My husband is known for his coconut shrimp! Even family coming into town request this shrimp dish. I am always disappointed if I order coconut shrimp anywhere else because his is so good. I really think my husband's coconut shrimp is the best and his air fryer coconut shrimp version is outstanding!
Cooking the Coconut Shrimp
My husband has always deep fried this shrimp, until I convinced him recently to try it in our air fryer! We were not disappointed. Cooking them this way means less mess, less oil, easy execution, crispy, tender coconut shrimp.
To Butterfly or not Butterfly...
I like shrimp served any way, but I have a slight preference for butterflied shrimp, especially for coconut shrimp. I think it gives the shrimp that extra wow factor. It's something about the extra surface for the crispiness of the batter I think. Our kids have their preferences, but they enjoy them whichever way we feel like making it on a given day.
Tips For Perfectly Crispy Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp
- Preheat your air fryer - If your air fryer has a preheat function you should use it for this recipe. If it doesn't, turn your air fryer on 390°F for 4 or 5 minutes to get it up to temperature. Preheating the air fryer ensures the coconut shrimp are crispy and the first batch does not get burned.
- Don't crowd your air fryer basket - Air fryers rely on air circulation for proper operation. If you have too many fried shrimp in your air fryer basket you hinder the circulation and may not get your coconut shrimp as crispy. Keep it to a single layer of shrimp and do multiple batches.
- Leave Tails On - The tails help keep the thin end of the shrimp from overcooking. They also act as a convenient handle to help you dip them in your favorite sauce.
- Bread your coconut shrimp ahead of time - Prepping your coconut shrimp ahead of time make life easier when it's time to air fry. It also helps the coating adhere to the shrimp. After all the shrimp is dredged in the coconut breadcrumb mixture, place them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or foil. Then place them in the fridge. I have done this up to 4 hours in advance and had great results. This is not required if you are short on time, but I try to do this every time.
- Cooking Oil Spray - Be generous with your cooking oil spray. There is a misconception floating around that air frying is oil-less which is definitely not true. Air frying definitely reduces the oil retained in the finished food compared to deep frying but for great results, a small amount of oil is required. Make sure the coconut shrimp are evenly coated with cooking spray to achieve golden brown air fried perfection.
Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp Main Ingredients
- Shrimp: I typically use 21/25 shrimp for my air fryer coconut shrimp, which means there are 21 to 25 shrimp per pound. This size is big enough to give nice portions of coconut shrimp. It also creates a good ratio of shrimp to breading. If you want to use bigger or smaller you can, you would just have to adjust your cooking time up or down to not overcook your coconut shrimp in the air fryer. If using frozen shrimp, make sure they are fully thawed.
- Coconut: I use a 50/50 mix of shredded sweetened and unsweetened coconut. You may also customize this to your liking. I like the sweetness level this gives and also the textural difference between the two. For the unsweetened shredded coconut I use Bob's Red Mill. This is a much finer shred than the typical shredded coconut found in the baking aisle. The finer shred adheres better to the shrimp giving a nice base layer.
- Breadcrumbs: Panko is the way to go. Plain breadcrumbs don't give these coconut shrimp the added body they get from using panko breadcrumbs.
- Eggs & Milk: This is a necessary binder to keep the breading from just falling off your fried shrimp in the air fryer.
- Hot Sauce: This is optional and doesn't add any notable heat, just some extra flavor depth. I put a few shakes in the egg and milk mixture. The type of hot sauce isn't super important, but I usually use the one I have handy. I like Frank's Red Hot or Cholula best for this.
- Seasonings: The seasonings are minimal and used to accent the flavor of the shrimp and coconut, but not overwhelm it. It's just salt, pepper and granulated garlic.
Great Sides to serve with Coconut Shrimp
I like to serve coconut shrimp with a broccoli salad or an avocado salad. Some great starches are stovetop jasmine rice, shoestring fries or a creamy pasta. You might also enjoy this shrimp just as a fabulous appetizer!
Coconut Shrimp Dipping Sauces
Give this delicious coconut shrimp a try and please comment below on how they turn out for you!Print