Tasty Coconut Shrimp Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 25 min. Fry: 5 min./batch
Looking for a perfectly poppable party appetizer? These golden, crisp coconut shrimp are so good, you can't eat just one. Enjoy them with our sweet chili-apricot dipping sauce.

Updated: May 15, 2024

Coconut shrimp is one of those party appetizers that will disappear the second you put out the platter. We love breaded shrimp recipes like air-fryer popcorn shrimp and shrimp tempura, but there’s something really appealing about this recipe’s crispy coconut coating. Dunked into a sweet and spicy dipping sauce, these shrimp are absolutely unforgettable. It’s nearly impossible to eat only one!

A dish this tasty shouldn’t be so easy to prepare, but it is. The whole thing comes together in about 30 minutes. Simply coat shrimp in a coconut bread crumb topping, and toss ’em in hot oil until golden brown and crisp.

And don’t worry if you don’t have a deep fryer: You can use a pan for deep-frying on the stovetop, or make coconut shrimp in the air fryer or oven.

Coconut Shrimp Ingredients

Overhead shot of all ingredients; served in white wooden background;TMB Studio

  • Shrimp: Use shrimp of any size for this coconut shrimp recipe, making entree servings with large shrimp or poppable appetizers with smaller shrimp. Shrimp are sized per pound, so a package labeled 26-36 contains between 26 and 30 shrimp per pound. It might seem counterintuitive, but the smaller the number, the larger the shrimp.
  • Coconut coating: Sweetened shredded coconut and panko bread crumbs create a flavorful, crunchy coating on these shrimp. Panko is flakier and crunchier than regular bread crumbs, making the shrimp taste extra crispy.
  • Flour coating: Before adding the coconut coating, we toss shrimp in all-purpose flour seasoned with salt and pepper. This light coating seals moisture inside, helping the shrimp stay nice and juicy.
  • Egg and milk: These ingredients help the coconut coating stick to the shrimp.
  • Oil for frying: Canola and vegetable oil are some of the best oils for frying coconut shrimp. Their neutral flavor allows the sweet-flavored shrimp to shine.
  • Coconut shrimp dipping sauce: Our two-ingredient dipping sauce combines sweet chili sauce and apricot preserves for the perfect balance between sweetness and heat.

Directions

Step 1: Coat the shrimp

Overhead shot of a shallow bowl; mix flour salt and pepper; whisk tool; white wooden background;TMB Studio

In a shallow bowl, mix the flour, salt and pepper.

Overhead shot of whisk eggs and milk; in a separate shallow bowl; whisk tool; white wooden background;TMB Studio

In a separate shallow bowl, whisk the eggs and milk.

Overhead shot of combined coconut and bread crumbs in a third shallow bowl; whisk tool; white wooden background;TMB Studio

In a third shallow bowl, combine the coconut and bread crumbs.

Close shot of dip shrimp in flour to coat both sides; shake off excess; with the help of tongs; white wooden background;TMB Studio

Dip the shrimp in the flour, coating both sides. Shake off any excess flour.

3/4 angle view shot of dip in egg mixture; with the help of tongs; white wooden background;TMB Studio

Dip the shrimp in the egg mixture.

3/4 angle view shot of third prepared bowl; dip in bread crumb mixture; tongs; white wooden background;TMB Studio

Dip the shrimp in the coconut mixture, patting to help the coating adhere.

Editor’s Tip: If you bought shell-on shrimp, you’ll need to peel and devein the shrimp first. Here’s everything you need to know about how to clean shrimp.

Step 2: Deep-fry the shrimp

Overhead shot of fry shrimp in batches until golden brown; 3-4 minutes; white wooden background;TMB Studio

In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat the oil to 375°F. Fry the shrimp in batches until golden brown, three to four minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Editor’s Tip: The cook time listed here is for 26-30 shrimp. Adjust the cooking time accordingly if you use a smaller or larger shrimp. You’ll know the shrimp are finished cooking when the tails curl toward the head in a nice C shape. (Overcooked shrimp are curled tightly in an O shape.) The shrimp should have a pink hue with no hints of gray.

Step 3: Make the coconut shrimp dipping sauce

In a small bowl, whisk the chili sauce and preserves. Serve with the shrimp.

Overhead shot of Tasty Coconut Shrimp; served on small white plate with sauce; white wooden background;TMB Studio

Can you make coconut shrimp in the oven or air fryer?

If you don’t have a deep fryer, make air-fryer coconut shrimp in a 375° air fryer. Place the coated shrimp in a single layer on a greased tray in the air-fryer basket. Cook for about eight minutes, turning halfway through or until the shrimp are cooked through.

To bake coconut shrimp in the oven, make better than fried shrimp in a 400° oven. Place the coated shrimp on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and give them a quick spritz with cooking spray. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, turning halfway through, until the shrimp turn pink and the coating is golden brown.

Recipe Variations

How to Store Coconut Shrimp

Coconut shrimp taste best fresh from the fryer when the coating is still nice and crisp. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days, but the coating will become a little soggy.

Coconut Shrimp Tips

Close shot of Tasty Coconut Shirmp; dip in sauce; served on large platter; spoon; white wooden background;TMB Studio

Can you make coconut shrimp with unsweetened coconut?

You can make coconut shrimp with unsweetened coconut, but they will turn out less crisp and caramelized. There’s a difference between the different types of coconut (like flaked coconut vs. shredded coconut). Sweetened coconut has added sugar, which adds moisture to the coconut bread crumb coating. As that sugar cooks, it contributes a golden color and a crisp texture. The coating will be a little chewier and drier if you substitute unsweetened coconut.

Can you use frozen shrimp to make coconut shrimp?

You can use frozen shrimp, but you’ll need to thaw them in the refrigerator overnight. The coconut coating will not adhere to frozen seafood.

How do you make crispy coconut shrimp?

This coconut shrimp recipe should create crispy coconut shrimp if you pay attention to the oil temperature. If the temperature is lower than 375°, the coconut coating can absorb the oil, resulting in soggy shrimp. Fry the shrimp in batches to ensure the oil temperature doesn’t drop too rapidly. Allow the temperature to come back up between batches, too. Once the shrimp are cooked, place them in a single layer on the platter. Stacked shrimp will lose their crispness pretty quickly.

What do you serve with coconut shrimp?

Coconut shrimp are a fantastic appetizer (especially when served with a dipping sauce), but you don’t have to limit them to the first course. Add coconut shrimp to grain dishes like lemon rice pilaf or colorful quinoa salad. They’re a great way to add protein to side salad recipes and turn them into main meals.

Tasty Coconut Shrimp

Prep Time 25 min
Cook Time 5 min
Yield 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp (26-30 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • Oil for deep-fat frying
  • 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves

Directions

  1. In a shallow bowl, mix flour, salt and pepper. In a separate shallow bowl, whisk eggs and milk. Combine coconut and 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 crumb mixture, patting to help adhere.
  2. In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 375°. Fry shrimp in batches until golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk chili sauce and preserves; serve with shrimp.

Nutrition Facts

about 7 shrimp + 2 tablespoons sauce: 463 calories, 23g fat (9g saturated fat), 168mg cholesterol, 732mg sodium, 43g carbohydrate (28g sugars, 2g fiber), 22g protein.

The sweet and spicy sauce perfectly complements the crispy coconut shrimp. You could a ton of these without even realizing it! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin