Crispy Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Red Chili Sauce

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I’ve had Coconut Shrimp at many restaurants, but this homemade version beats them all. It’s remarkably easy to make—so easy, in fact, that my kids have made almost the entire thing by themselves (except, of course, for the frying in hot oil part). You can do all of the preparation in advance so all that’s left to do at dinnertime is quickly fry the shrimp. And the sauce comes straight out of a bottle.

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If you were eating out, you’d probably share this dish as an appetizer. You could do the same at home — it also makes fabulous finger food for a party — but I usually serve it as a light dinner with an Asian-style slaw.

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Depending on where you buy your shrimp (I like the brand shown above from Whole Foods), you might be able to find it already peeled and deveined. If not, start by peeling the shrimp. Leave the last section and the tail on; this makes it easier to work with and prettier to serve. To devein, take a small paring knife and cut down the center of the shrimp’s back, about 1/4-inch deep.  If you can see a dark vein, remove and discard it; if not, don’t bother with it.

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Next, set up an assembly line. (This is where the kids come in.) Mix the cornstarch and seasoning in a zip-lock bag; whisk the egg whites in a small bowl; and combine the unsweetened coconut and sugar in a shallow dish. Add all the shrimp to the zip-lock bag and shake to coat. Dip each shrimp in the egg whites and then dredge in the coconut.

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It’s a messy job, so kids love to do it.

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Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. This can be done several hours ahead of time.

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When you’re ready to eat, heat about 1/2-inch of vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet. Fry the shrimp until golden brown on both sides.

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Drain on papertowels (though you’ll notice it’s not greasy at all)…

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Arrange on a plate and serve with bottled Sweet Red Chili Sauce, which you can find in the Asian section of most supermarkets. These are the brands I like and am most familiar with:

March pics 20111
Enjoy!

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Crispy Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Red Chili Sauce

Print Recipe
Servings: 4 as main course

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds raw extra large shrimp (16-20 per pound), peeled and deveined with tails left intact
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2 cups unsweetened medium shredded coconut (available at Whole Foods or natural food markets - see note below)
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Thai Sweet Red Chili Sauce (available in Asian section of most supermarkets)

Instructions

  1. Place the cornstarch, salt and cayenne pepper in a large zip-lock bag and mix well. Add the shrimp to the bag, seal shut and shake to coat evenly. Set aside.
  2. Using a fork, beat the egg whites in a small bowl until frothy. Place the coconut and sugar in a large shallow bowl or pie dish and mix well.
  3. Holding each shrimp by the tail, shake off excess cornstarch, dip into the egg whites (let the excess drip off), then dredge in the coconut mixture, turning to coat evenly (if the sugar drops to the bottom of the dish a bit, move the shrimp around so it gets coated with both the sugar and coconut.) Place the shrimp on foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. This can be done several hours ahead of time.
  4. Pour enough oil into a large nonstick pan to reach a depth of ½-inch; heat over high heat until hot. To test if the oil is hot enough, use tongs to hold one shrimp by the tail and submerge it in oil; if it sizzles and crackles, it’s ready. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, add the shrimp to the hot oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown. It should take between 40-60 seconds per side; if the shrimp are browning too quickly, turn the heat down a bit. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shrimp to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Arrange the shrimp on a platter and serve with the Sweet Red Chili Sauce.
  5. Note: I like to use unsweetened shredded coconut and add sugar to it, as opposed to sweetened flaked coconut, because it's healthier, much easier to work with, and adds great texture to the dish.

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  • Laurel

    This is one of my most favorite things in the world! Thanks for the great looking recipe! I’d love for you to submit this to the M&T Spotlight at link to makeandtakes.com

    • Darleen

      These look great! Will try these tonight for sure

  • Teri McGann

    These were incredible! I only made one pound, but made the mixture for two pounds. This was a good thing because somehow I used the whole mixture on one pound. No worries they were YUMMY!!!!

    The directions were simple and easy to follow. I might have made my egg whites frothier than what was necessary. I also used a regular chili sauce which was a nice compliment to the sweetness. The Tropical Pepper Co. makes a mango coconut sauce that went well with it. I bought this in Shop n Bag in the Ketchup section.

    We had the shrimp as a main course with just a tossed salad. I’m already thinking of the events and occasions that I can serve these again. Delicious!

  • Jennifer

    Thank you for your comment, Teri. I think the discrepancy might have to do with the fact that you purchased your shrimp already peeled, so the weight was off. I’ve made a note to the recipe to clarify. If you’re buying shrimp already peeled and deveined, you only need 1 pound 10 ounces instead of 2 pounds. I’ve also added an additional 1/4 cup coconut to the recipe — better to have too much than too little. As always, thanks for the feedback and so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Brian Gifford

    You can make the dipping sauce yourself.

    2 oz caster sugar
    2 fl oz rice vinegar
    2 tbs water
    2 fresh red chillies, seeded and finely chopped.

    Place sugar, vinegar and water in a pot. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves, then boil rapidly until it forms a light syrup. Stir in the chillies and leave to cool.

  • Amy

    Wow, these Crispy Coconut Shrimps look divine! Love your photography and I couldn’t wait to try your recipe! Thanks for sharing.

  • Wow this looks sooo good! Will be making soon!

  • mmm… love this stuff!! I made a baked version too. Check it out!

    link to freespiritfood.com

  • Maria

    OMG! This recipe is unreal!! So easy to make and SO DELICIOUS!! It will be part of my New Year’s Eve menu!!

  • I might have made my egg whites frothier than what was necessary. The sauce would also be nicer when you put more chili in it.

  • lois

    Yay! Gluten Fee coconut shrimp!!!

  • Angela

    All of your recipes look so delicious!! I’m excited to try this shrimp recipe. Thank you for sharing.

  • Lori O.

    These look great!!!!!

  • Terri

    This first time I made this my husband went crazy and stuffed himself! This is one of our favorites and we’ve even cooked them in the oven and they turned out just as delicious. Thank you!

  • Lisa S.

    Unsweetened coconut?!

    I thought I hated coconut shrimp. This recipe has the men in my house (hubby and grown sons) bowing down to me in adoration. I love ‘em when they’re on their knees :)

  • Renee E

    My husband and I order this often when we are out at a restaurant, this recipe was as good as the best we’ve tried out :) Restaurant quality at home!

  • Mike

    Great recipe. My wife and daughter claim they don’t like coconut. Got them to try one. They loved them.

  • Brecken

    I’ve tried several different recipes for coconut shrimp. This one looks the best so far.

  • Linda

    My family absolutely loves your crispy coconut shrimp. This is so easy to prepare and I love that I can make ahead of time and pull out of the frig when I am ready to cook. I have to hit the local natural foods market for the unsweetened cocunut which is not always the most convenient so I did try making once with the sweetened coconut found in most grocery stores. Unfortunately this did not turn out too well so I have been sure to use the unsweetened ever since.

  • Pat Brady-Rice

    Made these yesterday and share with neighbors – got a call from them wanting to know when we are making them again! They taste terrific and are easy to make! I served with the Sweet Chili Sauce and I also made an Aioli sauce too. A repeat performance will be necessary soon. Love your website and recipes….keep them coming!

    • Jenn

      Thank you, Pat!

  • Mike

    This has become my favorite app. My family used to say they didn’t like coconut. Not any more.

  • Lisa

    Oh my gosh! Delicious and really very easy and fun to make.

  • Michelle

    Despite not being able to find unsweetened coconut at my local Jewel, these turned out beautiful and delicious! I have had problems with fried batter falling apart in the oil before, but these held together perfectly! Crowd pleaser!

  • Mary

    Great recipe for shrimp. Easy to make and better than the typical coconut shrimp that you would get in a restaurant. YUM!

  • Jessica

    These were delicious! They took forever to make, but definitely worth it. Can’t wait to make them again.

  • Cherie

    What a treat! Bunco ladies begged me to make again!

  • Grace

    Tried this recipe tonight and it was delicious! I can’t wait to make them for a party this Saturday! Thank you so much!

  • MIKE K.

    So simple to make yet always delicious

  • Charlene Wheeler

    What could be better? I like the unsweetened coconut…I always think these are too sweet at restaurants

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