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, these coconut shrimp have no definitive origin. They're a common menu item at seafood restaurants and tiki bars around coastal areas such as the Caribbean and Florida keys, so I assume their popularity grew across the country.
Golden and crunchy with a sweet and savory taste, they're simply irresistible! They're ready in minutes and delicious as an appetizer, snack, or quick dinner.
What you'll need
- Shrimp- use large to jumbo shrimp in this recipe, as they tend to shrink during cooking. 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 savory taste, you can substitute it with unsweetened desiccated coconut.
- Panko bread crumbs – these Japanese-style bread crumbs and 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 various temperatures, making it a favorite cooking oil for many.
- 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 air fryer basket. Do not overcrowd the 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 air fryer and serve immediately.
- 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.
- 1 pound large shrimp
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 2 egg whites
- 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- canola oil
- Shell shrimp, leaving tail intact. With a knife, make a small cut on the shrimp's back, and with the tip of the knife, pull out the intestinal tract. Make two or three incisions along the inside of the shrimp to straighten it out.
- Season the shrimp with salt and pepper to taste and let stand for about 10 minutes.
- In one shallow bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. In another shallow bowl, place cornstarch. In another shallow bowl, combine shredded coconut and Panko bread crumbs.
- Dredge shrimp in cornstarch, dip in egg, and then dredge in shredded coconut-bread crumb mixture to fully coat, pressing down to adhere well.
- Arrange shrimps in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze for about 10 to 15 minutes or until firm.
- In a pan over medium heat, heat about 2 inches deep of oil. Add shrimp in a single and cook, turning as needed, for about 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
- Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Serve hot with sweet chili 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.
“This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.”