Learn how to make the crispiest and most flavorful fried coconut shrimp perfectly the first time and every time after that! Plus, you’ll find actionable frying tips that you can apply to frying just about anything (with no special tools required).
This is one of my Seafood recipes I know you’ll want to keep on hand!
There’s something very fantastic and delicious about fried food. Obviously it’s an indulgence, and not something to enjoy every day, but as an occasional treat, it’s amazing.
That ultra crispy outer coating combined with the juicy tender shrimp inside is a match made in heaven!
This recipe is my spin on a restaurant-style coconut-crusted shrimp. One of the chain steakhouses around here has a dish on the menu called Gold Coast Coconut Shrimp… and it is delicious!!
While I don’t claim this recipe to be a “copycat” or to be the original recipe from Outback Steakhouse, it has a lot of similar flavors, and I was definitely inspired by their recipe.
How to make fried coconut shrimp?
This is just an overview; the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card toward the bottom of this post.
- Make the batter. This shrimp uses a beer batter, and a 3 step breading process.
- Bread. Dip the shrimp into flour, beer batter, and shredded coconut.
- Freeze. Freezing the shrimp helps keep the coating from falling off.
- Fry. The trick to frying is to fry the food in batches. If the pan gets overcrowded, it’ll lower the temperature of the oil too much, and the food won’t fry properly.
- Serve. Serve up coconut shrimp with a dijon marmalade dipping sauce.
You’ll want to use raw shrimp for this recipe, so they don’t get overcooked and rubbery. To save myself some time, I buy shrimp that’s peeled and deveined, but feel free to pick up whatever you prefer. My shrimp were frozen, and I defrosted them, but if you live closer to a coast and have access to some great fresh seafood, go for it.
Variations of this recipe
- Oil – for the best flavor, I prefer to fry in peanut oil. However, if you have allergies, vegetable, canola, or sunflower oil are great alternatives.
- Deep fryer – if you have a deep fryer, you can absolutely use it for this recipe. Just set the temperature to 370 – 375°F.
- Other sizes of shrimp – you can absolutely use different sizes of shrimp for this recipe, just know that if the shrimp are larger, they’ll take a bit longer to fry. If they’re smaller, they’ll take a bit less time.
- Other dipping sauces – if you’re not a marmalade fan, some other dipping sauce ideas would be this spicy mango sauce, sriracha honey aoili, a sweet chili sauce, etc.
- Unsweetened coconut – we prefer the subtle sweetness of the sweetened coconut, but if you would like, you can use an equal amount of unsweetened coconut flakes.
There’s nothing worse than something that’s supposed to be crispy, ending up soggy instead. Once the shrimp are fried, don’t add them to a paper towel or straight onto a plate. Those things will cause the shrimp to steam a bit, which makes the coating soggy. Adding the fried shrimp to a wire cooling rack is preferred, since it elevates the shrimp off the surface.
I’ve not tested this recipe in an oven, or air fryer, so I can’t speak to how the batter would hold up, what temperature to cook the shrimp at, and how long they’d need to cook. If you do some experimenting though, I’d love to know how it turns out!
Not necessarily, although it’s definitely inspired by the Gold Coast Coconut Shrimp dish from that restaurant.
Making coconut shrimp ahead of time
This recipe, like all fried foods, tastes best when made fresh. Plus, sometimes reheating shrimp can lead to a rubbery texture.
However, you can make the dipping sauce completely ahead of time (and keep it refrigerated).
Leftover fried shrimp should be stored in an airtight container and eaten within 3-4 days.
To reheat, bake in a preheated 350°F for 10-15 minutes. This should help it stay crispy during the reheating process.
Handy Frying Tips!
- Pat the meat very dry before breading. Before dredging the shrimp in flour (then the batter and panko/coconut), the shrimp should be dry, otherwise the flour will clump, and the wet batter will slide off.
- Use a thermometer to ensure the oil is the right temperature. Guessing just isn’t the way to go here. If the oil is too hot, the chicken will burn before they’re cooked through. If the oil is too low, the chicken will take on too much oil and be oily and soggy. Around 370°F is the sweet spot.
- Drop the breaded food away from you when you add them to the oil. Hot oil is not fun to get on your bare skin – trust me!
- Don’t overcrowd the pot/pan. Every time you add anything to hot oil, it lowers the temperature a bit. So adding all your shrimp at once will drop the temperature too much, which leads to unevenly cooked, oily and soggy food. I like to add about 6 shrimp at a time when using a large pot.
- Use a frying spider instead of tongs to handle fried food in the oil. Tongs have a tendency to rip off pieces of that delicious batter. Spiders are inexpensive and great for so many things.
- Drain the fried food of excess oil after frying by adding it to a wire cooling rack. This elevates the food and keeps the coating crisp.
I love using this enameled cast iron pan to fry in. It’s heavy bottomed, holds heat evenly, is shallow enough to be able to work in, yet deep enough so you don’t get splatters of oil all over your stove! If you’d like to take the guesswork out of getting your oil to the right temperature, try using this inexpensive frying thermometer.
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
- 1/2 cup orange marmalade
- 1/4 cup stone-ground mustard dijon or creole mustard will also work
- 1/2 tsp prepared horseradish
- 3 Tbsp honey
- 1 tsp lemon juice optional but recommended
- 1 lb. jumbo shrimp peeled and deveined, but with tails
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp old bay seasoning
- 1 cup all purpose flour divided
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup beer
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- peanut or vegetable oil enough to fill a pot about 2-3" inches
Make the marmalade sauce
- Combine marmalade sauce ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate for now.
Prepare to bread
- Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment or wax paper, and set aside.
- Set up a breading station by lining up 3 shallow bowls next to the baking sheet. In the farthest bowl from the baking sheet, add 1/2 cup of the flour.
- In the next bowl, add remaining 1/2 cup of flour, baking powder, garlic powder, onion powder, egg, and beer. Whisk until combined. Batter should be similar to a pancake batter consistency. If it’s way too thick, add a small splash of additional beer and whisk again.
- In the third bowl, add the coconut and panko and stir to combine well.
- Pat the shrimp dry, then holding a shrimp by the tail, add to the first bowl with the flour and dredge, shaking off the excess.
- Next, dip the shrimp into the batter (holding by the tail), shaking off the excess. Finally, add the shrimp to the last bowl with the coconut breadcrumbs. Press gently so it coats all sides.
- Transfer shrimp to the prepared baking sheet, then repeat with remaining shrimp.
- Place baking sheet in the freezer and freeze for about 45-60 minutes, until firm.
Prepare to fry
- While shrimp is freezing, add enough peanut or vegetable oil to fill a heavy bottomed pot (I use a dutch oven) about 2-3 inches.
- Heat oil over MED heat, until about 370°F (or until oil is shimmering, and a pinch of the coconut/panko mixture sizzles and browns easily).
- Line a baking sheet with a paper towel and top it with a wire cooling rack. Set this nearby the pot of oil, as this will be where you put the shrimp after frying.
- Fry the frozen coconut shrimp in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pot, for about 2 – 2.5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy and shrimp is cooked through.
- Remove shrimp to cooling rack topped baking sheet, then repeat with remaining frozen shrimp.
- Serve hot, with marmalade sauce and lemon wedges.
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- I’ve estimated that this recipe serves approximately 4 people, with about 6 shrimp per person. However, you’re free to divide this recipe up into as many servings as you’d like.
- Calorie count doesn’t include the oil, as that amount will vary from individual to individual.
- Prep time does not include the time for the oil to come up to temperature, as this will vary from individual to individual.
- Using a candy or frying thermometer (or even an instant read one) is highly recommended to ensure proper oil temperature.
- When adding shrimp to hot oil, gently lower the shrimp until the bottom end is in the oil a bit, then gently lay it down in the oil, moving your hand away from you. This causes the shrimp to drop away from you as well, and saving you from any oil splashes that could potentially happen.
- Avoid overcrowding the pan when frying. Overcrowding causes the oil’s temperature to drop too low, which means the shrimp will end up soggy, oily, and not cook evenly.
- To remove shrimp from the hot oil, I highly recommend a spider, but a slotted spoon will do.
The Chunky Chef is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.