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Each juicy shrimp is coated in a light but flavourful breading of coconut and crunchy panko breadcrumbs.
It is just as good, if not better, than your favourite restaurant-style version but healthier because I skip the heavy oil and deep-frying method—less than 30 mins from the pantry to the table.
This crispy coconut shrimp recipe is quick and easy to make—coconut and panko team up to create an amazingly crispy coating for this shrimp.
I love the air fryer because I can assure my family isn’t eating food drenched in oil. My air fryer has become one of my most used kitchen appliances. It’s a great way to enjoy your favourite deep-fried foods without needing all that oil. However, if you don’t have an air fryer, you can always bake them in the oven.
Baking coconut shrimp (in an air fryer or oven) makes it much healthier than the traditionally fried version for us to enjoy without the guilt!
Using an air fryer (or oven) instead of frying in oil on the stovetop also means crispy shrimp without any splatters to clean up afterwards.
Wonderfully crispy and succulent, but so much better for you! These coconut shrimps are so crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside.
Full of coconut flavour, these easy and healthy coconut shrimps are the perfect appetizer to serve your friends and family or a crowd.
Perfect as an appetizer, party snack, or to add to your dinner salad. Serve the shrimp as an appetizer with your favourite sauce. Coconut shrimp are well suited to all sorts of dipping sauces. Or serve them for dinner along with your favourite side dishes.
Fresh from your air fryer, this addictive appetizer will make you feel like you’re on a Caribbean beach.
Check out my article with the Smart tips you should know when cooking shrimp for a perfect shrimp every time.
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Season the Shrimp
- 2 Egg - beaten with a fork
- 1 pinch Salt - optional
- 1½ Cups Shredded Coconut - for 100g of Shredded coconut, add ½ cup boiling water to rehydrate it
- ½ Cup Panko - or bread crumbs
To coat the air-fryer basket
- Oil - or olive oil or cooking spray
Instacart is available in the US only at the moment.
Clean and season the shrimp
- Peel and devein the shrimps.
- If you prefer, you can leave the tails on.
- Wash thoroughly and make sure to dry the shrimp well. Pat the excess moisture with a paper towel.
Prepare the flour mixture
- On a large shallow bowl or plate, combine flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, black pepper and salt; mix well and set aside.
Prepare the egg mixture
- In a second shallow mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt (optional) until frothy.
Prepare the breadcrumb and coconut mixture
- In a third shallow bowl, place shredded coconut and panko bread crumbs, mix well and set aside.
Coat the shrimp
- One by one, dredge each shrimp in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.
- Next, dunk the shrimp into the beaten eggs.
- And then immediately into the coconut and bread crumbs and coconut mixture. Gently push the panko mixture onto the shrimp to coat it well to ensure it adheres.
Prepare to bake in the air-fryer
- Preheat the air fryer to 200°C/400°F. When heated, spray the basket with oil or cooking spray.
- Note: You can also use parchment paper (or silicone) for the air fryer.
- Place the coated shrimp in the air-fryer basked coated with oil.
- Note: Don’t overload the air fryer basket – For a pound (500g) of shrimp, it is best to work in two batches to ensure that the coconut shrimp are not overcrowded in the basket.
Prepare to bake in the oven
- Preheat the oven to 200-230°C/400-450°F.
- Place the coated shrimp in a large baking tray with parchment paper.
Bake the shrimp
- Cook the coated shrimp in the preheated air-fryer or oven for about 10-12 minutes or until crispy and lightly golden.
- Note: You can spray shrimp for the coating to gain even colour.
- Flip halfway through cooking for extra crispy edges.
- Note: Shrimp doesn’t need a long time to cook, but you can watch them closely in case you use shrimp that might be smaller.
- Serve immediately.
- If desired, garnish with chopped parsley, cilantro, basil or oregano, and enjoy it with your favourite dipping sauce.
ShrimpAny size of shrimp will work, but I prefer to use large shrimp. Use fresh or frozen shrimp based on availability. If using frozen, make sure they are fully thawed before you coat and air fry them. Don’t attempt to dredge and coat frozen shrimp. Any extra ice on the shrimp will impact the final results. They won’t take to the breading.
How to defrost frozen shrimpDefrost frozen shrimp by setting them in the fridge overnight. If you need to defrost quickly, remove frozen shrimp from the bag and place them in a colander in the sink. Run cool water over the shrimp for 7-8 minutes. Separate and toss the shrimp now and again. Before you begin dredging and coating, ensure no residual icy bits are left on the shrimp.
Peel and devein shrimpI usually remove the tails, but you can keep them on, so they are easy to pick up when they’re done cooking. It will also be easier to dip and coat. Plus, they are just cuter that way. Pat the shrimp dry to remove any excess liquid before you coat it to help the breading stick better. This will also help the shrimp to get really crispy. The air fryer shrimp can steam and become soggy if there is excess moisture.
Lime juice (or lemon juice)This adds a surprising amount of fresh, zesty citrus flavour to cut through the richness of coconut.
FlourThis helps bind the coconut breading to the shrimp. I use all-purpose flour for the coating. However, any flour would work. Use whole wheat flour for extra fibre. Make it gluten-free by swapping the all-purpose flour for coconut flour. That also adds a subtle coconut flavour, so it’s a win/win. You can also use oat, almond, or gluten-free flour if you have gluten intolerance.
CoconutI use unsweetened shredded coconut. However, depending on your preference, you can use sweetened or unsweetened coconut. I recommend shredded and not the flakes. If you’re not a fan of coconut, that’s fine; these still taste great if you omit them. Just add another 1/2 cup of panko and skip the coconut.
BreadcrumbsI like to use panko, a Japanese-style breadcrumb, to get a nice crispy crust.
But you can sub for regular breadcrumbs. If you prefer not to use breadcrumbs, you can just use the shredded coconut, although they will not be as crispy on the outside.
To make it into a keto coconut shrimpYou may use almond flour instead of all-purpose flour and skip the panko bread crumbs. Or, for a thicker breading, you may use pork panko instead of panko bread crumbs. Doing so will make these homemade coconut shrimps keto-friendly.
EggsThese work to bind the coconut breading together and help it stick to the shrimp. Instead of eggs, you can use flax eggs. Replace each egg with 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes before dredging the shrimp in it. You can also use low-fat buttermilk.
Two HandsWhen breading the shrimp, it’s easiest to use one hand for the wet ingredients and a second for the dry mixture. Otherwise, your hands will easily get covered in sticky coconut.
Don’t overload the air fryer basketTo ensure even cooking, the shrimp should be in one single layer with space between them, so they’re not touching. This helps to make sure the air fryer shrimp is crispy.
Always preheat your air fryer or ovenFor maximum crispiness, allow your air fryer or oven to fully preheat before you place the shrimp inside.
How long does it take for shrimp to cook in an air fryer or oven?Shrimp in the air fryer or oven takes between 10 and 12 minutes to cook through, depending on the size of your shrimp. Be sure to flip them halfway through cooking, so they are crispy on both sides.
If you have an instant-read thermometer, the shrimp is cooked when it reaches 74ºC/165ºF.
LeftoverServe these crispy coconut shrimp hot out of the air fryer for the best texture and flavour. If you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
ReheatingIf frozen, thaw in the fridge overnight. Reheat the crispy coconut shrimp in the oven, in a skillet with a bit of olive oil or in an air fryer before serving. Note: They'll be rubbery if you warm them up too quickly. Give them a little spritz of non-stick spray and bake them in a preheated oven (or air-fryer) at 150-180°C/300-350°F for 5-10 minutes or until heated through.
FreezingYou can freeze them for up to 3 months, since you cool them thoroughly, then store them in an airtight bag. However, I do not recommend freezing already-baked coconut shrimp because once they are thawed, they will be soggy. It's best to enjoy these crispy coconut shrimp within four days of making them or freeze them uncooked.
Freezing uncooked coated shrimpIf you're meal-prepping or simply making these coconut shrimps for later, follow the coating instructions and place your shrimps on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the baking sheet directly into the freezer so each shrimp freezes evenly. If you end up freezing your raw and breaded shrimps, they will last for up to three months in the freezer. Note: Frozen shrimps will take 3 to 3 ½ minutes extra to air fry on each side.
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