Air-Fryer Popcorn Shrimp Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 25 min. Cook: 10 min./batch
Air-fryer popcorn shrimp are easy to pull off whenever you need a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Don’t forget the cocktail sauce and lemon wedges!

Updated: Apr. 11, 2024

A batch of air-fryer popcorn shrimp is your ticket to a quick and delicious weeknight dinner. Simply dredge and bread the shrimp, then bake them in the air fryer until they’re golden brown and shatteringly crispy. Serve them with cocktail sauce, lemon wedges and easy sides that balance out the seafood. Air-fryer breaded shrimp double as a finger food for parties, too!

Ingredients for Air-Fryer Popcorn Shrimp

  • All-purpose flour: Every breading station needs a flour dredge as part of its setup, and all-purpose flour is the only type we recommend here.
  • Seafood seasoning: Feel free to use Old Bay, a homemade seafood seasoning, or your favorite store-bought seafood seasoning blend.
  • Hot sauce: One teaspoon of hot sauce adds a small kick of heat without being too overpowering. Use your favorite, or try one from our Test Kitchen’s list of the best hot sauces.
  • Panko bread crumbs: No, these are not regular bread crumbs. Panko bread crumbs are much larger and flakier than the bread crumbs you may be used to, lending a crunchier, crispier finish to the air-fried shrimp.
  • Shrimp: Make sure your fresh or frozen shrimp have been patted dry before coating them to get an even coverage. Patting the shrimp dry will also help the breading to stick nicely, which is half the battle when breading your favorite foods.
  • Cooking spray: A cooking spray will coat the bread crumbs with a thin layer of oil so the shrimp brown nicely and evenly in the air fryer.

Directions

Step 1: Create your assembly line

Preheat your air fryer to 375°F. Get started by putting together the three-part dredging and breading assembly line that your shrimp will move through.

In the first shallow bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, seafood seasoning, dill weed and the pepper. In the second shallow bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and hot pepper sauce. Place the Panko bread crumbs in the third shallow bowl.

Step 2: Bread the shrimp

Dip both sides of the shrimp into the all-purpose flour mixture, making sure every nook and cranny is coated. Shake off any excess flour. Dip the shrimp into the egg mixture, then in the Panko bread crumbs, patting to help adhere the bread crumbs to the shrimp.

Step 3: Cook in the air fryer

Working in batches, arrange the shrimp in a single layer in a greased air fryer. Spritz the shrimp with the cooking spray. Cook until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned and the shrimp have turned pink, three to four minutes on each side. If desired, serve them with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.

Test Kitchen Tip: In our testing, we found that air-fryer cooking times vary dramatically, even among the best air-fryer brands. Keep an eye on your shrimp so they don’t burn or come out undercooked.

Air Fryer Popcorn Shrimp served with fries and cocktailTMB Studio

Air-Fryer Popcorn Shrimp Variations

  • Bake in the oven: You don’t actually need an air fryer to make this recipe. Set your oven to 400°, spray the breaded shrimp with the cooking spray and bake them until the breading is golden and the shrimp are pink, six to eight minutes on each side.
  • Add more herbs and spices: Depending on what’s in your seafood seasoning, add more spices to the all-purpose flour mixture—like smoked paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder or Cajun seasoning for a huge flavor boost.
  • Use regular bread crumbs: While we highly recommend using Panko bread crumbs for their extra-crispy texture, you can certainly use regular bread crumbs if that’s what you have.If the bread crumbs are flavored with any other herbs or spices, they may not pair well with the seafood seasoning in this recipe.

How to Store Air-Fryer Popcorn Shrimp

To store, allow the air-fryer breaded shrimp to cool to room temperature. Place them in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for up to two days. Reheat the shrimp in the air fryer until they’re crisp and heated through.

Air-Fryer Popcorn Shrimp Tips

Air Fryer Popcorn Shrimp served with fries and cocktailTMB Studio

Should you leave the tails on air-fryer popcorn shrimp?

It’s totally OK to leave the tails on your air-fryer breaded shrimp, but if you’d rather not deal with them while eating, you can remove them.

Can you use frozen shrimp for this recipe?

Yes, you can use frozen shrimp for this recipe. In fact, it may even be fresher than the shrimp at your grocery store’s fish counter. Grocery store shrimp is often pre-frozen and thawed for selling. Unless you’re certain that the fresh shrimp at your market has never been frozen, then frozen shrimp can be a better, safer and tastier option.

What sauces can you serve with air-fryer popcorn shrimp?

A classic red shrimp cocktail sauce goes well with breaded shrimp. If you want some heat, remoulade sauce is a great way to add spice to the shrimp. We also love tartar sauce with almost any fish or seafood recipe. Serve the shrimp with a selection of sauces and a bowl of lemon wedges.

Air-Fryer Popcorn Shrimp

Prep Time 25 min
Cook Time 10 min
Yield 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp (26-30 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • Cooking spray
  • Optional: Seafood cocktail sauce and lemon wedges

Directions

  1. Preheat air fryer to 375°. In a shallow bowl, mix flour, seafood seasoning, dill weed and pepper. In a separate shallow bowl, whisk egg, milk and hot pepper sauce. Place bread crumbs in a third shallow bowl. Dip shrimp in flour to coat both sides; shake off excess. Dip in egg mixture, then in bread crumbs, patting to help adhere.
  2. In batches, arrange shrimp in a single layer in greased air fryer; spritz with cooking spray. Cook until lightly browned and shrimp turn pink, 3-4 minutes on each side. If desired, serve with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.

Nutrition Facts

7 shrimp: 198 calories, 4g fat (1g saturated fat), 171mg cholesterol, 287mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 1g fiber), 23g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 1 starch.

These quick air-fryer shrimp are so good you won't even miss the fat! Eat them alone with cocktail sauce or put them on a salad or sandwich. —Rashanda Cobbins, Milwaukee, Wisconsin