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Coconut shrimp is always a treat, but with an air fryer, it is also unbelievably simple to make! All you need are some large shrimp, coconut flakes, and a few other ingredients to create the perfect crispy coating. And with the air fryer, there’s no need for deep frying in a big pot of oil, which means you’ll get crispy restaurant-style coconut shrimp that’s actually healthy too.
Sounds too good to be true? I promise, it’s not!
You can serve up this air fryer shrimp recipe as a party starter, but my family loves to have it for dinner too. You can whip up a quick stir fry and some Instant Pot rice and lay the crispy coconut shrimp right on top. If you’re looking for healthy dinner ideas, it doesn’t get much better.
Crispy Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp Recipe
The air fryer is the key to making coconut shrimp that are lightly fried, but still nice and crunchy. In fact, it far surpasses an oven in terms of crispiness, and although it’s not quite as crispy as deep frying, the ease and healthiness of air frying definitely win out.
Air fryers work by circulating hot air around the food, so it’s important to make sure your shrimp is coated in a thin layer of oil before cooking. This will help the coconut flakes and panko crisp up and also ensure that the inside of the shrimp cooks properly.
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
For the air fryer coconut shrimp:
- Raw shrimp – You can leave the tail on, but devein and peel it.
- All-purpose flour
- Garlic powder
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Eggs – Here’s the best way to crack an egg!
- Panko breadcrumbs – Panko breadcrumbs are key to a crispy coating.
- Sweetened finely shredded coconut – You’ll want finely shredded coconut because it will stick to the shrimp better than thicker shreds.
- Cooking spray
For the optional sweet chili sauce:
- Rice vinegar – Purchase the unseasoned version.
- Granulated sugar
- Sambal chili paste – Use more or less, according to your preference for heat.
- Soy sauce or tamari
Feel free to mix up the ingredients you use for your crispy coating. Try adding sesame seeds for a unique twist on the classic coconut shrimp recipe, or add a pinch of cayenne with the flour to spice things up. You can also take a shortcut and use store-bought sweet chili sauce instead of making your own.
How to Make Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp
- Prepare: Preheat your air fryer to 375ºF and pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel.
- Set out the dredging stations: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with a splash of water. In third shallow bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs and coconut.
- Dredge the shrimp: Holding the tail, dredge each shrimp in the flour mixture, followed by the egg mixture, and finally the coconut. Spray the shrimp with cooking spray and set on a plate.
- Air fry: Arrange the shrimp in the air fryer basket in a single layer, leaving space in between to keep them from sticking together. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown, turning halfway through.
- Start the sauce: In a small pan over medium heat, stir together the rice vinegar, water, sugar, garlic, sambal, and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Thicken: In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and water to form a slurry. Add this to the sauce mixture and return to a simmer, cooking for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce starts to thicken. Stir in the cilantro and cool slightly before serving with the air fryer coconut shrimp.
Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may need to cook the shrimp in batches. It’s better to cook in batches than to crowd them, which will result in improper cooking.
What to Serve With Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp
This air fryer coconut shrimp is delicious on its own, but it’s even better served with a side of jasmine rice and stir-fried vegetables. You can also serve it up as an appetizer alongside another Asian-inspired favorite, crab rangoon dip with wonton chips!
How to Store Leftover Coconut Shrimp
Cooked coconut shrimp should be stored in an airtight container and kept in the refrigerator. Leftovers will last up to 3 days and can be reheated in a 350ºF oven or an air fryer for 5-10 minutes.
How do you cook coconut shrimp in the air fryer?
To cook coconut shrimp in the air fryer, you’ll prepare them just as you would for baking or frying, but then you’ll coat them in cooking spray and place them in the air fryer basket.
Yes, you can cook frozen coconut shrimp in the air fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 375ºF and cook for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown, flipping halfway through. If they are not cooked through after 10 minutes, add a few more minutes of cooking time. Although homemade air fryer coconut shrimp are my favorite, if you have a package of frozen coconut shrimp, they definitely taste best when made in the air fryer!
Coconut shrimp can be a healthy option, as it is a good source of protein. The air fryer method of cooking reduces the amount of oil needed for frying and helps to make this dish a bit healthier since it’s lower in fat and calories than the traditional version.
Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp
- 1 lb raw shrimp deveined, peeled, tail on
- ⅓ cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 ½ cups sweetened finely shredded coconut
- Cooking Spray
Sweet Chili Sauce
- ½ cup rice vinegar
- ½ cup water
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp sambal chili paste
- 2 tsp soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro minced
- Preheat an air fryer to 375ºF.
- In a small bowl, mix together the flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper with a fork. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs with a splash of water to thin out slightly.
- In another bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs and coconut until evenly distributed.
- Using a paper towel, gently pat dry the shrimp to remove any excess moisture from the surface. This will allow the coating to adhere better.
- Holding by the tail, dredge each shrimp in the flour mixture, followed by the egg, then the coconut mixture.
- Spray the outside of each shrimp with cooking spray and set aside on a plate.
- Place the shrimp around the inside of the air fryer basket, leaving a small space in between to keep them from sticking together. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown, turning once halfway through. Depending on the size of your air fryer, this may require cooking in a few batches.
Sweet Chili Sauce
- In a small saucepot, combine the rice vinegar, water, sugar, garlic, sambal and soy sauce. Cook over medium heat until it starts to simmer.
- In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and water with a fork, forming a slurry. Add to the sauce mixture and return to a simmer. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken, scraping the sides throughout.
- Stir in the cilantro. Set aside to let cool slightly before serving.