Coconut Shrimp is one of my favorite appetizers ever! This recipe is so easy to make, and comes out so crispy, golden brown, and full of toasty coconut flavors.
The coconut shrimp is breaded and shallow-fried on the stovetop until beautifully golden brown and crispy on the outside, and perfectly tender inside.
I also included 2 dipping sauce options. The first one is a sweet chili orange sauce, and the second one (my fave!) is a creamy sweet chili sauce. They are amazing!
I present to you one of my favorite appetizers EVER: Crispy Coconut Shrimp!
We’re huge fans of shrimp over here, and there’s nothing I love more than serving this coconut shrimp at gatherings and parties. It’s always a hit…gone within minutes!
Not only are they delicious and crispy, but also really easy to make. This recipe uses the shallow-frying technique, which basically involves frying the shrimp in a shallow layer of oil right on your stovetop. Shallow-frying creates less mess than deep-frying, and it’s much simpler.
Oh and did I tell you about the dipping sauces? The first one is a sweet chili orange sauce, and the second one is a creamy sweet chili sauce. Both are delicious, but my personal favorite is the creamy sweet chili sauce for sure! It’s very similar to my bang bang shrimp sauce.
Why I Love this Recipe
- They come out beautifully golden brown and crunchy!
- It’s not messy to make. Yes, it involves some frying, but this recipe uses the shallow-frying technique, which is really easy and simple.
- They freeze and reheat really well. They reheat in 10 minutes!
- If you don’t feel like frying, you can oven-bake or air fry them too.
- The two dipping sauces are to die for!
The Technique: Shallow-Frying
Shallow frying consists of pan-frying foods that are small using enough oil to cover about a quarter inch of the pan. Here are a few tips on to fry foods successfully:
- Use a large non-stick pan to prevent the breading from sticking to the pan.
- Do the sizzle test: To test when the oil is hot enough, drop a few breadcrumbs onto the hot oil. If it sizzles immediately, it’s ready.
- Fry in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Too much food on the pan will lower the oil temperature rapidly and you won’t get that golden brown color.
- Avoid moisture: Always pat dry the food as much as possible before frying. Otherwise, the hot oil will splash.
- Don’t use olive oil because it burns quickly. Use vegetable oil instead.
Making coconut shrimp appetizers requires a few ingredients that you may already have in your pantry!
You can find all the quantities in the recipe card below, but here is a brief overview of each ingredient plus a few helpful notes and tips.
For the shrimp:
- Large shrimp: Make sure it’s peeled and deveined, with the tail-on.
- Eggs: Acts as the binder or “glue” to hold the breading together.
- All-purpose flour: To give the coating structure and help the shrimp crisp up better.
- Garlic powder, salt and pepper: For seasoning.
- Panko breadcrumbs: For a golden brown, crispy, and crunchy texture.
- Unsweetened coconut flakes: I find sweetened coconut flakes to be too sweet for this recipe, so I’d recommend unsweetened.
- Vegetable oil: For frying, enough to cover a quarter inch of pan. Don’t use olive oil, it burns too quickly for deep-frying.
For the 2 dipping sauces:
- Sweet chili orange sauce: orange marmalade and Thai sweet chili sauce.
- Creamy sweet chili sauce: mayo, Thai sweet chili sauce, and sriracha sauce.
Tip: Both sauces are customizable and can be multiplied. Adjust the ingredient quantities to taste.
1. Set up your breading station & bread the shrimp
- Set up your breading station using 3 shallow bowls. In the first bowl, whisk the flour with garlic powder, salt and pepper. In the second bowl, beat the eggs. In the third bowl, mix the panko and coconut flakes.
- Bread the shrimp (on both sides) in this order: flour mixture, then eggs, then panko and coconut. Press the panko and coconut mixture firmly onto the shrimp so it sticks.
- Arrange the breaded shrimp on a wire rack or sheet pan: It’s a good idea to have everything prepped prior to frying.
Tip: Pat dry the shrimp thoroughly before breading. This will help the breading adhere better and prevent hot oil splashes.
Tip: Press the panko and coconut firmly onto the shrimp to help it adhere better. If it’s not adhering well, dip in more egg.
2. Fry the breaded shrimp
- Heat vegetable oil on a large skillet: It needs to be hot to achieve that golden brown color. To check if the oil is hot enough, drop a little bit of the breading onto the hot pan. If it sizzles immediately, it’s ready.
- Fry the shrimp on both sides. For about 2-3 minutes per side. Do it in batches to prevent overcrowding.
- Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
Tip: As you fry, adjust the heat as needed – when you add cold food, the temperature will drop slightly. Likewise, if browning too fast, decrease the heat. Don’t overcrowd the pan – fry in batches.
3. Make the dipping sauce
This part is really easy! Just combine the sauce ingredients in small serving ramekins.
To make the sweet chili orange sauce, combine orange marmalade and Thai sweet chili sauce. To make the creamy sweet chili sauce, combine mayo, Thai sweet chili sauce, and sriracha.
You can adjust the ingredient quantities for the sauce as needed to taste.
Prefer to Bake or Air Fry?
Baking the coconut shrimp is totally doable! It may not come out as crispy or golden brown, but it’s definitely much easier and healthier. You can also air fry them.
To oven-bake: Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Arrange the breaded shrimp on the sheet pan and spray with cooking oil. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
To air fry: Generously coat the breaded shrimp with oil spray. Cook in the air fryer at 400 degrees F for about 8-9 minutes.
Make Ahead Tips
The two dipping sauces can be made in advance and stored in the fridge.
I wouldn’t recommend pre-breading the shrimp days in advance prior to cooking. The panko will get soggy if you do that. After breading the shrimp, make sure you fry within 15 minutes to maintain crispiness.
However, the coconut shrimp can be cooked from start to finish and then frozen. It reheats really well, although not as good as freshly made, of course! See instructions below.
Freezing and Reheating
Fried coconut shrimp freezes really well. After the fried shrimp has completely cooled down, transfer the shrimp to 1 or 2 large freezer-friendly resealable bags in one single layer. Seal the bag and freeze in a single layer for up to 2 months.
To reheat, bake the frozen shrimp at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes until crispy and thoroughly warmed up.
Serving and Pairing Ideas
My favorite way to serve this coconut shrimp is just as is, with the dipping sauces of course!
If you want to get creative or turn it into a meal, here are a few serving ideas:
- On taco tortillas. Add some slaw on top.
- Build a bowl. Try quinoa or rice, plus some edamame, veggies, or slaw.
- Over a simple salad. Check out my Thai Chicken Salad below. Instead of chicken, you can serve with coconut shrimp.
As for pairings, try these other sides to go with it:
Yes. Spray the shrimp with cooking spray arranged on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Yes! Coat the shrimp on both sides with cooking oil spray and cook in the air fryer for about 8 minutes.
Use large shrimp, peeled, deveined and with the tail attached. I get the 21-25 count 1-pound bag.They come frozen. You can defrost it overnight in the fridge or in cold water for a few minutes.
I wouldn’t recommend that because the shrimp will turn very tough and dry.
Make sure you dip it in the beaten egg and then press in the panko firmly so that it sticks. Also, make sure you use a nonstick pan so prevent the breading from sticking to the pan.
Make sure the oil is hot enough. Test it by adding a little bit of the bread crumb and if it sizzles immediately, you’re good to go. Fry in batches to not overcrowd the pan.
Make sure the oil is not too hot and use vegetable oil. Don’t use olive oil because it smokes pretty quickly.
No, the breading will get soggy. Once you bread the shrimp, fry it within 15 minutes or so.
Yes! It freezes really well. Freeze in a resealable bag for up to 2 months in a single layer. To reheat, bake at 400 degrees for about 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway through.
If you’re not making this delicious appetizer, what are you waiting for?! It’s so, so delicious!
I promise everyone will love it. Whenever I make these, they are always gone within minutes. That’s how good they are! If you’re looking for more fun appetizers, don’t miss these:
Tips for Success
- Use large shrimp because shrimp shrinks when cooked. I buy the 1-pound 21-15 count bag. Make sure it’s peeled, deveined, and with the tail attached.
- To help the breading adhere to the shrimp, pat-dry the shrimp really well before you start, press the panko firmly onto the shrimp. If it’s not sticking, dip in the egg mixture again.
- Use vegetable oil for frying because it has a high smoke point. Don’t use olive oil – it smokes very quickly and is not suitable for frying.
- To test if the oil is hot enough, drop a little bit of breadcrumbs into the oil and if it sizzles immediately, it’s ready.
- To get that golden brown color, make sure the oil is hot enough and don’t overcrowd the pan.
- To prevent from sticking to the pan, use a non-stick skillet.
Crispy Coconut Shrimp (with 2 Dipping Sauces)
- Large non-stick skillet
- 1 pound large shrimp, defrosted (peeled, deveined, with tail-on)
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- Vegetable oil for frying (enough to cover 1/4 inch of the pan)
Sweet chili orange sauce
- ⅓ cup orange marmalade
- 4 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
Creamy sweet chili sauce
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
- 1 teaspoon sriracha, or to taste
- Pat dry the defrosted shrimp with paper towel. Note: pat-drying thoroughly ensures that the breading sticks and prevents oil splashes.
- Set up your breading station in this order: First, in a shallow bowl, whisk the flour, salt, ground black pepper, and garlic powder. In a second shallow bowl, beat the eggs. In a third shallow bowl, combine panko breadcrumbs with coconut flakes.
- Bread the shrimp in this order: First dredge with the flour mixture, then the beaten eggs, and lastly with the panko and coconut mixture, pressing it firmly onto the shrimp. Transfer the breaded shrimp to a large wire rack or sheet pan, and continue breading the remaining shrimp. Tip: Press the panko firmly onto the shrimp so that it sticks. If it’s not sticking, dip in egg again.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, enough to cover ¼ inch of the pan. To test if the oil is hot enough for frying, drop a little bit of breadcrumb into the oil and if it sizzles immediately, it’s good to go. Cook the shrimp for about 2-3 minutes per side or until golden grown. Cook in batches to avoid overcrowding. Tip: To get that golden brown color, don’t overcrowd the pan – adding too much food at once decreases the oil temperature too quickly. Use a nonstick pan to prevent the breading from sticking to the bottom.
- As the shrimp cooks and is ready, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
- Make the dipping sauces: To make the sweet orange chili sauce, combine the orange marmalade and sweet chili sauce. To make the creamy sweet chili sauce, combine the mayo, sweet chili sauce, and sriracha. You can adjust to taste.
- Serve the coconut shrimp with the dipping sauces. Enjoy!
- Use large shrimp since shrimp shrinks when it cooks. I use a 1-pound 21-25 count shrimp package. Make sure it’s peeled, deveined, and with the tail on.
- To prevent breading from falling apart: Press the panko and coconut mixture firmly onto the shrimp. If not sticking, you can dip in egg again. Also, use a non-stick skillet to prevent the delicate breading from sticking to the pan.
- To get golden brown color: Make sure the oil is hot enough by doing the sizzle test – drop a little bit of breadcrumb into the oil and if it sizzles immediately, it’s good to go. Cook in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan
- Oven-baking option: Spray the shrimp with cooking spray arranged on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Air fryer option: Coat the shrimp on both sides with cooking oil spray and cook in the air fryer for about 8 minutes.
- Freezing: Freeze cooked coconut shrimp in a resealable bag for up to 2 months in a single layer. To reheat, bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Make-ahead: I would not recommend pre-breading the shrimp in advance since it will get soggy. Once breaded, fry within 15 minutes or so. However, you can freeze the fried shrimp and reheat later (see above).
- Prep ahead: The sauces can be prepared in 3 days in advance and refrigerated.
- Unsweetened coconut flakes: Sweetened coconut flakes to make it sweet.
- Panko breadcrumbs: Pre-seasoned panko works too.
- Vegetable oil: Canola oil or peanut oil.
- Orange marmalade: Apricot or pineapple marmalade.
- Shallow bowls: For the breading station.
- Large nonstick pan: Nonstick is preferred to prevent the breading from sticking to the pan.