These 5-ingredient air fryer coconut shrimp will transport you to the beach

Or how I learned to make one of my favorite "vacation foods" from the comfort of my home kitchen

By Ashlie D. Stevens

Food Editor

Published April 2, 2022 4:30PM (EDT)

Coconut Shrimp w/Thai Chili Sauce (Getty Images/Iain Bagwell)
Coconut Shrimp w/Thai Chili Sauce (Getty Images/Iain Bagwell)

I admire my dad for a lot of reasons, but chief among them is how fully he commits to his concept of vacation. This is a man who is typically pretty buttoned up (he's worked in finance for decades and one time referred to patterned socks as "flashy"), but the night before leaving for our annual beach trip, he'd start letting loose. Out with the tie and spreadsheets, in with the Tommy Bahama button downs and his multi-hour Jimmy Buffet playlist. 

Once arriving, he's always cognizant of wanting to eat certain items our family doesn't necessarily eat day-to-day at home: boozy slushies, specialty desserts and copious amounts of seafood. One of our shared favorites is coconut shrimp. 

Related: Travel south to the "Seafood Capital of Alabama" with these delectable, punchy pickled shrimp

For the uninitiated, it's a simple dish: peeled and deveined shrimp coated with toasty breadcrumbs and shredded coconut, and then deep-fried. Often, it's served as an appetizer with a sticky-sweet sauce, though I once had a coconut shrimp taco packed with avocado salsa and cabbage slaw and it was life-changing. 

However, the pandemic has obviously put a cramp in vacation planning for a few years now and I was recently feeling nostalgic: for travel, for routine and for, as my siblings and I put it, "Vacation Dad." To feed those feelings, I began experimenting with this coconut shrimp recipe. 

It's really simple: just five ingredients and 12 minutes of cook time. It's amazing though how something so easy to put together is so transportative. One bite and I'm basically beachside. 


Recipe: Air fryer coconut shrimp 

4 servings
Prep Time
 05 minutes
Cook Time
14  minutes


1 pound shrimp raw, large, peeled and deveined with tails attached

¼ cup seasoned all-purpose flour (feel free to just season with salt and pepper, but additional opportunities like paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic or onion powder to tate would be delicious)

2 large eggs, whisked 

½  cup unsweetened shredded coconut

½ Panko bread crumbs




  1. Preheat your air fryer to 350 degrees.
  2. It's time to set up an assembly line: Place the seasoned flour in one bowl, the whisked eggs in another bowl, and the shredded coconut and bread crumbs in a final bowl. Dredge the shrimp, one by one, in the flour, then the egg, then the coconut and bread crumb mixture.
  3. Place the prepared shrimp in the preheated air fryer, ensuring they aren't overlapping too much in the basket. Proceed to air fry for 12 to 14 minutes, flipping halfway through. 





By Ashlie D. Stevens

Ashlie D. Stevens is Salon's food editor. She is also an award-winning radio producer, editor and features writer — with a special emphasis on food, culture and subculture. Her writing has appeared in and on The Atlantic, National Geographic’s “The Plate,” Eater, VICE, Slate, Salon, The Bitter Southerner and Chicago Magazine, while her audio work has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and Here & Now, as well as APM’s Marketplace. She is based in Chicago.

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