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A crunchy, flavorful appetizer that’s ready in a snap!
Air fryer coconut shrimp are cooked to crispy, golden perfection! Serve with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce made with just two ingredients.
Coconut shrimp is one of my favorite appetizers to order at restaurants. Plump juicy shellfish coated in a crispy, sweet breading is the ultimate combination of flavors and textures. Add a sweet and spicy sauce and what more could you ask for?
Luckily, it’s incredibly easy to make this popular dish right at home. With just a few simple ingredients, you can enjoy delicious bites whenever a craving strikes!
The air fryer is a wonderful way to get deliciously crispy food without needing a ton of oil. Plus, it’s much less messy than deep frying. Cook anything from chicken to homemade onion rings in under 30 minutes.
Key ingredients & substitutions for Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp
- Shrimp — Save yourself loads of prep time by buying yours peeled and deveined! I used large for this recipe, so increase the cooking time if you choose a bigger size. If using frozen, be sure to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight first.
- Breading — You will need three shallow dishes for dredging: one with flour, salt, and pepper; one with beaten eggs; and the last with an equal mixture of Panko breadcrumbs and sweetened shredded coconut.
- Dipping sauce — Make a sweet and spicy mixture with Thai chili sauce and orange marmalade. You could also replace the marmalade with apricot jam or jelly if you prefer.
- Olive oil — A light spritz on your food before it goes in the basket helps to get the outside nice and crisp. You can also brush on the oil if you don’t have a spray bottle.
- If your shrimp isn’t deveined, you can simply do it yourself! You will see a dark line running along the outer curve. Run a paring knife alongside that line, keeping the cut shallow, then slide the tip of the knife underneath to lift out the tiny tube. Pull the entire thing out with your fingers and discard.
- Need a gluten-free option? Replace the all purpose flour with coconut flour and use GF panko breadcrumbs.
How to make air fried coconut shrimp?
STEP 1 | Prep the ingredients
Rinse and pat the shrimp dry thoroughly — you want them as dry as possible so the batter doesn’t slide off!
Make the dipping sauce by whisking together the Thai chili and orange marmalade in a small bowl. Place it in the refrigerator while you make the air fried coconut shrimp.
STEP 2 | Dredge the shrimp
Dip the shellfish, one at a time, into the seasoned flour. Shake off the excess before coating both sides in the egg.
Again, hold it in the air for a few seconds and give it a gentle shake so any excess drips back into the dish.
STEP 3 | Coat with panko and shredded coconut
Place the dredged shellfish in the breading and roll to coat both sides. Set it gently on a wire rack, then continue working through the entire batch.
STEP 4 | Cook
Spritz the food with a light coating of olive oil, then place in the basket to cook.
Be sure to leave space between each one so they crisp all over. Cook for about 8 minutes at 390 degrees, or until golden. Serve air fried coconut shrimp with dipping sauce and enjoy!
- Since you will need to cook your air fryer coconut shrimp in batches, keep everything warm in a low-temperature oven. Have it preheated to 300 degrees and transfer each batch to a baking sheet on the center rack. You can also set a wire rack inside the pan to keep the bottoms extra crisp.
Frequently asked questions
Pop them right back in the air fryer so they come out perfectly crispy. Be sure to preheat to 390 degrees so the basked is nice and hot. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until warmed through.
Leftovers can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Yes — in fact, you can save leftovers or freeze them uncooked for an easy meal or appetizer! Leftovers can be kept in a resealable freezer bag for up to 2 months. Reheat from frozen in the air fryer for 5 minutes at 390 degrees or until warmed through.
To meal prep, follow the steps for breading and lay the shellfish on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze for about an hour, then transfer to an airtight container. Cook straight from the freezer, adding 5-7 minutes to the cooking time.
While it’s best to thaw frozen shellfish in the refrigerator overnight, I’d be lying if I said I’ve always remembered to do so. Don’t worry — you can have your shrimp ready to bread in under 10 minutes!
Empty the bag into a colander and rinse the shellfish until cold running water for 7-8 minutes. Toss them every few minutes to help each piece break apart. Once softened, pat dry with a paper towel.
Enjoy air fryer coconut shrimp as a snack or appetizer, or pair them with your favorite salad for a light meal!
These are also delicious with French fries (regular or sweet potato) or grilled veggies. For a more filling option, add a side of cilantro lime rice.
Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp
- 1 lb. large shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Sweet & Spicy Dipping Sauce
- 1/3 cup Thai chili sauce
- 1/3 cup orange marmalade
- Pat shrimp dry with paper towels.
- Set up the breading station in 3 shallow dishes. In the first dish, whisk together the flour, salt, and black pepper. Add the beaten eggs to another shallow dish. And in the last dish, combine the breadcrumbs with the coconut.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees for 5 minutes.
- While the air fryer is preheating, dip each shrimp into the flour, shaking off the excess, then into the eggs, again shaking off the excess. Finally dredge in the breadcrumbs and coconut until well coated. Place on a wire rack.
- Working in batches, lightly spritz or brush the breaded shrimp with olive oil and place in the air fryer basket, being careful not to overcrowd. Cook for 8 minutes at 390 degrees, until the shrimp is golden.
- Place the shrimp on a cookie sheet and keep warm in a 300 degree oven until all the shrimp is cooked. Serve with the dipping sauce.
Sweet & Spicy Dipping sauce
- In a small bowl, whisk together the Thai chili sauce and orange marmalade until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- You may substitute apricot jam or jelly for the orange marmalade in the dipping sauce.
- To reheat shrimp, preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees. Warm the shrimp in the air fryer for 1 – 2 minutes.
- Freeze leftovers for up to 2 months in a resealable freezer bag. To reheat from frozen, preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees and add 5 minutes to the cooking time.
About Sheila Thigpen
Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer
Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.