
1. Ensure your shrimp are peeled, deveined, and patted dry before starting the cooking process. This helps achieve a crispier texture.
2. Set up a coating station with flour mixture, beaten eggs, and shredded coconut mixed with panko and sugar. Dip each shrimp in flour (A), then eggs (B), and finally coat them generously with the coconut-panko mixture (C). Transfer the coated shrimp to a plate (D).
3. Preheat your air fryer to the recommended temperature for frying shrimp. This step ensures even cooking and a crispy exterior.
4. Generously coat the air-fryer basket with cooking oil spray to prevent the shrimp from sticking and promote an even golden brown color. Working in batches, arrange the shrimp in a single layer in the basket, and then coat shrimp with cooking oil spray (E). Cook until the shrimp are golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes, flip the shrimp once and re-coat with cooking oil spray halfway through cooking (F).
5. Transfer the cooked shrimp to a serving platter and cook the remaining shrimp as directed. Serve the shrimp with the sweet chili sauce.
- Refrigerate the breaded shrimp on a plate or wire rack for 20 minutes before cooking; this will allow the coating to firm up and adhere better as it cooks. Don't stack breaded food, and don't let it sit too long before cooking or it will become soggy.
- Clean off the tails before you air-fry the shrimp, which'll give you a convenient handle to pick'em up by when you're knocking them back.
- Place the coated shrimp in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Avoid overcrowding to allow proper air circulation and ensure each shrimp cooks evenly.
- Keep a close eye on the cooking time. Coconut shrimp cook relatively quickly in the air fryer, usually in about 5 minutes. Adjust the time based on your air fryer model and shrimp size.
- Flip the shrimp midway through the cooking process, to ensure both sides are evenly crispy. Use tongs for a quick and easy flip.
Yes, you can fry the shrimp on the stovetop. Heat 2 quarts vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven to 375°F. Using a metal spider or slotted spoon, lower the shrimp into oil one at a time and fry, agitating constantly, until deep golden brown and crisp on all sides, about 3 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Serve immediately, with dipping sauce on the side.
I prefer Thai sweet chili sauce, but you can also use cocktail sauce, mango chutney, or even salsa verde.
The cooked shrimp can be stored in the freezer after air-frying. Let them cool to room temperature, transfer to a large plate, then place in the freezer until frozen. Transfer to a zipper-lock bag and store for up to three months. Reheat the shrimp in the air-fryer.
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Coconut Shrimp Air Fryer
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
- ½ tsp. Cajun seasoning
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tsp. coconut or granulated sugar
- 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled ad deveined, tails left on
- Thai sweet chili sauce, for serving, I prefer Trader Joe's brand
- Preheat a 6 ½ quart air fryer to 390°F for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Put the flour in a shallow bowl, add salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning and toss to blend.
- In another shallow bowl, whisk the eggs.
- In a third shallow bowl, mix the panko, coconut, and sugar.
- Working in batches, dredge the shrimp int the flour, shaking off the excess, then coat with egg, allowing excess to drip back into bowl as you transfer them to the panko mixture. Turn the shrimp to coats and press lightly for mixture to adhere.
- Generously coat the air-fryer basket with cooking oil spray. Working in batches, arrange the shrimp in a single layer in the basket, and coat shrimp with cooking oil spray. Cook until the shrimp are golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes, turn the shrimp once and re-coat with cooking oil spray halfway through cooking.
- Transfer the cooked shrimp to a serving platter and cook the remaining shrimp as directed.
- Serve the shrimp with the Thai sweet chili sauce.