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A popular and delicious item at most seafood restaurants, Crispy Coconut Shrimp is a lot easier to make than you might think. By selecting high-quality shrimp and the right ingredients for the coating, it could very well be the best version of this dish you’ve ever had! Great on its own with our Spicy Orange Dipping Sauce, over your favorite salad, or in a taco, this might become your go-to way to enjoy shrimp.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
Along with shrimp and coconut, you only need a few common pantry staples for our easy coconut shrimp recipe.
The complete ingredient list and measurements are listed in the printable recipe below.
- Shrimp: The shrimp should be thawed, peeled, and deveined but with the tails still attached. The type and size of shrimp are up to your personal taste, but the cooking time will vary based on the size of shrimp you use.
- Coconut: We used shredded, unsweetened coconut since this is a savory dish, preferring not to add unnecessary sugar to dishes, but you can substitute sweetened coconut if you prefer. We do not recommend substituting flaked coconut since its size and shape will not adhere as well to the shrimp.
- Panko: We have found panko breadcrumbs, which are made from crustless white bread that is processed into flakes and then dried, to allow for the crunchiest coating for the shrimp. Regular breadcrumbs can be made from wheat, white, or other types of bread, and while they work well as a binder in many recipes, they do not produce as crunchy a texture when fried. Panko also absorbs less oil during the frying process.
- Dipping Sauce: Coconut shrimp is great on its own but it’s even better with a spicy dipping sauce. Our spicy orange sauce uses a low-sugar orange marmalade and sriracha sauce with a bit of fresh lime zest.
What Shrimp to Use
Not all shrimp are created equal and the choices can be confusing and overwhelming. There is fresh or frozen, head-on or head-off, with shell or without, cocktail or jumbo, white, pink or brown.
- Fresh vs Frozen – Don’t be fooled into thinking that you are getting shrimp that just arrived off the fisherman’s boat. The vast majority of shrimp is frozen at sea before being delivered to the distributor or retailer. So when you see the display that says “fresh”…it more than likely isn’t.
- Shell – You typically have three options -shell on, easy-peel, or pre-peeled. While pre-peeled shrimp is the easiest to prep, you will probably end up with shrimp that are mangled and usually overpriced. Easy-peel shrimp have been split and deveined but will be a little more expensive. Just like pre-peeled shrimp, easy-peel might not make the best presentation. Our go-to is shell-on shrimp because they are a little more work but completely worth it. They are usually the least expensive option which is always a win and you can use the leftover shells to make a delicious shrimp broth.
- Brown, White, or Pink – Here in south-central Texas brown shrimp are plentiful. They are sweet, firm-textured shrimp that are typically 7-9 inches long. White shrimp are also sweet but with medium texture and range from 4-8 inches in length. Gulf pink shrimp are the largest at 8-11 inches and are also sweet.
A lot of it comes down to personal preference and taste but some shrimp do better in certain dishes than others. For coconut shrimp, it is best to buy shrimp that still have their tails attached to make them easier to coat and handle.
How to Make Crispy Coconut Shrimp with Spicy Orange Dipping Sauce
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
This post may contain paid affiliate sales links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see my full disclaimer policy for details.
Pro-tip: Don’t skip the 30-minute chill in the freezer. It helps the shrimp not to overcook but also less batter will fall off during frying.
1. Prep the Ingredients: Depending on the type of shrimp you bought you will need to clean, peel, and devein the shrimp. Be sure to leave their tails. Keep them in the refrigerator until you are ready to start the battering step. In a large bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs and shredded coconut. In a medium bowl combine the flour and salt. Finally, in a second medium bowl beat one egg and set aside.
2. Dredge the Shrimp: Working one at a time, dust the shrimp in the flour, dip them into the eggs, then dredge them in the coconut panko mixture, pressing it as needed to coat. Set battered shrimp on a baking sheet as you continue the battering process.
3. Freeze the Shrimp: Freeze battered shrimp on the baking sheet for 30 minutes. Prepare the dipping sauce, if desired, while the shrimp are chilling in the freezer.
4. Dipping Sauce: In a small bowl, add the orange marmalade, sriracha sauce, and lime zest. Stir to combine, sample, and adjust ratios to taste. Refrigerate until ready to be served with the coconut shrimp.
5. Fry the Shrimp: In a large skillet or Dutch oven heat oil to approximately 325-350 °F over medium-high heat. Oil should be about 1-1 ½ inches deep. Working in batches (approximately 6 to 8 at a time), add the shrimp to the oil and fry until evenly golden brown and crispy, about 2-3 minutes per side. Avoid adding too many shrimp and overcrowding the pan. Remove the shrimp using a slotted spoon or spider skimmer and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil.
6. Serve: Coconut shrimp can be served with our spicy orange sauce or on top of a green salad with your favorite dressing.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- Freeze shrimp for at least 30 minutes prior to frying. It will help keep the shrimp from overcooking while getting the coconut batter golden and crispy. As an added bonus the batter adheres better and is less likely to fall off.
- For best results use panko breadcrumbs. Used in tempura these Japanese breadcrumbs get much crispier than traditional breadcrumbs. They’re typically located with the other breadcrumbs at your grocery store.
- To keep the temperature of the oil consistent fry the shrimp in batches. Using cold oil will result in shrimp that is oily and greasy. After frying place them on a paper towel-lined plate to help soak up any excess oil.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can store any leftover cooked coconut shrimp in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. For uncooked coconut shrimp keep them in the freezer on a sheet pan or baking sheet for 2-3 hours then transfer them to a freezer-safe container. Cooked shrimp can also be refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.
The best way to reheat the shrimp is in a skillet on the stovetop. Add a splash of olive oil and reheat each side of shrimp for approximately 2 minutes or until the breading crisps up. Reheating in the oven is also an option but the breading doesn’t crisp up as well and shrimp can get tough/rubbery. Avoid reheating in the microwave because the breading will get soggy and shrimp will become tough. Allow frozen shrimp to thaw slightly in the refrigerator before reheating.
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Crispy Coconut Shrimp with Spicy Orange Dipping Sauce
This recipe may contain paid affiliate sales links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see my full disclaimer policy for details.
- Small Bowl
- Large Bowl
- Spider or Slotted Spoon
Crispy Coconut Shrimp
- 2 cups neutral oil such as canola
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined with tail left on
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ¾ cup panko
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Spicy Orange Dipping Sauce
- ½ cup orange marmalade
- 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
- ½ teaspoon lime zest
Crispy Coconut Shrimp
- Clean and wash shrimp then set them aside.
- In a large bowl, combine Panko bread crumbs and shredded coconut then set aside.
- In a medium bowl, add the flour and salt. Stir to combine then set it aside.
- In a second medium bowl, add the eggs and beat then set them aside.
- Working one at a time, dredge shrimp in the flour, dip into the eggs, then dredge in the coconut panko mixture, pressing it as needed to coat evenly. Set battered shrimp on a baking sheet as you continue the battering process.
- Freeze battered shrimp on the baking sheet for 30 minutes Prepare the dipping sauce, if desired, while the shrimp are chilling in the freezer.
- In a large skillet or Dutch oven heat oil to approximately 325-350 °F over medium-high heat. Oil should be about 1-1 ½ inches deep.
- Working in batches (approximately 6 to 8 at a time), add the shrimp to the Dutch oven and fry until evenly golden brown and crispy, about 2-3 minutes per side. Avoid adding too many shrimp and overcrowding the pan. Remove the shrimp using a slotted spoon or spider skimmer and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil.
Spicy Orange Dipping Sauce
- To a small bowl, add the orange marmalade, sriracha sauce, and lime zest. Stir to combine, taste, and adjust ratios if desired.
- Serve immediately with sweet chili sauce, if desired.