Coconut Shrimp

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This restaurant-style Coconut Shrimp recipe is a cinch to make at home with freezer and pantry staples. My shatteringly crispy Coconut Shrimp appetizer is good on its own, and even better once dunked into the zippy Sriracha-chile sauce.

Coconut shrimp being dipped in an orange sauce.


 

Why save Coconut Shrimp for restaurant meals alone? Inspired by one of my favorite menu items, I’ve leveled-up this Red Lobster copycat recipe with a spicy aioli that elevates each bite to new flavor heights.

Using all freezer and pantry staples, including frozen shrimp, Panko breadcrumbs, and Sriracha sauce, this easy appetizer recipe will talk you through how to recreate the restaurant classic right in your own kitchen.

Recipe ingredients

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Mayonnaise: I adore the rich, umami flavor of Kewpie mayo alongside the sweet chili sauce and spicy Sriracha, but Hellman’s, Duke’s, Kraft, Best Foods, or any brand you prefer is perfect. Just be sure to steer clear of Miracle Whip; it’s too sweet for this purpose.
  • Thai sweet chili sauce: More sweet than spicy, this glaze-like condiment is spiked with crushed red pepper flakes. Order a bottle online or look for it in your supermarket near the Sriracha.
  • Panko bread crumbs: In most cases, I say you can use regular bread crumbs. Here, however, I think flaky panko is essential. This light Japanese-style breadcrumb is commonly used as to coat for deep-fried foods, including these Coconut Shrimp, for the crispiest results. Buy them at the store or make your own panko crumbs.
  • Sweetened shredded coconut: For extra crunch, toast the coconut.
  • Jumbo raw shrimp: Raw frozen shrimp (thawed) works beautifully for Coconut Shrimp. To thaw the shrimp, place the bag of seafood in a bowl and transfer it to the refrigerator the night before you plan to make this appetizer recipe. Jumbo shrimp come about 16 to 20 per pound (sometimes labeled U16 to U20). If the shrimp isn’t already peeled and deveined, follow the steps in Frequently Asked Questions for how to clean shrimp.

Step by step instructions

  1. To make the dipping sauce, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, Sriracha, and Thai sweet chili sauce. Chill until serving time.
Dipping sauce for coconut shrimp.
  1. In a shallow dish, add flour and salt and pepper to taste (I like ½ teaspoon and ¼ teaspoon pepper). In a second shallow dish, add eggs and beat lightly. In a third shallow dish, combine panko and coconut. Stir to combine.
Breading station for coconut shrimp.
  1. Working with one shrimp at a time, dredge in flour and shake off excess. Dip in eggs and tap gently on the side of the dish to remove excess. Add to panko-coconut mixture and press gently until crumbs adhere. Transfer to a large plate and repeat with remaining shrimp (shrimp can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 hours).
Coconut shrimp being breaded.
  1. Line rimmed baking sheet or large plate with 3 layers of paper towels. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat canola oil until shimmering. Add shrimp in batches and fry until deep golden brown and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes per side (the shrimp should reach 120 degrees on an internal thermometer).
Coconut shrimp frying in oil.
  1. Drain shrimp well on paper towels.
Coconut shrimp on a paper towel after being fried.
  1. Repeat with remaining shrimp and serve with sauce.
Coconut shrimp in a bowl.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This Coconut Shrimp recipe makes six appetizer-sized servings, about 4 to 5 large shrimp each.
  • Storage: Transfer leftover coconut shrimp to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven or an air fryer to 145 degrees.
  • Freezer: Place cooked and cooled Coconut Shrimp to a freezer-safe zip-top bag, label, date, and seal. Freeze for up to 2 months. Reheat in the oven or an air fryer to 145 degrees.
  • Fruit dipping sauce: Make a simple dipping sauce of equal parts Thai sweet chili sauce and orange marmalade or apricot preserves.
  • Lime: Fresh lime juice (from lime wedges) is delicious for squeezing over the hot shrimp.
  • Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp: Make the shrimp as directed, then air fry in a singler layer at 400 degrees for 8 minutes total, flipping after 4 minutes. Work in batches as needed to avoid over-crowding the air fryer basket.
  • Pan-Fried Coconut Shrimp: Heat 1/4″ vegetable oil or avocado in a deep large skillet to 350 degrees. Fry shrimp in a single layer for 4 minutes total, flipping after 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Work in batches as needed to avoid over-crowding the pan. Bring the oil to 350 degrees for each batch.
  • Baked Coconut Shrimp Recipe: Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes total, flipping after 10 minutes.
  • Tropical Party: When I decided to create a Tropical Party menu, Coconut Shrimp was an obvious choice. Serve with Hawaiian Macaroni Salad on the side (an official component of “plate lunch” in Hawaii), and Pineapple Salsa with tortilla chips. For dessert, classic Pineapple Upside-Down Cake was the obvious choice. Sip on a tropical Blue Hawaiian cocktail to complete the menu (although a Mai Tai or Piña Colada would be great to!).
A table setting for a tropical party.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you clean shrimp?

Use sharp scissors and cut along the middle back of each shrimp, leaving the tail intact. Using a sharp paring knife, cut a slit along the dark vein on the back of the shrimp (the intestinal tract) and discard it. Rinse out the back of each shrimp and pat dry with paper towels.Cleaning raw shrimp.

Do you really need to clean shrimp?

Technically, no. The little black line on the bottom of the shrimp, also called a “vein,” is just a digestive tract. Depending on what the shrimp ate before it was caught, it could be darker than the rest of the meat and might contain sand or algae. It could have some sand in it, or algae. While some people consider it unsightly or are turned off by “shrimp poop”, it really isn’t harmful to eat. It just looks better without it.

What other sauces could I serve with Coconut Shrimp?

I think this 3-ingredient dipping sauce is tough to beat, but why not offer a buffet of dunking options? Consider Thai Peanut DressingRed Pepper Jelly, or your favorite aioli, too.

How can I make Coconut Shrimp a meal?

This same Coconut Shrimp recipe can feed 3 or 4 adults as an entree, depending on how hungry you feel. Pair it with restaurant-inspired sides like a Wedge Salad, Homemade French Fries, and/or Baked Rice to round out the feast.

How do you make gluten free coconut shrimp?

Since coconut is naturally gluten free, you only need to change the flour and the bread crumbs. Substitute your favorite gluten free flour blend; my favorite is King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free flour blend. Choose your favorite gluten free bread to grind for the crumbs: Canyon Bakehouse Mountain White and Udi’s Multigrain Gluten-Free bread (both sold in the freezer section) are good choices.

More shrimp recipes

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Someone dipping coconut shrimp in sauce.

Coconut Shrimp

This restaurant-style Coconut Shrimp recipe is a cinch to make at home with freezer and pantry staples. My shatteringly crispy Coconut Shrimp appetizer is good on its own, and even better once dunked into the zippy Sriracha-chile sauce.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 servings (4 to 5 pieces per serving)
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Calories 275
5 from 34 votes

Ingredients 

For the dipping sauce:

For the coconut shrimp:

Instructions 

  • To make the dipping sauce, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, Sriracha, and Thai sweet chili sauce. Chill until serving time.
  • In a shallow dish, add flour and salt and pepper to taste (I like ½ teaspoon and ¼ teaspoon pepper). In a second shallow dish, add eggs and beat lightly. In a third shallow dish, combine panko and coconut. Stir to combine.
  • Working with one shrimp at a time, dredge in flour and shake off excess. Dip in eggs and tap gently on side of dish to remove excess. Add to panko-coconut mixture and press gently until crumbs adhere. Transfer to a large plate and repeat with remaining shrimp (shrimp can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 hours).
  • Line rimmed baking sheet or large plate with 3 layers of paper towels. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat canola oil until shimmering. Add shrimp in batches and fry until deep golden brown and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes per side (the shrimp should reach 120 degrees on an internal thermometer).
  • Drain shrimp well on paper towels. Repeat with remaining shrimp and serve with sauce.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Mayonnaise: I adore the rich, umami flavor of Kewpie mayo alongside the sweet chili sauce and spicy Sriracha, but Hellman’s, Duke’s, Kraft, Best Foods, or any brand you prefer is perfect. Just be sure to steer clear of Miracle Whip; its too sweet for this purpose.
  2. Thai sweet chili sauce: More sweet than spicy, this glaze-like condiment is spiked with crushed red pepper flakes. Order a bottle online or look for it in your supermarket near the Sriracha.
  3. Panko bread crumbs: In most cases, I say you can use regular bread crumbs. Here, however, I think flaky panko is essential. This light Japanese-style breadcrumb is commonly used as to coat for deep-fried foods, including these Coconut Shrimp, for the crispiest results. Buy them at the store or make your own panko crumbs.
  4. Sweetened shredded coconut: For extra crunch, toast the coconut.
  5. Jumbo raw shrimp: Raw frozen shrimp (thawed) works beautifully for Coconut Shrimp. To thaw the shrimp, place the bag of seafood in a bowl and transfer it to the refrigerator the night before you plan to make this appetizer recipe. Jumbo shrimp come about 16 to 20 per pound (sometimes labeled U16 to U20). If the shrimp isn’t already peeled and deveined, follow the steps in Frequently Asked Questions for how to clean shrimp.
  6. Yield: This Coconut Shrimp recipe makes six appetizer-sized servings; about 4 to 5 large shrimp each.
  7. Storage: Transfer leftover coconut shrimp to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven or an air fryer to 145 degrees.

Nutrition

Serving: 4 piecesCalories: 275kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 20gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 245mgSodium: 905mgPotassium: 173mgFiber: 1gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 133IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 140mgIron: 3mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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Comments

  1. This was fun to make! When a recipe calls for a multi step batter, I like to have another set of hands to avoid getting my fingers too caked up with flour. My bf coated all the shrimp with flour.. then I took over coating with the egg then Panko/coconut. Team effort! Also, since we didn’t have specialty mayo, we just used regular mayo. After taste testing the sauce, we double the sriracha and sweet sauce. Yum. Also the oil doesn’t need to be SUPER hot before dropping in the shrimp. Then, after a quick three min frying, all done!! Thanks for this new staple recipe :)

    1. Hi Danielle, thank you so much for this comment! I too just loathe caked fingers when battering things, and it’s even worse if you where gloves or something, they get so sticky! Glad you have a teammate to help out. :) And good for you for tweaking the sauce to your taste, I wish everyone did that. Recipes are always just a starting point and you should always make things your own. Thank you again! -Meggan

    1. Hi Shirley, it looks like the form didn’t save your email to have it send you the recipe. I’ll make sure a copy gets sent to you. I hope you love this shrimp! – Meggan

  2. I’m so in love with this recipe! All the flavors are perfect here. And Marina del Rey shrimp are amazing. They’re our family’s go to shrimp!5 stars

  3. This is just wonderful! Coconut shrimp is one of those dishes that I relegate to “order” versus “make at home” because it intimidates me. But armed with your helpful tips, I feel like I might be able to do it! 5 stars

  4. LOVE coconut shrimp, and yours look so perfectly crunchy! That sauce — love the idea of using apricot.5 stars

  5. Incredible! I love the shrimp and the tasty dipping sauce. I also buy raw frozen shrimp. Marina Del Ray is my favorite. :-) Thanks, Meggan!5 stars

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