I’ve always loved coconut shrimp. They’re crispy, savory, a little sweet, and really easy to make right at home. Fresh shrimp, crispy panko crumbs, shredded coconut, and a sweet dipping sauce will take you somewhere tropical. See my piña colada recipe next.
I recently experimented with an air fryer variation of my coconut shrimp recipe that’s certainly healthier thanks to omitting the oil! While admittedly they don’t taste quite as delicious as deep-fried (I mean let’s be real here), they’re still an awesome crowd-pleasing appetizer. Plus you don’t have to deal with cleaning up or disposing of a gallon of cooking oil.
Best Breading for Coconut Shrimp
I prefer a ratio of about 1 cup shredded coconut to 3/4 cup of panko crumbs. The crust is glued together with flour and whisked egg. I would strongly recommend against using traditional breadcrumbs as they’re too bready and lack the much-needed crunch. Panko crumbs are light and mainly add texture that goes well with coconut. Regular breadcrumbs are too fine and will taste gritty when air-fried.
Raw vs Precooked Shrimp
I’ve tested air fryer coconut shrimp with both raw and precooked shrimp. While both will work, precooked shrimp tends to dry out in the air fryer. If you end up using precooked shrimp you only need 2-3 minutes per side in the fryer (essentially a flash cook). Raw shrimp gives you the chance to get a nice crispy golden exterior without overcooking the shrimp.
Sauce for Coconut Shrimp
Finding the right dipping sauce for coconut shrimp has always been the most challenging part for me personally. You need something a little sweet and spicy that won’t entirely take over. Sure you could eat coconut shrimp plain but they’re just screaming for a complementary sauce.
I opted for hot pepper jelly this time around as it offers a perfect balance of flavor, spice, and sweetness. Not to mention I just absolutely love the taste of it and it’s easy to find. I’ve tried variations of orange marmalade and I’m personally not a fan.
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A healthier spin on classic coconut shrimp. Thanks to an air fryer, they’re crispy, savory, a little sweet, and really easy to make right at home.
- 1 pound peeled, deveined, raw shrimp (can also use precooked – see notes)
- 1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
- 3/4 cup panko crumbs
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, whisked
- salt, to taste
- Hot pepper jelly (for dipping)
- Combine panko crumbs and shredded coconut in a shallow dish or bowl. Mix and set aside. Add flour to another bowl and whisked eggs to a 3rd bowl. Pat shrimp dry with a paper towel and season all over with salt.
- Dredge each shrimp in flour, shaking off excess, then in egg, and then in the panko/coconut mixture. Gently press down to ensure the breading adheres. Set aside on a plate.
- Preheat air fryer to 350°F. Arrange shrimp in the air fryer in layers. I was able to fit 1 pound with some overlap in a 5 qt. air fryer. Air fry for 10-12 minutes tossing/flipping halfway through. Small shrimp or cooking less than 1 pound may cook faster. In general, shrimp cook relatively fast.
If you use precooked shrimp, I would recommend cooking for 2-3 minutes per side to avoid drying out the shrimp. Raw shrimp are just as easy to prep and work much better.
You can remove the tails if you prefer or leave them on for presentation.
- Serving Size: 2-3 shrimp (no sauce)
- Calories: 358
- Sugar: 12.4g
- Sodium: 503mg
- Fat: 12.8g
- Saturated Fat: 9.7g
- Carbohydrates: 28.2
- Fiber: 2.5g
- Protein: 28.7g
- Cholesterol: 305mg
Keywords: air fryer recipes, coconut shrimp