Easy Coconut Shrimp

This coconut shrimp is baked to perfection: no one can resist that crunchy, coconut-scented, juicy bite! Serve as an appetizer or dinner.

Coconut shrimp

Who can resist a plate of coconut shrimp? (We certainly can’t.) Each crunchy, coconut-scented, juicy bite is so supremely satisfying, we want to devour the entire plate. This appetizer is popular at seafood restaurants and has a bit of that nostalgic 1990’s chain restaurant vibe. Here we’ve decoded the secrets behind the flavor: and for a lighter twist we’ve made it baked, not fried! Serve it with sweet chili sauce for a tasty appetizer: or you can make it dinner by adding a few sides like rice or sauteed veggies. Ready to get started?

Coconut shrimp that’s baked, not fried!

Of course, we had to put our “A Couple Cooks” spin on this coconut shrimp recipe. We’re all about making pretty simple recipes with a healthy twist: and that’s exactly what you’ll find here. Instead of deep frying, all you have to do is bake these babies in the oven until crisp.

This approach not only makes it healthier…it’s much easier! You don’t have to deal with measuring temperatures or misting your kitchen with a light spray of oil.

How to make coconut shrimp

What type of shrimp to use?

There’s lots of variation in the shrimp you’ll find at the store. Here are a few tips on what to look for when you’re making coconut shrimp:

  • Find large shrimp. It’s customary to use large shrimp to get the perfect bite; you can also use medium (and you’ll end up with more bites!).
  • Use tail on. Coconut shrimp is always made with the tail on: this makes for a lovely presentation. Of course, you pop off the tails when eating.
  • Fresh or frozen. You can use either here! Just make sure to thaw the shrimp in advance (see below).
  • Wild caught. If you can, look for wild caught: it’s the most sustainable!

How to make coconut shrimp: basic steps & tips!

You’ll have to make a little assembly line to make this healthy coconut shrimp. That is: there are three stations in the breading process: flour, eggs, and a coconut and panko mixture. Set these up in a line, then go at it! It takes a little time and your hands might get a little messy, but it’s fun! We like enlisting a friend or partner to help, but you can easily do it yourself. Here’s what to do:

  • Lightly coat the shrimp in flour. This helps the next ingredients to stick.
  • Dip the shrimp into eggs. A coating of egg is the glue that holds on the crunchy bits.
  • Coat the slices in coconut and panko. Then dip the shrimp right into the panko and coconut mix.
  • Wash your hands as needed. The egg with coconut and panko can get a little gummy and messy, so wash your hands as needed throughout the process. A tip: we like to keep a bowl of water next to our assembly line so we can quickly rinse off the goo.
  • Bake 12 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees. You don’t even need to flip!
Coconut shrimp

Wait: what’s panko?

Ever worked with panko? Panko is a flaky bread crumb mixture used in Japanese cooking for fried foods. It’s also made its way into international cooking because it’s the perfect breading when frying…or this coconut shrimp! Panko is available in most grocery stores; if you can’t find it, look for coarse breadcrumbs instead. Some purchased breadcrumbs have very fine texture, which wouldn’t end up quite as crispy as panko.

If you eat a gluten-free diet, these days gluten-free panko is not hard to find! Look at your local grocery or online.

How to thaw shrimp

Are you working with frozen shrimp? The nice thing about shrimp is that frozen tastes nearly as good as fresh (which is not true for all seafood and fish). The only thing is you’ll have to allow for time to defrost. Here are our tips on the best way to thaw shrimp:

  • Day before: If you think ahead, simply place the frozen shrimp in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Day of: Place the frozen shrimp into a large bowl with very cold water. Stir the bowl every 5 minutes to break up clumps of shrimp that freeze together. The shrimp should be defrosted in about 15 minutes.
Coconut shrimp

Dipping sauces for coconut shrimp

Once you’ve made up your baked coconut shrimp, the sky’s the limit for how to serve it! At seafood restaurants and Tiki bars it’s often served with sweet chili sauce. But there are lots of other options! Here are a few dipping sauces we love:

  • Sweet chili sauce: This is the best way to serve coconut shrimp because it has that classic flavor you expect. You can find it near the Asian-style condiments at your grocery.
  • Cilantro sauce: This Cilantro Lime Ranch is a fun option, or try Creamy Cilantro Sauce.
  • Cocktail sauce: Why not? Try it as an alternative to the classic with our Famous Homemade Cocktail Sauce.

Or, make it dinner with a few sides!

Here’s the thing: if I’m going to spend all this time on healthy baked coconut shrimp…I want to make it into dinner! You can easily serve this as a meal if you add a few sides. Here are some ideas:

And that’s it! We hope you love this one: let us know in the comments below.

Shrimp appetizer recipe

This coconut shrimp recipe is…

Pescatarian and dairy free.

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Coconut shrimp

Easy Coconut Shrimp


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (8 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

This crunchy coconut shrimp is baked to perfection! It’s easy to make, full of huge flavor, and works as an appetizer or dinner. 


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound large shrimp, deveined tail on
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt*
  • 1/2 cup flour (gluten-free flour as necessary)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup panko (gluten-free panko as necessary)
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • Chopped parsley or cilantro, for garnish
  • Sweet chili sauce, for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. If frozen, thaw the shrimp.
  3. Pat the shrimp dry. Mix the shrimp in a bowl with the garlic powder, onion powder, and kosher salt
  4. Place the flour in an even layer on a plate. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl, and set it next to the plate. Place the panko and coconut on another plate, and set it next to the bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  5. Dredge each shrimp into the flour, then dip it into the eggs, then dredge it into the panko and coconut. Place each shrimp gently onto the baking sheet. Wash your hands off as necessary, since the coating can start to become gooey. 
  6. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until juicy and opaque, about 12 to 14 minutes.
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Coconut shrimp

More easy shimp recipes

Shrimp is ultimate for deliciously healthy recipes! Here are a few more shrimp recipes to cook up this tasty shellfish:

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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