Coconut Shrimp is simple to make and my version tastes so much better than anything from a restaurant! My recipe can be ready in one hour and includes an easy dipping sauce. Includes a how-to video!
Homemade Coconut Shrimp Recipe
Today we’re bringing a restaurant favorite home with this golden-delicious coconut shrimp recipe. With their lightly tropical, well-rounded flavor and a crisp golden shell of breading, they’re absolutely irresistible.
In the past, I’d struggled with perfectly crusting the shrimp, with bald patches of exposed shrimp and stringy bits of coconut that fell off too easily, so I resolved to perfect this recipe for an even, golden, crisp coating every time. I use a special trick (similar to the one I use with my mozzarella sticks) to get the breading nice and even, and it’s a major game changer!
Serve these alongside some homemade potato chips or fries and a side of pineapple salsa, and you’ve got yourself a vacation-worthy meal right at home. For dipping, we like to use a simple sweet chili sauce sweetened with a bit of apricot preserves (not-so-homemade, but fast and tasty!). You could always dip directly into chili sauce or use one of your other your favorite dips, though.
This coconut shrimp recipe would also make a great appetizer for New Year’s Eve (we always do shrimp here on New Year’s). Or, if you prefer a more savory option, try my garlic butter shrimp!
What You Need
You know the drill, let’s discuss a few of the key ingredients needed to make coconut shrimp:
- Shrimp. You can use fresh or previously frozen raw shrimp (as you can see, mine are still frozen in this photo, always thaw before using). I like to use extra large shrimp for the perfect two-bite treat, but any size will work. Make sure you remove the shells (but leave the tails!) before coating.
- Oil. Use a good, neutral oil for frying (one that can handle high temperatures), like vegetable oil or peanut oil.
- Panko & Sweetened shredded coconut. This will make up that crisp, amazing and slightly tropical breading. Combine these two in a food processor and pulse until the coconut is fine for an even breading.
- Spices. Salt, garlic powder, and cayenne flavor add some extra flavor to the shrimp. Cayenne adds a bit of heat; I feel like I use a subtle amount that adds just a hint of spice. Feel free to omit this entirely if you don’t want any spice, or bump it up if you’re a spicy food aficionado.
SAM’S TIP: Thaw frozen shrimp by placing it in the refrigerator overnight, or to thaw it faster simply place it in a bowl of cool water. Change the water periodically until the shrimp have thawed (it won’t take too long).
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Coconut Shrimp
- Prepare your coating – Pulse coconut and panko in a food processor until it resembles coarse crumbs, then set aside. Prep your eggs, breading, and shrimp.
- Dredge the shrimp – Dredge the shrimp first in flour, then in egg, and then in the coconut/panko mixture. Place in in the fridge while your oil heats.
- Heat your oil – Fill a large pot with 2-3″ of vegetable oil and heat over medium until it reaches 375F.
- Fry until golden – Fry shrimp in batches of 2-3 and place on a paper towel lined cookie sheet to drain. Remember to let the oil come back to temperature between batches!
A note on the food processor step: Many coconut shrimp recipes skip this step and just toss together panko and coconut. However, I found that when I tried this my shrimp had trouble holding on to the breading; it became patchy and not as crisp as I’d like with errant, too-stringy bits of coconut. To remedy this, I pulse everything in the food processor a few times. The shrimp hold onto this breading beautifully with flawless golden, perfectly crisp coverage and plenty of flavor.
SAM’S TIP: When dipping your shrimp, make sure the egg coating completely covers the flour before moving over to the panko/coconut. Sometimes after dipping, even if you think you’ve completely dipped the shrimp, the egg will slip right off and leave bare patches of flour that the breading can’t adhere to. Take a second, dip the shrimp in egg, watch the excess drip off, and then re-dip iff there are any bare patches of flour showing.
- Prepare the dipping sauce – Heat the apricot preserves in the microwave, then combine with the chili sauce using a whisk.
- Dip and enjoy! Dip shrimp in the prepared sauce and enjoy!
SAM’S TIP: Just like when we made donut holes, you’ll want to let your oil come back to temperature between batches of shrimp. Placing your shrimp in oil that is too cold will result in a greasy, soggy breading. Always keep a close eye on that thermometer!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! To make this recipe in the air fryer, simply prepare the shrimp as directed, spray with a cooking spray, and air fry at 400F for 7-10 minutes or until done. You will need to flip the shrimp halfway through frying. Note that your shrimp won’t be as golden brown when air fried.
My coconut shrimp recipe makes a great appetizer or snack on its own, but if you’d like to make a meal out of it you can always serve your shrimp with a side of coleslaw and fries.
You can make coconut shrimp recipe gluten free by using a gluten free all-purpose flour and gluten free panko breadcrumbs.
This coconut shrimp recipe is my last post for 2022! Thank you so much for baking with me this year 💜. I’ll see you on Monday for my first post of 2023!
Happy New Year!
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
- 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut (130g)
- ¾ cup plain panko (55g)
- 2 large eggs
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour (85g)
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne powder
- 2 lbs extra large shrimp thawed, tails on but peels removed (907g)
- Kosher salt for sprinkling
- Vegetable oil for frying
Quick & easy dipping sauce
- ⅓ cup sweet chili sauce (113g)
- 3 Tablespoons apricot preserves
- Combine coconut and panko in a food processor and pulse repeatedly several times until coconut is fine and no longer stringy and mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
- Crack your eggs in a separate bowl and beat with a whisk until scrambled. Set aside.
- In another bowl, combine flour, table salt, garlic powder and cayenne and whisk to combine.
- Place your shrimp on a wax paper lined baking sheet, pat all over with paper towels to dry, and sprinkle all over with kosher salt.
- Hold the shrimp by the tail and dredge in the flour mixture until shrimp is entirely coated in flour (excluding the tail, try to keep that tidy).
- Dip the shrimp in the beaten egg, let the excess egg drip off back into the bowl, then dredge in the coconut/panko mixture. Make sure to thoroughly coat with the coconut mixture so the shrimp is entirely covered.
- Return to baking sheet. Once all shrimp have been dredged, place in the refrigerator while you heat your oil.
- Heat the oil: Fill a large heavy-bottomed pot (I like to use a Dutch oven) 2-3” (6.5cm) with vegetable oil and fix a thermometer to the side to monitor the temperature (make sure the bottom of the thermometer is not touching the side or bottom of the pot). Turn stovetop heat to medium and heat to 375F (190C). While oil is heating, line a cookie sheet with paper towels (2-3 sheets deep) and set aside.
- Once oil reaches temperature, remove shrimp from the refrigerator. Working in batches of just 2-3 at a time, carefully lower the shrimp into the oil using a frying spider and cook until golden brown. Remove shrimp using frying spider to prepared cookie sheet.
- Repeat the frying process with remaining shrimp until all have been cooked. Make sure to allow oil to return to temperature between batches and monitor the temperature of the oil as you cook.
- Serve immediately with or without optional dipping sauce.
- Place apricot preserves in a small microwave-safe dish and microwave in 5-second intervals until it is fluid and easily stirred with a whisk.
- Add sweet chili sauce and whisk until combined. Serve immediately with shrimp.
ShrimpFeel free to use any size shrimp you would like, but note that smaller shrimp cook faster and larger shrimp slower. I’ve found extra large are the perfect two-bite size and they are my preference.
Dipping sauceThis is a not-so-from-scratch recipe that is quick and easy and pairs wonderfully with the shrimp. The ratios here yield a sweet but spicy sauce; to temper the spiciness more you can add additional apricot preserves, a tablespoon at a time.
Storing/reheatingThese are best served fresh but will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
BakingPreheat oven to 425F (215C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Place shrimp in an even layer, spacing at least 1” apart and lightly spray the shrimp with cooking spray (I like to use an olive oil spray).. Bake 10-13 minutes, flipping halfway through, until shrimp turn golden brown and centers are opaque. Shrimp will not be as golden when baked as they are when fried.
Air fryerPreheat air fryer to 400F. Prepare shrimp as instructed then spray with cooking spray (I like to use an olive oil spray). Cook shrimp for 7-10 minutes, flipping halfway through, until outsides are crisp and centers are opaque when broken into. You’ll likely have to work in batches to not overcrowd the shrimp. Shrimp will not be as golden when air-fried.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.