Need an appetizer idea? These coconut shrimp coated in Panko bread crumbs and shredded coconut are deep-fried until golden and crisp to perfection. They’re a delicious medley of sweet and savory and seriously addictive.

Although tropical in flavor, there’s no definitive origin for these coconut shrimp. They’re a common menu item at seafood restaurants and tiki bars around coastal areas such as the Caribbean and Florida keys so I’m assuming their popularity grew across the country.

What You’ll Need

Shrimp– use large to jumbo shrimp in this recipe as they tend to shrink during the cooking process. Nothing beats fresh for the best taste and texture, but frozen will work in a pinch. Use raw shell-on shrimp. Already peeled variety might be convenient but they turn gummy when cooked.

Salt and pepper– season simply with salt and pepper. These crispy shrimp don’t need a lot to be delicious!
Cornstarch and egg whites– dredging in cornstarch and dipping in egg whites creates a lighter batter that keeps the shrimp tender and helps the Panko-shredded coconut coating to stick
Sweetened Shredded Coconut – coconut meat that has been shredded, dried, and combined with confectioner’s sugar. It adds a hint of sweetness, but if you prefer a more savory taste, you can substitute with unsweetned desiccated coconut.

Panko bread crumbs – these Japanese-style bread crumbs along with shredded coconut give the shrimp a lovely crunchy texture. They stay crispier and absorb less grease than regular bread crumbs.
Oil – I like to use canola oil for deep-frying as it has a neutral taste and can be heated to a variety of temperatures, which makes it a favorite cooking oil to many.

Cooking Tips

Freeze the coated shrimp for about 10 to 15 minutes or until firm to help the crumb to adhere better and not fall apart during frying. Frying the shrimp when partially frozen also keeps them from overcooking while the crumb coating time fries to a golden color.
For best results, maintain oil at the optimal 350 F to 375 F temperature. Too high and the outside coating will burn before the inside is fully cooked; too low and they’ll absorb more grease.
Do not overcrowd the pan and fry in batches as needed to keep the oil temperature from plummeting.

How To Cook In Air Fryer

Arrange the breaded shrimp in a single layer in the airfryer basket. Do not overcrowd pan and cook in batches as needed.
Cook at 400 F for about 10 to 12 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through and crunchy, turning halfway through.
Remove from the airfryer and serve immediately.

Serving Suggestions

Serve coconut shrimp with your choice of dipping sauce such as sweet chili sauce, plum sauce, or sweet and sour sauce.
For a sweet-fruity dip, mix 3 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce (Mae Ploy) with 1 tablespoon of peach preserves or mango jam. For a sweet-creamy dip, stir about 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise and 3 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce.

How to store

To store cooked coconut shrimp, place them in a container with a tight-fitting or resealable bag and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. To reheat, pop in a 350°F oven or air fryer for about 6 to 10 minutes or until warm.
To store uncooked, arrange the shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cover with film and freeze until firm. When frozen, transfer to a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

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