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
This shrimp goes great with sweet chili sauce straight out of the bottle, a sweet sriracha sauce or our personal favorite, a creamy sweet chili dipping sauce.
Give this delicious coconut shrimp a try and please comment below on how they turn out for you!Print
Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp
This is the air fryer coconut shrimp is tender, crunchy and easy in the air fryer! Serve it as your main dish or as a delicious appetizer. Try your coconut shrimp with a sweet chili dipping sauce.
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 10
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Main Dish, Appetizer
- Method: Air Fryer
- Cuisine: Seafood
1 - 1 ¼ Pound 21/25 Peeled & Deveined shrimp (Tails On)
½ Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
½ Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
¾ Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
½ Cup Corn Starch (Or potato starch) - Divided
¼ Cup Whole Milk
1 Tsp Hot Sauce (Cholula or Frank's Red Hot - Optional)
1 tsp Fine Ground Sea Salt
½ tsp Fine Ground Pepper
½ tsp Granulated Garlic
Cooking Spray (I use Avocado Oil Spray)
- Butterfly your shrimp and pat dry. If you don't want them butterflied you can skip this step, just keep in mind the final cook is slightly different if you don't butterfly the shrimp.
- Mix together in a medium bowl the sweetened and unsweetened Shredded Coconut, Panko Bread Crumbs, ¼ cup of the Corn Starch, salt, pepper and garlic. Mix till well combined. If your coconut clumps keep mixing with your hands till it breaks apart.
- In another medium bowl mix the eggs, milk and hot sauce (optional), beat until combined.
- In a third medium bowl mix the remaining ¼ Cup corn starch and ¼ Cup flour together and stir till combined.
The Dredging/Breading Process: I like to have a wet hand and a dry hand when dredging the coconut shrimp. I hold the shrimp with my right hand and use my left to help get the dry mixes on the shrimp evenly. This is a three part process, first the cornstarch mixture, then the egg mixture then the coconut mixture.
- Holding the shrimp by the tail, dredge in the cornstarch mixture first. Make sure they get fully coated in all the nooks and crannies.
- Next, dredge the shrimp in the egg mixture, coating it fully (except the tail you're holding).
- Transfer the egg coated shrimp to the coconut mixture and dredge. With your dry hand cover the shrimp with the coconut mixture and press down on it to ensure it gets nicely coated with the coconut mixture.
- Remove the shrimp from the coconut mixture and give it a gentle shake to get the extremely loose bits off. Place it on a parchment or foil lined cookie sheet.
- Repeat these steps till all of your coconut shrimp are breaded.
Air Frying Your Coconut Shrimp
- Depending on how many shrimp you make, you will most likely need to air fry them in batches. I use a dual basket Ninja Foodi and can do 12 shrimp at a time using both baskets. Your results will vary depending on your particular air fryer.
- Preheat your air fryer to 390℉ for about 5 minutes. This step is critical to make sure the first batch cooks the same as the following batches. If you start from a cold air fryer you will mostly likely have some burning. This is due to the heating element in the air fryer having to go full hot till it hits it's target temperature. Once it's there it maintains the temp with less aggressive heating.
- Spray your air fryer rack with a good amount of cooking oil spray. Place your coconut shrimp on the rack in your air fryer basket. Maintain enough space between them to allow good airflow and so you can flip them later.
- Coat the coconut shrimp with a generous spray of cooking oil spray. Do not omit this step or your coconut shrimp will come out pale and will burn instead of air frying to the nice golden brown.
- Air fry your coconut shrimp at 390℉ for 5 minutes.
- Flip the shrimp over and spray the other side with cooking oil spray.
- Air fry an additional 4 minutes at 390℉. If you did not butterfly your shrimp you will probably need to add another minute to this final cooking time.
- Remove your coconut shrimp from the air fryer and let cool for a minute or two then enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce!
Keywords: Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp, Air Fryer, Coconut Shrimp
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